Inspirational Wadeye educator nominated for NT Childhood Educator of the Year
Wadeye grandmother and VTEC participant, Ellen Tcherna, has been nominated for NT Childhood Educator of the Year for her work as an educator, mentor and role model at One Tree Community Services Wadeye Children and Family Centre.
Ellen Tcherna is a widowed mother of seven children with ten grandchildren, and had been unemployed for some time before becoming a VTEC participant. Her home town of Wadeye, located 420km south west of Darwin, is unreachable by road at least six months of the year. Wadeye is a complex community facing a number of challenges unique to an area so remote.
Vocational Training and Employment Centres (VTECs) have been set up by the Australian Government to provide training and a guaranteed job for unemployed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Ellen started with VTEC in 2014, enrolling in a Certificate III in Children’s Services while employed as a Childcare Educator at the One Tree Community Services Wadeye Children and Family Centre (crèche). A very special service, the crèche provides children with regular meals, links to health services and an opportunity to learn and play.
Ellen quickly became a mentor for younger staff and a role model for mothers. Her knowledge of both the local Murrinh-Patha language and English has made her an important link between One Tree Community Services and the community. Local non-Aboriginal staff have come to rely heavily on Ellen’s knowledge of the community and its families, and her advice on how to deal with any local issues.
Additionally, Ellen uses her position to nurture the young families of her community. She teaches the importance of healthy lifestyles for children and their families, and supports the young women of Wadeye to become more educated around parenting issues. Her success as a childcare educator led to her recent nomination for the NT Childhood Educator of the Year Award.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Ellen is now enrolled in a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care while continuing to work at the crèche as a Room Leader. The families of Wadeye can look forward to Ellen continuing to help them and their children to work towards a brighter future.
Story by Zane Whitehorn for indigenous.gov.au