Page 1066 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 19 March 2013

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are doing during their awareness week and also visit their website to find out more information on how they can get involved and help.

Education—early childhood

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (4.36): I rise today to talk about an announcement that was made by the federal government. I was very proud to join with early childhood educators, parents and United Voice to hear this announcement which related to early childhood educators’ wages. And it was fantastic to be standing alongside educators like Liam McNicholas, Tameka Hicks, Avis Kerr and Anna Whitty and service providers, along with Simon Rosenberg from Northside Community Service, and representatives of Goodstart and KU. We heard the government’s announcement relating to early childhood educators and their wages.

As you would know, Mr Assistant Speaker, I have spoken a number of times in this place about the big steps campaign and the work that educators have been doing through their union and alongside parents to raise the issue of recognition and the value that we place on the essential work that they do in our community, in allowing people like me to enter into full-time employment, work with United Voice and end up here in the Assembly. I do not think we have respected the work that they have done for a very long time but I know that the ACT government has always proudly supported the big steps campaign and the work that early childhood educators do.

Today, it was important that the federal government also acknowledged the important work that they do, and I quote Minister Kate Ellis, the Minister for Early Childhood and Child Care, who said:

We have come a long way since staff were considered as babysitters and they should be recognised as the qualified professionals that they are.

It could not have come any sooner from the perspective of early childhood educators. It was also wonderful to hear Peter Garrett, the federal Minister for School Education, recognising the important work that early childhood educators do in giving our children under five the best start in life and how important it is that the sector has a qualified and professional workforce so that they can deliver this professional care and education for our children. There was a third person there at the announcement today, federal minister Bill Shorten. Again, it was wonderful to hear from him of his recognition of the work of the sector, predominantly a female workforce, and that a task force will be set up to look at the work in the sector and the inequality of wages when compared to more male-dominated sectors where males have the same qualifications.

I think it is important today to acknowledge that this decision recognises not just the qualifications of early childhood educators but also the important emotional investment that they make every day to our children when we drop them off at their early childhood centres. I know how hard early childhood educators have been campaigning for these changes, and I think it is terrific that early childhood educators not only just here in the ACT but all over the country will be able to celebrate tonight

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