Thursday, November 03, 2022

Childcare sector ramps up calls for higher wages as pre-schools forced to turn kids away

There is an alternative to hitting the taxpayer over this. There are ferocious regulations governing childcare. Reduced regulation would allow more people to enter the field and reduce the numbers required to run a childcare service

More Australian parents could soon be forced to stay at home and not go to work as childcare centres face staff shortages.

Childcare operators fear the situation will get worse next year when the government's new childcare subsidies begin.

Community Early Learning Australia CEO Michele Carnegie said the policy, which she supports, will make more parents want child care and put pressure on an already struggling system.

"If [job] vacancies continue to grow at this rate, we estimate that there will be over 10,000 vacancies by July 2023," she said.

"This [the new childcare subsidies] will see an increase in demand for child care that simply will not be matched by workforce supply."

The government says the subsidies will ease cost of living pressures and help the economy, because cheaper child care will allow an extra 37,000 parents to take on a full-time job.

However Ms Carneige asked how that figure could be reached with the childcare worker shortage.

"The risk is that parents are going to be subjected to really long waiting lists, they're going to be subjected to the vulnerability of not knowing whether or not today's the day when their child is going to be able to access early education and care," she said.

"This is absolutely going to be impacting their ability to fully participate in the workforce."

Goodstart Early Learning, which is Australia's largest provider of early learning and care, has been struggling to recruit staff in recent years.

Its advocacy manager John Cherry said a lack of workers stops parents from being able to hold down full-time jobs.

"Every [staff] vacancy that we have is up to 15 families effected. The flow on economic consequences is profound," he said.

'Leaky bucket'

Narelle Myers is the director of Bermagui Preschool on the far south coast of New South Wales. She said the sector has dramatically changed over the past few years. "I've been there for over 20 years, we have always had long term staff," she said.

"But that all changed in 2020, we were impacted by bushfires, then COVID… also the housing crisis… we have actually had a turnover of about 36 staff in the last two years."

Mr Cherry said his centres were turning away children because they do not have enough workers to care for them.

"This has never happened before in Goodstart's history," he told a parliamentary inquiry earlier this week.

"Over the last two years up to 80 and 100 centres each week are enrolment capped because we can't find enough staff.

"It is mad and crazy for an organisation like ours, desperate to increase our occupancy, that we can't increase our occupancy because we can't find enough staff," he said.

United Workers Union executive director of early education Helen Gibbons said these stories were all too familiar.

"We have a leaky bucket in early education," she said. "We are struggling to attract people to work in the sector, but we're also having people leave daily."

Wages a key problem

Early childhood educators have long citied low pay as a reason for leaving the sector. Ms Gibbons said wages must be addressed to attract and keep more workers. "The elephant in the room is the wages of early educators, they're appallingly low."

Ms Myers said she pays her staff above award rates but still can't compete with other industries.

"We have lost so many staff who have gone to work in the primary school system… a lot of our staff have left to care for clients on the NDIS and they are getting paid over $60 an hour to work with one client," she said. "We can't compete with that."

Ms Gibbons said the government's proposed changes to multi-employer bargaining could be game-changing.

"I think the sector is really embracing the idea of multi-employer bargaining and I've heard a number of providers talk really positively about it," she said.

"The only question mark is, how quickly can we get it done because we want to see educators' wages lift as quickly as possible."

Both Goodstart and Community Early Learning Australia want the government to provide a wage subsidy in the short term.

Ms Carnegie said better pay is needed before the new childcare subsidies are introduced in July to avoid more workforce shortages.

"This will impact on retention of our existing qualified workforce and encourage more people to choose to be part of an incredibly rewarding career in early education," she said.

"An increase in remuneration will need to be funded by government, otherwise the cost will be passed on to parents through increased fees.


