2017 Victorian Early Years Award winners

Nowa Nowa is an isolated rural town near Lakes Entrance with a population of 144. It has a kindergarten with 25 children that feeds into four of the region’s primary schools. It also has a teacher who has recently been named Victorian Early Childhood Teacher of the Year at the 2017 Victorian Early Years Awards.

Rachel Webb, the Director of the Save the Children Nowa Nowa Kindergarten, was recognised at a celebration of early childhood excellence at the National Gallery of Victoria.

‘I never imagined that I would be in a position like this, to be recognised for the work that I do, or even to feel that the work that I do is really that noticeable,’ Ms Webb says.

Importance of culture

Ms Webb was recognised for her work in building relationships with local families, particularly with Aboriginal families in the local community. Her approach emphasises the importance of culture and how it reinforces a child’s sense of belonging. Her strong links with the Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service has led to a joint bush kindergarten program where students learn through connecting with nature.

Ms Webb says she felt extremely honoured to receive her award. However, it was the prospect of spending her $10,000 prize money to attend Smarter Stronger Jarjums — a leadership program that supports high expectations in Indigenous education — that thrills her the most.

‘I’m so excited to learn leadership skills for working in my community and to improve outcomes for children and hopefully encourage others around me to work that little bit harder,’ she says.

Celebrating excellence in giving our children and young people the best start to life

The Victorian Early Years Awards celebrate the exceptional contributions that individuals and organisations make to improving the learning and development of young children and their families. For more information about the Victorian Early Years Awards and to see all other category winners, see: Victorian Early Years Awards