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VIT would like to congratulate the finalists of the 2021 Victorian Early Years Awards

The Victorian Early Years Awards (VEYA) celebrate leadership, outstanding achievement, exceptional dedication and innovation in improving outcomes for children aged birth to eight years and their families.

Winners are recognised as the best in Victoria for their category and go on to develop and share their inspiring work with their communities. They are also awarded grants of up to $15,000 to support their nominated activity or professional development.

VIT would like to congratulate the following registered teachers on being announced as a finalist for their category.

Early Childhood Teacher of the Year

Ariel Liddicut

Passionate about quality early education, early childhood teacher Ariel Liddicut from Grovedale Child and Family Centre, believes the basis of a more equitable and kinder society is one that respects the diversity and uniqueness of both individuals and the environment.

Currently studying a Master of Education, Ariel has focused on growing her skills in supporting gender expansive children and their families. Sharing her learning and significant expertise in this area, she is collaborating and sharing information with teachers and educators working in other early childhood services to support gender fluid and expansive children and their families, in turn supporting these children's wellbeing, unique identity and sense of belonging.

Equally dedicated to the protection of the environment, Ariel uses her classroom to teach children and their families about the importance of being good custodians of the land, delivering well-researched, practical and lifelong lessons. In addition, she is successfully mentoring other early childhood services to build their capacity to provide environmentally sustainable teaching practices and service habits.

Louise Bayley

As an early childhood teacher at Kalkallo Pre-School, Louise Bayley works in a growing and diverse community with a large population of new migrants.

Louise's reflective and respectful teaching practice is driven by her dedication to the wellbeing of children and families and the fostering of reciprocal relationships. Embodying Victorian Early Years Learning Development Framework practice principles, Louise's dedication to improving children's access to learning is shaped by following children's lead, engaging with families and having a strong focus on promoting cultural understanding to improve children and families' health and wellbeing.

Always seeking opportunities to extend her knowledge to meet the specific needs of children and their families, Louise is able to identify any barriers to their learning, and adopt strategies that encourage children to develop from their unique point of need.

Working with other educators during the recent lockdowns, Louise provided children and their families with access to support services, creating a community library and providing engaging resources to support at-home learning

The Emeritus Professor Collette Tayler Excellence in Educational Leadership Award

Anna Moutzouris

For over thirty years, Anna Moutzouris, Director of Monash Vale and Bridge Road Early Learning Centres has dedicated herself to improving the early childhood sector through building strong partnerships with families and the community.

Anna leads with a strength-based, shared leadership model that enables all educators to develop roles that reflect their specific areas of expertise or passion. This distributed responsibility enables the best outcomes for the early years learning community.

Anna's innovative leadership and mentoring approach has created a 'home-from-home' experience for children, families and educators. In the last year the emphasis has been developing Reconciliation Action Plans for Monash Vale and Bridge Road Early Learning Centres and offering improved wellness support, especially during recent lockdowns.

Initiating the development of home learning packs, Zoom sessions and extra support for educators' mental health and wellbeing in response the recent pandemic , Anna focuses upon each individual's need, whether parent, child or educator, offering creative and caring solutions that ensure the continuity of learning for all children.

Congratulations to all the finalists in the 2021 Victorian Early Years awards. Find out more about the finalists for all seven categories.

Winners will be announced on Wednesday 10 November, 2021.