MEDIA RELEASE Early Educators petition Government for JobKeeper during lockdown in Victoria

Thousands of educators across the country are calling on the Federal and State Government to reinstate JobKeeper for Early Childhood Educators in Victoria for the length of the Stage 4 restrictions.

Yesterday Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that as of Thursday, early childhood services in Melbourne will close, except for children of essential workers and vulnerable children.

Workers in early childhood education have already lost access to JobKeeper, meaning tens of thousands of educators working in federally-funded long day care services across Melbourne are facing today’s announcement with no guarantee of income for at least the next 6 weeks.

United Workers Union is calling on the State and Federal Government to extend JobKeeper to early educators in Victoria, with a petition launched only last night gathering more than 5,000 signatures and counting.

UWU’ Early Childhood Education and Care Director Helen Gibbons said: “The Government did not listen to the sector when they cut off early education from the JobKeeper scheme. That appalling decision now leaves tens of thousands of Melbourne educators at risk of being stood down without pay.
“JobKeeper was not implemented well in early education but it is the easiest solution to this crisis.

“If the Government just increases the current transitional payment in early education, this money could go straight to shareholders, with no guarantee of wages for workers. The Government must listen to educators now.

“Extending JobKeeper to educators is the only way to provide them with the same safety net as other sectors and guarantee that Victorian early education weathers this next lockdown.”

Karen has been an early childhood educator for more than 15 years, and currently works in a centre in Melton.

“We can’t afford to be without wages. Most of us have used all our entitlements in the last lockdown, and we have nothing left. How are we going to feed our children or pay our bills?

“How are we even going to survive?”

One Early Education Centre Director in western Melbourne said: “We are all feeling overwhelmed and worried about our sector. How are we going to come out the other side of this without Government support?”

Shelley Duggan has worked as an early childhood educator in Victoria for more than 18 years.

“Educators like me have already lost the support of JobKeeper. Now we are now faced with no guarantee of our income for at least the next 6 weeks.

“This crisis has been an incredibly exhausting and anxious time for everyone working in early education. Tens of thousands of educators across Melbourne have been on the front lines of this pandemic. We have kept going to work every day despite the risk to ourselves and our loved ones. Instead of thanking us for our contribution, the Federal Government kicked us off Job Keeper before anyone else.

“That’s why we are calling on the State and Federal Governments to immediately guarantee educators’ wages. We deserve the same safety net as other Melbourne workers.”