The naked authoritarianoism of the pandemic response is unforgiveable

Forgiveness is now officially on the Covid menu. The left-leaning Atlantic magazine in the US has called for a ‘pandemic amnesty’ in which people ‘forgive one another for what we did and said’ during Covid. At issue is the question of school closures and other restrictions and mandates now deemed excessive. The Atlantic is something of a mouthpiece for Joe Biden’s hopeless Democrats, but in this instance the article is actually worth paying attention to. Not because of any particular insights but because of the distinct whiff of fear that oozes out of every other sentence.

‘But the thing is: We didn’t know,’ the author whines (in italics!), claiming ignorance as a defence against implementing erroneous Covid polices because she was operating under conditions of ‘tremendous uncertainty.’ ‘We lacked definitive data.’ ‘It wasn’t nefarious. It was the result of uncertainty.’ ‘Obviously some people intended to mislead…’. As well as this bizarre post-rationalisation: ‘In some instances, the right people were right for the wrong reasons. In the face of so much uncertainty, getting something right had a hefty element of luck.’

Well, no. In some instances the right people were right for the right reasons. At The Spectator Australia in particular, where a veritable army of writers including Rebecca Weisser, Ramesh Thakur, James Allan, David Flint, David Adler, Rocco Loiacono, Augusto Zimmerman, Alexandra Marshall and many others risked opprobrium and worse for writing for the correct reasons – out of principle, out of conviction and out of sound research.

Indeed, a recent (much-appreciated) letter to the editor of this magazine spelled out the rewards of such an approach;

‘You and your team were like a light shining through the darkness of Covid hysteria. It meant a lot to my wife and I that we were not the only ones saying “what the hell…?” I am a former journalist (what has happened to our profession?) and I look forward to The Spectator Australia every week. The quality of writing is first rate but it is the fearless pursuit of truth which is truly outstanding. Your work is critical for public discourse in Australia as our political class, big business, media, bureaucracy and educational system all seem to have been captured by nonsense and wokeism.’

It is because of ‘uncertainty’ that in a democracy we supposedly seek a plurality of views on difficult issues, and we insist on accountability. By ensuring that as many people as possible get exposed to as many ideas as possible we hopefully avoid compounding bad thinking, and we trust the public – rather than the authorities – to make those final decisions that affect our lives and livelihoods.

It is utterly disingenuous for those who made such catastrophic and reckless mistakes during Covid to now say that ‘they didn’t know’ about such-and-such an outcome because of the ‘fog of uncertainty’ and that the alternative to their authoritarian overreach and draconian measures was ‘millions of dead bodies’. These same individuals deliberately and ruthlessly suppressed anyone who did try to shed some light on potential risks, problems or alternatives to the orthodoxy.

Many people were horrified by the police brutality, by the obfuscation and lies surrounding vaccine mandates, and were repelled by the QR codes and having their kids being forced to stay home or wear worthless masks all day long. But the censoring of them and the humiliation meted out to them was merciless. Dr Jay Battacharya was just one of many brave experts who spoke out early and loudly warning that lockdowns would not only fail but would cause more deaths than they could ever possibly save, not to mention doing untold economic damage.

Yet for speaking out he was demonised and hounded out of the public square. For merely asking questions, the Greens in the Australian Senate smeared and vilified the editor of this magazine in his role at Sky News along with Rita Panahi and Alan Jones. Gideon Rozner at the IPA cut a solitary figure in Melbourne when he did a video pleading for lockdowns to end in Melbourne and was vilified and demonised remorselessly.

So let’s skip the ‘fog of uncertainty’ nonsense. There were plenty of voices warning against nearly all of the policies that were being enacted, often brutally so, but rather than such plurality of opinion being encouraged, those voices were viciously silenced, humiliated, denigrated and demonised. It’s called wilful ignorance and it is no defence under the law.

But get used to hearing this argument that nobody knew any better. That it was all so confusing and we all did our very best. Plenty of people did know better and did try and speak up.

The Atlantic author claims that ‘dwelling on the mistakes of history can lead to a repetitive doom loop…. Let’s acknowledge that we made complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty…’.

No. Let’s have a royal commission into the abuse of power during Covid, and a Senate inquiry, too, for good measure. To ensure this never happens again.


