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Goodstart’s Goodies Awards shine spotlight on excellence in early learning

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Extraordinary early learning and care took centre stage at Goodstart’s 2023 Goodies Awards at Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel, with winners of the night’s premier awards, Rising Star, Educational Leader of the Year, Goodstart’s Teacher of the Year, and the Goodstarter of the Year, awarded an international professional development study tour. 

The event brought together national finalists from around the country – from Perth to Wagga Wagga, Townsville, and Darwin – underscoring Goodstart’s commitment to recognising excellence in early learning across our centre teams and among our people. 

The Goodies Awards, an annual tradition for Goodstart, acknowledge and honour the exceptional contributions made by Goodstarters, from trainees, educators, centre directors, teachers to centre and centre support teams across the organisation. The awards highlight innovation, dedication, and a passion for creating positive learning experiences for children. 

Ros Baxter, Goodstart’s Chief Executive Officer, said the Goodies Awards emphasise the crucial role that early learning plays in shaping the future.  

"The Goodies Awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication of all Goodstarters, from educators to teachers and centre teams across Australia, who are our nation’s change-makers.  

"Our people are the heart of Goodstart, and the Goodies Awards are our way of recognising and celebrating the incredible work they do every day," she said. 

“Early learning sets the foundation for a child's life-long journey of learning, and we’re committed to continuous improvement and innovation in our approach to early childhood education. Goodies is about recognising new and improved ways that individuals and centre team teams support children in their first five years, and these awards inspire us to reach new heights and set even higher standards for the benefit of the children and families we serve," she said. 

The event showcased Goodstart’s commitment to providing high quality early learning experiences for children of all backgrounds, hearing moving stories about children engaged in early learning who would otherwise miss out. 

Goodstart’s international PD experience set for NZ will include visits to early learning centres, opportunities to debate, learn and discuss with NZ teachers and leaders, and deep dive into highly regarding and internationally acknowledged, Te Whāriki, which was one of the first national curriculum documents for early childhood education.” 

“We’re working with our international thought leaders in creating this international PD experience including Iram Siraj and Sir Kevan Collins, and we are also looking forward to tailoring the experience to your learning needs.”  

“Our Chief Children’s Officer Sue Robb will be leading the international PD experience and joining our National Winners on this trip next year.” 

Congratulations to all our 2023 Goodies Winners. 

Safety Leadership 

National Winner: Goodstart  Mount Louisa & Goodstart Annandale - Brazier Drive 

Judges said: “Through a comprehensive approach, these centres have gone above and beyond, working collaboratively to transform knowledge, engagement, and safety practices to foster a positive culture that’s delivering great results and huge improvement.” 

Advancing Reconciliation 

National Winner: Goodstart Mount Louisa 

Judges said: “Mt Louisa are national leaders in reconciliation. Underpinned by their Centre RAP, genuine and authentic First Nations perspectives are embedded in their practice – from the moment you walk in the front door, in every room every day. Their strong community engagement at a strategic level with state governments, and across their region embraces Torres Strait Islander culture as well as Aboriginal perspectives. The team's daily cultural learning, employment of First Nations staff, and participation in the STAR trainee program exemplify their commitment. Their Facebook page is also amplifying their impact showcasing Reconciliation for the community.” 

Family and Community Partnership Excellence 

National Winner: Goodstart Mount Tamborine 

Judges said: “The team has implemented truly innovative initiatives that have forged strong family and community partnerships. From PosiRocks sharing love and positivity in the local community – with its own Facebook page – to Bertie Banana their centre mascot, and a family offering suiting busy working families. This centre team prioritises collaboration with families and the local community to enhance care and support for children. Their year-round initiatives are far-reaching and Well done team! 


Making A Difference 

National Winner: Goodstart Griffith Sanders Street 

Judges said: “The team collectively demonstrate the core values of inclusion and their deep reflection and commitment to growing and developing as a team is inspiring. The advocacy and perseverance to ensure that all children are respected, included and flourish, is evident. They are truly making a difference for children, families, the team and the community.” 

Sustainability Excellence 

National Winner: Goodstart Kin Kora

Judges said: “The team at Goodstart Kin Kora are champions of sustainability, ensuring future generations are environmentally responsible. This centre has clearly shown simple and successful ways that the team is exploring sustainability alongside children, families, and their community, to grow and embed sustainable practices. Action research and critical reflection has informed decision-making to improve environments, well done!” 

Enabling Environments Excellence 

National Winner: Goodstart Willowdale 

Judges said: “This team embraces sustained, shared thinking. Their holistic approach of collaboration, reflection, and adaptability, aligns perfectly with the Enabling Environments Award's essence. The centre engages in ERS self-assessments each year to ensure continuous improvement. Well done!” 

Rising Star  

National Winner: Jorja Pinney, Educator, Goodstart Glenfield Park 

Judges said: “Jorja's impressive journey at the Glenfield Park centre in just over a year is truly remarkable. She started as a trainee and fast-tracked modules earning her Certificate 3, and is now pursuing her diploma in early childhood education, with aspirations for a Bachelor's degree. Judges noted that one particular instance that left a lasting impression on her peers was when Jorja delivered a presentation during a staff meeting. She discussed the inclusive needs of a child with hip dysplasia in the nursery, showcasing her proactive approach. Jorja conducted extensive research, communicated with the child's family, and then presented innovative practices to her colleagues, demonstrating how to incorporate this newfound knowledge into their daily routines. Jorja's journey embodies dedication and growth, inspiring her peers. 

