House debates

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Statements by Members

Fitzgerald, Ms Sue

4:50 pm

Photo of David FeeneyDavid Feeney (Batman, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Justice) Share this | | Hansard source

It is impossible to exaggerate how invaluable those who dedicate their lives to the care, education, growth and joy of our youngest children are to our community. My local community of Fairfield has been blessed over many years with one such individual, who has now announced her plan to retire. Known to most people as Miss Sue, Ms Sue Fitzgerald, the director of Alfred Nuttall Memorial Kindergarten in my electorate, is planning to hang up her hat at the end of this year. During her 30 years of service, Miss Sue has seen approximately 1,500 children enter her doors, first as the director of the Wonthaggi Kindergarten for two years before joining the Alfred Nuttall Memorial Kindergarten in 1988.

I had the honour of visiting Alfred Nuttall Memorial Kindergarten earlier this year, and during my visit Miss Sue was generous enough to share her expertise and her views on a range of issues with me—issues ranging from unsafe pedestrian crossings near her kinder to the long waiting lists for child health services, and from the challenges the kinder faces in implementing the national quality framework to the need for securing ongoing funding for early childcare centres. Every issue Miss Sue raised comes from her three decades of experience as a frontline childhood educator.

It goes without saying that Miss Sue cares a lot about children, but she has the interests of her staff and all early childcare workers at heart too. During my visit I was advised by Miss Sue that, as a result of the fragmentation of kindergarten management in Victoria, it has become significantly difficult for early childcare workers to access their workplace entitlements. Miss Sue believes it is simply unfair that an individual who has worked for three different kindergartens across the management spectrum would need to pursue each employer to access entitlements such as long service leave. There should be portability for those entitlements. In the case of smaller kindergartens, Miss Sue informs me, a former employee may find themselves in a situation where an individual employer simply does not have the funds to pay them out.

I suspect that, on the cusp of her retirement, Miss Sue wanted to do as much as possible to make Alfred Nuttall Memorial Kindergarten a better place for the children and a better place for the educators. Here is an early childhood educator who is fully embracing not only the joy but also the challenges of her work. As the father of a three-year-old boy, I believe I can say on behalf of all parents that we remain eternally grateful to those who love and care for our children at times when we're unable to do so. This Sunday afternoon Alfred Nuttall Memorial Kindergarten will hold an event to commemorate, reflect on and acknowledge Miss Sue for her tremendous contribution to her kindergarten and her local community. This is an opportunity to show the affection our community feel for both Miss Sue and the centre she has run for nearly 30 years. I join the Alfred Nuttall Memorial Kindergarten and the Fairfield community in thanking Miss Sue and wishing her all the best.