HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards

[supplied by HESTA]


Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre staff. Image: supplied

Australia’s top early childhood educators and services were revealed last night during the COVID-safe virtual celebrations for the 2021 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards.


The Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre was named ‘Outstanding Organisation’ for their work to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and families experiencing disadvantage.

Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre is recognised for their dedication to meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and families experiencing disadvantage across the Gunnedah region. Leanne Pryor, Education and Care Manager at the centre, said the team felt ‘so privileged’ to win the award.


“This validates the hard work which has been done by all our employees,” Ms Pryor said.


“Our Educators are amazing and inspiring. The quality of care they give to the children is outstanding and their commitment to families is excellent.”


The centre provides a range of programs, including out-of-home care, a Gamilaraay language program, and the Learning for Life speech program so, no matter what stage of the early learning journey children and families are on, they are well-supported.


More than 300 children have participated in the service since it started in 2013 and 80% of the children identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.


The name Winanga-Li in the local Gamilaraay language means “to hear, to listen, to know, to remember” and this ethos is implemented by the educators each day.


“I love the philosophy behind the Centre and the active role the team plays in creating a culturally strong and responsive environment for children, educators, their families and the wider community,” Ms Pryor said.


Ms Pryor said the prize money will be used to run cultural training opportunities for other service providers, early childhood education services and schools.


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey congratulated the winners, all hailing from New South Wales, for their innovation and drive to creating inclusive learning environments where children can thrive.


“The passion and dedication these early childhood educators demonstrate every day is crucial for setting the next generation of young Australians up for success,” Ms Blakey said.


“These professionals are the unsung heroes and I am so pleased HESTA can help recognise their contributions and share their stories through the Awards program. Well done to the winners, finalists and all those who took the time to fill out a nomination.”


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