Hundreds of childcare workers rallied on the steps of the Victorian state parliament on November 17. The rally was organised by United Voice as part of its Big Steps campaign, a national push to improve wages and conditions in the childcare industry.
After speeches from union delegates and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the crowd marched to the Victorian Treasury gardens.
The rally was organised to highlight how childcare workers deserve better wages and conditions given the important social function they perform. Despite the fact that childcare workers are required to hold vocational qualifications, poor wages and conditions are normal in the industry. Many childcare workers earn the national minimum wage of $35,000.
As a result, the industry has a high turnover rate with one third of childcare workers leaving each year.
Many parents took part in the rally because they know poor wages and conditions have a negative effect on their children's early education.
Jess Walsh, Victorian secretary of United Voice, said low wages damaged the quality of childcare services. “Research shows that early childhood is the most crucial time in the education of our kids, and that they need to forge bonds with their educators in order to get the best start in life," she said.
“But miserably low wages are forcing them to abandon the jobs they love, and that’s incredibly distressing to children when they are torn away from the educators they have come to love and trust — often over and over again.”
Poor wages and conditions harm both children and the careers of childcare workers. Childcare workers are early educators and they must be paid professional salaries.
For more information on the Big Steps campaign please visit the official website.