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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013
75 Years of Early Childhood Australia Author: Ros Cornish President Early Childhood Australia Early Childhood Australia (ECA) celebrated a milestone with the recent launch of its history, A voice for young children - 75 years of Early Childhood, researched and written by Drs Fran Press and Sandie Wong. The organisation was first established in 1938 as the ‘Australia Association for Pre School Child Development’. Since then the name has changed three times with its current name adopted in 2003. ECA has overseen an impressive legacy of long lasting initiatives, including the Lady Gowrie Child Centres, the Organisation for Mondiale Pour l’Education Prescolaire (OMEP) in Australia and the Code of Ethics for the Australian early childhood profession. Branches in NSW, Victoria and Queensland piloted child care accreditation before any Australian government thought the accreditation of early childhood education and care services mattered. Of course ECA is well recognised for the quality of its national conferences – the first organised in 1939, there have been 28 to date. The organisation has a formidable publication record with the production and provision of information for the sector supporting better experiences for young children. In the publication, the Lady Gowrie Child Centres are featured prominently as part of ECA’s history. As the first national conference was being planned, the Association was also charged with the task of establishing and developing six Model Demonstration Child Development Centres – the Lady Gowrie Child Centres. This establishment was a significant aspect of the then Federal Government’s response to improving child welfare. In reading the history, the Association oversaw everything in establishing the Centres. From the height of toilets, shelving and doorknobs, to a safe storage space for teachers’ purses! Careful attention was paid to the material and equipment to be used by the children but staff were encouraged to shop ‘intelligently and economically’ - some things never change in the early childhood sector as this continues to be encouraged today! The sites for each of the centres were secured and they opened in the period between December 1939 and October 1940: • Melbourne – Carlton • Perth – Victoria Park • Adelaide – Thebarton • Brisbane – Spring Hill • Hobart – Battery Point • Sydney – Erskineville Since the initial establishment of the Centres, the relationship between ECA and the Gowries has altered to reflect the changing nature of early childhood provision and social and political changes. Regardless, the long history and synergy between the two agencies remains an integral part of the early childhood sector journey and the relationship is highly valued and respected and forms an important part of both ECA and Gowrie history. A voice for young children - 75 years of Early Childhood is a publication which not only celebrates and records the significant impact of the organisation and its relationship with the Gowrie Centres, but also outlines many of the achievements and challenges during those years. As such, this publication is a valuable resource, and a ‘must read’ for the profession. The authors’ Dedication reminds us of past commitment and present endeavour: “ This history of Early Childhood Australia is dedicated to the many people who have built its voice over the years – all those advocates for young children who, quite simply, would not – and will not – give up.” This message is certainly relevant today as many within the sector continue to advocate as a strong voice for young children and will not give up, just as those tenacious, visionary and committed advocates - our predecessors - have done over the past 75 years. Happy 75th Anniversary ECA and thank you for the ongoing commitment to the rights and interests of young children - to be ‘a voice for children’. Reference: Press, F., & Wong, S. (2013). A voice for young children – 75 years of Early Childhood. Canberra, Australia: ECA. REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SUMMER 2013 - ISSUE 53 5 reflections.issue53_Layout 1 11/11/13 2:26 PM Page 5
Reflections Magazine Issue 52
Reflections Magazine Issue 54