news

Seriously good news for women everywhere.

Catherine Deveny

By CATHERINE DEVENY

Awesome news for feminism, childcare workers, kids, parents and single older homeless women sleeping in cars.

After a passionate and determined United Voice campaign Big Steps, Australia’s childcare professionals have received a substantial raise.

*sound effect of the whole nation exhaling as they say ‘about bloody time!’*

To be more concise our childcare professionals are finally getting the long overdue correction they deserve. And with it comes respect and recognition for some of our most loved and lowest paid workers.

It will also contribute to a high quality and skilled childcare sector.

And, strap yourself in, guess what? It will not cost parents or centres a cent thanks to the Gillard government.

I know! This is the gift that keeps on giving.

But wait, there’s more. This pay increase will lead to women no longer leaving a job they love in droves because they can’t live on the low wage previously paid to childcare professionals. (Which is a bonus for kids and parents because no one likes dropping their little munchkins off to an educator they don’t know.) This cash catch up will help stop the turnover of passionate, dedicated and talented staff.

This victory will have further reaching benefits that may surprise you. It will lower the amount of domestic violence, mental illness and older homeless women sleeping in cars.

Let me explain.

Childcare, like most of the professions that are female dominated, has been underpaid and under recognized for… well since babies were invented.

Make no bones about it. This is a feminist issue.

Globally, women currently earn 10% of the money and own 1% of the property. In Australia women earn 83% in the dollar to men.

They are less likely to get employed as they age and if they do they will earn less money and perform a much higher percentage of unpaid domestic labor and caring.

If current earning patterns continue, the average 25-year-old male starting work today will earn $2.4 million over the next 40 years while the average 25-year-old female will earn $1.5 million. Over a life-time of working, a woman will earn almost one million dollars less than a man.”

In other words, there is a $1 million penalty for being a woman in Australia today.

(That’s according to AMP/NATSEM Income and Wealth Report, Issue 22, She works hard for the money: Australian women and the gender divide)

ADVERTISEMENT

The rate of older single homeless women is increasing at a drastic rate. More women are finding themselves on their own in later life. Due to social progression there is no longer the same amount of religious oppression, financial control and social pressure to stay in relationships that have run their course.

And because they are financially disadvantaged through low wages and limited employment opportunities they find themselves with no services and they end up sleeping in cars.

Because of women’s financial inequity they often end up staying in an abusive relationship in exchange for a roof over their head. And the stress of unemployment, poverty and domestic violence often lead to depression, substance abuse and stress related illness.

This raise in wages will make huge impact on such circumstances for childcare workers.

Childcare professional will receive $3.00 to $5.23 an hour ($114 to $198.74 a week), a 15 per cent pay increase for those with Certificate III qualifications which means $5000 a year for some of Australia’s most loved but lowest paid workers.

I’m not over the moon about it because I believe ‘caring for children is the most important job in the world’. I don’t. Yes, it’s important but so are heaps of jobs. See nurses, teachers, bus drivers, social workers, disability and aged care workers, psychologists, comedians, pilots, cleaners, police, paramedics etc. for more information.

Yep I don’t think that ‘caring for children is the most important job in the world’. Actually I think that rhetoric is harmful and used to keep women working for long hours receiving low wages.

Or worse still, if you think of mums working 24/7 for no wages being placated with the ego stroke of ‘But it’s the most important job in the world…’

It’s a job that requires skill, talent, passion, education, hard work and dedication. But, as Irene Bolger put it during the 1986 nurse’s strike ‘Dedication doesn’t pay the rent.’

Along with the announcement of the wage increase the Gillard government also committed to establishing a Pay Equity Unit in Fair Work Australia tasked with finding a long-term solution for professional wages for the whole sector. This will raise income and conditions of many low waged women.

I just think everyone deserve a fair days work for a fair days pay recognizing their skill and experience and being able to enjoy the spoils of our very lucky country.

Yes we’ve got a long way to go, but let’s remember, we’ve come a long way baby.

*Pops champagne*

Catherine Deveny is currently performing in her one-woman show Curvy Crumpet as part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Finishes Sunday. Book tickets here.

00:00 / ???