Small children are putting things in a shelving unit.

Improving childcare in the Pilbara

The shortage of available childcare has consistently been identified as a constraint in attracting and retaining residential staff in the region. However, BHP and Child Australia are working together to ease the strain and are hoping to set a new standard for childcare in the Pilbara.

The Thriving Futures program was established in July 2020 in response to the shortage of childcare availability in Newman and Port Hedland. 

With workforce development in the childcare sector a complex issue, particularly in regional Australia, Thriving Futures works to improve outcomes for children by recruiting, training and focusing on retaining a qualified, sustainable early-learning workforce. The initiative is also strengthening professional practices giving children access to high quality early learning opportunities. 

Five early learning centres are now participating in the program – three in Port Hedland and two in Newman. 

Since July 2020, 29 Thriving Futures candidates have been employed in participating centres with a retention rate of over 72 per cent. In addition, the program has: 


  • delivered 46 professional development sessions and 142 hours of onsite consulting with staff across participating centres
  • provided 53 candidates with formal mentoring (one-on-one support from a dedicated mentor)
  • supported 18 scholarship recipients 
  • seen students graduate from the Thriving Futures Academy (entry level job readiness program). 

  • In 2022, we expanded our partnership with Child Australia with the launch of the Thriving Futures Educator Recognition Program.  

    This program is focused on attracting and retaining a quality childcare workforce and ensuring sustainability within the sector for generations of families to come. It’s designed to be the catalyst for a new benchmark in raising the professional status of the workforce entrusted with the critical role of caring, nurturing and educating our children in their early years.

    It's also providing an opportunity to set a new standard in supporting the childcare workforce in the Pilbara. 

    Our A$2.5 million commitment over a three-year period will support childcare educators to access professional development, scholarship opportunities, supported mentoring, career pathways and more. With more than a third of candidates applying to be part of the Thriving Futures program identifying cost of living in the region as a significant barrier to considering the sector as a career choice, the additional funding also provides generous wage subsidies, which are directly linked to the individual educator’s commitment to uniquely tailored continuing professional development opportunities.

    The Thriving Futures Educator Recognition Program aims to help improve staff attraction and retention, strengthen educators’ capabilities, increase childcare availability for families, and ensure a robust sustainable childcare sector in the Pilbara region for years to come. 

    Due to the success of the program, it’s now being extended to our Nickel West Goldfields communities in Western Australia.