ECV2020-171

Silence around the cultural diversity of the Australian Early Childhood Education workforce

Sene Gide, Macquarie University, Australia (sene.gide@hdr.mq.edu.au)
Sandie Wong, Macquarie University, Australia (sandie.wong@mq.edu.au)
Frances Press, Manchester Metropolitan University, England (F.Press@mmu.ac.uk)
Belinda Davis, Macquarie University, Australia (belinda.davis@mq.edu.au)

Background: While Australia is a multicultural society, with one out of every three people born overseas, there exists a noticeable lack of research in cultural diversity in the early childhood education (ECE) workforce. Conducting research into the status and experiences of educators from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds is key to improving our understanding of the difficulties faced by CALD educators in the ECE setting.

Aim: To examine research publications between 2000 and 2020 in order to explore the experiences of CALD workforce in the ECE context.

Method: This study involved a literature review of research publications between the years 2000 and 2020, accompanied by autoethnographic recounts of the first author of this article.

Results: The findings of the review, along with the autoethnographic recounts, highlight that having CALD workforce will be beneficial for (a) for young CALD and non CALD background children, (b) for families from CALD background, (c) for the educators, and (d) for the whole ECE sector and the multicultural Australian society. The findings also stress the need for further research into this field and the potential benefits of having a CALD workforce for children, families, educators and society as a whole in Australia.

Conclusions: We argue that the silence about CALD workforce should be urgently addressed by calling for research into the status of CALD educators in ECE.

Implications for children: Having educators from a similar and different backgrounds to you may help you feel confident, safe and secure, and it will teach you about and help you value cultural diversity.

Implications for families: Having educators with diverse religious/cultural/language backgrounds may help you feel more comfortable leaving your child in an ECE setting and it will benefit your child as they will be learning about other cultures and accepting/respecting the similarities and differences in a multicultural educational setting.

Implications for practitioners: Having a multicultural workforce will enable you to learn about other cultures to implement in your everyday program, and assist you provide a culturally safe environment.

Key words:  professional’s voice, workforce issues, review.

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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