Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Two innovative early childhood programs in Gippsland are helping local kids get a better start in life and are being recognised as amongst Victoria’s best.

Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, announced two of 15 Victorian Early Years Awards 2017 finalists recognised today for their outstanding contribution to early childhood.

• Run by South Gippsland Shire Council, “Central Enrolment – All our Children” is being recognised in Category 1: Improving access and participation in early learning.

A central enrolment system was introduced in 2016-17 by South Gippsland Shire Council to increase the number of eligible four-year-old children attending kindergarten.

The aim was to improve kindergarten access for local rural families, particularly those experiencing vulnerability or disadvantage, so that no pre-schooler in the municipality missed out. This included streamlining the enrolment process for families.

• In East Gippsland, Category 5: Early childhood teacher of the year is Rachel Webb, part of the Save the Children Organisation

Rachel Webb is the Aboriginal Best Start Facilitator at Nowa Nowa Kindergarten in Gippsland, working within the isolated rural town with a population of 144 people to improve early childhood and school participation.

Rachel’s approach is proactive, including engaging with key community stakeholders like local primary schools and Aboriginal and allied health services to help children attend kindergarten and transition to school.

She understands the context of culture and the importance it has in children’s sense of belonging, particularly with the Aboriginal families, and her strong links with the Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service led to the establishment of a joint bush kindergarten program.

The Victorian Early Years Awards recognise the vital work early childhood professionals do to make a difference to the lives of Victorian children and families.

Now in their 12th year, the awards celebrate the achievements and commitment of early childhood professionals across five award categories, including those promoting children’s health and wellbeing, supporting parents, creating collaborative community partnerships, and improving access to early learning.

Winners will be announced later this year and are in line to receive between $10,000 and $15,000 to go towards enhancing their work.

For more details on the awards and this year’s finalists go to:

Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Harriet Shing:

“The Victorian Early Years Awards recognise the inspiring work of Victoria’s many childcare professionals and programs, including the great local success of these programs

“Every day Gippsland families benefit not only from the great work being done by these finalists– but from the tireless dedication of our countless local early childhood services and professionals.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“These awards are our opportunity to recognise the great work so many passionate and caring early childhood professionals do every day to help local families and kids thrive.”