In a market-based model, the need for a Code of Ethics to underpin the work of early childhood educators is critically important. Alongside the National Quality Framework, it provides a framework for ensuring that children’s rights are prioritised, and that educators themselves can advocate for the importance of their own roles and the experiences of children.
The mission of this blog, and by extension a lot of my career in the early education sector, has been to hang out at the crossroads of politics, policy, advocacy and children, and see what zooms by.
Throughout the time that I’ve been speaking and writing on those issues, there’s always been a small amount of the same response: “why do you have to bring politics into it?”
Back in 2016, I sat in a room in Canberra as part of a panel on men in early education. I used to do that sort of thing a little bit, and this one was of the usual standard. I heard the same sort of words from the other panellists (all men, by the way) that I’d heard before. “Diversity is important”. “Children, especially boys, need strong male role models”.
The phrase “reverse sexism” was never uttered during that panel, but it was the unspoken undercurrent of a handful of the comments.
This is the text of my keynote address at the Little People, Big Dreams Conference organised by Child Australia. It was delivered at the Darwin Convention Centre on Saturday 13 October 2018.
I don’t do as much writing on this website as I used to, as I spend a lot of time talking about early education on The Early Education Show, and writing about it on The Framework. I wanted to add a quick post here though about a new project that I’ve really enjoyed putting together, and is out in the wild from today.
You’ll have seen a lot of it on Facebook. Advertising for a PD course, or a new centre, or a consultant. There’ll be a bit of text, overlaid over a large image of a child doing something “cute”. Maybe the child is wearing a small suit, sitting behind a desk. So cute! Maybe they’re in a pilot’s uniform, holding a steering wheel. How adorable – they’re pretending to be fly the plane!
Just over five years ago, I stood with a group of early childhood educators and United Voice members in one of the many gardens at Parliament House, and listened to these words from the man who would become Australia’s Opposition Leader.
“It is no longer enough, I think, for Australia to rely upon the emotional, the intellectual and indeed the physical efforts of Australia’s childcare workers and not adequately remunerate them.
“It is no longer enough, in Australia, that we say to marvellous professional childcare workers, for whom we entrust the development and the safety of our children and for whom these people commit emotionally to our kids every day and to say that there’s nothing that can be done about your low level of remuneration.”
Despite only making up 3.9% of the early childhood educator workforce in “long day care” settings, men account for 54% of top leadership roles.
This has been tough to write, and has taken me many months of thinking to put down. I know that the words I write here will be misinterpreted, misunderstood, or even seen as some sort of grandstanding or attention-seeking.
I can’t help any of that, but I need to quickly say these things.
Over the last couple of years I have turned down opportunities to speak or write about challenges for men working in early childhood.
I want to explain why, and why I will continue to do so.
I’ve talked pretty endlessly on this blog, and on the Early Education Show podcast, about my concerns about the Federal Government’s new Child Care Package (formally known as the Jobs for Families Package, which tells you quite succinctly everything you need to know about these reforms). They’re bad for children, they’re bad for the sector, and the sector should not have supported them in any way.
As we heave ourselves over the line into 2018, the year that will see the introduction of this new legislation, I wanted to highlight an issue I am worried is not getting anywhere near enough attention.