Skip to main navigation Skip to content
Goodstart homepage Goodstart Early Learning logo Goodstart Early Learning logo

Townsville centre director of 30 years is the heartbeat of her community

For Beverley 'Bev' Anderson, working in early learning has always been about the children. It's what's kept her in early childhood education so long.

Careers and employment

Article by Deni Kirkova

Bev Anderson (pictured centre in pink wig) remains focused on what matters - the children. It's at the heart of what makes her an exemplary Centre Director at Goodstart Deeragun in Townsville, QLD. 

She’s a compassionate, steadfast leader with 30 years of experience. Children are her priority, so Bev fosters respectful, meaningful partnerships with families. Her passion keeps her curious and learning, growing in her career, and mentoring the next generation of Educators. 

Born in England, Bev grew up ‘all over’. She said: “My father was in the forces, so we travelled many different places: Singapore, Germany, Ireland, The UK. My husband was in the British Army and applied for a transfer to the Australian Army.” 

So, Bev and her young family moved Down Under in 1990. They were in Sydney for a year before settling in Townsville. Over three decades, Bev rose through the ranks with unwavering dedication and a passion for nurturing young minds. And her impact transcends generations. Her former students have since returned as parents seeking the same quality of care she provided. 

Understandably, she’s encountered many challenges over the years. Bev supported children’s diverse needs at a time when inclusion wasn't formalised in a practice framework. Specifically, equity, inclusion and diversity weren’t yet clearly defined in Australia's National Quality Framework and Early Years Learning Framework. This means Bev recognised the importance of her own accord and went above and beyond to nurture all children as best suited uniquely to them. 

Thankfully, this changed in 2009 when the Commonwealth Government of Australia published the first national learning framework for use with children aged birth to five years. And now Goodstarters have our full backing and informed support so all children can thrive at our centres. So all children and families feel welcome, a true sense of belonging and are provided support as needed.  

In her 30 years, Bev has also navigated several bureaucratic hurdles. But she remains an involved, hands-on, and ever supportive leader. Her story highlights the transformative power of dedication to all children. And the monumental rewards that come from working in early learning. 

Starting out an early learning career in Townsville 

Bev began her career when her son was out of kindy, and she decided to re-enter the workforce. She said: “I started studying my Diploma at TAFE. Back then, the Diploma incorporated the Cert III in a four-year course that was the whole lot. 

“I was working full time going to TAFE four nights a week and holding up a young family. I’d work till 5:30pm and go straight from work to TAFE, getting home at 10:30pm at night. It was hectic.” 

Bev got a job a few weeks into starting her course, as a preschool bus driver, in 1994. She said: “I’d take the children to and from Prep, because then they used to have split sessions. I’d get back at midday and cover lunches. This was my starting role and I gradually advanced.” 

In a way, Bev has always worked for the same company, “It was an independent company to start with, that got taken over several times. Eventually it became ABC and then ABC became Goodstart.  

“I was at the same centre for 25 years and then I moved to another centre over in Annandale and then I did a float director role for a little while which was good. I've been at Goodstart Deeragun for about two and a half years. 

The beautiful rewards of a longstanding appointment 

Townsville Deeragun Centre Director Bev Anderson at workBev Anderson, Centre Director at Townsville Deeragun

Upon asking what has kept her in the early learning sector for so long, Bev said: “Children, basically. When you work in a service for the length of time that I have, it comes full circle. Some children that I had in my kindergarten classroom are coming back with their children.” 

When Bev moved to the Yolanda centre, she had phone calls for families that had been with her at Kelso Riverway Drive, asking if she was still working, and where. Then they’d come down wanting to enrol their children. 

She said: “It’s always nice to know their experience was good enough that they wanted to put their children wherever I was, even if it wasn’t close to home. Sometimes a 20-minute drive. Then these children would grow up in my care and go off to school as well.” 

Bev has a firm foundation as a formative member of the community. Someone who has helped to bring up generations of Townsville children while being an inspiring team leader. She said: “I bump into a lot of people around and they still say, ‘Hi Miss Bev, how are you?’ like 30 years old. From attending early learning with me 30 years ago. It makes me feel old, but it's very special.” 

Bev’s most meaningful, personal stories at work 

Pinpointing a greatest, most special moment of pride or achievement in a 30-year career can be tricky. 

But for Bev, she knows instantly.  She said: “In my career, here have been a couple of significant, standout points. Both involving children with autism.  

“There was one child who didn’t talk when he first came to us.  Taylor* just used to sort of rock from side to side. By the time he left us, he was signing to us, joining in with the group of children and giving us eye contact. Taylor then went to the school for children with autism in Melbourne because his parents transferred down there. And he's gone to mainstream school now. So that's pretty amazing. 

The other, back in ’96 or ’97, involves a child in Bev’s room, while she was the Lead Educator in the Preschool room and Centre Director. 

Bev said: “Sam* was meeting developmental milestones until about 17 months. And then he just stopped, and became nonverbal. He’d just sit by himself. And then he ended up going to his grandparents’ custody. 

“One day, we were sitting in the classroom, and Sam was sitting up against the wall. We had colour posters on the wall, and he was just pointing to the letters going ‘Y-E-L-L-O-W yellow’ and he was going along. 

