Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Director Early Education, United Workers Union:

“United Workers Union welcomes today’s announcement by the Victorian Government for a better future for early learning in Victoria.

“The fifty early learning centres committed to by the State Government mean great quality early education will be delivered on school grounds to Victorian children. These new centres will be built in Victorian areas that need them most, and run directly by the State Government – not for profit.

“Educators will be directly employed by the government, providing stable, well supported jobs for thousands of educators and a commitment to quality. This is a huge step in cutting out private profiteering in the sector, and provides a new model that other states should look to adopt to provide the best early learning outcomes for all children.

“The Government’s new workforce initiatives demonstrate that the Victorian government continues to lead the way in supporting and valuing the important role that educators play in young lives and in shaping our future.

“UWU members believe that every child deserves quality early education. By introducing legislation to protect access to 3-year-old kinder, and by forging the way in delivering fifty state-run centres, the Victorian Government is investing in children, educators and families.”



Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]


On October 12 there was an historic meeting of unions, employers, educators and peak bodies from across the early education sector co-ordinated by Early Childhood Australia (ECA) and the United Workers Union.

Reprsentatives from every part of the early childhood education sector unanimously issued the following statement:

This meeting unanimously agreed that we are facing an enormous workforce crisis that needs urgent action. Early childhood education and care has been undervalued and low wages are a major contributor to the current workforce crisis – it is long past time for action.

The meeting also noted that the ambitious agenda of the new federal government in early education was dependent on stabilising the enormous workforce turnover and addressing the chronic shortages nationwide in time for the sector to implement proposed reforms to the Child Care Subsidy taking effect next July because it will create extra demand for places from working parents.

After robust discussions, we committed to work together to develop sustainable solutions that respect and value early educators and drive up their wages.  The sector has heard the call from government to collaborate. We discussed the government’s proposal to open up multi-employer bargaining and their clear indication that this style of bargaining may provide a pathway for early education to lift wages. Other alternatives were also canvassed and the diverse needs and circumstances of all care types considered.

We have committed to meet again in four weeks to explore options including multi-employer bargaining and plot out timelines and processes. It is essential that this meeting includes the primary funder of early education, the federal government, and we look forward to engaging with them.


Quotes attributable to Tamika, early childhood educator:

“The Summit brought together leaders in our sector from all across the country all having the important conversation about our profession and the value of educators.

“Everyone was on the same page which made us really hopeful and optimistic. We are looking at exciting new and different ways to achieve the sector that all children and educators deserve.

“It really feels like there is momentum and this is an opportunity which I’ve never seen before. Everyone who was in the room agreed to meet again in four weeks’ time, and it was great to see everyone in the same room working together for a better sector.”


Participating organisations included:

  • United Workers Union
  • Early Childhood Australia
  • SNAICC – Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care
  • Goodstart Early Learning
  • G8 Education
  • C&K
  • Child Australia
  • KU Children’s Services
  • Independent Education Union
  • Australian Education Union
  • Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA)
  • Community Connections Solutions Australia (CCSA)
  • Family Day Care Australia (FDC)
  • Community Early Learning Australia (CELA)
  • Community Child Care Association (CCCS)
  • National Outside School Hours Services Alliance (NOSHSA)




UWU Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]

ECA Media Contact: Reshma Jayesh, 0475 554 999, [email protected]


United Workers Union members in early education have a clear message for this week’s Jobs Summit: deliver real change for undervalued educators now, because there is no early education without us.

UWU Director of Early Education, Helen Gibbons, said that union members had voiced concerns that the Summit may not commit to the extent of reform required to fix the staffing crisis in early learning.

A survey of educators just this week showed the crisis is urgent and growing:

  • 88% of educators said that if nothing changes, the sector does not offer them a long term future.
  • 98.5% of educators said that the staffing shortages in early education are impacting the quality of care and education children receive.
  • Over 99% of educators said that workload and staffing issues in the sector are making educators feel burnt out and undervalued.

Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Director Early Education, United Workers Union:

“The results are in – educators cannot afford to stay in the sector, and the sector cannot deliver quality early learning without educators. We need real reform now.

“This is why educators are closing centres and taking to the streets all across the country next week on September 7th. They are demanding action.

“Early education is still facing an ever-worsening staffing crisis due to unmanageable workloads, stress and low wages. 81% of centre directors say they have had difficulties in attracting and recruiting staff.

“We know that all around the country, services are being forced to cap enrolments or close rooms because they simply cannot stem the tide of fed-up educators leaving the sector every day.

“UWU members’ vision is for a sector where educators’ vital work is valued with professional wages and working conditions, and where early education is recognised as part of the education sector.

“Children and families deserve a truly high quality early learning system that is universally accessible to all children and families regardless of where they live or what kind of background they come from. This future is only possible with well-paid, professionally-supported educators who are respected for vital work that they do.”

