Frances Crimmins accepts the 2017 ACT NAPCAN Play Your Part award for Winyu Early Childhood Service

13 September 2017

The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) Play Your Part Awards recognise primary prevention initiatives which reduce children’s risk of experiencing abuse and neglect, and prioritise children’s social, emotional, educational and economic wellbeing.

Earlier this month, our Winyu Early Childhood Service in Gungahlin received the 2017 NAPCAN ACT Play Your Part  award, marking the first time that a childcare provider has been recognised in this category.

Below is a transcript of YWCA Canberra Executive Director, Frances Crimmins’ acceptance speech, as delivered at the 2017 NAPCAN ACT Play Your Part award ceremony on Wednesday 6 September.

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Good afternoon everyone, I’d like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land that we’re meeting on today, and pay my respect to elders past, present and future.

I’d also like to acknowledge distinguished guests here today including Ms Jodie Griffiths-Cook, Prof Daryl Higgins,  and of course, my fellow award nominees. It is an honour to stand among so many passionate and impressive people, doing such vital work in our community.

My name is Frances Crimmins, and I’m the very proud Executive Director of YWCA Canberra.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the work we do, YWCA Canberra  is one of the ACT’s longest-standing not-for-profit organisations – we’ve been serving women, their children and families since 1929.

We employ more than 300 staff across the Territory, and deliver 30 quality programs in children’s services, community development, housing, youth services, women’s leadership, advocacy, and training and education.

It was in the early ‘60s that we first began offering child-minding services, alongside an ever-increasing range of classes and activities, a foreshadowing of the later expansion of children’s services within YWCA Canberra’s work.

We firmly believe in the value of quality early childhood education and care within our community, and that every child should have access to this opportunity – especially those that are most vulnerable.

There is a mountain of research to show that quality early childhood education and care has a positive and lasting impact on a child’s social, emotional, educational and economic wellbeing across the lifespan.

Today YWCA Canberra provides more than 300 families with affordable and quality early childhood education and care.

Winyu is one of four YWCA Canberra early childhood education and care services, and opened its doors in 2015.

Winyu is a great example of how trauma informed practice and great relationships with community services lead to great outcomes for children and their families.

Funded places through the Office of Child, Youth and Family Services allows the Winyu team support families that are experiencing vulnerabilities, and provide free access to education and care when they need it the most.

Winyu’s mixed age platform allows children to create longstanding attachments with students and educators, building a sense of connection and belonging to the community that can last from infancy through to formal schooling.

The service also adopts a gender-neutral philosophy, which challenges gender stereotypes from early childhood, promoting a sense of gender equality and inclusion, and ensuring all children are treated equally and are respected as individuals.

Our staff collaborate with many support services to ensure that children can continue their early education when funding ceases, and provides regular feedback to families and support services about the development progress of each child.

Through strong partnerships with community services such as the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), Gungahlin Child and Family Service (GCFS) and Child Protection, we facilitate flexible, personalised educational opportunities that stabilise the family, and enable families to continue to access our service.

YWCA Canberra is immensely proud to be the first early childhood education and care provider to receive this award, and will continue to serve the children who need us most, and their families.

In closing, I would like to thank the very talented, passionate and innovative team whose work is behind this award, and make special mention of Bernadette Carbin, Director of Children’s Services,  Louise Billman and Erin Cooper, Early Childhood Services Managers, and our entire Winyu team.

Your tireless dedication to vulnerable children sets a new and admirable standard for early childhood education and care provision in the territory.

Thank you once again to NAPCAN for recognising our work with this award.

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