A FAMILIAR face in Dimboola childcare has been named the Wimmera-Mallee region’s best.
Julie-Ann Byrne of Dimboola Country Kids Family Day Care was named the Wimmera-Mallee educator of the year by Family Day Care Australia.
The win puts Ms Byrne in the running to be named the 2016 national educator of the year.
Earlier this year, Ms Byrne won a sustainability award for her cloth nappy library initiative.
Ms Byrne, who has worked in daycare for 16 years, said she was honoured to be nominated and recognised by parents.
“I’m really lucky,” she said.
“I’ve been really lucky to win a couple of awards this year.
“This one you have to be nominated by parents so it’s fantastic.
“We don’t have many childcare options in Dimboola. It’s great to know parent’s appreciate what you do, they’re not just coming because there’s not many other options.”
Ms Byrne said four separate people had approached her to reveal they had nominated her.
“Coming from a parent, it’s great. It gives you the feedback they appreciate the service operating and the time, effort and dedication you put in for the children,” she said.
“It’s great to get awards but the real recognition is every morning when parents drop off their children, they’re their most precious possession and they entrust them to you.”
When she first moved to the Wimmera, Ms Byrne was considering a career move away from childcare, but she said the immense need in the region made her change her mind.
“Parents were saying how much they were struggling to find care,” she said.
“We’re the only one available and we’ve had a waiting list since day one.”
Ms Byrne said the service catered for children from six weeks to 12 years old and even had parents who lived in Kaniva.
She said the lack of childcare in the region stopped people gaining and retaining employment.
Ms Byrne said the love of her work came back to the children, not awards.
“I love that they get so much out of every day,” she said.
“There’s so many things you can do. They’re little sponges, taking in all the learning.
“It fascinates them – the enjoyment they get from learning is fabulous.”