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The joy of a Senior Educator: From hospitality to volunteering, one dad’s path to his best career

Peter Sariana, 50, from Bali, Indonesia, is a Senior Educator, Safety Champion and Male Mentor at Goodstart Brisbane - Adelaide Street.

Careers and employment

Senior Educators hold a unique position with incredible impact in Goodstart centres. They develop and deliver quality educational programs for children and guide fellow educators to implement them.

Senior Educators are Diploma-qualified team players who collaborate with their Centre Leadership Team and Educational Leader to observe, inform and improve our offering. They put safety first and ensure learning experiences are inclusive and serve all children.

The job is also a lot of fun. Just ask Peter, who loves to don his inflatable chicken costume at least once a day and have the children chase him around. Here, he shares his story.

Tell us about yourself! When and why did you decide to start working in Early Childhood Education and Care and what does it mean to you?

Peter: “My professional background is mainly in hospitality. I worked in five-star hotels for 16 years. The last time I resigned from a job was in 2009 when I worked as a restaurant manager in Brisbane. 

There had been a lot of change in the industry at the time; many restaurants closed down, the costs were high, and it all became too much. I had to be on the floor all the time and was stretched thin. So, I decided, this is not me anymore. 

I then become a taxi driver and volunteered with Vision Australia. I wanted to do something for the community. While volunteering, I met a librarian helping with braille. Her husband’s friend was working in childcare. I thought, ‘huh. Wow, childcare is a viable profession for a male’. 

At the time, Uber was making taxi driving hard and studying for a Diploma in Early Childhood was free from the government.”

I had a flashback. When my son was in prep, about 7-years-old, a lot of his friends were from single parent families. One day we went to park with his friend who said to me, ‘can you be my dad for today’? I just thought, wow, this is not fair. It really broke my heart. This person is still a good friend to my son, who is now 18.

Peter: “You see, I grew up in a big family with six siblings, and I'm the youngest. I was lucky. Everyone pampered me. My parents were always there. So, through this memory, I realised I wanted to work in early learning; that through this work, I can be truly present for children who are normally in centre for 10 hours a day. 

I put in 100 percent for the children all day. I remember when I would come home from work to my son, and I would be tired and kind of pretend play and interact with him. 

So, when I’m here I show them around, have fun, make them smile. Bringing joy to them gives me joy too. The job is not so much about money. When else can you contribute to society like this? 

By doing this kind of work, you have a meaningful life to make young people happy. If I'm going to be the joke that makes them laugh, well, that's amazing and it’s beautiful.”

What was the practical side of your career path. Tell us about your background and how you started working as a Senior Educator at Goodstart Early Learning? 

Peter: “I was born in Bali, Indonesia. I worked at the InterContinental hotel as a waiter for four years then guest relations (front office). It turned out that one of the general managers knew a general manager in Sydney. I had good relationship with his family, and I wanted to move to Australia. 

So, I asked him if he could help me, and he was more than happy to make the phone call. That was back in ’96 or ’97. Eventually, it all worked out and I got a job in the Sydney InterContinental as a waiter again and moved up to become supervisor. 

Eventually, I moved to another hotel group in Brisbane from 2006 to 2009, then worked as a taxi driver.

After being inspired to explore the childcare industry, I studied my Diploma in 2018. As part of the practical, I worked at a centre that was really supportive. I stayed there 2.5 years before starting to work through an agency, Randstad. 

I eventually started at Goodstart through the agency, and I was being booked every week. I’m now permanent part time at Goodstart and will have been with the organisation two years in December. I have been in early learning nearly five years.”

Peter loves to don his inflatable chicken costume at least once a day and have the children chase him around.

In your own words, what is your job description? And what kind of person that you think would make a good Senior Educator; what kind of qualities should they possess?

Peter: “My type of Senior Educator role is a Hub Leader. You don’t have to be in a set room. I float from room to room, support, educate, cover breaks, do programming, and help with compliance. I was in pre-kindy and kindergarten but now support the whole centre with a new restructure. 

Essentially, the role of a Senior Educator (Hub Leader) is a human service. You need to possess great listening skills, be trustworthy, not take sides or judge people. You should see that working in childcare is hard mentally and physically. And you have to be on alert all the time to minimise accidents and conflict. The role helps everyone work together as a team.

Being a senior educator is awesome – you walk the talk: supporting in the rooms as you lead – but it’s limited responsibility. We have a director, an assistant director and educational leader who take on that high level job. It doesn’t interest me.”

What is your experience of working at Goodstart? And how do you find being a male in the industry?

Peter: “Goodstart has given me more confidence about being a male educator. They support me well. We have an online meeting for male Goodstarters every three months, where we get together and talk about whatever problem we face. Often, it can be families expressing stereotypical opinions.

We just need to educate them. We are a Child Safe organisation with a lot of stringent child safety training that informs how we interact with children. And we are never alone with the children. 

Male educators can provide the experience of a father figure for the children in the room. It’s beautiful. I think, because male childcare workers are rare, they can provide a lot of value in roles where they can float between rooms and give time to every child.”

Love the sound of this career? Among our 661 centres Australia-wide, there will be one near you.

Explore Senior Educator roles here.

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