Governor General visits Gowrie NSW following ECT invitation
The Sector > Provider > General News > Governor General visits Gowrie NSW following ECT invitation

Governor General visits Gowrie NSW following ECT invitation

by Freya Lucas

November 01, 2023

Australia’s Governor General, General David John Hurley, AC, DSC, FTSE paid a visit to Gowrie New South Wales’ Erskineville Early Education and Care (EEC) service earlier this month, following a kind invitation from early childhood teacher (ECT) Anna Zhang and her class.


“I was lucky to attend Admiralty House’s Open Day in Kirribilli in June this year, where I first met the Governor General,” Ms Zhang explained. 


“When I shared a conversation with him, I mentioned the historical connection between the Admiralty House and the Lady Gowrie Centre, and naturally I invited him to visit the classroom and see what the children have been learning and achieving.”


During the visit the children had meaningful conversations and interactions with both the Governor General and his wife (who has a background in teaching), reading stories, and singing songs together. 


Mrs Hurley was kind enough to write a Lady Gowrie song which she sang and taught to the children. 


“It was wonderful to see children were so drawn to Their Excellencies’ friendliness, warmth, and kindness, and they took the initiative to ask Their Excellencies questions,” Ms Zhang said. 


“When someone truly cares about children, you can see it in their eyes and interactions with them, and I saw that in Their Excellencies’.”


Bridging the past and present


For Gowrie NSW CEO Nicole Jones, the visit was “a wonderful bridge between the past and the present.” 

The Lady Gowrie network began in 1940 when Lady Zara Gowrie, wife of the 10th Governor General, sought to improve the wellbeing of children through quality education, child and health care by establishing one of Australia’s first model early childhood centres, which allowed professionals from inside the early childhood sector, and from other allied fields, to observe best practice. 


“Our young advocates, with their innate sense of curiosity and a strong desire to influence their world, demonstrated exceptional agency as they confidently engaged with Their Excellencies,” Ms Jones continued.


“This showed us that when provided with the right opportunities and support, children can become active participants in their communities, advocating for positive change. At Gowrie NSW, we are dedicated to nurturing these qualities, ensuring our young learners are not just prepared for the future, but are also shaping it, making them resilient and conscious citizens of the world.”


Advocating for the sector


Ms Zhang said the visit was also an important opportunity to showcase the quality of practice and children’s learning in the classrooms to the community, demonstrating what quality early education and care looks like. 


“It’s time that we engage parents, policy makers and everyone who cares about children in a collaborative conversation and brainstorm how we can all work together for children’s brighter future,” she added. 


“Quality early education in practice should have (and deserves) a wider audience and for a leader like the Governor General, he can experience children’s quality education and care first hand and share his experience with others. In the media, we have been advocating for children and early education, but I think a face-to-face genuine interaction with the children makes a bigger impact on people, helping them to see children being capable, independent and creative learners, and helping to move past the perception of children being ‘adorable’ and that their education only matters when they start formal schooling.”


Children’s reflections 


For the children some of the highlights of the visit included singing the bee song, eating morning tea, and being read to. 


For Cassius, the men, the Governor General and the policemen were a big hit, “because they read books to me, and they looked so cool.” 

Mia was most impressed by the Governor General’s fashion sense, saying “I love the Governor General because of his reading of the Stick Man and his beautiful shirt. He’s so cool.”


The time taken by Mrs Hurley to create a special song was also noted by many, with Jemima saying “ I like Mrs Hurley’s Lady Gowrie song. I love Mrs Hurley because her singing is so beautiful and her white shirt,” and Hobie saying “I like the Governor General and his wife the best, I like the Lady Gowrie song that Mrs Hurley sang to us, it’s so special.”


For Ms Jones, the visit showed the way in which Gowrie NSW empowers its ECTs and teams to lead their programs confidently, tailoring them to meet the unique needs of each community. 


“We firmly believe in providing our educators with the right opportunities and support, just as we do for our children, ensuring they can take charge and make decisions that best serve our young learners and their families.”


“Our approach is rooted in the understanding that our teachers and educators play a crucial role in creating a positive and inclusive learning environment. By trusting in their expertise and giving them the autonomy to shape their programs, we foster a culture of leadership and innovation within our teams. This empowers our educators to respond proactively to the diverse needs of our community, ensuring that every child feels seen, heard, and valued”.


The children concluded the visit by presenting Their Excellencies with two collaborative artworks, one Yarra Yarra Classroom and the other one Greening Sydney, Greening Australia to Their Excellencies, which are now in their offices.


Learn more about Gowrie NSW here

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