New 9-day fortnights for Educators
While the Education and Care sector across the country continues to be plagued by significant systemic issues causing critical workforce shortages, Child Australia determined to buck the trend. We recently took a deep dive to better understand the needs of our staff.
“Recent staff engagement feedback highlighted that Educators were ideally looking for a healthy work-life balance. Being responsible for children in your care means that the priority of an Educator is to be on alert at all times. This can be stressful at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic mixed with flu season and a broader workforce shortage. It’s tough when there is no respite and educators can’t simply choose to work from home as many other professions, so we had to think outside the square” said Child Australia’s CEO, Tina Holtom.
The Education and Care sector has been well documented as being hit hard with high levels of burn-out during the pandemic, which is worsening with the burgeoning workforce crisis. From asking families to collect their children due to staffing shortages, through to full centre closures, educators aren’t just riding a wave, they’re being hit by a tsunami.
Ms Holtom said “Supporting staff wellbeing alongside ensuring enrolled family needs are met is our key priority. After researching global strategies, we landed on a few exciting ideas with the 9-day fortnight gaining the most interest. It’s certainly not a traditional approach for the sector but we’re all about thinking and doing things differently”.
Changes implemented will see full-time employees work their 75 hours over 9 days and receive their same salary, all while unlocking an additional 26 days off per year. There is no disruption to enrolled families, and staff get to enjoy more time for themselves.
Participation in the pilot is voluntary and it is being rolled out through Child Australia services in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. “We understand this concept will not fit everybody’s lifestyle, but we are always looking for ways to innovate and improve the working environment for our educators”, said Ms Casey Girdlestone, Manager of Practice Improvement.
“People are the heart and soul of our organisation. The positive outcomes of providing our people with options means that we encourage a greater focus on their overall wellbeing. There is extensive research on the links between positive educator – child interactions, and the long term benefits for children. Our educators can only bring their absolute best when they feel valued, supported and well-rested” stated Ms Holtom.
The 9-day fortnight pilot is one of many initiatives offered at Child Australia. The organisation is deeply committed to staff with a minimum of 5 to 15% above award wages, significant childcare discounts, ongoing professional development and leadership programs, along with a formal Awards and Recognition program.