2017 Winner ECIA Excellence Award

Winners ECIA AWARD 2017

On Thursday 25th May 2017, Early Childhood Intervention Australia (ECIA) NSW/ACT presented Early Connections with the “Champions of Inclusion” Excellence Award for outstanding achievements in the early childhood intervention (ECI) sector during the ECIA/NSW Conference at the Novotel Brighton Beach, Sydney NSW.

The Excellence Awards was presented on Thursday 25th May 2017 by Margie O’Tarpey, CEO ECIA NSW/ACT during the 2017 Conference, with four awards up for grabs during the ceremony.

Early Connections were announced “Champions of Inclusion” and presented with this award.

“This years’ Excellence Awards was highly competitive and recognised the outstanding achievements of service providers in the early childhood intervention and related sectors” said Margie O’Tarpey, CEO ECIA NSW/ACT.

“This important work has contributed to the improvement of the lives of children with a developmental delay or disability, their families and communities. These awards celebrate and acknowledge teams and organisations that demonstrated national best practice in early childhood intervention and excellence, passion, vision and a commitment to assisting children with a developmental delay or disability and their families to achieve their goals. This is a testament to the outstanding work and commitment displayed to improving the capacity of the early childhood intervention sector during this important time of transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)” noted Margie O’Tarpey.

After receiving the award, Beth Todd – Manager – Early Connections – Port Macquarie/Hastings said “We’re delighted the campaign is shining a light on understanding disabilities and inclusive communities. Early intervention is crucial but inclusive communities throughout a person’s life is essential, we need to look beyond the early years.”

Why is inclusion so important for children with a developmental delay or disability?

“The shift away from the mindset of the need to “fix” an individual to the approach of how best to adapt the community/environment, ensures all children are given the opportunity to be included within their local community. This ultimately gives them the chance to build their capacity for learning through engagement with their peers. We don’t want children to be limited by perceived restrictions that can be associated with the term disability/ developmental delay. Supporting inclusive practices helps us develop a community vision that is compassionate and believes in equality for people and families living with disability.” said Caryn Maher – Program Manager – Early Connections-Coffs Coast.

Accept Difference Campaign Champions Inclusion

Early Connections was responsible for the Accept Difference Project, a multi-media social awareness campaign based on a true story.

“The authenticity of the story made it easy for the audience to relate to. This resulted in the campaign going viral nationally and internationally. The Accept Difference campaign will continue to share stories around inclusion and accepting differences, with the community through our Facebook page and website. It is hoped this campaign will shift from being generated and driven by Early Connections to being managed by people living with disabilities so that the inclusion stories are organic. Through the educational component of the campaign community groups are supported to build their knowledge, skills and abilities and to be better informed and aware of how they can adapt their practices to ensure all people can be included. The focus is on identifying real needs and translating these into grassroots outcomes” said Kylie Guymer – Early Connections, Nambucca Valley.

Excellence Award ‘Champions of Inclusion’

Recognises early childhood intervention services/professionals/teams that have identified and implemented strategies to significantly improve inclusion for children with developmental delay and/or disability and their families:

Sustained inclusive and participatory practice, recognising that every child regardless of their needs has the right to participate fully in their family and community life and to have the same choices, opportunities and experiences as other children

Outstanding commitment to putting in place additional supports for the children to participate meaningfully in their families, community and early childhood settings

The children supported feel accepted and have a real sense of belonging.

Exceptional dedication to promoting children’s inclusion through participation in their natural learning environments and daily routines, at home, in the community, and in early childhood settings.

Raise awareness and advocate for inclusion of children with developmental delay and/or disability and their families.