The KindiCare Excellence Awards celebrate the top performing early childhood education and care centres right across Australia.
2023 Award Winners
Australian Capital Territory Winner
KindiCare●October 22, 2023
Cooinda Cottage has taken out top honours in the Australian Capital Territory, with a KindiCare Rating of 9.7, and it’s not just families who are lining up to be part of this amazing childcare community.
Educators are also on the waiting list to join Cooinda Cottage, because it’s such a dynamic, interesting and supportive place to be. Cooinda Cottage is led by Molly Rhodin, an inspirational Early Childhood Teacher and Centre Director with 33 years’ early learning experience, and she explains that ‘transformational change’ is the focus for everyone at Cooinda Cottage. Molly says, “This means that instead of offering the same-old-same-old, we offer something unique. We strive to create meaningful connections and relationships between all the people in our childcare family, and encourage everyone – from the children to the educators – to take pride in what they do.” And although Molly heads up the leadership team at Cooinda Cottage, she believes that everybody has something to offer and knowledge should be shared, so there’s a distributed leadership approach, two-way communication, and an open-door policy that ensures community members feel welcome. Molly says, “We have community members coming in to drop off donated goods for charities, or share their special knowledge and interests. We hold a twilight community market three times a year for families, educators and the wider Charnwood community. “We also have a particularly strong relationship with our local Indigenous people and organisations, and local elders come in regularly to share Indigenous language and culture with the children.” This is positive for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous children enrolled at the centre, and Cooinda Cottage is deeply committed to embedding Indigenous culture into the childcare environment and program. Molly explains that, “Indigenous culture is woven into our entire curriculum, from the resources to the kitchen pedagogy, and we teach the children to be respectful, knowledgeable and celebratory when it comes to First Nations culture and contributions.” And due to their strong relationships with Indigenous individuals and organisations, Cooinda Cottage can be spontaneous and agile when it comes to special guests and events. Educators are free to follow children’s interests as they arise, whether that means drawing the Cooinda community with Aboriginal symbols, or having a significant conversation about Australia’s history, and Molly says, “Acknowledgements and smoking ceremonies are regular occurrences at Cooinda Cottage.” The Cooinda Cottage weekly menu is also enhanced with Indigenous flavours, and Molly explains that, “From Monday to Friday, the children enjoy Indigenous spices, herbs, proteins and oils infused with centre-grown native plants.” Experiences like this give you a sense of how warm, inclusive and interesting Cooinda Cottage is, and the centre is very appealing to both parents and childcare professionals. There’s a lengthy waiting list for families keen to enrol their children, and the centre has very low staff turnover. Molly explains that, “Cooinda Cottage attracts staff who want to stay and make a positive difference in children’s lives and the wider community. We have a depth of experience in our team, with no reliance on agency staff, and I really enjoy training and developing my people to bring out their best potential.” This is heartening to hear, with so many early learning services struggling to attract and retain quality staff, and we congratulate Molly on her amazing leadership, and her whole team on their 2023 KindiCare Excellence Award. Being named the top centre in all of the ACT is a great achievement, and any person who’s able to join the Cooinda Cottage community is fortunate indeed.