2022 awards

We are proud to present the outstanding organisations and professionals who have been recognised in the 2022 HESTA Early Childhood Education and Care Awards.

Advancing Pedagogy & Practice

Individual Leadership

Outstanding Organisation


Read the winners media release



Advancing Pedagogy & Practice




Goodstart Early Learning Glenfield Park
Glenfield Park, NSW

Goodstart Early Learning Glenfield Park is recognised for its dedication to providing a welcoming and safe environment that facilitates positive interactions for all children and their families.

To further its goal to support families whose children are experiencing trauma, the team completed a program called ‘Trauma-Informed Mindfulness’, which has helped educators support children to regulate their emotions and better engage in learning. This work has resulted in lower anxiety levels and greater self-acceptance for the children, as well as improved focus while learning.

The centre hopes to continue their learning journey to further understand trauma in children and further share knowledge and trauma-informed practices in their local community.


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.

When the children in their care expressed curiosity about the March 2022 floods, Lucy and Lizzie helped them to reach out to a flood-affected C&K Kindergarten. They saw photos of the flood damage, which inspired them to raise money for the centre and began their exploration of the climate crisis.

The children have since created a climate action book, written a letter to the Prime Minister and held a climate protest at their kindergarten. The project has given the children opportunities to solve problems, theorise about the world and grow their critical literacy skills.

In the future, Lucy and Lizzie hope to increase their knowledge of the global citizen approach through professional development opportunities. 


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.

Sue believes in supporting families prior to enrolment, with her twice weekly ‘stay and play’ program providing an opportunity for families to connect before children start kindergarten. She has also facilitated meetings between child health officers with mothers and their children at the kindergarten.

Sue was also instrumental in creating the Yugambeh language activation program. This four-year project enabled children to work closely with the Yugambeh Museum, a linguist and local Elders to translate a list of words into traditional language. This has fostered a strong connection to culture and pride in the Aboriginal children and their families. Thanks to Sue and her team, enrolments of First Nations children in the kindergarten have increased. 



Individual Leadership



Elizabeth Price
Gloucester Pre School & 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.

Elizabeth worked for ten years to build a service grounded in nature pedagogy, and which reflected the unique community and environment. Developed in close consultation with the community, industry leaders and the children, this learning environment has supported children to solve problems, improve their physical development and increase their sense of social responsibility towards their peers.

With plans for the centre to become carbon neutral, Elizabeth led the centre’s work on a sustainability project book. The book is a collaboration between staff, children, families and the wider community to develop new practices and skills that aim to minimise the centre’s environmental footprint.

Elizabeth plans to further expand the centre to reflect the needs of the community and is working to deepen its positive environmental footprint. 


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.

After observing extreme behaviour in children following the Kinglake bushfires, Linda revamped the centre’s approach to learning. With a focus on improving social and emotional outcomes for the children, she moved from a structured, teacher-led approach to child-led, neuroscience-informed practice.

Linda collaborated with parents and the community to develop an award-winning bush kinder program. This program resulted in significant improvements to children’s mental health, including improved language complexity and increased social negotiation, collaboration and use of STEM thinking.


Lisa Christopher
Haileybury ELC, 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 leads a team of 27 educators, working alongside inclusion support officers, speech therapists, psychologists and families to promote successful outcomes for the 120 children in her care at Newlands, one of Haileybury’s Early Learning Centres.

She is known for her kindness, her deeply reflective practice and her innate ability to help those around her grow and develop. Lisa is often heard saying, “we can always do better”, reflecting the way she encourages her team to challenge the status quo and improve their practice.

Most recently, 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.


Outstanding Organisation


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, Mental Health and Trauma program.

The program was developed to support children who have experienced homelessness, displacement, family violence and neglect. It is evidence-informed and designed to help educators see the bio-psycho-social factors that can influence how children learn, play and form connections.

The program has already yielded positive results. Children have been able to communicate their feelings more effectively and build more meaningful relationships with peers and educators. The program has also helped educators build confidence in supporting children experiencing mental health issues or trauma.

Explore & Develop Penrith plans to build on the Key Resilience, Mental Health and Trauma program and share its insights with other early childhood services in the local community. 



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. The centre was then able to create a tailored learning approach. This included developing a mindfulness curriculum and engaging an Occupational Therapist to help educators understand the children’s different learning styles.

As a result, the centre has created genuine, trusting relationships with its families. It has also improved learning outcomes by helping families access early intervention services prior to their children starting kindergarten.

The centre plans to embed mindfulness practices across all learning environments and share its knowledge with the broader early childhood community. 


Salamander Child Care Centre
Salamander Bay, NSW

Salamander Child Care Centre is recognised for its innovative allied health partnership, providing children in its care with much-needed access to occupational therapy.

After identifying a lack of access to early intervention services in the community, Salamander partnered with the Newcastle University Occupational Therapy Clinic. Bringing a qualified occupational therapist (OT) on site has supported children and their families and has helped OT students gain valuable hands-on experience.

This partnership has also supported Salamander to create a more inclusive learning environment. The centre has since implemented changes such as changing the colour of its safety mats to assist children struggling with depth perception. This has helped reassure children they are in a safe space where they can push their boundaries.

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Learn more about the HESTA Early Childhood Education and Care Awards