Page 162 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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MADAM SPEAKER: The question now is that Ms Berry’s motion be agreed to.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (12.21): Thank you to Mr Hanson for being part of my first experience in moving my first item of private members’ business. I do not know yet whether I have enjoyed that. We will see.

I think Mr Hanson’s comments reflect a bit of a serious misunderstanding about the role of early childhood education in our community. A couple of weekends ago over 12,000 people across the country—educators, parents and community supporters—came together supporting the big steps campaign and the role that early childhood educators play in our community. It seems that in Mr Hanson’s world early childhood education is either an opportunity for making money or that it is some sort of an impost on government.

This government’s view, however, is different and we understand the importance of early childhood education. Mr Hanson believes that he can speak on behalf of ACT parents. Well, he does not speak for Angela Shearer, a mother of two children under the age of four years who fully supports the government’s active role in early childhood education and the big steps campaign. She says, “Educators do work that requires specific skill sets and training and I cannot understand how society does not recognise this and pay accordingly.” She is concerned about the high rate of turnover of staff and she says, “Why should I expect my children to feel comfortable around strangers if I do not? Big steps and professional wages would mean better continuity of care.”

She goes on to say that she believes that early childhood educators are truly amazing and inspiring people. She says, “They are responsible for the future health and development of my children and their impact has lasting effects on learning and emotional stability. Quality educators form genuine bonds with my children. They educate, care and love my children, which is why the continuity of care is so vital. The expectations placed on childcare educators are vast and highly demanding.”

Mr Hanson also forgets to mention the vital role that educators play in the development of our children, educators like Tim. Tim is passionate about working in early childhood education and he is studying for his Bachelor in Early Childhood Education. He just turned 25 this month.

But for Tim, his passion for this work has meant that he has had to return to his home in Harden, New South Wales, travelling to work in Nicholls every day because he cannot afford to live in Canberra on the childcare educators’ rate of pay. It is a trip which takes him 1½ hours each way. That is the dedication he has to the sector. He will travel that distance, do the work that he loves, to give our children in the ACT the best start in their life for a wage of $18-something an hour.

I would also like to draw attention to the scholarships that the ACT government has been providing to the early childhood sector. Whilst Mr Hanson was saying that the government is pretending to support the sector, if the government had not been providing these scholarships for people on low incomes like early childhood educators,

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