On 2 June, over 200 Gowrie Victoria employees gathered for the annual staff conference at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre to celebrate the central theme of ‘Quality’ in early learning. Additional areas explored throughout the day included a reflection on capacity, community and collaboration at Gowrie Victoria.

The conference was a chance for staff from each of Gowrie’s six services to connect and share knowledge and ideas with others from the organisation. This was highlighted through a number of panel conversations, videos, presentations, activities and ‘inspiration stations’ – hands on showcases highlighting unique learning experiences from each of Gowrie’s services.

Panels throughout the day largely focused on the theme of quality and what it represents to professionals in various roles in the early childhood education sector. A panel discussion featuring ECE professionals Sarah Louise Gandolfo, Dr Rachel Pollitt and Dan Donahoo was a highlight of the day, inspiring conversations about children as active learners and the important role educators play by engaging children in their individual areas of interest.

Another panel featured Gowrie Educational Leaders, Hannah Fruin, Sarah Gardner and Sam Fernandez and explored the various different methods early childhood teachers and educators can utilise to deliver quality early learning, emphasising there is no one size fits all approach to pedagogy.  

Reflecting on the day, Gowrie Victoria Chief Executive Officer Susan Anderson says ‘the theme of quality is such a great one, as it gives us an opportunity to highlight examples of exemplary practice across each of our services.’

‘The event was a great opportunity for staff to share knowledge and inspire each other to think outside the box, but it was also just a great chance to have fun and reflect on the successes of the past 12 months,’ Susan says.

A focus on collaboration was integral to the success of the event, with many staff members connecting face-to-face for the very first time. Carlton North Early Years Leader, David reflected on his first Gowrie conference, saying ‘I didn’t know what to expect but I’ve been really inspired and challenged in my thinking. I’ve been able to connect with new people, which is phenomenal.’

Speaking of one conversation with a like-minded educator, he says “it’s a connection that’s going to spring forward into a whole new story, a whole new thread for us and that’s going to flow on to the children and they’re going to benefit from it – it’s a really beautiful thing.”  

Videos on the day also highlighted some of the heroes behind the scenes, focusing on the important work of the People and Culture, Operations, Finance and Adult Learning and Marketing teams. ‘Gowrie not only has a group of inspiring teachers and educators but also has a team of dedicated coaches, mentors, facilitators and administrative staff who all make a positive impact to children’s lives – it was wonderful to be able to celebrate everyone’s hard work,’ Susan says.