media release


18 March 2024


Nominations open for national HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards


From today, early childhood professionals have the chance to be recognised nationally as nominations open for the 2024 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards.


With a $30,000 prize pool on offer, the prestigious annual Awards – now in their 10th year – recognise the front-line educators and carers at the very heart of Australia’s early childhood education system.


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said making a nomination was a great way to acknowledge the work of professionals within the early childhood sector.


“Early childhood educators play a pivotal role in shaping the future and nurturing the minds and hearts of our youngest learners. It’s wonderful that the HESTA awards can provide a platform to recognise early childhood educators and their vital work,” Ms Blakey said.


“I encourage everyone to think about an early childhood educator they could put forward for national recognition and take the time to nominate. Their dedication, passion, and professionalism deserve recognition and celebration.”


An independent judging panel made up of industry experts will select finalists and choose the winner for each category. Nominations close at midnight AEST on 16 June 2024.


Anyone involved in the delivery of these services can nominate, or be nominated, across three categories, including Advancing Pedagogy & Practice, Individual Leadership and Outstanding Service. Employers, colleagues, and the community are also encouraged to nominate.


The three winners will each take home $10,000 – donated by longstanding Awards supporter ME – to be used for personal or professional development or further development of processes or services in the workplace.


BOQ Group Executive of Retail Banking Greg Boyle said the bank was proud to sponsor the HESTA Awards program.


“At ME, we take immense pride in endorsing these awards that honour the remarkable dedication and achievements of Australia’s early childhood educators and carers. Those in this sector are shaping Australia’s future generations, giving our children the best opportunities to realise their potential,” he said.


Winners will be announced at an Awards dinner in Brisbane on 19 September 2024.




The 2023 winners were: 


Balnarring Pre-School

Balnarring, VIC

The team at Balnarring Pre-School have been leaders in implementing a nature program, which involves learning in and with the natural environment. They worked with esteemed Elders N’Arwee’t Dr Carolyn Briggs and Fay Stewart-Muir to embed knowledge and cultures into the learnings and ensure First Nations Peoples’ teachings are now part of everyday practice.



Nazareth Early Childhood Centre

Findon, SA

Nazareth Early Childhood Centre was recognised for its focus on inclusion and breaking down barriers. In response to a review of their Australian Early Development Census community profile and critical reflection on the impacts of COVID-19, the centre implemented various initiatives to eliminate barriers and enhance children’s development. This included gifting birthday books, developing a literacy project, and supporting children to access Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy services in partnership with Flinders University.



Rachael Phillips

Birrelee Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service

West Tamworth, NSW

Rachael is a proud Gomeroi woman, recognised for her leadership in advancing education for First Nations children and advocating for more culturally appropriate early childhood settings. During the pandemic, Rachael’s work was key to the Service’s ability to continue to operate and maintain 100 per cent enrolments. 



Media contact:

Sam Riley

General Manager Media Relations and Corporate Affairs

(03) 8660 1684


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