Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Statements by Senators

Early Childhood Educators' Day

1:41 pm

Photo of Marielle SmithMarielle Smith (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today is Early Childhood Educators' Day, where we get to celebrate every single early educator across our country for the absolutely life-changing work that they do. But these educators have been doing it tough. Through the height of the pandemic and beyond, they have not been valued in the way that they should be for the vital work that they do each and every single day. They are not appreciated enough and they're not paid enough. So it's no surprise today that thousands of these workers are walking off the job to stand up for their wages and conditions at work.

I am here in the Senate today standing in solidarity with these workers. If I were in Adelaide, I would be joining my son and my daughter's carers as they walked out of their centre. I would be standing with them because I value them. More than that, like many families across Australia, I depend on them and I adore them. They are an extension of our family, and I know they deserve so much more.

Our industrial system has been failing these workers. It's failed to deliver the pay rises that these workers deserve. Like workers right across our care economy, workers in female dominated industries have been let down by the current industrial system and are unable to access the right compensation for the incredible work they do, the essential work they do. I know the answers aren't always simple here, but I want every early educator in Australia to know that I am advocating for you every step of the way. I see the work that you do as an extension of the families who place their trust in you, and also what you do for our nation. The work you do with our littlest and most precious minds is fundamentally important to our success as a country. We value you and we see you. Thank you for the work you do. I know it's a tough decision to walk off the job today, but we understand and are in solidarity.