United Workers Union members in early education have a clear message for this week’s Jobs Summit: deliver real change for undervalued educators now, because there is no early education without us.

UWU Director of Early Education, Helen Gibbons, said that union members had voiced concerns that the Summit may not commit to the extent of reform required to fix the staffing crisis in early learning.

A survey of educators just this week showed the crisis is urgent and growing:

  • 88% of educators said that if nothing changes, the sector does not offer them a long term future.
  • 98.5% of educators said that the staffing shortages in early education are impacting the quality of care and education children receive.
  • Over 99% of educators said that workload and staffing issues in the sector are making educators feel burnt out and undervalued.

Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Director Early Education, United Workers Union:

“The results are in – educators cannot afford to stay in the sector, and the sector cannot deliver quality early learning without educators. We need real reform now.

“This is why educators are closing centres and taking to the streets all across the country next week on September 7th. They are demanding action.

“Early education is still facing an ever-worsening staffing crisis due to unmanageable workloads, stress and low wages. 81% of centre directors say they have had difficulties in attracting and recruiting staff.

“We know that all around the country, services are being forced to cap enrolments or close rooms because they simply cannot stem the tide of fed-up educators leaving the sector every day.

“UWU members’ vision is for a sector where educators’ vital work is valued with professional wages and working conditions, and where early education is recognised as part of the education sector.

“Children and families deserve a truly high quality early learning system that is universally accessible to all children and families regardless of where they live or what kind of background they come from. This future is only possible with well-paid, professionally-supported educators who are respected for vital work that they do.”

Educators who responded to the survey said:

  • The lack of staffing means I end up doing unpaid work at home to try to keep up when my planning time is always being taken off me, this is unfair to myself and the children I plan for.
  • I’ve been an early childhood educator for over 25 years and I’m now looking for another job not in child care as I’m so burnt out and over everything else I don’t feel the quality of care is there anymore as I have so much paperwork we are just getting through the day.
  • We have always been taken for granted, and after all that we went through during covid and all its implications where we were essential, we still are not recognised for what we did. We’re so tired of being undervalued, underpaid, and overworked, we are over our profession.
  • We are professionals working ridiculously long hours for little pay. We steal things from home for our under-resourced centres and we are exhausted.
  • Government needs to stand and stop providers profiting of Australia children and early educators or we will have no strong economy in the future.
  • With the cost of living rising, educators are leaving every day , as it is near impossible to survive on the wages we receive. After over 20 years in the industry, I’ve lost my mojo , mostly to the pay but also educators well-being.


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