award medal

KindiCare Excellence Awards 2023

The KindiCare Excellence Awards celebrate the top performing early childhood education and care centres right across Australia.

22nd October 2023


A multicultural early childhood education and care centre operated by one of the nation’s leading childcare brands is the National Winner in this year’s KindiCare Excellence Awards, as well as the State Winner for Victoria. Guardian Childcare & Education Blackburn West in outer Melbourne has scored just over 9.9, the highest KindiCare Rating in the nation, to take top honours. The top Regional Winner, a category introduced for the first time last year, is Goodstart Early Learning Moree in northern New South Wales. Goodstart Early Learning Moree is also a Top 10 Finalist in New South Wales in addition to its regional win. The KindiCare app and childcare comparison website was developed by Founder and CEO Benjamin Balk to make the process of finding, comparing and contacting early learning services easier for parents. The need for KindiCare was based on his family’s own experience in navigating the early learning sector and has revolutionised the early learning search journey for Australian families with more than one million users a year using KindiCare. Mr Balk said, “the KindiCare App and Childcare Comparison Website provide parents with all the information they need in one place covering locations, education and care types, inclusions, overall quality ratings, government ratings and assessments, parent reviews and ratings and fees as well as childcare subsidy information. KindiCare’s latest feature, Childcare Match, means that parents don’t need to even do a search. Parents can simply answer some simple questions about their early learning needs and be matched to the most relevant services in their area…swipe left to ignore, swipe up to view more information about the service or swipe right to add to their shortlist and enquire. Parents have even joked that its ‘tinder for kinder’ the user experience is so good.” The KindiCare Excellence Awards were created to recognise the top performing early learning services across the nation based on their Kindicare Rating. The KindiCare Rating provides a unique score for every early learning service that is based on their current and historical assessment and ratings under the National Quality Framework, parent and community feedback and reviews, the stability and length of operation of the service, as well as other characteristics known about a service. It provides a comprehensive real-time picture of quality and value for money that’s easy for parents to understand. With the first five years of a child’s life critical in their early development and future wellbeing, Guardian Blackburn West’s diverse early learning program is underpinned by the idea that children are competent and capable learners, with rights, who can play an active role in the childcare community and the wider world. Centre Manager, Julie Smith explains that there are regular excursions to the local park, supermarket, train station and community café (where the children enjoy their babyccinos!), and back at the service, community continues to be a huge part of early learning life, with parents actively involved in the centre. Julie explains that, “We have a parent who likes to come in and play guitar, because music, singing and dancing is a big focus in our centre. We also have parents who will come in and share their recipes for dumplings, muffins, sticky rice balls and other family favourites. Some grandparents come in to do craft activities with the children. We’ve had a parent who is a police officer arrange for a police car to be parked out the front – which was a huge hit.” Julie herself speaks Ukrainian, and although some children speak a second language at home, all of the Kinder children are learning Mandarin at the Centre, care of the ELLA program. Cultural events from around the world are also celebrated, such as Diwali and Chinese New Year, and while the children are developing a greater understanding of the world, they’re also caring for the planet. Mr Balk says, “Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, and Guardian Blackburn West’s approach to early education is important in celebrating Australia’s cultural and ethnic diversity and teaching tolerance, understanding and acceptance of our rich diversity from an early age.” He adds, “Sustainability and our environment is also critical to a safe and secure future for the next generation,” and Guardian Blackburn West keeps sustainability front of mind. Children bring in milk containers from home to plant seedlings in; groups regularly visit the local resource recycling centre to find materials that can be upcycled for craft; there is a lovingly tended worm farm; and a multitude of herbs and vegetables being grown on site, which are then cooked up in the centre’s kitchen. Mr Balk says a common theme amongst the National, State and Regional Winners is having a strong curriculum. At the winning centres, passionate early childhood educators and centre directors are motivated to create diverse and engaging play and learning environments, with a deep understanding of what enables children to learn and grow in their formative first five years. “90% of a child’s brain development occurs in their first five years,” explains Mr Balk, “And it is incredible to see the continued development and innovation of learning programs and curriculums in early childhood education, as well as the growing participation rate of children in formal early learning programs in their critical first five years, with increases in investment by both federal and state governments.” KindiCare’s Price Index in September showed that there was only 0.84% difference between the average long day care fees charged by for-profit private early learning providers and non-for-profit private early learning providers at $134.33 and $135.46 respectively. Everton Park Child Care and Development Centre, the State Winner for Queensland with a KindiCare Rating of 9.9, provides a home-away-from-home for children aged 15 months to five years, and there’s a big and beautiful focus on the natural environment. This centre has an oversized outdoor classroom that’s used every day – rain, wind or shine – and in this leafy, toy-free learning space children are free to imagine, explore and discover at their own pace. Centre Director, Jon Webb says, “We understand that young children’s brain development really needs large blocks of uninterrupted play time in natural environments. So, our outdoor classroom is a free-flow zone, where children can play with all ages and move inside and outside whenever they like.” Green Leaves Early Learning Launceston is our State Winner in Tasmania, with a KindiCare Rating of 9.6, and this Apple Isle centre adds an amazing flavour to each child’s learning and development with yoga, music, active sports programs, bush kinder, gardening and weekly culinary lessons, led by their popular Chef, Carmen. Senior Operations Manager, Kylie-Anne Kirkup says, “All ages participate in these, and the classes are developmentally appropriate for each room. So, the youngest children might have sensory-based cooking experiences, while the Kindergarten children look at mathematical concepts associated with cooking and talk about what a balanced diet means. Our educators are also expertly trained to support under-sixes’ complete developmental needs, and they stay up-to-date with research around early childhood education.” Experienced and committed educators who understand the importance of self-development, as well as a close connection with the children in their care, is another consistent feature amongst top performing centres, according to Mr Balk. The New South Wales State Winner, with a KindiCare Rating of 9.9, is Goodstart Early Learning Woy Woy, and this wonderful centre is lucky to have many long-standing staff members. Centre Director, Tracey Davies started her early learning career at Goodstart Woy Woy 17 years ago, and several of her colleagues have been happily employed for a similar length of time. Tracey says, “My Senior Educator in the Toddler room has been at our centre for 17.5 years, my Cook has been here 15 years, a couple of my other educators have been here for 10 years, and even my new educators feel like they’ve been here forever, because the team is so welcoming. There are also plenty of enrolled families with a long-term connection to Goodstart Woy Woy.” Inclusiveness and valuing every staff member’s contribution also stands out as a common theme amongst winners and finalists. Tracey says, “The level of verbal communication at our centre is really high. We’re always focused on meeting the needs of the children, and we love what we do. We really enjoy the positive difference we can make. And although our service – and our people – go way back, we’re always looking forward to help children