Unsung heroes of ECEC sought for Victorian Early Years Awards
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Unsung heroes of ECEC sought for Victorian Early Years Awards

by Freya Lucas

April 28, 2022

The outstanding work of early childhood professionals who have improved the lives of young Victorian children and their families will be celebrated in this year’s Victorian Early Years Awards, with nominations now open. 


Victorian Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt announced this year’s Awards  yesterday, calling on families, early childhood professionals and organisations to submit their nominations to showcase exemplary teaching practice and innovative programs.


The Awards also provide an opportunity for the Victorian early childhood sector to come together to celebrate and recognise the commitment, resilience and professionalism demonstrated by early childhood professionals over the last 12 months.


In 2021 Kinglake Ranges Childcare Centre were a finalist in the Promoting Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Award category and winners of the Minister’s Award for their Bush Kinder for Mental Health program. The service’s Bush Kinder for Mental Health program was developed in response to a rise in challenging behaviours exhibited by children at their service.


Drawing from extensive research, the Bush Kinder for Mental Health program addresses the rise of anxiety and mental health disorders in young children through increasing the level of free play and interaction with nature.


The service created a play-based program to strengthen their children’s mental health by using their local environment and community connections, providing low child-to-educator ratios and prioritising staff professional development.


The program is now embedded in the service’s everyday teaching practice supporting the wellbeing and development of babies through to preschool children. The results have been exceptional with staff observing significant improvements in resilience and persistence, increased levels of empathy and better social negotiation skills than previously seen.


Promoting Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing is one of seven award categories with winners in each category receiving $15,000 to further develop and share their experience with other early childhood professionals across Victoria.


Nominations for the Awards close on Monday 13 June, with finalists announced in August ahead of the awards ceremony on Wednesday 9 November.


For more information or to submit a nomination, visit vic.gov.au/victorian-early-years-awards.

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