BHP shows ongoing commitment to the Thriving Futures project addressing childcare shortages in the regions
BHP will contribute further funding to extend Child Australia’s Thriving Futures project for an additional year. With a total commitment of $1.2M, the extension of the project will ensure continued support for the recruitment, training, development and retention of a sustainable childcare workforce in Hedland and Newman. The project aims to stabilise, nurture, and develop the childcare workforce, in turn leading to increased access to high quality early learning for more children throughout these regions.
BHP Head of Corporate Affairs WA, Meath Hammond said the investment would help shape future generations through the development of a sustainable childcare workforce in the Pilbara.
“The extension of our partnership with Child Australia will allow children and their families a level of consistency in childcare, allowing them to be engaged learners from a young age, developing their prospects to be fulfilled, contributing members of society – which is vital to the growth and sustainability of the Pilbara for years to come.”
Childcare workforce development is a critical issue across the country, particularly in the regions; it is predicted that by 2023, Australia will require an additional 39,000 Educators. This represents a 20% increase for the workforce over five years (ACECQA).
With ongoing childcare shortages in regional WA, the Thriving Futures project has been reversing national trends with a targeted holistic place-based approach. Child Australia’s CEO Tina Holtom said “the disequilibrium of childcare provision particularly in the regions is a complex issue, largely underpinned by workforce. Quite simply, the focus needs to be on developing a highly qualified, capable, supported educator workforce to ensure a long-term sustainable approach to childcare provision in the region”.
Workforce data from Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority, the national governing body, shows that there is significant workforce supply stress with approximately 17% of WA childcare services applying for staffing waivers to meet legislated staffing requirements.
“The childcare sector is experiencing high levels of growth in new childcare centres, alongside worsening staff supply pressures, so we expect the tension between childcare supply and demand to continue for some time. The Thriving Futures project is taking a macro perspective with a local lens to ensure our team provides the best possible support in addressing local workforce needs. The continued funding from BHP is a reflection of their genuine commitment to addressing childcare shortages. We congratulate BHP for their leadership and we continue to advocate for Government and Corporates to prioritise this matter”, Ms Holtom stated.
The ongoing funding will include recruitment attraction and retention campaigns, supported career development pathways including scholarships, mentoring, and professional development opportunities.
Thriving Futures continues to encourage the Indigenous community, school leavers, parents re-entering the workforce, and mature-age workers looking to reinvigorate their careers to consider employment in early childhood education and care. The project will also engage broad thought-leadership and actions toward dedicated solutions for supporting families with childcare supply.
Thriving Futures remains committed to raising the profile of early childhood education and care as a highly desirable career pathway and working together with communities to recognise the importance of a child’s early years learning and the professionals delivering this to drive a sustainable Education and Care sector into the future.
Fast Facts (the last 12 months):
- 13 candidates have been successfully placed with employment in a participating centre.
- 24 candidates currently studying or qualified in Early Childhood Education and Care that are being supported by Thriving Futures Scholarships and/or Mentoring program.
- 5 childcare centres across Hedland and Newman are actively participating in Thriving Futures.
- 36 relationships with local Indigenous organisations, key community groups and government stakeholders.
- 80 + hours of individual mentoring sessions provided to candidates, Centre Directors and Assistant Directors.
- 40 + hours of professional development provided to all participating Centre employees.
- 60 + hours of consultancy provided to Centre Directors to improve practices.
- 20 + hours of email and phone support provided to Directors, Leaders and Educators.
Thriving Futures was established by Child Australia in partnership with BHP (in July 2020) in response to the shortage of childcare availability throughout Newman and Port Hedland. Workforce development in the sector is a complex issue, particularly in the regions; and through the program, we are working to improve outcomes for children by recruiting, training and retaining a quality, sustainable early learning workforce and strengthening professional practices so that children have access to high quality early learning opportunities.