Honour roll

Previous Early Years Awards winners

2018 Winners​

Category 1: Improving Access and Participation in Early Learning Award

Awarded for an initiative or program that promotes access and ongoing participation and engagement in early learning, particularly for vulnerable and disadvantaged families.

Debney Meadows Primary School
Finding your voice (The Debney Meadows Oral Language Headstart)

Debney Meadows Primary School caters for a community with high rates of English as an Additional Language, trauma, refugee experience and parental illiteracy.

To address these issues, the school created an oral language program and activity centres. The aim is to improve oral language and social skills for early learners.

The program was designed to support development and used simple text to start conversations and learn new words. Results from the program showed that 100 per cent of students improved, and of these 42.4 per cent had made a huge improvement.

Partners: Speech Pathologist – Samantha Radajic, SMC Speech Pathology Pty. Ltd.

Category 2: Supporting Parents to Build Their Capacity and Confidence Award

Awarded for a service or initiative that supports parents and carers to feel confident and capable in their parenting role and actions, and to recognise their role as first teachers in supporting their child’s learning and development.

Dandenong Primary School
Dandy Pals Playgroup – Step Into Kinder program

The Dandy Pals Playgroup engages with parents and children prior to school enrolment. The program is free and helps families with transition to four-year-old kindergarten.

It aims to strengthen the role of parents and enhance home learning. It supports parents in their role as their child’s first teacher.

The playgroup has improved access to high quality early learning services. It has also helped identify children needing early interventions.

Partners: Community Hubs Australia, R E Ross Trust, The Smith Family, The Water Well Project, City of Greater Dandenong.

Category 3: Creating Collaborative Community Partnerships Award

Awarded for a service or initiative that promotes collaborative practice to support and demonstrate positive outcomes for children and families.

Traralgon East Community Centre
Community Connect

Traralgon East Community Centre inspires children to take part in community life through its Community Connect program. The centre identified a need to help children make better decisions after a series of break-ins at a local preschool. The culprits were aged under 10.

It now runs more than 20 programs designed to attract children and improve their access to services. For example, a new easy-to-navigate public transport map was created and a free book exchange opened. As a result, there has been a reduction in anti-social behaviour.

Partners: Department of Health and Human Services, Latrobe Valley Bus Lines, Kindred Spirits Enterprises, Relationships Australia Victoria, Lifeline Gippsland, Latrobe City Council: Maternal and Child Health, Latrobe City Council: Cameron Street Pre-School, AFL Gippsland, Save the Children, Latrobe Community Health Service (LCHS).

Category 4: Promoting Children’s Health and Wellbeing Award

Awarded to an initiative, program or project that has demonstrated outstanding achievement promoting children's health and wellbeing.

City of Darebin
Kingsbury Play Map Project

The Kingsbury Play Map raises awareness of diverse play opportunities that strengthen community links. The initiative allows families and children across Darebin to try out free play places and spaces in their neighbourhood.

The Play Map partnership is between Darebin Council and Play Specialist, Cat Sewell. Children, aged between 0-8 from the local kindergarten, supported playgroup and two primary schools also helped to design the map of their local play areas.

The map identifies play areas in Kingsbury, one of Darebin’s most vulnerable areas, and uses action words such as, jump, create, climb, search and run. Families can build on their knowledge about how to play and interact with their local environment.

The project links to Darebin’s 2017-2021 Health and Wellbeing Plan, where physical activity is one of the strategies for strengthening community connectedness.

Partners: Cat Sewell: Play Specialist, Christine Hodge: Maryborough Avenue Kindergarten, Christine Campbell: Principal of Kingsbury Primary School, Kevin Bourke: Our Lady of the Way Primary School.

Category 5: Early Childhood Teacher of the Year Award

Awarded to an early childhood teacher who demonstrates innovation and exemplary practice in early childhood education, and who makes a significant contribution to the development and delivery of high quality early childhood education programs that improve outcomes for children.

Nicole Bechaz
Banyan Fields Kindergarten

Providing opportunities for children beyond a traditional kindergarten program, Nicole leads a team at Banyan Fields Kindergarten for 156 children, many with additional needs. Nicole worked with agencies and schools to ensure additional learning opportunities for all children, and that services such as speech programs were offered at the kindergarten.

