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News

Nazareth Early Childhood Centre Celebrated as HESTA Award Winners: Exemplifying Dedication and Excellence in Early Childhood Education

Image Credit: HESTA Awards via ABC Adelaide

Nazareth Early Childhood Centre earned national recognition over the weekend, as one of the esteemed recipients of the prestigious HESTA Awards for the category of Outstanding Service. These national awards recognise excellence in early childhood education and honour the extraordinary contributions of the front-line educators and carers who play a vital role in Australia’s early childhood education system.

Nazareth Early Childhood Centre has become renowned for an unwavering commitment to building community, nurturing family life, and making a positive impact on the world, drawing upon social justice teachings which value the importance of inclusion, and breaking down barriers.

The nomination for this award stemmed from the Early Childhood Centre’s dedication to diversity within its community and its innovative approach to children’s literacy development. This includes the ‘Birthday Book’ initiative, as Early Years Director Natasha Walc explains.

“After reviewing our Australian Early Development Census community profile and assessing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on families and children, we questioned participation, inclusion and equity, and identified a need to provide extra support,” said Natasha.

“As literacy development was a core focus for growth, we began to acknowledge children’s birthdays by gifting them a birthday book, which was grounded in the principle of inclusion,” she explained.

Simultaneously, a project evolved which documented children’s engagement during story telling experiences. In partnership with Flinders University, Nazareth also provides community Speech Pathologist and Occupational Therapy services, free of charge to families.

“Literacy is fundamental to the way we interact with society… We want our children and the young people we work with to have every opportunity to thrive. If we can provide them with the foundations, then the sky is the limit!” explained Natasha during her acceptance of the Award at the Friday evening presentation event.

For staff at Nazareth, this acknowledgment is a tribute to their initiatives and tireless work.

“The Early Childhood Centre team are imperative to the support that we provide our children and families. But we are also part of a broader community at Nazareth Catholic Community, and we are grateful for the unwavering support from our College Principal and Nazareth Leadership Team,” said Natasha.

“We also can’t go without thanking the children and the families; they are the reason why we do what we do,” she added.

The three winners, including Nazareth, each received a generous grant of $10,000 courtesy of ME Bank. This substantial financial support will be used for professional development to enhance the services and processes within the Centre, ensuring that Nazareth continues to evolve and provide the best possible environment for children and families.

ME CEO Martine Jager praised the winners and their ongoing dedication.

“ME is proud to congratulate the deserving winners of these awards. Their consistent display of leadership in early education and care goes well above the call of duty, and their dedication to giving children the best chance of reaching their full potential is an inspiration,” said Ms Jager.

This recognition under the banner of the HESTA Awards not only positions Nazareth Early Childhood Centre as an example of excellence in early childhood education but also highlights the commitment to being an innovative, flexible, and responsive community which celebrates diversity and provides pathways for all.

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