Belinda Downey

Proposed Title

Staying in the early childhood education workforce: Balancing struggle and hope.


The aim of the research was to explore Northern Territory (NT) early childhood educators experiences of working in the early childhood workforce to assist in identifying what encourages retention in the sector and what the educators suggest creates attrition and turnaround in the sector. This study is significant as there are 39000 educators required to enter the early childhood education sector in the next 4 years to meet demand (ACECQA, 2020). Retention of staff and consistency of staff is an important factor in achieving high-quality care within the sector (ACECQA, 2019).

Yarning (Bowes et al., 2011) sessions (cf. focus groups) were undertaken, discussing educators’ experiences in the early childhood sector and the influences on their choices to remain in the sector followed by a thematic analysis (SaldaƱa, 2015) on the transcripts and a constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2015) analysis. There were 34 participants from six differing early childhood services across the ‘top end’ of the Northern Territory in Australia.

At the time of data collection the NT had the highest untrained staff nationally (The Social Research Group, 2014, 2017). With the sector facing a current crisis of qualifications/staffing this research may provide retention strategies for the sector.

Why I chose Charles Sturt

I completed my undergraduate studies with Charles Sturt and therefore felt more confident to undertake my PhD with Charles Sturt.

Engagements and memberships

Charles Sturt Early Childhood Research Group member


Current candidate profiles