Jenni Hutchins, CEO of Big Fat Smile, awarded prestigious Churchill Trust Fellowship
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Jenni Hutchins, CEO of Big Fat Smile, awarded prestigious Churchill Trust Fellowship

Jenni Hutchins, CEO of Big Fat Smile, awarded prestigious Churchill Trust Fellowship

by Jason Roberts

September 20, 2022

Jenni Hutchins, Chief Executive Officer of not for profit approved provider Big Fat Smile, has been recognised as one of this year’s Churchill Trust Fellows, marking the first time a senior leader from the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector has been included on the prestigious list. 


The Churchill Trust was founded in 1965 as a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill and was conceived as a way to provide everyday citizens a unique opportunity to travel, learn and bring knowledge back to their home country which in turn could be used to solve major problems of the day. 


CEO of the Churchill Trust, Adam Davey said, “Our aim is to provide ordinary Australians with extraordinary opportunities to expand our collective knowledge and provide contemporary solutions to the issues and challenges we’re facing as a nation.”


The Trust runs an annual application process with Fellowships worth on average $29,433 each and since inception has supported over 4,000 Australians to conduct their research travel aims since. 


Best practice models of out of school hours care key focus of research efforts


Ms Hutchins has been awarded The Northern Districts Education Centre Churchill Fellowship to explore how internationally best practice models of out of school hours care (OSHC) are being applied with a view to identifying insights and learnings to repatriate to the Australian context to effect positive change. 


“The OSHC sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Australia. It is disparate, has multiple risks and is operated separately to schools,” Ms Hutchins said. 


“I will examine best-practice models which reflect changing social norms and where children are actively engaged; developing and thriving in the OSHC environment and I will explore how to reduce risk and balance the needs of children, community and parents/carers whilst partnering with schools for children’s outcomes.” 


“I will visit countries with a high utilisation of OSHC to understand their approach and policy strictures so I can consider how to translate learnings to enable innovation in the Australian operational and policy context.”


It is understood Ms Hutchins will be traveling to five countries over the course of her Fellowship namely; Canada, Germany, Iceland, the United Kingdom and the United States.  


Churchill Fellowship marks latest contribution to long career in service to children


The receipt of a Churchill Fellowship marks the latest chapter of Ms Hutchins in a long career working within communities to create positive change and meet the needs of children and families. 


“I am beyond excited. Opportunities like this are so important for our sector. The Churchill Fellowship raises awareness of the important role OSHC plays for children, families and school communities,” Ms Hutchins said. 


Ms Hutchins is currently the CEO of Illawarra based Big Fat Smile, an organisation that offers preschool, long day care and outside school hours care services to the community as well as operates a series of inclusion programs across Australia. 


Prior to joining Big Fat Smile Ms Hutchins spent time at the YMCA NSW, Campbell Page and the Benevolent Society, the latter of which she held a number of National positions over a thirteen year period. 


Ms Hutchins is currently the Co-Chair of peak body, the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) and the Co-Chair of the NSW ECECD Safeguarding Committee, a body that assist the ECEC sector to commit, connect and abide the National Principles of a Child Safe Organisation.


Ms Hutchins thanked the Winston Churchill Trust (Australia) for believing in her and the project she presented.

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