Early childhood education continues to be undervalued

The uncertainty remains for early childhood education teachers, assistants and their students with the Federal Government again failing to provide ongoing funding to the sector beyond 2019.

In early February, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham yet again announced a single additional year of Universal Access funding for kindergartens and preschools for 2019 – further perpetuating the government’s piecemeal approach to supporting the sector.

Universal Access funding provides vital support to the early childhood education sector as part of the National Partnership arrangements. Unfortunately this funding has been subject to year by year consideration by the Federal Government as they fail to commit to a permanent funding arrangement.

IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Industrial Officer Verena Heron said underfunding in the early childhood sector persists even though research has shown time and again that the education a child receives at ages two, three, and four is equally important to that which she receives at ages eight, 12 or 14.

“Successive governments have treated early childhood education as no more than ‘babysitting’ and failed to provide adequate long term funding,” Verena said.

Our Union is taking a stand against the continued undervaluing of early childhood education professionals.

Fund our future

With the Federal Government position falling short of the ongoing funding required for the future of the sector and its children, IEUA QNT members will be continuing the Fund our Future campaign.

The campaign, launched in 2017, calls for the Federal Government to get serious about funding the education of some of Australia’s youngest and most vulnerable learners.

IEUA-QNT member and Director of Borilla Community Kindergarten, Jenny Finlay, said the current federal funding arrangement is a clear indication that early childhood education is not a priority of the Federal Government.

“The piecemeal approach that is being taken doesn’t allow for long-term planning in kindergartens.

“Each year we are left guessing whether or not we will be receiving funding for our centres.

“What the Federal Government is doing in terms of funding does not align with its repeated rhetoric about the importance of early childhood education,” Jenny said.

IEUA-QNT Senior Industrial Officer John Spriggs said for the last six years a climate of uncertainty has surrounded the sector, leaving parents and staff unsure whether kindergartens will receive the funding that is so vital to the provision of early childhood education.

“Pushing our kindergarten staff and the children in their care into a perpetual funding limbo is not how you sustain quality education.

“The lack of commitment to Universal Access Funding by the Federal Government is simply shameful in the face of the quality education our children deserve.

“Kindergarten staff deserve to be supported in the work they do to provide quality education.

“Ultimately the Federal Government’s current funding approach is just not good enough for the future of our nation as a whole.”

John said the IEUA-QNT will work with stakeholders in the sector to further push for permanent funding arrangements.

Sign the online petition at www.megaphone.org.au/petition/fund-our-future to send a clear message to the Federal Government that they must Fund our Future.

To find out more visit www.fundourfuture.net.au

Exemplary educators study

Has your centre received an exceeding rating in every possible National Quality Standard Assessment and sub-standard? Are you interested in why your work as an early childhood teacher is undervalued?
If so, you are invited to participate in a research project being undertaken by a research consortium from Charles Stuart University, Queensland University of Technology and Rutgers University which will be exploring the complexity of your work and how your status as an early childhood professional can be strengthened and maintained.
For more information, see https://www.ieu.asn.au/news-publications/news/2018/01/exemplary-educators-study
Please contact Kim Crisp at kim.crisp@qut.edu.au if you would like to participate. The IEUA has committed significant funding to this research.