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Western Sydney working group coordinator Donna Smith with Harper at Blacktown Roving Childcare. Western Sydney working group coordinator Donna Smith with Harper at Blacktown Roving Childcare.
13 November 2023 Posted by 

Blacktown hit by childcare staff shortage: where are our workers?

AS many as 1,500 childcare staff are needed daily to fill rosters at centres across Western Sydney with the Blacktown area worse off in the last two years.
The widespread childcare workers shortage has been revealed by a local industry working group urgently seeking solutions alongside government and educational institutions to fill the void.
“Qualified educators are leaving the sector in record numbers for a variety of reasons, some examples are low wages, heavy workload and lack of professional support,” Donna Smith, coordinator of the Blacktown Roving Childcare said.
Ms Smith is also part of the Early Childhood Program of the 2770 Working Group covering the Greater Western Sydney region initiated by the federal government to address workforce and skills requirement in every region across Australia.
Based on latest findings by Jobs and Skills Australia, Ms Smith said the daily vacancies for childcare workers across Western Sydney have risen constantly since 2021.
“We had vacancies for 513 in 2021, growing by more than half in 2022 to 1,435 and has since only risen this year to 1,464,” Ms Smith said.
“Long hours, underappreciation of the skills required to deliver quality childcare, and low funding for resources [contribute to] the high turnover of staff and can have a devastating effect on the quality of care and education.
“Research shows that emotional attachment, emotional support, and quality of care affect children's language development right through to secondary education.”
The working group has been harnessing staff from job expos and recently from among students completing qualifications in childcare and early education at Macquarie Community College campuses.
Finding staff is among the major challenges faced by the childcare industry, Ms Smith said, citing it is exacerbated by “lack of qualified educators that meet all essential criteria” before a centre can employ them.
Occupation skills shortage
Working in the sector requires at least a diploma qualification or a bachelor's degree in early education, however many early childcare educators receive little more than the minimum wage of around $24 an hour, Ms Smith said.
“While having a vehicle and driver's license for use during work hours is also a problem, the low pay however is the biggest challenge,” Ms Smith said.
A spokesperson for MCC said there has been a “two-fold increase in the occupation skills shortages” across Australia which was highlighted during the National Skills Week last August.
The college runs campuses across Western Sydney delivering face to face and online learning with up to a dozen of courses as a Registered Training Organisation and member of Community Colleges Australia.
The intake of students needing childcare qualification has been increasing, the college has provided the Western Sydney working group with fee-free childcare courses to meet local operators’ needs.
The college has invited the working group and childcare centre operators to introduce their services to students studying Certificate III in childcare across their campuses.
Some students have found new employment, as a result, while childcare centre operators were able to accept more children on the waiting list.
But the staff and skills shortage are ongoing the college’s Smart and Skilled program on early childhood education has opened 200 places every year, starting this year, to run seven to eight classes and get the students ready for work locally.
Ms Smith said the Blacktown Roving Childcare is a form of mobile childcare centre called Community Access Mobile Minders. 
“We provide adjunct care which means the parents or carers must always remain on the premises and retain the duty of care of the child,” Ms Smith said.
Their service caters for childcare needs of not-for-profit organisations delivering activities, groups, workshops, or events. 
“Mobile childcare helps to remove a range of barriers that families often face in their day-to-day lives,” Ms Smith said.
“Some of these barriers can be high costs of childcare, lack of transport or lack of social and family support.”
Workforce Australia is facilitating the provision of fee-free training program to entice staff to work in the childcare sector.
Their priority is to skill up unemployed youth, indigenous and migrants as well as providing them with transport options and upskilling for employment pathways. 


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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