By CELA on 21 May, 2024

Last week Treasurer Jim Chalmers confirmed that the Federal Budget includes a multi-billion dollar provision towards wage increases for early childhood educators. 

We know this will be a game changer for services who have struggled for years with workforce shortages. It is a crucial first step towards delivering the professional pay that educators and teachers deserve, without increasing out-of-pocket costs for families.  

CELA's relentless advocacy on behalf of members

CELA saw the potential to finally solve our members’ workforce crisis through multi-employer bargaining from the outset. However, it was clear that securing Federal Government funding for wages would require our most ambitious advocacy effort on behalf of member services.  

CELA has worked intensively across our sector and within the halls of Federal Parliament to make this a reality. This Budget takes the critical first steps towards truly valuing our sector, an investment that CELA has long been advocating for on behalf of community and small providers. 

Taking a moment to celebrate

Last week we hosted our first ever post-budget breakfast at Parliament House, to celebrate what we have been able to achieve so far.  

CELA CEO Michele Carnegie (L) pictured with Minister Anne Aly (C) and members of the CELA board (Fiona Black, Eve Hawkes and Rob Shwetz)

While the multi-employer bargaining process is ongoing, it was important to come together as a sector and look at how far we’ve come, after years of advocacy on this issue.  

It was great to be joined by CELA members along with members of Parliament, including Minister for Early Childhood Education, Dr. Anne Aly. It was clear from her passionate words, that she understands what this means to our sector, and the difference it will make to services, educators and families.  

The announcement last night on our provision and commitment to an increase in the wages of the early learning workforce is an important step," said Minister Aly. "It's an important step to properly valuing and recognise the profession. It's an important step, and critical, to the attraction and retention of workers, many of whom have held on year after year after year because they love the children that they educate, because they love the families that they work with, because they love the work that they do.

Access Minister Aly's parliamentary speech

Minister Anne Aly at CELA's post budget breakfast

Our focus moving forward

Our focus now is to help finalise the multi-employer bargaining agreement as soon as possible so educators and teachers can receive the professional pay they deserve.  

This announcement is only possible because the whole sector came together. 

Our sector has fought for decades to pay educators and teachers a professional wage," said CELA CEO Michele Carnegie. "This is the key to unlocking the full potential of our sector for children and families.

Long day care providers: Register your interest 

If you’re a long day care provider, click below to register to be the first to find out how your service can benefit. 


Other ECEC-related Budget measures announced

This landmark funding commitment towards wages wasn’t the only thing announced in for ECEC in the Budget last week. Further measures include:  

Strengthening payment and accuracy 

Funding over 4 years from 2024–25 for integrity measures including: 

  • $84.2 million (and $18.4 million per year ongoing) for the Department of Education to: 

bolster education, audit and compliance activities 

mandate direct collection of gap fees by Family Day Care and In Home Care providers from 1 July 2025. 

  • $8.3 million (and $1.2 million per year ongoing) for Services Australia to upgrade the Child Care Subsidy System to support new compliance measures. 
  • $4.8 million for the Australian Taxation Office to ensure satisfactory engagement by ECEC providers with the Australian tax system. 
  • $1.3 million (and $0.3 million per year ongoing) for the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre to help identify people who have high unexplained wealth with connections to the ECEC sector. 

Learn more about strengthening payment and accuracy here

Support for children with additional needs 

  • A further $98.4 million will be provided through the Inclusion Support Program (ISP). This funding will help meet expected demand for services to support children with additional needs. 

While all ECEC services must be inclusive, some need extra support. ISP helps services implement inclusive practices. One way it does this is by helping services engage additional educators to address barriers to inclusion. 

Demand for the program has grown significantly over the last 4 years, with more than 19,000 children and about 5,600 services supported in 2022–23. 

This additional funding will ensure the program continues to support services to include children with additional needs. 

The government will also consider access and inclusion in its response to the Productivity Commission inquiry into Australia’s ECEC system. 

Learn more about the Inclusion Support Program here

Related articles: 

The Sector's summary of what the budget means for early childhood education and care 

Amplify! Federal funding for ECEC pay increases announced

Amplify! Our sector leadership - 2024 Federal Budget

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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