achieve their greatest potential.” Mr Balk says, “The pressure on the early learning workforce is immense. We know that tenure is so important to the quality of early childhood education delivered; and we’re seeing far too many qualified and experienced educators leaving the sector due to pay, conditions and burnout. The first Multi-Employer Bargaining authorisation by the Fair Work Commission full bench in September means that early childhood educators have won the right to bargain for pay rises of up to 25% across multiple employers for the first time, under Labor’s new laws. Improving pay and conditions will go a long way to ensuring a more stable and committed workforce. That’s why we also created KindiCare Jobs to encourage more educators into the early learning sector.” The State Winner for South Australia is Goodstart Early Learning Ingle Farm – Roopena Street. This centre, with a KindiCare Rating of 9.4, prioritises individualised attention, ensuring that each child who attends the centre has their unique needs and abilities recognised and nurtured. Centre Director, Kelly Brennan says, “Our dedicated staff are the backbone of our centre's success. They bring passion, expertise and genuine care to their roles, creating a nurturing and supportive environment for our children.” Kelly says she and her team do their very best to make Goodstart Ingle Farm a happy, healthy, communicative and secure place to be, and they also recognise the importance of acknowledging and respecting the rich cultural heritage of Australia's First Nations peoples. Indigenous culture is reflected in their books, instruments, special guests and the art hanging upon their walls, and Kelly says, “Through meaningful engagement and education, we are actively working towards fostering an inclusive and culturally sensitive environment where all children can learn and grow together, embracing the principles of reconciliation and unity.” Mr Balk says, “The early learning sector has been a leader in fostering reconciliation in Australia and creating awareness and understanding of the Indigenous culture of our First Nations people in the communities they serve. It’s important for every child in Australia to have the opportunity to understand, respect and value the unique culture, traditions and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” Another centre that’s embracing Indigenous culture and connection with the land is the Northern Territory Winner, Dripstone Children’s Centre, with a KindiCare Rating of 9.7. Dripstone’s nature-based and alternative approach to early childhood education and care is popular with families; and whether groups are feeding chickens, painting with sticks or going on beach adventures, this childcare community is totally in tune with its environment. Centre Director, Georgia Cleanthous says, “We are always looking at the Gulumoerrgin seasonal calendar in our curriculum, that shows us the seasonal changes for the Larrakia land we inhabit. We look at which animals are most active at a certain time, which plants are in bloom, and what the weather is telling us.” She explains that, “We then pick up on those cues and bring them into the curriculum using natural elements. So, instead of using plastic play dough utensils, we’ll use gumnuts and twigs.” Dripstone Children’s Centre also follows a natural rhythm approach, which means that educators are very perceptive when it comes to the children in their care. Mr Balk says, “I am constantly amazed by the diversity of curriculum, philosophies and approaches to early learning that we see across childcare providers. At KindiCare we encourage parents to research their early learning options and build a shortlist of centres and services to visit. Touring different early learning services, and speaking with centre directors and educators, is vitally important to understand these different approaches and find the one that is most suitable to your family and your children’s needs, whether they are a baby, toddler, pre-schooler or school- aged child. The right fit for every stage of education and development is important.” Pachamama Activity Centre, with a focus on the learning environment they provide for children, is our Joint State Winner in Western Australia, with a KindiCare Rating of 9.9, and this is the second year running that Pachamama has picked up a KindiCare Excellence Award for Western Australia, with Pachamama Early Education and Childcare being named Joint State Winner in 2022. Pachamama is an incredible service run by passionate people, and they put a huge amount of thought, effort and love into everything they do, including the way they design and use their spaces. Every one of their rooms is comfortably and creatively decorated, and Pachamama’s outdoor area is a wonderland of wood and art. Director, Kristen McPhail says, “We believe Pachamama is a remarkable success due to our unwavering commitment to crafting these outstanding environments. This commitment to our carefully created environment seamlessly intertwines with every facet of our early education and childcare centre and our activity centre for school-aged children.” Kristen explains that, “Our captivating spaces not only serve as a foundation for quality education, but they are magnets for skilled staff who recognise the value of such nurturing surroundings for the children, as well as for themselves.” Kristen believes that Pachamama’s amazing environments contribute to the high staff retention rates at her centres, and they definitely make Pachamama a beautiful place to be. Mr Balk notes that both for-profit and not-for-profit providers are investing heavily in the early learning sector to create purpose-built early learning environments that provide an engaging and welcoming experience for children to reach their full potential. The other Joint State Winner for Western Australia is Goodstart Early Learning Canning Vale – Batman Road. Goodstart Batman Road is rated highly by families and the regulatory authority, and a lot of this centre’s success comes down to the enthusiasm and dedication of its Centre Director, Kenneth Leong and Assistant Director/Educational Leader, Sandra D’Rozario, who has been at the centre for 15 influential years. Together, Kenneth and Sandra are a dynamic duo who’ve worked incredibly hard over the years to bring their vision of providing the highest quality of education and care to children every day. Kenneth explains that Goodstart Batman Road has an amazing team of passionate educators who work collaboratively with children, families and the community to deliver a child-centred program that caters to children’s evolving knowledge, strengths, ideas, cultures, abilities and interests. Kenneth says, “Consistent staffing arrangements across the centre, with fixed shifts, has helped to build consistency, predictability and familiarity during drop-off and pick-up for children and families. Families know who will be welcoming their child in the morning and saying goodbye at the end of the day, and they’re very grateful for this.” Goodstart Batman Road also offers staggered starts for all new families, and Kenneth mentions that, “For the first four weeks of commencement, children spend no more than four hours in the centre. “This enables them to build a bond with their educators, feel safe in the knowledge that their family will be back to pick them up in a short while, and this strategy has worked wonders in minimising the anxiety and stress that children and families feel when first enrolled at an early learning centre.” The 2023 KindiCare Excellence Awards recognise just over 2,500 early learning services nationally, who have achieved a KindiCare Rating of 9.0 or above, from a total of over 17,300 services. About 12% of services nationally have been recognised with an Excellent Award, with the top 3% of the nation’s best performing early learning services receiving the newly introduced Outstanding Award for achieving a KindiCare Rating of 9.5 or above. Mr Balk says, “At KindiCare, we are strong advocates for the early learning sector and supporting both parents and childcare providers on their early learning journey. We cannot underestimate the importance of early childhood education and care to Australia, both in ensuring a better future for our children, and creating a stronger, smarter and more competitive economy on the global stage.” “Investment in early education benefits EVERY Australian and ensuring early learning is affordable and accessible to every Australian family is a no regret move.” Mr Balk adds, “We are proud to recognise the top performing early learning providers and centres across Australia in this year’s KindiCare Excellence Awards; and give our thanks to the many talented and committed early childhood educators and staff who create amazing experiences for our children and give them the best possible start in life.”
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About KindiCare

