Supporting the independent education community

Response to the federal government’s early childhood package

News release:

2 April 2020
Response to the federal government’s early childhood package

The IEU cautiously welcomes the federal government’s Early Childhood Education and Care Relief package, announced on Tuesday 2 April, which appears to embrace some of the sector’s concerns.

While at first glance the government’s pledge to pay 50% of a centre’s revenue based on early March enrolments will provide sufficient support for many centres, the union is looking closely at what the announcement means sector-wide in terms of jobs.

“The package will help many centres that are on the brink of closure,” said IEU NSW/ACT Branch secretary Mark Northam. “But we are still concerned about widespread loss of employment in the sector as fee revenue subsidy is capped at 50%.”

The union also notes that while some services can access the JobKeeper scheme once their revenue falls by 30% or more, the nation’s biggest non-profit provider, Goodstart, is not eligible, as its revenue tips just over $1 billion. Goodstart employs 16,000 staff.

Today’s announcement does not apply to preschools, which are also facing financial viability issues in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. We call on the NSW government to supplement its Start Strong funding to keep preschools open and teachers employed.

Until all details of the newly announced early childhood education package are clearly understood, the IEU calls on all employers in the sector to cease terminations and constructively explore all options. These include JobKeeper payments and the $14 million Community Child Care Fund Special Circumstances Grant Opportunity for early learning services whose viability is impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The union also reminds employers that all awards and agreements require consultation with staff and their unions before any decisions regarding changes to employment conditions are made. In announcing the new package, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made no mention of work, health and safety issues for staff in early childhood education centres. An open service is only good to staff if it’s a safe service.

If the state government does not deliver on a preschool funding package, parents may abandon preschool to get the fee relief benefits of long day care where the new funding is focused. This would create more problems and ongoing job losses.

Mark Northam, Secretary, IEUA NSW/ACT
Verena Heron, Senior Industrial Officer
Media contacts: Monica Crouch, 8202 8900
Bronwyn Ridgway (a/h) 0433 373 109

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch represents over 31,000 teachers, principals and support staff inCatholic and independent schools, early childhood centres and post-secondary colleges.

Authorised by Mark Northam, Branch Secretary, IEUA NSW/ACT