Her participation in the Let's Chat Oral Language program increased parents’ skills and knowledge around the importance of early reading. By developing relationships with Banyan Fields Primary, Nicole has helped to strengthen the link between early childhood and primary school services. This has led to smooth and successful transitions for children and families.

Category 6: The Emeritus Professor Collette Tayler Excellence in Educational Leadership Award

A new award for 2018, this was presented to an early childhood service that has supported its educators and teachers to use intentional teaching practices that achieve improved outcomes for children and their families.

Community Kinders Plus

By identifying their strengths and needs in kindergarten, Community Kinders Plus (CKP) improves children’s social, emotional development, their cognition and language and early literacy skills. CKP manages 20 kindergartens in Frankston and across the Mornington Peninsula, focusing on improving outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable children.

The organisation has studied Emeritus Professor Collette Tayler’s research and has devised an assessment time line, tools and templates to observe, track and record children's progress and development. This research then ensured each child who attended a CKP kindergarten had an individual plan that reflected their developmental needs and interests.

Minister's Award

Selected by the Minister, this is a special commendation about a program that reflects this year’s theme of 'supporting positive relationships with children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds'.

The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc.
Foundation House Hume Refugee Early Years Cluster 2017-18

The Hume Early Years Refugee Support Cluster is a collaboration between Foundation House, Hume City Council and 10 Early Years centres and agencies. It aims to improve inclusion for families and children of refugee backgrounds in early years’ services.

Over 18 months, each partner reviewed their services to see how they could be more inclusive. They made changes to the way they work with families and agencies to better support refugee children. For example, they developed visual and translated resources, asked parents to teach staff key language phrases and encouraged parents to volunteer at the centre.

Partners: Family, Youth and Children’s Services: Hume City Council, Newbury Children and Community Centre, Craigieburn Child and Family Centre, Malcolm Creek Pre School, Pelican Childcare Fairways, Hilton Street Pre School, KU Craigieburn Children’s Centre, Good Samaritan Catholic Primary School, Mount Ridley College, Victorian Inclusion Agency, Bright Beginnings - Family Day Care.

2017 Winners​

Improving access and participation in early learning

Winner : Wyndham Kindergartens - Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program and Practice at Scale

Wyndham City Council in partnership with:

  • Reconciliation Australia - Narragunnawali 
  • ​Murrundindi - Wurundjeri Elder 
  • Department of Education and Training (DET)
  • Wurundjeri Tribal Land Council 
  • Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation
  • National Parks Victoria​
Read the video transcript

Improving access and participation in Early Learning Winner : Wyndham Kindergartens – Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program and Practice at Scale led by Wyndham City Council -

Wyndham City Council’s 23 kindergartens embraced the challenge of reconciliation by developing and implementing Reconciliation Action plans at each kindergarten involved. With the support of Traditional Owners and Elders and 200 local educators, Wyndham Kindergartens introduced strategies to increase kindergarten participation by Aboriginal children. This initiative was proudly embraced by 3000 children and families, building a strong sense of identity and increasing the Aboriginal children participation by 70 percent since 2012.

Supporting parents to build their capacity and confidence

Winner : Empowering Parents Empowering Communities


Victorian Cooperative on Children's Services for Ethnic Groups New Futures in partnership with:

  • The Smith Family - Brimbank Communities for Children
  • Unity/Hume Communities for Children
  • Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
  • Centre for Parent and Child Support
Read the video transcript

Supporting Parents to Build Their Capacity and Confidence Award Winner: Empowering Parents Empowering Communities led by Victorian Cooperative on Children’s Services for Ethnic Groups New Futures

Helping parents from culturally diverse communities to develop positive parenting strategies, confidence and skills, is at the heart of the unique education and support program, Empowering Parents, Empowering Communities. The eight week ‘Being a Parent’ program aims to improve knowledge of local early years services, create new support networks and support parents of children aged 2 to 12 years. This program strives to build the confidence of mums and dads to parent children in their newly adopted country by improving their knowledge of local early years services and creating new support networks to rely on.

