Budget spotlight on early childhood educators

15 May 2024

Child Care

Early childhood educators were in the limelight on the federal budget

Overnight​​ the Albanese government delivered its third budget, and we’re delighted to see that early childhood educators were in the limelight.

Not only did the budget offer tangible funding and initiatives to support the sector and its workers, the Treasurer also made it loud and clear for the nation to hear the importance of the ‘caring economy’. The government acknowledges that not only is the sector vital to the health and wellbeing of future generations, but it’s also pivotal for our nation's economic prosperity. 

Importantly, we’re delighted to see that the government is budgeting $30 million to fund a pay increase for early childhood educators. While details of the increase are currently unclear- pending the outcome of the case in front of the Fair Work Commission, salaries will be rising substantially and this will be federally funded, hopefully in total, ensuring that costs are not passed on to operators and parents.

Child care workers will also benefit from the government’s tax cuts, with the average worker in the sector expected to be $811 better off over the year according to budget papers. 

We’re also happy to see that there will be more financial support, although not enough in our opinion, to students while on placements. Those studying for a career in early childhood education may benefit from the new Commonwealth Practical Payment of $319.50 per week from 1 July 2025 and increases to the existing scheme. These payments will reduce the ‘placement poverty’ and financial stress that so many early career educators experience. 

The budget also indicated that the government is serious about removing bad operators from our industry, committing $84.2 million to the Department of Education to increase audits of providers in the child care sector. 

On top of that, $8.3 million was allocated over four years to Services Australia to upgrade the Child Care Subsidy system to eliminate fraud, and $4.8 million to the Australian Taxation Office to ensure satisfactory engagement with the Australian tax system regarding fitness and propriety requirements of existing and new child care providers. 

Finally, the budget included $1.3 million over four years to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre to assist the Department of Education in identifying individuals of high, unexplained wealth with connections to the child care sector. 

The road ahead

We all know that quality early childhood education can literally change the trajectory of children's lives for the better and produce lifelong learning benefits. 

There is still much to be done to ensure all parents in Australia can access affordable early childhood education. We would have liked to see child care made more affordable for more families. Australian parents are already paying some of the highest fees for childcare in the OECD, so it was disappointing that this budget did not include any measures to improve affordability.

We look forward to standing side-by-side with workers, our state and federal child care associations, unions, and other advocates to work towards a world-leading system in Australia. 

But right now, there is cause for acknowledgement and thanks. Firstly to you, our incredible child care workers, and for all those who have advocated for the sector in recent years.