Posted September 2023

We take great pride in congratulating Rebecca Harrison from KU’s Autism Support Team and KU Craigieburn Children's Centre who have both been named as finalists in the 2023 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards, alongside other exceptional organisations and professionals from the early childhood sector across Australia.

Rebecca has been named a finalist in the Individual Leadership category for her work in supporting early childhood educators to facilitate the equitable inclusion of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and KU Craigieburn has been named a finalist in the Outstanding Service category for embracing cultural diversity, understanding and bilingualism, and helping to foster a sense of belonging for children.

Read more about the finalists below. The winners will be announced on Friday 6 October 2023.

Rebecca Harrison

Rebecca is an Autism Support Facilitator and Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) therapist recognised for her leadership in the education and care of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Rebecca has been central to supporting and implementing a Guided Practice Model to assist early childhood educators in facilitating the equitable inclusion of children diagnosed with ASD.

In 2022, Rebecca began to lead a team of ESDM therapists/Autism Support Facilitators in implementing this model. The team has supported 335 children with ASD across 76 services.

Rebecca’s leadership of the team has been critical in changing educator mindsets, increasing their capacity and reducing stress. Due to its success, the model is now being offered to all educators working for KU Children’s Services.

Rebecca intends to undertake further professional development in inclusive education supporting neurodiverse children in ECE settings and training in mentoring.

KU Craigieburn Children's Centre

KU Craigieburn is recognised for its dedication to embracing cultural diversity, helping foster a sense of belonging for children, bilingualism, and cultural understanding.

They have worked to address language barriers and increase the participation of refugee families, incorporating home languages into the program. The service also worked with a local Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Jo, to learn about Indigenous culture and include new perspectives into children’s programs.

KU Craigieburn Children's Centre recognises the importance of inclusion and support for children with different needs. They have joined forces with organisations to overcome language barriers, creating accessible materials.

Upon recognising a lack of participation in community health checks, leading to undisclosed learning support needs, the service collaborated with maternal and child health services to implement comprehensive health assessments, including free dental checks, to foster inclusivity and provide timely support for children.

KU Craigieburn Children's Centre aims to provide further professional development for the team. They want to learn about different ways of educating children and how to include all children, regardless of their background.

KU proudly extend our heartfelt congratulations to Rebecca Harrison and KU Craigieburn Children's Centre for their outstanding achievements as finalists in the 2023 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards and wish them the best of luck.