Early Childhood Building on our success

  • By Meredith Peace
  • This article was published more than 1 year ago.
  • 19 Mar 2023
Daria Nipot/iStock

As kinder programs expand amid workforce shortages across the sector, we need to maintain our pressure on government to invest in early childhood education.

With 2023 well underway, we hope AEU early childhood members have had a positive start to the year. This will be a big year of campaigning for the AEU – to continue advocating for public education and improving the working lives of our members. High on our list are preparations for the development of the VECTEA/EEEA log of claims ahead of bargaining, continued rollout of three-year-old kinder, and the Voice to Parliament campaign.

A lot has been said about teacher shortages in schools, but this is also a concern in the early childhood sector, with thousands of additional teachers and educators needed over the next decade. Shortages impact programs, and create workload challenges for our members.

The AEU has been pushing the Andrews government for investment in attraction and retention strategies, as outlined in the AEU’s Ten-Year Plan for Staffing in Public Education. Whilst the government has invested significantly in early childhood – with scholarship programs that attract new entrants and enable educators to upgrade their qualifications – it must continue to invest, not only to attract new staff, but to address the needs of existing staff.

The issue of unsustainable workloads will be front and centre in negotiations for new benchmark agreements, so it is imperative that all EC members get involved in the development of the log of claims later this year.

As history shows, when we stand together, we can drive change for the benefit of members and children.

Our member campaigns have played a significant part in achieving historic changes. Funded kindergarten programs for all three and four-year-olds are now free. This is a dramatic transformation since the early 1990s, when the Kennett Liberal government changed the rules, requiring parents to partly fund the cost of four-year-old preschool programs.

Sometimes we need to campaign for long periods to achieve change. The introduction of two years of early childhood education was achieved through decades of activism. AEU members campaigned and lobbied over many years to see these two years be provided fee-free, ensuring cost is not a barrier to children attending two years of early childhood education.

With this year’s focus on supporting members through the expansion of kinder programs, the development of the new log of claims, and participating in the national Voice campaign, there is no more important time to build membership in your workplace or network.

As history shows, when we stand together, we can drive change for the benefit of members and children.

Make sure to urge any new teachers and educators to join the AEU. Point to our success in achieving significant government investment in early childhood programs, workforce and infrastructure. All this is testament to our members’ strength and capacity to achieve important change.

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