Teacher of the Year  

Joint National Winners: Kylie Ryan, Teacher, Goodstart Golf Links - Kirwan Drive & Victoria Sims, Teacher, Goodstart Strathfieldsaye 

Judges said: “Kylie embodies the values of trust, compassion, and community involvement. Her exemplary efforts in nurturing trusting parent relationships, promoting sustainability, and supporting children's development, dedication to the well-being of the children and her continuous pursuit of excellence makes her a role model for all.Kylie's extraordinary journey from a student at the centre to becoming the kindergarten room teacher is a testament to her exceptional service, commitment, and outstanding leadership.” 

“With years of experience teaching in primary and secondary schools, Victoria transitioned into the early years domain after becoming a mother herself, recognising the profound impact of early learning. Victoria has consistently demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to nurturing and fostering the growth of each child in her care. Her genuine love for teaching shines through every interaction with her students, creating an engaging and inclusive learning environment where children thrive academically, emotionally, and socially.” 


Educational Leader of the Year 

Joint National Winners: Sandra D’Rozario - Educational Leader, Goodstart Canning Vale - Batman Road & Demee Mumford - Educational Leader, Goodstart Doncaster East 


Judges said: “Sandra has been the Educational Leader for Goodstart Canning Vale – Batman Road since February 2017 and has been the ECT for the centre from 2008. Through a combination of leadership, continuous growth, planning, training and support, Sandra has fostered an environment that ensures centre best practice. Her passion and dedication to lead change through role modelling has empowered educators to give it their best. The relationships built with children, educators and families and the quality of care that has been consistently provided has recently led to the centre being rated ‘Exceeding’ in all 7 Quality Areas. “ 

“Demee works alongside educators to support practices that enable them to be thoughtful and intentional about their work with children. She promotes deep professional and pedagogical engagement through research, reflective practice, and critical, collaborative dialogue.” 

CSO Goodstarter of the Year    

National Winner: Simone Miller, Stretch RAP and Workforce Diversity Manager, Employment Diversity (CSO) 

Judges said: “Simone's resilience stands as a testament to her exceptional ability to navigate the ever-evolving currents of our workflow. Her skilful adjustments, driven by a genuine commitment to deep listening, have guided operations but also fostered a profound connection with our diverse workforce. Simone's impact extends beyond the boundaries of Goodstart, touching the lives of children, families, and communities. Her initiatives, such as the LGBTQIA+ Community of Practice, Male Community of Practice, Diverse Abilities Community of Practice, and the First Nations Choose Us strategy, demonstrate her versatility and adaptability in addressing diverse needs.Simone exemplifies the embodiment of diversity and inclusion.” 


CSO Team of the Year 

National Winner: ACCC Inquiry Working Group 

Judges said: The ACCC inquiry team worked to represent Goodstart at the first ever inquiry into Early Childhood Education and Care by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which is focused on educator pay, costs, prices and profits in our sector.  This team of dedicated cross-functional professionals from right across our organisation rose to the opportunity and challenge of this inquiry meeting crucial external deadlines, mandatory data requests, by applying a complex balance of business discipline and commitment to our mission to capitalise on this once in a generation opportunity to position Goodstart for further investment and support from Governments across the nation. 

Goodstart Centre Team of the Year 

National Winner: Goodstart Elara - Harvest Street  

Judges said: “Goodstart Elara is a 121-place service that has maintained 100% occupancy since July 2022. Through the team’s commitment, dedication, and passion they have embedded high quality early learning and they have established strong and highly collaborative relationships with both families and community members. They have uplifted practice through mentoring, professional development and critical reflection and in May 2023 the centre received Exceeding in all 7 Quality Areas. The centre is also provides support to other Centre Directors and Educational Leaders within the Goodstart network.” 

Goodstarter of the Year (Centre) 

National Winner: Ranjitha PremaVasavan - Centre Director, Goodstart Rowville - Murrundal Drive  

Judges said: Ranjitha’s dedication, passion and excellent leadership skills shine through everything she does. She inspires and motivates her team through regular critical thinking, collaboration and reflection. Ranjitha’s approach has not only helped to improve the performance of the centre, but also individual team members.  Ranjitha takes the time to get to know her team, understand their goals and aspirations and nurture them to succeed.  She is always available to share ideas, listen and share her knowledge in centre and with others in her community through mentorship. She is an integral part of her centre and community. 


Special thank you to our 2023 conference & Goodies Awards sponsors for making our series even more memorable. Thank you in particular to our Major Sponsor Woolies at Work, and Silver Sponsors Winc and MTA (Modern Teaching Aids), exhibitor partners EducationAll Australia and Grocorp, support partners Buckner Brand Management, KGF and Emro Designs, and lanyard sponsor CleverPatch.

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