We’ve recently marked two major milestones at Gowrie Victoria.  We’ve celebrated our 80th year and we’ve farwelled Andrew Hume our CEO for the last seven of those years.  Both milestones have been opportunities to take a step back and reflect on the continual evolution of the organisation.

We opened the first Gowrie service at the start of the Second World War in 1939.  Lady Gowrie’s words then could easily apply to now.  She said “our children are our greatest hope, and anyone doing work for children these days is doing national work and giving splendid war service.”  Today we may call it championing good early childhood education and care, but Gowrie remains true to this original purpose. 

At our 80th birthday, Andrew reflected that Gowrie isn’t owned by anyone.  Many have contributed in some way shape or form, and it’s the dedication of all of these people that sustains Gowrie’s contribution to the community.  As the American academic Jedediah Purdy said, an “achievement cannot be taken for granted. It is always either a continuing accomplishment or an eroding one. It requires the sustenance of unheroic work”. 

Michel Hogan was Gowrie’s Chair when Andrew was appointed and introduced him to the works of Jedediah Purdy.  She added “I know Andrew would be the first person to say he hasn’t achieved all of this by himself.  And that he has an amazing team of people.  Whilst this is true, wonderful leadership plays an enormous role and he was been a wonderful leader.”

Andrew has led Gowrie through many changes. “Both the ECEC and VET sectors have seen massive changes in the last decade in terms of the regulation, policy and competitive landscape. While these necessitate short term pivots, it has been more important for Gowrie to double down on achieving its purpose of championing good ECEC, retaining and increasing investment in our people and supporting operating models that deliver high quality early learning and adult learning.”

And his highlights from the last seven years?  “The biggest highlight has been creating a sustainable learning organisation, this is at the heart of Gowrie’s culture. It has been a deliberate, multi-year focus for Gowrie and is informed by OECD research into schools as learning organisations and Australian research into making sustainable practice change in early childhood settings. We have achieved this while also shoring up the financial sustainability of the organisation to be able to withstand headwinds like the current Covid-19 crisis,” he added.

Gowrie’s goal in the next few years is to demonstrate a scalable model of early learning that achieves the highest quality ratings in a range of socio economic contexts.

“Growth for growths sake is a dangerous game,” Andrew said. “It was a highlight to work with a board and team that was deliberate about where we grew, with each new service providing an opportunity to contribute to the developing practice knowledge in the sector. For example our newest service at Carlton Learning Precinct is an integrated hub in a complex part of Melbourne where we work in partnership with Carlton Primary School, the City of Melbourne and Our Place.”

“The highest levels of education and care are achievable in the most complex of communities. The E4Kids study showed that the quality of teaching input is poorest in the lowest socio economic communities. We were fortunate to be selected by the Broadmeadows Valley Primary School to run their early learning service.  Our high quality of education and care was recognised by ACECQA with the Excellent rating in 2019 – one of only eleven services in Victoria to achieve this.”

Paul Geyer, Gowrie Victoria’s chair acknowledges Andrew’s strong leadership in pursuit of quality and sustainability “Andrew is a talented CEO who leaves a great legacy. He led a financial turn-around.  He took us from two sites to five, implemented a new business model and an education quality improvement model.”

Whilst Gowrie will continue to evolve, it will remain true to this original purpose.  We thank Andrew for leading the Gowrie team and wish you the very best for the future.