By CATHERINE DEVENY
Are you okay with the fact that we pay our cleaners more than our childcare educators?
I’m not. And I haven’t been for a long, long time.
Particularly considering the epidemic in helicopter parenting, clipboard holding school shoppers, attachment parenting, after-school cramming classes, co-sleeping, ‘mummy blogs’ and general obsession with providing children with some imaginary perfect life.
The notion of ‘best care’ seems rather selective.
The obsession with the perfect diet, germ free homes, attempted social engineering by selective socialising, harm minimisation through choice of the correct fabrics, risk minimisation with helmets, knee and elbow pads, stranger danger and safe searches.
There has never been more time, energy and thought spent on the raising of babies, toddlers and children, yet we pay our childcare workers such dismal wages it’s leading to 180 childcare educators leaving the sector every week. That’s not good. For anyone. Kids, parents or childcare educators. Why don’t we care? We should.
Parents will brag about how much their kid’s stroller costs and rail at what they pay for childcare, often while often bragging about how wonderful the care, carers and centre is. Yet they’ll be silent or unaware about the federal minimum wage currently being $15.51 per hour, while some childcare workers earn just $15.86 per hour while the highest qualified earn only $23.32 per hour.
(And don’t give me the ‘well some get above award wage’. Don’t damn them with faint praise. Even if they are getting above the award they are still getting at least $5 less an hour than they should for their skill, experience and education. Don’t suggest they feel grateful for not being ripped off AS much.)
Childcare is expensive to provide. Fact. So too is the military, police force, hospitals, border control etc. Fact.
Yet there is no more important investment than childcare.
Childcare is particularly expensive in Australia. But childcare educators are not being paid enough. And no, parents should not be subsiding the wages of childcare workers, nor should it be the providers of care. The government should be subsidising the wages of childcare educators. Simple.
And it’s not a subsidy. It’s an investment. Smack on the wrist for me.Childcare fees in Australia have increased dramatically over the past 12 months from $63.21 to $70.29 per day. That’s just one day, one child.
No one who cares for children does it for the money. But that doesn’t mean we should just let them be paid dismal wages that do not reflect the demands of the job and the skill, experience and education required.
Time this was rectified don’t you think? For the kids, the parents, the childcare educators and society. Because the care of children is the whole of society’s responsibility and the outcome affects us all.