Stephanie Bruno - Quality Matters

"The quality standards can only be upheld by professional, qualified educators and as such we deserve to be recognised and paid professionally."

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Why did you choose this profession?

"33 years ago I was a four year old child who had limited English, I was very shy and left handed. I can still remember my Early Childhood Educator; her name was Miss Gun. She took me under her wing and taught me how to interact and become a c


onfident child.

"I truly believe this was my calling. I wanted to be like her. I often think about those days and funnily enough I have seen herthrough my adult years and I have told her how she inspired me to be the Educator I am today."

Could you tell us about a moment you're really proud of when you supported the development and learning of a child?

"Looking back on my experience as an early childhood educator there have been a number of moments which had made me feel extremely proud. However, one moment which brought tears to my eyes was during our Autism Week fundraiser.

"All the children participated in baking cookies and cupcakes to sell for the week. A child with Autism stood out on the day of the stall. This child had amazed all the parents; she was very brave to stand up behind the stall selling cupcakes, cakes and cookies to all the families and parents who had walked through the door. She spoke in a loud and clear voice asking if her customers would like a cupcake or cookie. She stated how much each individual cookie and cupcake would be in order to be the best retailer she could be.

"This little girl showed real courage - she was daring, fearless and most of all bold enough to stand up in front of everyone as she sold her cookies all for an amazing cause."

What challenges have you faced in your role as an educator, and how have you overcome them?

"Every day in my position I am challenged with something new: one day I am a child’s nurse; one day I am a mother’s councillor; one day I am a teacher; one day I am a friend; one day I am a family’s advisor; one day I am a mum telling a personal story.

"Low wages have been a challenge as well in the sector for far too long. Educators earn as little as $18 per hour. Right now more than 180 educators leave the sector each week. This is undoubtedly due to low wages. Educators could earn more stacking shelves at a supermarket, and many are forced to choose between staying in a job that they love and moving to a job that pays the bills.

"Staff turnover has led to a crisis in the sector, there is already a shortage of educators and employers have trouble recruiting qualified and experienced staff. This turnover of staff greatly affects the children and their families who value and benefit from constant and stable educators."

What does "delivering quality education" mean to you?

"To enter into the early childhood sector you need a certificate III, a senior first aid certificate, training on asthma, and anaphylaxis action plans and management, working with children checks, and constant, ongoing personal development and in service training. This is what quality education looks like, professionals working to ensure that children get the best education they can possibly have."

When you think about the future of your sector, what is one positive change you would like to see?

"Professional wages will mean that society will recognise that Early Childhood Educators are professionals. We cannot do this without government support. Families are under enough financial strain without adding to their expenses.

"We have an amazing level of professionalism and quality standards already in Long Day care services across the country. It is my strong belief that we need to maintain these standards. Rolling back the quality standards for the sake of a dollar is misguided and will have a terrible effect on the children in our centres that deserve the right to quality early childhood education.

"The quality standards can only be upheld by professional, qualified educators and as such we deserve to be recognised and paid professionally."

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