“I was just so profoundly speechless. I stood there for a good five minutes listening to him because these were the first words that he'd spoken literally for three years. So, I'm crying, I'm on the phone to Granddad, ‘You need to come down now. Something amazing is happening.’ 

“Granddad came down and he stood at the window of the classroom, watching Sam doing the same thing. And he had tears rolling down his face. I think that's the most memorable experience I've ever had.” 

Supporting amazing changes in the lives of children 

From then on, Sam would read books all the time. He'd even read the publishing details in the back of the book. Bev said: “He’d sit and read words out loud that you wouldn't expect a four-year-old to know. And it was unreal to witness, just wow. I thought I was dreaming when I first heard him talking. It was a very special moment.” 

Bev and her team had spent a lot of time with Sam over the three years prior, talking to him, building a connection and gradually making eye contact. She said: “It seemed that he wasn't taking anything in. At times, you can feel like you want to give up. ‘You can't.' 

“The way he was pointing at the letters is how we pointed to the words in the books. It was so satisfying. And it just goes to show you can't stop. You must keep exposing them to things, maintaining norm and predictability. 

“So eventually, the connection finally made its mark after all that time, out of the blue. And he hadn't done it at home. I think his home was very busy with a lot of people coming and going and a lot of older siblings. It was nice to know that he felt safe enough to say those things with us, after all that effort that we'd all put in.” 

Leading and advocating for inclusion in practice 

Back in the ‘90s, Bev and her team took initiative to source evidence-based resources for children with diverse abilities. In particular, for Sam. 

She said: “Formally, inclusion support wasn’t a thing back then. So, this was just what we did. There's a lot of googling online. And I spoke to the parents and located people and therapists at the hospital for information about autism. We did a lot of research to try and learn as much as we could.” 

A lot of Sam’s chosen play was lining things up and sitting in the sand pit, watching sand fall through his fingers. Bev and her team took small steps over time to try to take focus from repetitive, sensory activities and encourage intentional play, like building a sandcastle. She said: “We started putting the bucket underneath, so when he was dropping sand, it would go into the bucket instead of back into the sandpit.” 

Nowadays, Goodstart has inclusion at the heart of everything we do and it is a core strategic goal. Our work is driven by our Vision for Australia’s children to have the best possible start in life. We advocate for all children to have access to inclusive, high-quality teaching and learning. Centre teams are supported to identify and address any barriers to inclusion. This is so we can ensure all children's active participation in safe, nurturing learning environments. We know the support is particularly important for children with additional needs and/or experiencing vulnerability.

Developing leadership style and fostering team culture 

Bev believes in her work. Since stepping up as a Centre Director in 1998, it’s made her an authentic leader with compassion for herself and for her team.  

She said: “I show my people that I will do any of the tasks that I expect them to do. So, I'll get in there, do nappy changes, and clean up. I like to think that I support them when they need that time out from their room. I always make time to go down and say, ‘Okay, you take five. I'll stay here. You're going to have a coffee or whatever.’  

“But then I expect them to be mindful of my space and time too, which they are. They know not to intrude when I'm trying to complete certain tasks. It’s a give and take approach to leadership. I expect them to follow my expectations and I try to fulfil the expectations they have of me. It seems to work.” 

At her centre now, Goodstart Deeragun, Bev is recruiting for a Trainee or Educator, Teacher and Senior Educator. She is after someone who has a solid understanding of children's developing social emotional skills, is dedicated to children, has some experience in the field, and can support the rest of the team. 

What type of person would thrive working in childcare? 

With Bev’s experience, wisdom, and commitment to nurturing a good team, she knows what type of person is best suited to the industry.  

She said: “If you want to work in the childcare sector, you must be committed and passionate about working with children. There's a lot of other stuff that comes along that can distract you from your goal and focus. And that is the children. 

“They're the people that are most successful and make the best Educators. The paperwork side, especially with Lead Educators, can be heavy. And the responsibilities are high. You’re caring for someone's world. It can be quite overwhelming sometimes.” 

If people haven't got that dedication to the role, Bev says, they're the things that tend to make them decide to take another path.

But the challenging parts can reap rewards. For example, if you’re feeling the pressure of looking after someone’s child and the family’s perspective is a little different. Bev says resolution is down to open communication with parents, coming from a professional standpoint. It’s an opportunity to explain reasoning and differences between expectations and what we can achieve. 

Bev says: “You can say to parents, ‘I understand your concerns. Let's sit down and talk about how we can come to an even ground where we can accommodate what we can.’ Once they are willing to have those conversations, they usually go, ‘Oh yeah, I didn't think of it from that perspective.' 

"As long as we can have those conversations, relationships can go from strength to strength.” 

* Pseudonym used – not child’s real name. 

We recognise the diversity of our Goodstart community and that language use in ECEC is important but is constantly evolving. It is most respectful to adopt the language preferred by individuals based on their lived experience. This article refers to ‘children with autism’ but we acknowledge that ‘autistic children’ may be preferred by some.

Interested in a fulfilling career with Goodstart? Explore jobs in Townsville. 

Goodstart Live Chat