Creating collaborative community partnerships 

Winner : Healthy Beginnings for Refugee Mothers and Babies

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in partnership with:

  • Wyndham City Council
  • VICSEG New Futures
  • Mercy Hospitals Victoria Ltd
  • ​Victorian Foundation for the Survivors of Torture​
Read the video transcript

Creating Collaborative Community Partnerships Award Winner: Healthy Happy Beginnings for Refugee Mothers and Babies led by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Healthy Happy Beginnings is a Melbournian community-based, socially inclusive program for refugee families from the Karen/Burma community. The program dedicated to address the needs of refugee families was developed through an extensive consultation process with the Karen community and health and refugee service providers. The program highlights what can be achieved when a collaborative approach is used to deliver health care and support during pregnancy. It has so far provided invaluable care and support during pregnancy to over 100 women.

Promoting children's health and wellbeing

Winner : Nurturing Room bridges Home to School

Warrnambool East Primary School in partnership with:

  • South West Local Learning and Employment Network
  • Rotary Club of Warrnmabool East
  • ​Kim Ryan, Paediatric Occupational Therapist
  • Read to Dog
Read the video transcript

Promoting Children’s Health and Wellbeing Award Winner : Nurturing Room Bridges Home to School led by Warrnambool East Primary School

The Nurturing Room Bridges Home to School focuses on helping vulnerable students manage trauma and get the support they need to reconnect with their classroom. The program provides students with a positive start to each day and a go-to person, making sure that they have someone to talk to on a daily basis. It is due to the skilled and passionate teachers that this nurturing room has provided students with structures and strategies to use whenever they feel distressed.

Early childhood teacher of the year

Winner : Rachel Webb

Save the Children - Nowa Nowa Kindergarten

Read the video transcript

Early Childhood Teacher of the Year Award Winner : Rachel Webb from the Save the Children - Nowa Nowa Kindergarten

Making a difference to young people’s lives has already had Rachel recognised as an Aboriginal Best Start Facilitator at her kindergarten. She believes that in their approach teachers have an opportunity to lay life-lasting foundations for their students by helping them reconnect and appreciate nature. The bush kinder program she leads includes 25 children from the region, many of them from indigenous backgrounds. The concept of the program successfully combines education about indigenous cultures and their underlying and fond connection to land.

Minister's Award - Improving access and participation in early learning

No One Left Behind

Wodonga City Council in partnership with:

  • Upper Murray Family Care - Child FIRST Alliance 
  • Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service
  • Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation 
  • ​Albury Wodonga Health
  • Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) - Child Protection
  • Department of Education and Training (DET) 
2016 Winners​

Improving access and participation in early learning ​

​East Sunshine Kindergarten; Early Childhood Access and Participation Project (ECAP)

Supporting parents to build their capacity and confidence award

Family Early Learning Partnership (FELP), Hume City Council and partner agencies

Creating collaborative community partnerships award 

A collaborative response to family violence in the East, Eastern community legal centre and partner agencies 

Early childhood teacher of the year award

​Meagan Hull, Bentons Square Kindergarten, Mornington 

Minister's award

Coaching Koorie Kids - Early years health promotion, Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and partner agencies 

2015 Winners​

Better access to child and family support, health services, schools and early education and care services  

​Boorais and Beyond: Hume City Council in partnership with Hume Early Years Partnership and Broadmeadows Valley Primary School 

Improvement in parents' capacity, confidence and enjoyment of family life

Best Beginnings: Psychiatric services Bendigo Health in partnership with Maternity services Bendigo Health 

Communities that are more family and child friendly 

Family Health in Playgroups: City of Greater Dandenong in partnership with South East Melbourne Medicare Local (SEMML) (Funder), City of Greater Dandenon Maternal and Child Health and Children's Services, City of Dandenong Youth Services, City of Greater Dandenong - Community Hubs in Schools sites, Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-Operative Limited (DDACL) and AMES - Mums and Bubs Group ​

Oustanding leadership for health and wellbeing 

​Heart of Corangamite Network: Corangamite Shire Council in partnership with South West Primary Care Partnership, Terang and Mortlake Health Service, Timboon District Health Service, South West Health Care, Beaufort and Skipton Health Service, Cobden District Health Services.

