Mayor Elvie Sandow is sending a message out on the importance of early childhood learning “because at the moment we’ve got a lot of issues around our youth, we talk about laying the foundation, this is where it starts here in early childhood”
–Who will be “The Voice” for our next generation–
Mayor Sandow said “there’s a lot of discussion at the moment around the voice, but who is the voice for these little people here, we’ve been struggling around early childhood trying to get a fair deal for early childhood learning, you know, they don’t get the same incentives as lead educators, teachers at our local schools, and I would say they do a good job of even a better job than some of them at times”
“Early Childhood workers need incentives, and we need to attract workers too, because, you know, we are here changing the mindset, we’re not just the local child-minding service”.
Aunty Jacqui Tapau, the Director of our community run Gundoo Early Learning Centre in Cherbourg, reiterated the Mayors call for support, increased training and incentives, not only for existing workers, but encouraging young people to choose early childhood education as a career pathway”
Aunty Jacqui says Gundoo Early Learning Centre are targeting high school students, “We need younger people in our community to come along, walk through the center, do an induction and go onto our relief list, we are targeting young people so that we can train them up, part of a succession plan as well, so we can keep our childcare centre within our community.
–Lack of incentives is the threat on the horizon of Early Childhood Learning–
Both Aunty Jacqui and Mayor Elvie agreed, pay rates and incentives are exceptionally low “The lowest paying in Australia, and the workers are doing an excellent job, but we are seeing a lot of burnouts with staff leaving, it’s all one big cycle”
“Retrain and Retain, that’s what we constantly work to do here at Gundoo” said Aunty Jacqui, “and we do a wonderful job to give our people the opportunities and support, to work toward achieving certificates and diploma qualifications on the ground here at our centre”
–Laying the Foundation for a better future for our community–
Mayor Elvie points to the issue of youth crime and the need to put work in at the start, “just imagine if all these kids that went through early childhood, you know the ones that got access to early childhood [learning] go to the school, they walk in, they sit down, they’re ready to learn, they’re in a routine, not bouncing off walls without a routine or structure, this is why it’s so important for our Cherbourg families to access and realise how important it is for our [communities] future to start our Gundoo off the right way, early learning is the foundation, to transition them into school”
Mayor Elvie and Aunty Jacqui say they have been on a journey, fighting for better recognition of the role of early learning and the need to support the industry better, for over 20 years “We still haven’t stopped, and I know government is slowly listening, setting up a peak body now for early childhood, a long time coming”
–Gundoo Early Learning Centre, by community for community – the door is open, come in–
Gundoo Early Leaning Centre is unique, in that it is community run, not by council but with a board of directors and committee made up of locals. Aunty Jacqui says community people are welcome, she is calling on our elders, aunties, uncles, mums and dads, our community people “We have got an open door here, everybody is welcome anybody”
Gundoo Early Learning Centre also operates as a community hub and drop-in centre for our community, “We’ve got an EYP (Early Years Place) a space for community to come in during the day anytime, sit and have a cuppa, yarn, get help with needs like connecting to health professionals, filling out paperwork for things like birth certificates, tax file numbers or other assistance you might need help figuring out.
There also a need for volunteers to come in from community Aunty Jacqui said “If you’ve got a skill, or even if you just feel like getting out of the house, want to come and read a book to our little ones or with your children, maybe do some baking or make some damper with our babies, you’re more than welcome” it really makes a difference in a child life, seeing them smile “it really warms your heart the conversations you have here with the children, they’re very warm. If you have had a bad morning, they (the kids) don’t see that, they just see the person wanting to spend some time with them, come in kick a ball, do a painting, it’s all beneficial and you will go away feeling all warm and respected.
–This why we need you to be “The Voice” for our little ones–