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The payments, aimed to address ‘placement poverty’, were announced this recently for teaching, nursing and social work students. 

Education Minister Jason Clare confirmed in a press conference they would also apply to students studying a Bachelor of Early Childhood, which is required to teach kindergarten, and that there were already similar payments in place for students studying early childhood at TAFE.

Jay Weatherill from Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five campaign said the payments were a small but important step in making early childhood education an attractive career. 

“We cannot have accessible and high-quality childcare and kindergarten for our children without early childhood educators. But people are currently being turned away from the profession, not just because of the costs associated with student placements, but by the low rates of pay,” Mr Weatherill said. 

Unions, employers and the Federal Government are currently negotiating a wage rise, with the Government being asked to fund it so as to not pass on the cost to parents through fee rises. 

“Early childhood educators, around nine out of 10 of whom are women, are currently some of the lowest paid qualified workers in the country, with some earning as little as $23 an hour,” Mr Weatherill said. 

“Many are leaving the profession for higher-paying industries because they simply cannot make ends meet. And that is hurting children and families – just yesterday we learned the rollout of free kinder in Victoria was being delayed because of a staffing shortage.”

“Paid placements are a step in the right direction to make this vital profession more attractive, but what we are really hoping to see from the Federal Government in next week’s budget is a 25 per cent pay rise.”