Early Childhood teacher of the year 

Clare Day - Audrey Brooks Memorial Preschool 

Highly Commended - Mel Simpson - Clarendon Children's Centre

Minister's Award - Improvements in parent's capacity, confidence and enjoyment of family life 

Bumps to Babes and Beyond: QEC in partnership with Mallee District Aboriginal Services 

2014 Winners

Better access to child and family support, health services, schools and early education and care services 

​​Swan Hill Rural City Council The Family Friendly Rooms: supporting transitions and belonging 

Improvements in parents' capacity, confidence and enjoyment of family life 

City of Ballarat Parent Place:  a volunteer-led information, resource and drop-in centre 

Highly Commended: Connections Uniting Care Chinese Family Services 

Communities that are more family and child friendly

Mansfield Shire Council: Better Communities for Children Leadership Network

Minister's Award​ Winner 

VICSEG New Futures Wyndham Refugee Family Resource and Mentoring Program

2013 Winners

Better access to child and family support, health services, schools and early education and care services

Mahogany Rise Child and Family Centre - A Journey to Access and Inclusion: Frankston City Council​

Improvements in parents' capacity, confidence and enjoyment of family life

​Our Time: Northern Area Mental Health Service

Communities that are more family and child friendly

​Engaging Children in Decision Making - A Guide For Consulting Children: The Cities of Ballarat, Brimbank, Maribyrnong, Melton, and Wyndham​

Minister's Award

​Working Together Innovation Initiative - Maternal and Child Health and the South East Family Services Alliance : The Cities of Casey and Greater Dandenong and the Shire of Cardinia​

2012 Winners

Better access to child and family support, health services, schools and early education and care services

City of Greater Dandenong: Reaching Out

Improvements in parents’ capacity, confidence and enjoyment of family Life

​CentaCare: Tarrengower Playgroup

Communities that are more family and child friendly

​South Gippsland Shire Counci: Cook ‘n’ Book, Venus Bay Community Centre

Minister's award

​Maryborough District Health Service: Central Goldfields Conversation Companions Oral Language Project

2011 Winners

Better access to child and family support, health services and early education and care services

Portland Early Assessment Referral Links, Glenelg Shire Council

Improvements in parents' capacity, confidence and enjoyment of family life

​Boorais in Hume, Hume City Council

Communities that are more child and family friendly

​Little GreenLeaves: Early Years Sustainability Program, Knox City Council

Minister’s Award

​The Braybrook Family Inclusive Language and Learning Support Program, Maribyrnong and Moonee Valley Local Learning and Employment Network​

2010 Winners

Better Access to Early Years Services

Springvale Service for Children : An Integrated Service​

Partnerships with Families and Communities

​Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative, Mingo Waloom Aboriginal Best Start: Koori Kinda Kit​

Minister’s Award : Better Access to Early Years Services

​Darebin Community Health: Darebin Best Start, Promoting Oral Language in Kindergartens

 

Minister’s Award : Partnerships with Families and Communities

​Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital: From Research to Practice: Improving Infant Sleep Patterns and Maternal Mental Health​

 

2009 Winners

Better Access to Early Years Services Award

​Djillay Lidji Best Start Partnership

​Partnerships with Families and Communities Award

Joint Winner: Reading Early and Learning Together in Greater Shepparton - Greater Shepparton City Council

​Joint Winner: Birthday Postcard Project - Moorabool Shire Council

Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Award

​Support for Playgroups Affected by Bushfire - Playgroup Victoria​

2008 Winners

Better access to child and family support, health services and early education

Early Learning Centre @ Rosewall - City of Greater Geelong

Improvements in parents' capacity, confidence and enjoyment of family

Building Bridges through Supported Playgroups - Knox City Council

Communities that are becoming more family and child friendly

Celebrating families and children - Mt Alexander Community Children’s Network

Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development's Award

Welcome Baby to Country Ceremony - Barenji Gadjin Land Council​

2007 Winners

Better access to child and family support, health services and early education

​Laverton Community Children's Centre:  A great start for the children in our community​

Improvements in parents' capacity, confidence and enjoyment of family

​Yooralla : " What about the Dads!" - Supported playgroups for fathers of children with a disability ​

Communities that are more family and child friendly

City of Greater Bendigo: Bendigo's Child Friendly City 

2006 Winners

​Better access to child and family support, health services and early education

​Bannockburn Family Services Centre 

Improving parents’ confidence and enjoyment of family life

​Corio Bay Senior College Child Care Centre

Creating more family and child-friendly communities

​City of Wodonga

Minister’s Award

​Grace Park Preschool and Kalparrin Early Intervention Centre, Greensborough