VEYA Finalist Series: The Aunty Rose Bamblett Koorie Early Years Legacy Award
This article contains the name of an Aboriginal person who has passed.
The Victorian Early Years Awards (VEYA) are an opportunity for the best and brightest Victorian early childhood and allied professionals to be recognised for the exceptional contributions they make to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector.
Finalists were announced on Early Childhood Educators Day, 6 September, with the winners to be announced at the 2023 VEYA ceremony on 9 November 2023.
Now in their 18th year, the awards are an opportunity to showcase the exceptional work being done in the Victorian ECEC sector, with finalists exemplifying the vital work happening in the ECEC sector.
To ensure the finalists are all equally represented The Sector has elected to run a series of stories showcasing each finalist.
The piece below highlights the finalists for The Aunty Rose Bamblett Koorie Early Years Legacy Award.
This award recognises one or more early childhood service/s that are demonstrating holistic service provision that engages Aboriginal children and families, and is named in honour of Aunty Rose Bamblett.
Rosaline Patricia Bamblett (deceased) – known as Aunty Rose – is a Yorta Yorta, Wiradjuri woman whose dedication and commitment to Koorie Early Childhood Education was outstanding, and has left a lasting legacy and inspiration for early years services and educators today.
From 1981, Aunty Rose lead Lidje Child Care Centre, now known as Lulla’s Child and Family Centre in Shepparton, providing childcare, playgroup and family care for Koorie children in a Koorie environment. Aunty Rose put the developmental needs of the Koorie child at the centre and advocated for responses to community access needs, such as outside school hours care and transportation.
She was instrumental in establishing the Victorian Early Childhood Koorie Development Association Incorporated (VEKDAI) in the 1970s. She was on the SNAICC (Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care) founding committee in 1981 and held the position of Early Years Specialist Representative for over 30 years at Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI). She was the chair of the VAEAI Early Childhood Advisory Committee during this time and is a VAEAI Life Member.
She advocated for developing and growing the Koorie early years workforce, and her advocacy achieved many community firsts, including:
- Free four-year-old kindergarten
- Free three-year-old kindergarten
- Developing cultural resource kits for borrowing between childcare services
- Establishing an Elders group who informed teacher education at Deakin University
- The engagement of Koorie Pre-School Assistants
- For VAEAI to continue as a strong Aboriginal state-wide peak for education.
Aunty Rose “enjoyed witnessing the expanding opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to engage in universal early years services, enabling children to grow in safe and culturally appropriate programs.” She said that “this work is important because First Nations families want to see educators working in ways that benefit their children.”
Finalist – Yirram Burron and Perridak Burron Early Learning services, Ballarat & District Aboriginal Cooperative
Yirram Burron and Perridak Burron Early Learning services are Aboriginal community-owned and controlled early years services. They cater specifically to Aboriginal children that have experienced trauma and ensure all Koorie children within their services have the best possible start to their education journey in a culturally safe environment.
The organisation caters for each family and child holistically, ensuring they meet the individual needs of enrolment, attendance and ongoing engagement whilst delivering educational programs based solely on Aboriginal perspectives involving environments, resources, experiences, activities, recruitment, professional development, community programs and celebrations.
Yirram Burron and Perridak Burron share their successes and strategies with other early childhood services working collaboratively in cultural competence and service provision for Aboriginal families and the wider community. The Early Years team are passionate about providing an educationally rich and nurturing environment in which all children will grow and develop into the next generation of culturally competent citizens, with a love for the land and their community.
Finalist: Rosedale Uniting Kindergarten
Children who attend Rosedale Uniting Kindergarten benefit from the rich, indigenous cultural aspects embedded in their learning program. Early childhood teacher Pauline Dent is a proud Monero Ngarigo woman from Gippsland who developed a culturally inclusive program that includes a daily Acknowledgement of Country, Aboriginal artwork displays and the exploration of Aboriginal language through song.
Rosedale Uniting Kindergarten takes a holistic approach to developing individual learning goals in collaboration with families. Photos, notes and drawings are displayed in accessible folders to highlight children’s and parents’ voices. Pauline and her team engage in working partnerships with Koorie education support officers, elders and community members who regularly contribute cultural knowledge to support the programs.
Community feedback highlights the positive impact of the kindergarten’s inclusiveness on Koorie families.
Finalist: Town & Country Children’s Centre
Town & Country Children’s Centre in Greater Geelong has embedded meaningful engagement of Aboriginal Culture into their curriculum and core philosophy, whereby Koorie children, families and community feel welcomed and culturally safe.
After recognising a gap in knowledge within the generations of educators and families, Town & Country Children’s Centre sought to build indigenous knowledge and authentic practices. In partnership with traditional owners and families, they designed and implemented a range of cultural elements into daily practices, recognising and celebrating Aboriginal leaders, artists and storytellers and bringing Wadawurrung language, stories and songs into daily use as well as movement, dance, and art to foster the children’s connection to land and history.
The centre’s cultural safety statement and policy for employing educators aligns all staff and ensures they share the same goals and passion as they strive to make early education, social skills and inclusion a positive goal for children and families.
$15,000 in prize money for professional development
Award finalists were selected by a panel of judges following a thorough application and shortlisting process.
Winners receive grants of $15,000 towards professional development or to further develop their program or initiative.
A separate Minister’s Award winner will be selected by the Minister for Children from finalists across all categories as a special commendation.
For more information on the awards, refer to the Victorian Early Years Awards website.
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