Eight decades of experience honoured

Sue Legg and Kim Moroney have more than 80 years experience of working in early childhood between them.

The pair were presented with badges in recognition of their 30 year membership of the Union by General Secretary John Quessy at the IEU’s Early Childhood Conference.

Sue Legg’s career started in England back in the 70s. She arrived in Australia in 1974 and because she was one of the few people with a specific early childhood qualification she was appointed to a board designing the child care certificate in Australia.

Ironically about six years later the Australian Government decided not to recognise the degrees of overseas trained people, and that’s when Sue had her first experience of IEU support.

“My centre was no longer receiving funding because I was no longer deemed qualified and I was the only teacher. All our money was withdrawn over the Christmas break,” she said.

“The Union stepped in and made sure universities would accept overseas qualifications to undertake a course, and that overseas trained people were allowed to continue working and centres kept receiving funding.”

Sue undertook a part time degree and in her seventh and final year, the government announced it would accept overseas qualifications again. So she did not need the degree.

“But it was good to have up to date qualifications,” Sue said.

She was the coordinator at Hunter Gowrie Crèche at Tighes TAFE providing care for migrant and refugee children whose parents are taking English at the TAFE.

It’s a government supported program which originally started as three days a week.

“When the Americans pulled out of Afghanistan there were a number of interpreters who had helped them who had to be got out of the country quickly,” Sue said.

“Quite a few of them ended up in Newcastle and our service was expanded to five days a week to cater for them.”

Sue did not want to work full time so once again she contacted the IEU for help negotiating that issue.

She is happily working three days a week as part of the staff team and said working with children from 35 different language backgrounds is “wonderful”.

When the Americans pulled out of Afghanistan there were a number of interpreters who had helped them who had to be got out of the country quickly.

Kim Moroney, a regular at the ECS conference, has mainly worked in Catholic primary schools, apart from a short stint as a centre director, and is currently Acting Principal at St Joseph’s Primary School at Merewether.

“I love this conference. I’m extremely interested in early learning. This conference always offers a great variety of speakers and it’s contemporary.

“I love it when there are politicians speaking about the political context.”

Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education Jodie Harrison addressed this conference.

“I think what is really important for an early childhood teacher in a primary school is to be able to network and connect with other early childhood teachers.”

Kim believes that in the last decade early childhood has come more to the forefront of the agenda.

“I’m hoping people will advocate more for the child, especially early childhood best practice and pedagogy.

“I can see slow changes coming but it is very slow in primary schools.

“We’re more knowledgeable about studies and best practice from around the world and seeing how we can apply these to our schools.”

Kim said she worried about the amount of ‘hothousing’ some parents are applying to their children, even as they prepare for kindergarten, and she tries to speak against that.

“Schools need to be ready for students coming from amazing contemporary preschool environments. Some schools are still running an industrial model.”

Kim has always appreciated having the IEU in the background in case she needed support and has attended the women’s conference as well as ECS Conference.

“It’s a wonderful time to get your head out of the workplace and speak to people and get new ideas.

“I’m very proud to receive this badge, I was actually encouraged to join by the employer when I first started teaching, but my family encouraged me too when I was a girl.”

Sue Osborne