Big Steps for undervalued work

The F Collection is a blog project by F that highlights a feminist or women’s rights campaign, group or issue every Monday. Read on!

This is a guest post by Gabe Kavanagh, F Collective member and Organiser at United Voice.

One of the biggest reasons for the dreaded Gender Pay Gap is the undervaluation of feminised labour. Meaning, that the work that women tend to do is not highly valued by our society.

A prime example of this is Early Childhood Education and Care (you might know this industry as childcare). The (94.4% women) workers in this sector start out on $18.96/hr and don’t progress much further than that to $25.65/hr. According to the National Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Census, 60% of full time workers in the sector earn between 31,200 and $51,999 per year with 20% earning less than $31 200 per year.

So… educators have decided enough is enough. Members of United Voice (formerly the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union) have started up the Big Steps campaign. The campaign is fighting to see that early childhood educators are paid as educators, and not as babysitters. Early childhood educators work with a mandatory curriculum (the Early Years Leaning Framework) to develop young children through child-centred programs. The work that is done in childcare centres is professional and crucial for our society.

The campaign is demanding that the federal government put an additional $1.4bn into the long day care sector to fund increased wages. This funding would go towards roughly 35% pay rises across the entire Long Day Care workforce.

The government needs to be putting more money into the Long Day Care system as this is the only way we will see wages rise in the sector. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that there are 17000 children who are not able to access early childhood education and care due to the cost.

The Federal Government is seeking to ensure that there is universal access to early childhood education for 15 hours a week in the year before the child starts school. This is because the outcomes of placing a child in an early education facility have been widely recognised. Brain development from the ages of birth to 6 is universally recognised as being the most crucial in the development of a child.

In order for the 58 000 women who work in the long day care sector to be properly paid for the important work that they do in our society, the federal government needs to kick in $1.4bn. This will ensure that the educators who are trusted to teach children at their most vulnerable are paid like educators and not babysitters.

For more information on the campaign, or to sign up: http://bigsteps.org.au/

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