Early Childhood Australia recently had a first row seat to the online 2020 Anti-Bias Awards. The award, now in its fourth year, was created in partnership with MultiVerse, Social Justice In Early Childhood, and Early Childhood Australia.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Anti-Bias Award: Allyson Cuskelly, Kirby Barker and Cath Gillespie from Evans Head-Woodburn Pre-School in Northern NSW. Dr Red Ruby Scarlet hosted the award ceremony via Facebook live and said she was in awe of the work and commitment exemplified by the winners.
The Anti-Bias awards represents exemplary practices in early learning childhood education in equity, inclusion and Anti-Bias, and is awarded to early childhood professionals who represent leadership in Anti-Bias approaches.
Kirby Barker described the award win as a ‘shock’ but that the group was proud to have their work and initiatives recognised. Allyson Cuskelly admitted that they considered their Anti-Bias practice as ‘small actions’ before they were nominated for the Anti-Bias award, but Dr Red Ruby Scarlet emphasised that it was often the smallest actions that made the biggest difference.
The preschool’s work links heavily to the United Nations Conventions of the Rights of the Child (1989), and through acknowledging children’s rights at the forefront of their practice.
‘We’ve been evolving and slowly and surely,’ said Cath Gillespie. ‘We started from [thinking about] equality, to equity, to inclusion, and that wasn’t enough. We’re rewriting parent and educator handbooks. You can’t do too much; you have to go slowly.’
Their work is heavily linked with context and setting, in the community in which the preschool operates, and the group acknowledges that honouring the rights of the child looks different in different places, based on the context and community.
On this point, Allyson said, ‘How can we not see that the experience of who someone is, is linked to how they learn?’
Of the Anti-Bias Awards, Red reflected on a time when acknowledging country was a controversial topic in the early 2000s and how far the concept of Anti-Bias has progressed since. ‘I’m a little bit in awe of you,’ she told the award winners.
ECA congratulates to Allyson, Kirby and Cath of Evans Head-Woodburn Pre-School.