media release 


6 September 2022   


Finalists announced in search for Australia’s best early childhood educators and carers


The extraordinary work of Australia’s early childhood educators and carers to improve inclusive learning has been recognised today with the announcement of nine finalists for the 2022 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards.


Finalist achievements included developing mental health programs to support children from trauma backgrounds, leading an Aboriginal language activation program that has helped increase First Nations kindergarten enrolments and supporting children to write a book on climate action that was shared with the Prime Minister.


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey congratulated the finalists on their work, acknowledging the immense pressure COVID has put on the sector.


“It takes enormous dedication, drive and heart to educate and look after our youngest Australians, which the pandemic made clear is so important for a strong economy and the future of our nation,” Ms Blakey said.


“These finalists are the very best at what they do and I’m so impressed by what they have been able to achieve in improving inclusivity in learning and giving children their very best start in life.


“HESTA is committed to advocating for strong, sustainable jobs in the sector, which are vital to a strong education system. It’s a privilege to help share these inspiring stories from educators and carers around the country and recognise the people doing this important work.” 


The national Awards highlight the frontline educators and carers at the very centre of Australia’s early childhood education system, celebrating those who have demonstrated excellence in improving learning outcomes for children.


An independent judging panel comprising sector representatives reviewed many outstanding nominations to select finalists across the Advancing Pedagogy and Practice, Individual Leadership and Outstanding Organisation categories. 


Long-time Awards supporter ME Bank has donated $30,000 in prize money, which will be split equally between the winners, to be used for professional or team development or to improve workplace services or processes. 


ME CEO Martine Jager paid tribute to the finalists’ exceptional work and achievements.


“These finalists are doing an exceptional job in guiding Australia’s future,” Ms Jager said.


“They give our children the best chance of reaching their full potential and the team and I at ME Bank are so proud to recognise their wonderful achievements.”


The three winners will be announced at an Awards dinner in Canberra on 7 October 2022.


For more information on the Awards, visit


Introducing the 2022 finalists:




Goodstart Early Learning Glenfield Park

Glenfield Park NSW


Goodstart Early Learning Glenfield Park is recognised for providing a welcoming, safe environment that facilitates positive interactions for all children and their families. The team integrated a ‘Trauma-Informed Mindfulness’ program into their practice, which improved the children’s abilities to regulate their emotions and engage in learning.


Lucy Murrell and Lizzie Rallings

C&K Salisbury Community Kindergarten

Salisbury QLD


Lucy and Lizzie are recognised for their work to empower children as active global citizens, encouraging them to find their voice on climate change and take action. They supported the children to create a climate action book and share their ideas with the Prime Minister.


Sue Taylor

C&K Flagstone

Jimboomba QLD


Sue is recognised for creating a culturally safe and connected space for First Nations and other culturally diverse children and families, particularly through her delivery of the Yugambeh language activation program.




Elizabeth Price

Gloucester Preschool & Early Years Learning Centre

Gloucester NSW


Elizabeth is recognised for her commitment to challenge and inspire the children in her care through natural learning environments. She has worked for ten years to build a service grounded in nature pedagogy that reflected the unique community and environment.


Linda Price

Kinglake Ranges Children’s Centre

Kinglake Central VIC


Linda is recognised for her leadership in combining early education theory and practice with data to create pedagogical change in the bushfire-affected Kinglake community. Linda collaborated to develop an award-winning bush kinder program, resulting in significant improvements to children’s mental health.


Lisa Christopher

Haileybury Early Learning Centre

Keysborough VIC


Lisa is recognised for her caring and empathetic leadership and the lasting impact she has had on early childhood education for over 20 years. Lisa led a quality improvement process with her team to audit the centre’s anti-bias approach, ensuring each child and family feels included through a culture of respect and unity.




Explore & Develop Penrith

Penrith NSW


Explore & Develop Penrith is recognised for its leadership and innovation to support the mental health and wellbeing of young children through the Key Resilience program.


Goodstart Early Learning Woongarrah

Woongarrah NSW


Goodstart Early Learning Woongarrah is recognised for its work to create an inclusive learning environment for all the children in their care. They did this through ‘inclusion mapping’ – painting a holistic picture of each child and families’ specific needs, which helped them create a tailored learning approach.


Salamander Child Care Centre

Salamander Bay NSW


Salamander Child Care Centre is recognised for their innovative allied health partnership, which has provided children in their care with much-needed access to occupational therapy and has helped the centre become a more inclusive learning environment.




Media contact:

Sam Riley

General Manager Media Relations

(03) 8660 1684


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