Page 152 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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program, we have committed to extend the program for another three years. In addition to this, we will also fund a program to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to complete early childhood education and training.

Furthermore, we will offer scholarships to contribute to the costs of obtaining an early childhood teaching degree, which will become more important as this will be a requirement of the national quality framework as well, so that we start to move people through their qualifications and bring more teachers into the sector.

Another key initiative which the ACT government has proudly supported is an awareness campaign designed to attract new educators to the sector and increase the community’s understanding of the important work our professional educators do each day. The government is investing $16,000 to kick-start this initiative. Just as significant is the fact that the sector itself has joined together to raise the rest of the money to develop TV commercials, marketing materials and a website. A further $50,000 has been pledged by this government over the next two years to ensure the ongoing success of the campaign. This campaign will serve to increase the capacity of the education and care workforce to meet the growing demand for childcare places.

In August 2008 ACT Labor launched the big steps campaign along with the sector and United Voice. Big steps, as we know, is the campaign for professional recognition and wages for early childhood educators. By supporting big steps, the ACT government recognises early childhood education as an essential service which fulfils key educational workforce participation and social inclusion goals. The Gillard government is already having this conversation with the sector because they, too, recognise the vital role early childhood educators play in our community and with our families and our children.

As I spoke about yesterday, it is important to ensure that early childhood educators are properly recognised for the role they play in the development of our territory’s children. In my previous life, I was struck by the fact that some educators and carers could not afford to have their own children in education and care. It is incumbent on us, I believe, to ensure that this does not become the norm.

This government is not looking at these important matters in isolation. Rather, it is implementing a broad range of measures to find more effective solutions, solutions which ensure families can choose education and care with confidence, and that the work of our educator workforce in the ACT is valued. It is therefore vitally important that today the Legislative Assembly reaffirms its commitment to the early childhood education sector, to deliver on these commitments to ensure that ACT families continue to have access to high quality and affordable childcare, continue to implement the provisions of the national quality framework for childcare and reconfirm its support for early childhood educators and their big steps campaign, which aims to achieve professional recognition and professional wages.

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (11.48): I rise today to speak about the importance of early childhood education and child care and the failure of the previous and current Labor governments to support and encourage this important sector. I also foreshadow that I will be circulating an amendment to this motion to reflect that. Unfortunately,

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