National Children’s Week begins this Saturday (24 October – 1 November) with celebrations happening across the country to acknowledge children’s rights. This year marks the 25th anniversary since Australia signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
, including the agreed 54 articles
founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each child.
A positive, nurturing and stimulating environment for children can have a profound impact on their long-term resilience, self-esteem, healthy growth and capacity to learn. The Early Years Learning Framework
and Framework for School Age Care
identify secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships with children as one of the key principles underpinning practice. This theme is woven throughout the National Quality Framework.
ACECQA spoke with Bridget Olssen, Director at UnitingCare Jack and Jill Preschool in NSW, about their work to support each child’s participation in the community.
UnitingCare Jack and Jill Preschool collaborated with the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) on the design of the new Grafton Bridge. This project enabled the children to become active participants in their community and to contribute to the decision-making process.
“We believe all children have a voice and deserve to be heard in their preschool and community,” said Bridget. “The design of the Grafton Bridge project was a really positive experience for all involved.
“The RMS is building the new Grafton Bridge next to the old one. Project managers from the bridge team visited our service and discussed the design of the new bridge with the children and listened to their ideas. We then supported the children to put in submissions to the project using drawings and statements.
“The team ended up using the children's ideas. They added in a walkway to join the two bridges, so the children can walk over the old bridge, along the walkway, and back home over the new bridge.
“The children’s designs stemmed from their interests in bridges and block play. Their contributions to the project promoted ownership, agency and developed their drawing, thinking and language skills.”
UnitingCare Jack and Jill Preschool’s strong collaborative partnerships with community organisations contributed to the success of driving children’s agency and promoting children’s citizenship in the wider community.
“It’s all about giving the children opportunity to make meaningful decisions and choices about things that affect them,” said Bridget.