Each year hundreds of Australians receive Australia Day Honours for the outstanding service and contributions they make to everyday life in Australia. This year, three notable Australians, The Honourable Jay Weatherill, Megan Mitchell and Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney, were honoured for their contributions to early childhood education.
The Honourable Jay Weatherill, AO, received his Officer of the Order of Australia award for distinguished service to the people and Parliament of South Australia, particularly as Premier, and to early childhood and tertiary education. Jay is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Thrive By Five.
Megan Mitchell, AM, received her Member of the Order of Australia award for significant service to children, to human rights and to wellbeing initiatives. Currently Megan serves as a member of the National Forum for Protecting Australia’s Children and is a board member of Berry Street, Yourtown, Family and Relationship Services Australia, Maranguka and a member of Global Access Partners Standing Committee on Early Childhood Education. Megan has presented at a number of ECA conferences over the years and the Chair of the ECA advisory group who developed Supporting Young Children’s Rights: Statement of Intent (2015-2018).
Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney, AM, received his Member of the Order of Australia award for significant service to Indigenous education and to social inclusion research. Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney has worked in Aboriginal Education for over 20 years and has been a member of several high profile expert committees on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood and school education. Lester also presented at the 2018 ECA National Conference in Sydney.
ECA would like to acknowledge and express our appreciation for the work these individuals have undertaken in our sector. But there are thousands of ‘unsung heroes and heroines’ who dedicate their lives to educating the next generation of Australians who go publicly unacknowledged and are often under appreciated.
The Australian Honours system provides a way to say ‘thank you’ to those who make our communities a better place. Anyone can nominate someone to be recognised through the Order of Australia and the nomination form can be found on the Governor-General’s website.
ECA would like to see more people who are dedicated to early childhood services nominated and receive awards. We are happy to nominate deserving potential recipients in our sector but we need your help. Who do you think goes above and beyond for early childhood education? Who would you like to see receive a nomination for an Australia Day Honour? Let us know in our comments below.
Together we can help acknowledge some of the wonderful people who dedicate their lives to improving early childhood education in Australia.