Welcome back to the New Year. Let us hope that in 2021 we can all stay safe and that the year ahead is less stressful for us all as we enter our new normal.
This time last year I was talking to a friend whose son works in the UK in a big financial institution – and I asked her what his view of the economic world was in the foreseeable future considering what was beginning to happen with COVID-19 around the world. He said the world will never be the same again! Of course, we had no idea what was ahead of us and the impact it would have on the world, but he was right – the world will never be the same again.
I am in awe of early childhood teachers who navigated their way through the most difficult year we could have imagined. The rules changed every day and we were given little support or guidance by the department. We made it up as we went along. We were considered essential workers but were not treated as such or supplied with the PPE, given guidance and support or the policies and protocols we needed. We were some of the first to lose JobKeeper – but we kept on as we always have on low pay, with poor conditions and little support except from our union and other peak bodies.
The one good thing was free early childhood education which certainly benefitted families and children in these difficult times. However, it was not an ideal system for many service types, and they suffered financially through this. Teachers lost hours and pay. Enrolments declined. The diversity of our service types will always be a challenge but more consultation with the sector would certainly help. We still don’t know what the future holds in regard to long term funding.
More support from our funding bodies and more information about what to expect in 2021 and beyond is needed.
The IEU has recently called for teachers to be considered frontline workers and to be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. If this happens it would certainly be a positive message to us that what we do is considered vitally important and that our work has meant that other essential workers can continue to do their jobs and keep Australia moving forward.
I wish you all the very best for 2021 – and please know that the IEU is supporting you all the way.