ECEC Director named Corporate Citizen of the Year in Dandenong Australia Day Awards
Springvale Service for Children Director Vanessa Field was awarded the Corporate Citizen of the Year in the recent Greater Dandenong Australia Day Awards in an important piece of recognition for her more than 40 years of service to the early childhood sector.
Ms Field’s extensive career has seen her work in local government, long day care, project management for new supported hubs and many other settings, and she found herself “terribly humbled” by the award.
“I don’t look for recognition when you just do your work, but I was very proud to see the organisation that I lead be recognised,” she shared with local news source Berwick News.
“It validated our work and inspired me to continue what I do.”
Her advocacy for the sector has helped to avert the potential closure of several early years’ services in Greater Dandenong, and as well as leading Springvale, a role she has held for ten years, she has also worked to change the perception of children with additional needs at a departmental level.
“One thing I noticed here was children with individual needs can be looked at in a different way culturally and we want to change that,” she shared with the paper.
“We want everyone to appreciate that early childhood is critical and I’m proud to break down barriers.”
The diversity of the Greater Dandenong community, she continued, means there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, and that inclusivity must be paramount in decision making.
Currently Ms Field is involved in a project which supports families with cultural diversity to access support for the more administratively burdensome aspects of accessing early childhood education and care (ECEC) such as communicating with Centrelink, enrolling in Kindergarten, or connecting with Council.
“It is one of the most complex systems you’ll ever encounter,” Ms Field said. “Listening to stories of why and how they navigate themselves I think is a very important story to share and I’m committed to achieve that as my next goal.”
As a first step, work has commenced on having the collected experiences of those she has spoken to translated into each participant’s first language as well as English, with the intent of sharing the stories with families who will make Greater Dandenong home.
“We have 19 different countries represented, so for us listening to their personal stories is a narrative that needs to be shared and documented,” she said.
The Sector extends its congratulations to Ms Field on her achievements. Access the original coverage of this story here.
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