BENDIGO childcare workers, parents and children were among hundreds who rallied on the steps of Victorian parliament on Saturday to demand better pay.
The rally was the first of its kind in Victoria in the face of figures that show a third of early childhood workers leave their job every year.
Federal candidate for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said the average wage of a childcare worker was just above the minimum wage, which is $17 an hour.
“Today is about calling on the federal government to say they need to step up and put more money into wages and more money into the sector,” she said. “This is the first time educators in early childhood are standing up to say ‘we deserve better’.”
A Bendigo childcare educator who attended the rally said there was a misunderstanding in the community of the role of childcare workers.
“There is a misunderstanding that we’re just babysitters but we are delivering educational outcomes.
“There is a curriculum and we have to follow it. A lot of time goes into planning.
“I believe the first six years of a child’s life are the most important and more emphasis needs to be placed on that.”
The worker said while they were demanding higher wages, they did not want parents to cover the extra cost.
“There is a fear that if we get paid more, the wages will come from the parents, but that’s not the case.
“It’s time for the federal government to help out.”
Ms Chesters said rallying would continue until progress was made.
“It’s very similar to the nurses’ and teachers’ campaigns decades ago,” she said.