Last Thursday the 11th of September I was invited to attend a forum by Michael Sukkar the Federal Member for our electorate of Deakin. The invitation was open to the public and had been sent out to our centre’s email address; I then forwarded it to my educators and families.
In attendance was also the Assistant Minister for Education the Hon Sussan Ley.
I attended with Nicole Hoffman and Melinda Rutland who are united voice members, as well as local centre managers. There were approximately 30 people there from all different types of services, long day care, OSHC and sessional kinder.
The purpose of this forum was for us to hear directly from the Minister on a range of issues, including the current Productivity Commission Inquiry into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning.
The forum started at approximately 3.45 after everyone had arrived and settled, Michael introduced Sussan Ley and she gave us a brief over of the Productivity Commission report as well as adversaries that the early education and care sector is currently facing - She then opened the floor to questions.
I brought up the factor in regards to the ratio’s being averaged out over the week and Certificate Three educators only to be employed with U3 aged children.
She did not address what I said in regards to the ratios but she said that there had been a lot of “noise” surrounding the subject of qualifications.
She advised that usually the draft productivity commission report does not change that much compared to the final report, but in this case she feels that it will look very different when the final report is released. She became quite flustered when questioned and would deflect any questions that she did not want to answer by jumping to the next person.
A prime example of this was when my colleague Nicole Hoffman brought up the subject of professional wages, she did not address this, except to say that there is a case before Fair Work and she was not in a position to talk about this, she then side stepped Nicole’s question to a lady who was sitting in the back row talking with another professional.
When questioned as to what they were talking about the lady said “we were just discussing what Nicole had just said and were agreeing, I am the admin assistant of a local Kinder so while I am not an educator, I am in charge of developing budgets and it is truly shocking that the cleaner can be paid double the amount of our educators.” Sussan really did not have anything to respond to this except go to another person who was waiting to have their voice heard.
While the forum was meant to go for 1.5hours Sussan was only there for 1hour, and speaking for 45mins, and cut the forum short “as she had to get through the traffic.”
This event was clearly a promotional stunt as I don’t feel that anyone’s questions were properly answered or anyone in attendance really got anything out of it.
It was just good to see a lot of passionate individuals who just want what is best for the children that are under our care and education on a daily basis. Everybody in the room was on the same side in regards to the importance of early education and what that means in the long run.
The more that we represent ourselves, our profession and the children, when we are given the opportunity, the more the people in position of power will be forced to listen to us.
If you want to see a change you need to be the change.
I strongly encourage you to do the same if you are given an opportunity like this within your electorate.
Centre Director and United Voice member.