Raising the benchmark for childcare throughout the Pilbara

5 Apr 2022
Educator crouching down outside pouring water into a young child's orange cup

Chronic shortage of childcare places throughout Western Australia continue to impact many working families. While the childcare sector continues to be plagued by a national workforce crisis, there has never been a better time for prioritising this critical core ‘enabler’ for families to thrive.

It is well documented that many Australian families, particularly those in regional and remote areas, are faced with the growing challenge of accessing quality childcare services; leading to many women being unable to return to the workforce. Recent statistics indicate that Western Australia has the lowest overall childcare accessibility in the country (Deserts and oases: How accessible is childcare in Australia? March 2022)

“It is difficult to progress the professionalisation of the workforce without the appropriate conditions to attract and retain a suitably skilled workforce.”

It is critical to attract and retain a quality childcare workforce and ensure sustainability within the sector for generations of families to come. As such, BHP and Child Australia have committed to creating meaningful change within the struggling sector. Building on the success of the BHP-funded Thriving Futures childcare workforce development project operating in Hedland and Newman, Child Australia has strongly advocated for a critical element to be included in this initiative – Educator Recognition.

“A program designed to improve the professional recognition of the workforce entrusted to care for 
our children.”

Educator Recognition Program (ERP)

The Educator Recognition Program (ERP) is designed to be the catalyst for a new benchmark in raising the professional status of the workforce entrusted with the critical role of caring, nurturing and educating our children in their early years.

BHP’s commitment to the project totalling $2.5million over a 3-year period, will see childcare professionals access generous wage subsidies, professional development, scholarship opportunities, supported mentoring, career pathways, and more. The program is designed to improve staff attraction and retention, strengthen educator’s capabilities, increase childcare availability for families, and ensure a robust sustainable childcare sector in the Pilbara region for years to come.

The Educator Recognition Program aims to address the realities and requirements of the educator role, while ensuring professionals are adequately compensated and supported toward a journey of continuous improvement and upskilling.

Supporting the childcare workforce in the Pilbara

CEO of Child Australia, Tina Holtom stated, “More than a third of candidates applying to be part of the Thriving Futures program identified cost of living in the region as a significant barrier to considering the Education and Care sector as a career choice. It was important to address this while simultaneously recognising the critical importance of sector professionals more broadly.”

BHP Head of Corporate Affairs WA Meath Hammond said, “The Educator Recognition Program provides an opportunity to set a new standard in supporting the childcare workforce in the Pilbara. It is vital we support our educators – we know that by doing so, it has positive flow on effects for all working families in our communities. These professionals make a real difference in the lives of not only children, but their families. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Child Australia for the benefit of the entire Pilbara community.”

“We’re really excited about what this Educator Recognition Program can do for Educators at the participating Thriving Futures centres in Hedland and Newman. We look forward to working alongside each of these Centres to codesign something we hope will truly transform this profession. We congratulate BHP for their foresight and incredible commitment to supporting this project. We hope that by building these foundations, we will see broader Government and corporate investment enabling expansion of the Educator Recognition Program into other regional or metropolitan locations. Ultimately, we hope to see a positive shift for all Educators.” said Ms. Holtom.