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Minderoo Foundation’s Jay Weatherill said that increasing educator wages was a very positive step and will help address challenges with workforce shortages in the sector, ultimately benefiting Australian children and families.

“Early childhood educators play a vital role in children’s lives and it is very encouraging to see that they will finally be receiving a long overdue and well-deserved pay increase,” Mr Weatherill said.

“We congratulate the Federal Government for recognising that for far too long, early educators have been undervalued and unfairly compensated.

“More than 9 in 10 early childhood educators in Australia are women [1] so this announcement is also about valuing the work of women and the contributions made by women to the national economy.

“This measure will also help tackle the workforce shortages that the early learning system has been battling.

“We know that over the past couple of years, many educators have had to make the extremely tough decision of leaving the sector due to low wages, contributing to the shortage.

“These shortages have also led to many families and children missing out on early learning and some centres around the country have had to stop or pause new enrolments due to a lack of educators.

“This wage increase will help strengthen the workforce by both attracting and retaining educators, which will in turn help make early learning more accessible.

“This budget however has not delivered on the Government’s commitment to re-examine the childcare subsidy Activity Test, which is currently locking 126,000 children out of early years education [2].

The Activity Test determines how much subsidy a family is eligible for – and therefore how much it can save on childcare fees – based on hours spent working or studying.

“Abolishing this punitive measure would help increase access to early learning for thousands of children across Australia, particularly from First Nations families, low-income families, single-parent families and families from diverse backgrounds.

“It will also help give a significant boost to the Australian economy by lifting workforce participation by primary carers, who are predominantly women.

“We look forward to the Government responding to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on the Activity Test after it receives the report in June,” Mr Weatherill said.

[1] Australian Government – Department of Education – Early Childhood Workforce

[2] Impact Policy and Economics – Activity Test Report