Parliament – early educators and JobKeeper

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

The amendments before us today are constructive suggestions to the government to improve the JobKeeper system. As previous speakers have said, we supported JobKeeper; we called for JobKeeper. But, while I’m providing some constructive criticism and suggestions to the government, I will highlight early educators. They are not getting JobKeeper at all. It has been ripped away from them because the government said the job was done. Well, we know that in Melbourne the job is not done. We know that educators are being stood down every day as a result of this government cutting off early educators from JobKeeper. I’ve written to the Treasurer to ask him to please reconsider. With a stroke of a pen, he can save these early educators.

When you talk to the government, they say, ‘There’s no problem here.’ Tell that to the many people that have been contacting me. I want to quote some of the many comments I have received:

‘After 30 years in the industry I’ve been stood down without pay and told that I may receive limited hours. We have been stood down and not sure when we will reopen or what hours we will go on.’

Another: ‘I was stood down with no pay on Tuesday. I was waiting for government support but received none. It has been an extremely stressful time for myself and my colleagues, some of whom are single mums. We continue to care for our precious children while feeling the weight of uncertainty, stress and doubt on our financial future. How are we going to pay the bills? Most of us used our annual leave in the first lockdown. I will have to apply for Centrelink to survive. The government has let us down.’

From Karly: ‘I am an early years educator who has never felt so disrespected in my 20 years working in the sector. I am a longstanding casual with over 10 years at one service who has now no work or income for the next six weeks. How can the government be so blind about how important our sector is? How can the government be so blind about what is important to our economy? How can we be the only sector to lose JobKeeper?’

While we are talking about extending JobKeeper to many industries that desperately need it and the constructive suggestions we’ve put forward, one more constructive suggestion is to put early educators back on JobKeeper. They feel so disrespected after they worked through this pandemic. They turned up for work when social distancing was not able to be observed during the height of this pandemic, and still many of them turn up for work in Melbourne.

But, to the many who did that, the government has said: ‘Bad luck, you are now on the unemployment queue. You are no longer able to get hours; you are no longer able to make a livelihood.’ I urge the government, I urge the Treasurer, as I said in my letter, to please put these educators on JobKeeper so that they can have the same security as other workers in this country.

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