Every child has the right to play
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Every child has the right to play – Neil Gorring a passionate advocate

Every child has the right to play – Neil Gorring a passionate advocate

by Freya Lucas

June 19, 2024

Neil Gorring, Director of Uniting Preschool Grafton, has spent his career making a difference in the lives of children, families and communities, from Newcastle to Grafton, and all across the sunlit plains of the Australian Outback.


His commitment to early learning and to play emerged much earlier in his life, however, watching his mother make a difference in the lives of children and families in her role as a family day care (FDC) educator, where he saw first hand how meaningful and purposeful play can be for a child’s development. 


Mr Gorring recently connected up with the Department of Education NSW to share some reflections on his journey, an extract of which appears below. For the full text of this article please see here


This journey began with his undertaking of an early childhood teaching degree at the University of Newcastle.He worked at a long day care service on the campus after completing his degree, going on to hold positions as an educational leader, a TAFE teacher in ECEC, and a mobile preschool director before completing a Master’s degree in early childhood education and care. 


In his current leadership position there are many aspects to juggle, however one cornerstone element is striving to create a culture that makes systems and regulations more accessible and puts the focus back on play-based learning.


“I will always defend the right and the need for children to play, and to inhabit play, and to play for as long as they can,” he said.


One of his earliest career experiences, as the director of a mobile children’s service based in the remote town of Wanaaring in northern NSW, taught him how to be comfortable with the unknown, and to embrace outback life in his interactions with children and the community.


He and one other educator covered an area the size of Tasmania, with 5,000 kilometres of travel every month.


“It was basically a 4-wheel drive packed with resources,” he explained.


“We’d visit someone’s property for a day, and all the children within 100-kilometre radius would come to visit and learn. Other times we’d try to line up with health programs or big community events.”


“I had to use my teaching toolkit with what was around. At that time, there was so much social isolation in remote far western NSW. The mobile children’s service was an opportunity to bring people together.”


“It’s experiences like that that show you every child has a right to play. Everyone’s equal.”

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