Lisel takes a new path for children at risk
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Lisel steps up to support children at risk with new Graduate Diploma

Lisel steps up to support children at risk with new Graduate Diploma

by Freya Lucas

April 23, 2024

When Lisel Thomas began her career as an urban planner, she never could have imagined herself playing a pivotal role in the lives of children at heightened risk. 


Ms Thomas, who has over 30 years of experience working as an urban planner for both State Government and Local Councils, accepted an early retirement package from the Victorian Department of Education (where she had been central to school planning), and soon found herself wondering ‘what next?’


She was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from the Victorian Government as part of the early childhood scholarships and incentives program, which covered the cost of completing a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education at Victoria University – something she describes as ‘a wild ride.’


The course structure allowed her to ‘dig deep’ into educational theory, and develop a new image of the child. 


Ms Thomas, who elected to study her course in person, said that studying with international students and people of different ages and backgrounds helped to build her appreciation of different cultures and perspectives.


“I also developed a new respect for materials and place as the ‘third teacher’, and learnt a great deal about myself,“ she said. 


On graduating, Ms Thomas was offered “what is proving to be a dream job” as an educator with the Cooke Court Specialist Early Education and Development program at the Uniting Vic.Tas Early Learning Centre.


“I am thrilled to be working within a program specifically designed to support children at heightened risk, or who are experiencing social disadvantage and significant family stress,” she said. 


“It’s a privilege to be part of a program that will give these children the best start to their education and help ensure they start school with confidence and developmentally equal with their peers.”


Repositioning herself as an ECEC professional has highlighted for Ms Thomas the enormous value that the profession plays in society. 


“Early childhood educators have a privileged and honourable position that must be taken seriously,” she said. “My goal is to be an activist and advocate for early childhood education.” 


“I am committed to child-led play-based inclusive practice, where all learners achieve their maximum potential in an environment of connection and belonging.”


“I have never in my life worked so hard as I am in this role, but I am loving every minute of it and have no regrets about my decision to move on from my previous career.”


Learn more about the range of incentives available from the Victorian Department of Education here. More information about Victoria University is available here

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