Child Australia announces winners of inaugural ECEC sector awards
The Sector > Workforce > Leadership > Child Australia announces winners of inaugural ECEC sector awards

Child Australia announces winners of inaugural ECEC sector awards

by Freya Lucas

March 01, 2023

Western Australia based Child Australia, in collaboration with organising partners, have announced the finalists for the inaugural 2023 Early Childhood Learning and Development Sector Awards.


“Now more than ever we need to come together to celebrate and acknowledge the commitment and dedication of sector professionals who strive to make a difference and a positive impact on the lives of children and families every day”, said Tina Holtom, Child Australia CEO.


The awards, she continued, serve as a platform to recognise and celebrate the exceptional contributions of individuals and organisations who have demonstrated unwavering commitment to delivering quality outcomes for children and families within the early childhood sector.


24 finalists were selected from across hundreds of nominations in WA, which were assessed by an independent judging panel that was appointed to select the best of the best in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. 


As well as key stakeholders from across the ECEC sector, the panel included representatives from other fields such as tertiary education, independent training and local government. 


Along with the recognition that the awards bring, finalists will each receive $500, and winners will receive an additional $1,000 prize.


The 2023 Early Childhood Learning and Development Sector Awards are made possible thanks to the support of the following partners: 



Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony being held on Friday, 17 March at Optus Stadium. Finalists are outlined below. 


To register for the Early Childhood Learning and Development Conference see here. Information on the awards is available here


Excellence in Community Engagement or School Partnerships Award finalists


Courtney Young – Annie’s Early Learning


Courtney’s passion and commitment to the education and care of children is demonstrated through her deeply embedded community connections. She has immersed the children into their Meso level community through the implementation of regular recycling programs to aid in the production of wheelchairs, providing food to Second Bite and donating fruits and vegetables to the local Cuddly Animal Farm and attending the local police station with handmade cards to support ‘Thank a Cop’ day.


Meerilinga Children and Community Services Woodvale


Meerilinga Woodvale is a community hub supporting the development of children through strong connections with families and community as well as providing a place for the community to connect.


The centre has a highly collaborative focus in all the work they do with the community and their partnership with North Woodvale Primary School is a testament to how authentic partnerships can provide the best outcomes for children and families.


West Pilbara Mobile Children’s Service


The West Pilbara Mobile Children’s Service (WPMCS) is the only mobile children’s service offering support for young families and communities on a weekly basis who are socially and geographically isolated with limited or no access to quality ECEC. The program supports and collaborates with three remote community schools as well as health, well-being, cultural and leisure services to ensure that the children and families have a link and relationship to the Port Hedland providers.


Excellence in Innovative and Sustainable Practice Award finalists


Eco Early Learning and Bush Kinder – Thornlie Campus


Eco Early Learning and Bush Kinder have a clear vision on sustainability and the long-term benefits that result from these practices which impacts humans and the planet. Eco Early Learning and Bush Kinder bring together the indoors and outdoors which creates a powerful and integrated learning environment. They are committed to protecting the environment and embed sustainability into their curriculum with everyday practices with their children.


Goodstart Early Learning Girrawheen


Goodstart Early Learning Girrawheen found that the impact of COVID-19 and staff changes were impacting the consistency of their learning environments, resourcing and experiences. They worked alongside families and the Goodstart Practice Team to update centre planning to ensure that environments and resourcing were intentionally planned and reflected on. The team now demonstrate a planned and purposeful approach to the physical learning environments, ensuring defined learning spaces support children’s interests.


Pachamama Early Education and Child Care


Pachamama is well-known for exceptional environments featuring nature, creativity and cultural diversity in a home-away-from-home setting. Many innovative and sustainable practices are underpinned by these extraordinary surroundings. This includes the outdoor learning environment to improve the community’s physical development and creating settings that create calm and enriching spaces to support employee’s wellbeing and rejuvenation needs.


Excellence in Leadership Award finalists


Ann Walden – Whitfords Little Buckets


Ann Walden is a leader who dearly loves the children, families and staff at her service. She consistently strives to improve and offer high quality education and care. Ann always strives to put her service first and provide thorough training and role modelling to all of her team. Her ability to adapt, evolve and continuously improve as an educator and leader shows her outstanding contribution to the sector.


Melissa Gleeson – Nido Early School Carlisle


Melissa is a registered Early Childhood Teacher and Curriculum Leader at Nido Early School Carlisle. Mel joined the leadership group in 2021 and has been responsible for the development and implementation of education and care within Nido Carlisle, in partnership with children, families and fellow colleagues in her service. Mel has been recognised for being a leader by her colleagues in supporting children to achieve positive outcomes in their learning, development and wellbeing.


Rocky Beaton – Pachamama Early Education and Care


Rocky is the Executive Centre Manager of Pachamama’s two services in the Perth Hills. She leads with strength, calmness and a sense of ever-present graceful dignity during her eight-year tenure, with an extraordinary capability to connect with staff, families and the community in a way that engenders support through both rough and tranquil seas.


Outstanding Educator Award finalists


Lee Peing Lim – One Tree Millars Well Children’s Service


Lee has been working for One Tree Millars Well for three years. She consistently works above and beyond her job description, using her relationships with the community to build fellow colleagues’ knowledge, mentoring and motivating staff and always researching to find new and innovative ideas to keep the team inspired. She leads by example and is a positive influence on the centre’s vision and mission.


Lisa Humphreys – Meerilinga Children’s and Community Services Beechboro


Lisa has more than 20 years experience in the ECEC sector with vast experience in working in different areas of services. Lisa ensures each child and their family have a strong sense of identity, are connected with and contribute to their world, have a strong sense of wellbeing, confidence and are involved learners who become effective communicators.


Michelle Burns – The Y WA


Michelle is an enthusiastic educator who is admired by colleagues and families alike for her wealth of knowledge and can-do attitude. Her commitment to families and children of the centre is exemplary. She is well respected amongst her peers and is a valued educator at the service. She has been nominated due to her expansive knowledge and experience to sit on the steering committee of a new project for school readiness.


Outstanding Child Allied Health Practitioner Award finalists


Alison Dupuy – WA Country Health Service Child Development Service


Alison is a physiotherapist working in paediatric child development service. She is devoted to providing services and going the extra mile for vulnerable clients and has done incredible work improving links with the Aboriginal community and health service. She provides the highest quality service, is always learning and shares her knowledge and expertise with all team members. Her clinical skills, diagnostic skills and ability to set goals with families and help them through what is often a difficult time in their life is second to none.


Sarah Mountford – WA Country Health Service – South West


Sarah is a speech pathologist who has worked at Bunbury Child Development Service since 2015. She is passionate about families and helping them on their health journey, implementing new ideas with effortless flair. Sarah is currently leading a project known as FEELS – Flexible Entry to Early Language Services, her goal is to give families an empowering start, seeing parents and carers as the true drivers of change. 


She works closely with families to help them reach their goals, running playgroups where families can learn and implement new strategies in a welcoming and supportive space.


Regina Van Heythuysen – Goodstart Early Learning


In 2019, as a representative of Goodstart, Regina took part in a trial called Ears2Learn, in conjunction with the EarBus Foundation of WA and Connecting Communities for Kids. She has completed over 2,000 screenings with numerous children referred to ENT and audiology. Regina is key to the success of the project and ensures children across WA are provided with necessary services to ensure ear health across the state.


Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher finalists


Cheta Coosna – Susan Teather Early Learning and Development


Cheta has worked in the early education and care Sector for over 13 years in various roles including primary school teaching. Her daily program enhances children’s interest, abilities and skills providing them with fun activities every day.


Lara Bowler – Tall Tree Early Learning Banksia Grove


Lawa is a newly qualified early childhood teacher and the pedagogical leader at Tall Tree Early Learning in Banksia Grove. She excels in her role of working collaboratively with educators to provide curriculum direction and guidance, supporting the curriculum across the service and expanding to other services as her role continues to evolve.


Melisa Butcher – Goodstart Banksia Grove


Melisa works tirelessly to embed a culture of inclusion and mutual respect in her service, with many vulnerable families attending. She is accepting of diversity in culture and lifestyle of these families, going above and beyond her role requirements. The time and effort afforded to these children has greatly improved their wellbeing whilst in her care. 


Outstanding Indigenous Educator Award finalists


Casey Girdlestone – Child Australia


Casey has worked at Child Australia for over five years in both professional development and in-service roles. She is an advocate for sharing culture and knowledge with both her colleagues and children in her care. She strives to upskill to support her colleagues and is at the forefront of major initiatives in Child Australia. Casey instils confidence in employees within Child Australia to prioritise the reconciliation journey and take action as individual and an organisation to make positive changes in the workforce and children in their care.


Corrine Bell – Goodstart Early Learning Stratton


Corrine is a proud Ballardong Noongar woman and her family are from Northam WA. She has working in the early learning sector for 14 years in various roles across all age groups. She is passionate about working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community to share history and traditional cultures and sharing that with both educators and children. Corrine strives to create an environment that’s inclusive and appreciative of where each person comes from, supporting children to be the voice of tomorrow.


Tim Powter – Rose Nowers Early Learning Centre


Tim is a local Aboriginal man who grew up in Marble Bar which is where his elders live. He is a kind educator with incredible patience and empathy to support all children within his care. Tim shares his knowledge of culture through conversations with children and educators, often using phrases in everyday conversation in the local language. He has a natural talent and empathy to support the needs of the centre’s children, an exceptional and very special gift to have.


Rising Star Award Finalists


Jessica Wilson – Goodstart Wonthella


Jessica consistently shows exceptional quality care for children and families in the Goodstart Wonthella Centre. She is willing to step out of her comfort zone and take on additional leadership tasks with guidance and support from colleagues. She strives to upskill and be responsive within her role, allowing the team and centre to feel supported as well as continue to focus on children and families.


Kimberley Parker – Northcliffe Family and Community Centre


Kim has a background as an independent contractor working in early learning centres providing song and dance activities. She has worked at Northcliffe Family and Community centre for two and a half years and has quickly progressed with the service to become an educational leader. She is currently studying and mentoring younger students in the service. Kim shows incredible initiative with language, improving a number of children’s speech development and incorporating AUSLAN into her Educating.


Rachael Baker – Goodstart Riverside Gardens


Rachel entered the ECEC sector 12 months ago as a trainee. She consistently engages with training opportunities and makes significant changes and efforts to embed all she has learnt into her practice and program she delivers. She goes above and beyond in her support for children, speaking to allied health teams for strategies and support to implement for children with additional needs in her care.

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