CHILDCARE workers say if the federal government wants quality care, wages should be more attractive.
From today, Tasmanian childcare centres must have one staff member for every four babies younger than 24 months.
Helen Gibbons, Tasmanian secretary from representative union United Voice, said the sector already had a shortage of experienced workers.
“With the improved ratios and improved qualifications needed in the sector, the shortage is only going to get worse,” she said.
Ms Gibbons worked in the South Australian childcare sector for 20 years and said the profession had always notoriously paid low wages.
She said an unqualified Tasmanian childcare worker now earnt $17 an hour, despite their age.
This was an improvement on 2004 rates where an untrained Tasmanian worker under 20 years received $8.91 an hour.
“A lot of people will go into the sector and leave a few years later as if they want to have a family, mortgage, and all the other things the rest of us aspire to, they can’t on a childcare wage,” Ms Gibbons said.
“Good people with excellent training are forced to leave, even though they would much rather stay.”
Windsor Children’s Centre in Riverside has 80 childcare places and will need to employ two extra carers now that the federally-legislated ratio changes have taken effect.
Centre director Jie Wang said even though the changes improved quality of care, wage standards meant attracting experienced staff or keeping first-year graduates would be difficult.
“We are losing staff because the wages are so low and the job is so demanding,” she said.
Ms Wang said extra staff hired at childcare centres statewide could mean higher fees which were likely to be reviewed mid-year.
Ms Gibbons said any rise in childcare wages should be covered by the federal government, not by parents through increased care fees.
Parents nationwide pay $4 billion in childcare fees.
The federal government subsidises these parents almost $2.5 billion in rebates and benefits.
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