Perfect storm of weather events sees coral bleached at Abrolhos Islands off West Australian coast

Nice to see a coral bleaching event that is NOT being attributed to global warming. Why are similar processes not at work on the other side of Australia? Why are similar processes not at work on both the East and West coasts

In what's been described as an important natural process, thousands of hectares of coral at the Abrolhos Islands off the West Australian coast have been bleached after a combination of weather conditions repeatedly exposed the coral to strong cold winds.

Fisher and pearl farmer Jane Liddon has watched the ocean around her fall over the past few days from her home at Post Office Island in the southern group of the Abrolhos.

She said water levels had fallen to an unusually low level due to a combination of strong winds, a high-pressure system and new moon tides.

"When the coral first came out [of the water], it was bright and beautiful … the second day, the water was even lower and still very windy and cold. By the third day it was completely white," Ms Liddon said.

"The tops were bright white. It was like new islands have formed everywhere here."

Ms Liddon, who has spent her life at the Abrolhos, said in 50-odd years, she had often seen events where a low tide had exposed some stag coral, but this was unusual.

"It's a coincidence of having these weather events all come together that has made it extreme, this time of year you do get low tides in the middle of the day, that's common, but not as low as this event," she said. "The low tide is like a lawnmower on the coral.

"For three days we haven't been able to take our dingy off our jetty because our jetty was not in the water anymore, so we are marooned by low tide, which is very rare."

Murdoch University PhD student Jo Buckee is studying coral mortality events and the role that they play in determining coral cover on shallow reef platforms.

She said a similar coral bleaching event at Abrolhos Island due to low tide in 2018 impacted the 7,000-hectare area of shallow reefs and saw about 30 per cent of the coral die.

However, Ms Buckee said the coral was able to regenerate and recover relatively quickly and had re-established itself back to pre-2018 levels.

"The bulk of the corals that you'll see sticking out of the water are the fast-growing Acropora corals, branching and plating corals, and they are capable of fast growth rates," she said.

"This trimming off of the tops is a natural event, it looks very dramatic but it is a naturally occurring process. "It's important for keeping up with sea level rise, for providing the material for reef and island building."

Ms Buckee said sea level variability along with coral growth and mortality over thousands of years had formed the coral reefs and the Abrolhos Islands themselves and allowed them to remain in position.

"That is the material that you're walking on when you're walking on the islands, it's from previous periods when the sea level was slightly higher than it is now, but also fragments washed up from reef flats that surround the islands," she said.

"In order for the reef to keep up with sea level rise over time, it requires fragments of coral to be produced so that the overall height of the reef is able to change.

"These environments are very dynamic with a mixture of seaweed and coral, a reflection of the Abrolhos's position in the transition zone between tropical and temperate ecosystems."

Ms Buckee said with the diversification of land and water activities at the Abrolhos, leading to year-round visitation, previously unwitnessed coral bleaching events were now attracting interest and attention.


Climate change could make some Queensland fruit crops unprofitable to grow

Big deal. What does it matter if strawberry growing has to move South into New South Wales or up onto the Darling Downs

Cropping expert Paul Gauthier told ABC Radio Brisbane Breakfast host Craig Zonca that rising temperatures meant the popular fruit could become a thing of the past.

"There's something about strawberries that if you reach a temperature above 26 degrees Celsius, they stop flowering, and that's kind of why in Queensland we tend to grow them in the winter," he said.

"And what we have seen when we project it to the future, by 2050 the temperature will increase by 3 degrees, maybe 4 degrees.

"And the problem is that the season is going to be shorter and shorter, and because strawberries take a long time to develop, to get the fruits, it's possible that we may not get strawberries in Queensland anymore."

It is one example of many crops — including apples and cherries — that could become unprofitable to grow in Queensland as temperatures continue to warm.

"We've seen that all over the place. In the US it's a major problem because most of the food is grown in California and we've seen the temperature growing, growing very high," Mr Gauthier said.

"And the other issue is drought — drought is a big problem and water scarcity has been a problem for a long time in Australia."




No comments: