C&K gathers for conference and awards
The Sector > Provider > General News > C&K gathers for conference and awards, celebrating success in the early years

C&K gathers for conference and awards, celebrating success in the early years

by Freya Lucas

August 01, 2023

One of Queensland’s oldest early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers, C&K, held its  annual conference and awards event last weekend, bringing together nearly 600 delegates to showcase the invaluable work being done in the sector centring on the theme Reflect, Connect, Ignite for a shared future.


Delegates were invited to participate in a variety of presentations aimed at helping them to develop and reflect on their practice with young children, with presenters from both within and outside the organisation sharing invaluable insights and perspectives to boost professional growth. 


“Topics reflected current and emerging pedagogical and community priorities, including developing cultural capacity and reconciliation practices, ensuring educator well-being, teaching gender equity and trauma-informed practice and understanding children’s consent rights,” explained C&K CEO Dr Sandra Cheeseman.


Keynote presenters Dr Julia Baird and Associate Professor Fay Hadley were a highlight of the conference program, with Dr Baird sharing her perspectives on the importance of developing connections with ourselves, others, and the world around us and sharing this with children.


Associate Professor Hadley gave invaluable insights as to the key changes to the Early Years Learning Framework v 2.0 and the rationale behind them. 


“It’s enormously rewarding that C&K’s conference is held in such high regard that we can attract the calibre of presenters, sponsors and exhibitors we had,” Dr Cheeseman said, extending her sincere gratitude to the sponsors and exhibitors who supported the conference and made the event “a resounding success”.


C&K’s 2023 Awards


C&K’s annual award program celebrates exceptional practice and inspiring leadership in early childhood education and care.


“Our workforce, and indeed the entire sector, has experienced numerous challenges in the past few years, so we wanted these awards to focus on the joy, creativity and connection that our people receive from working with Queensland’s diverse communities,” said C&K Chief Operating Officer Kim Davis.


From its pool of 330 kindergartens and childcare centres across Queensland, eight awards were given, with a special mention going to overall award winner C&K Balaclava Community Kindergarten in Mooroobool, north Queensland, who took out the prestigious Emeritus Professor Mary Mahoney AO Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education and Care.


“With historically low enrolment rates at the centre, this newly-formed kindergarten team engaged with local community groups, organisations and Aboriginal Elders, demonstrating enormous commitment to deepen their understanding and share their knowledge in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture,” Ms Davis explained.


“Through engagement, the kindergarten has strengthened community relationships and removed access barriers, becoming a haven for children and families where their cultural voices, connections and identities are valued and embedded every day.”


“The centre is now full with 90 per cent of children identifying as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other diverse cultural backgrounds, and is having a profound impact on children and families in the local community.”


Overall, Dr Cheesman said she was “overwhelmed” with the calibre of award nominees, and enormously proud to be part of an organisation that benchmarks high-quality early childhood education and care.


“Our award winners demonstrated exceptional practice in inclusion, creating culturally safe and inspiring learning environments, modelling respect and equality, challenging thinking, and advocating for children, families and the broader early childhood sector,” she said.


“Many of our teachers, educators and centres have gone above and beyond to develop authentic collaborative relationships with children, families, First Nations Peoples, and their local communities to support children’s learning. It’s truly something to celebrate!” 

C&K Awards Night at Brisbane Showgrounds, Bowen Hills on Friday, July 28, 2023. Photo: Claudia Baxter


The full list of 2023 C&K Award winners (pictured above) is as follows:


  • Overall winner Emeritus Professor Mary Mahoney AO Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education and Care: C&K Balaclava Community Kindergarten


  • C&K CEO Award: C&K Quality & Regulation Team, C&K Central


  • COS Award ‘Reflect, Connect Ignite for our Children’: C&K Amberley Community Childcare Centre


  • Queensland Department of Education Award ‘Reflect, Connect, Ignite – for our Profession and People’: C&K Childcare Operations Team


  • ChildcareNow Award ‘Reflect, Connect, Ignite for our Sector and Community’: Lisa Liddell, C&K Mt Warren Park Community Kindergarten


  • MTA Award for Promising Practice for Early Career Teachers and Educators: Karen Churchman, C&K Arnwood Place Community Childcare Centre


  • Hesta Award for Reconciliation: C&K Balaclava Community Kindergarten


  • C&K Award for Equity: C&K Durack Community Kindergarten


To learn more about C&K please visit the website here. The Sector extends its congratulations to all the award winners and nominees. 

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