Educators who responded to the survey said:

  • The lack of staffing means I end up doing unpaid work at home to try to keep up when my planning time is always being taken off me, this is unfair to myself and the children I plan for.
  • I’ve been an early childhood educator for over 25 years and I’m now looking for another job not in child care as I’m so burnt out and over everything else I don’t feel the quality of care is there anymore as I have so much paperwork we are just getting through the day.
  • We have always been taken for granted, and after all that we went through during covid and all its implications where we were essential, we still are not recognised for what we did. We’re so tired of being undervalued, underpaid, and overworked, we are over our profession.
  • We are professionals working ridiculously long hours for little pay. We steal things from home for our under-resourced centres and we are exhausted.
  • Government needs to stand and stop providers profiting of Australia children and early educators or we will have no strong economy in the future.
  • With the cost of living rising, educators are leaving every day , as it is near impossible to survive on the wages we receive. After over 20 years in the industry, I’ve lost my mojo , mostly to the pay but also educators well-being.


Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]


The announcement yesterday of G8’s next chief executive has highlighted the profit-driven culture of early learning in Australia.

G8 is the largest for-profit provider in the country. Yesterday G8 CEO Gary Carroll announced his resignation, and reports have identified his replacement as Pejman Okhovat, head of discount store chain Big W. When Mr Okhovat moves to G8, his base pay will be $950,000 but including bonuses could become up to $2.6 million per year.

Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Director Early Education, United Workers Union:

“Appointing a retail executive to run early learning services is not only laughable, it’s dangerous.

“No one would make the ex CEO of Big W the principal of school, in charge of school-aged children. Why then are we allowing the same person to run one of the largest providers of early learning in the country, to be responsible for the first five years of growth and development of hundreds of thousands of children?

“A $2.6 million salary is even more obscene when educators earn as little as $24 an hour, and G8 has a documented history of underpaying educators even their basic legal entitlements.

“The fact that this is even possible shows how broken our current early learning system is.

“Early learning providers too often prioritise profits over children. No one should be making obscene profits out of the education of our youngest children.

“This is why educators everywhere are taking action on September 7, and shutting down the early learning sector to fight for real reform.

“It’s time to reform the early learning sector for good!”




Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]


Yesterday hundreds of member leaders from all across the country came together and voted to take historic action to address the crisis in early education.

Educators are leaving the sector in record numbers every week, due to burn-out, workload and low pay. Centres across the country are having to limit enrolments, close rooms and cancel staff leave. Children and families are suffering due to the strain.

After nearly a decade of inaction on early learning, educators have had enough!

Yesterday’s meeting was just the start. Educators are talking to each other all over the country and building a nationwide action!

United Workers Union members are calling for the new Federal Government to urgently outline a plan and timeline to deliver on 3 key priorities:

  • Give us a reason to stay & pay us what we are worth,
  • Value early learning as part of the education system, just as important as schools, and
  • Put children before profit.

It’s time to reform the early learning sector for good!

On Early Childhood Educators Day on September 7, educators everywhere are going to take national action, shut down the early learning sector and take to the streets!

Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Director Early Education, United Workers Union:

“Educators are sick of being stuck. After nearly a decade of inaction the new Federal Government needs to commit to an urgent plan to fix the early education sector.

“UWU members’ vision is for a sector where educators’ vital work is valued with professional wages and working conditions, and where early education is recognised for its vital role in children’s development.

“The only way out of the crisis in early learning is real reform that respects educators.”



Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]



Today the United Workers Union and the Australian Education Union jointly called on the Federal Government and National Cabinet to take five critical steps to protect the young children who attend early education and the educators who care for them.

  • Early educators to be nationally defined and recognised as frontline essential workers.
  • Early educators should have priority access to PCR testing if required. Rapid Antigen Tests to be free and accessible for all educators, with clear and consistent testing, tracking and isolating protocols and procedures to manage staff shortages.
  • The definition of close contacts must include exposure at work as well as home. Educators need to be financially supported to isolate.
  • Centres that need to close for periods because of staff shortages to have access to financial support.
  • As frontline essential workers, early educators to have priority access to vaccine booster appointments.

Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Director Early Education, United Workers Union

“As the omicron variant sweeps through Australia early education is incredibly vulnerable.

“Little children under five cannot yet be vaccinated. As a community, we need to do everything we can to protect them and the people that surround them, that’s why we’re asking the Federal Government and National Cabinet to take urgent action on these five critical support measures.

“Educators are being frequently exposed to infection but have little support to get tested or to isolate. The sector relies heavily on casual workers, but these educators face financial insecurity and enormous pressure to return to work, potentially putting themselves and the community at risk.

“Rules about exposure and isolation are inconsistently applied across the country and often centre directors are having to make decisions that should be clearly guided by public health.

“Centres face losing government funding if they close because they can’t find enough staff. The pressure on centres to stay open is enormous and places children at risk.

“This is a further reminder that the current early education system is not fit for purpose and needs urgent reform. Early educators are doing their part. For nearly two years they have kept centres open and kept children safe. They need help.

“Without a clear and consistent national plan for early education and to keep centres open, educators, families and businesses already struggling with a national workforce crisis will suffer.”

The United Workers Union is the union for Early Childhood Education and Care.


Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]