KindiCare is a unique marketplace specifically developed for the early childhood education and care market to help parents and guardians and childcare providers to connect and engage throughout the early learning and care journey with the KindiCare App and KindiCare CRM. KindiCare offers a built-in Child Care Subsidy Calculator to help parents understand the real cost of childcare and the federal government subsidies, giving parents a unique tool to better understand how childcare fits into their budgets. KindiCare Jobs is an employment platform dedicated to the early childhood education and care sector to connect those working, or wanting to work in the early sector, with early learning providers with a market leading experience not available on existing job boards and job search portals.

Media Contacts


Centre or Service NameKindiCare Award 2023KindiCare RatingSuburbState
Guardian Childcare & Education Blackburn WestNational Winner and State Winner9.9BLACKBURNVIC
Goodstart Early Learning Woy WoyState Winner9.9WOY WOYNSW
Everton Park Child Care and Development CentreState Winner9.9EVERTON PARKQLD
Goodstart Early Learning Canning Vale - Batman RoadState Winner9.9CANNING VALEWA
Pachamama Activity CentreState Winner9.9LESMURDIEWA
Cooinda CottageTerritory Winner9.7CHARNWOODACT
Dripstone Children's CentreTerritory Winner9.7BRINKINNT
Green Leaves Early Learning LauncestonState Winner9.6SOUTH LAUNCESTONTAS
Goodstart Early Learning Ingle Farm - Roopena StreetState Winner9.4INGLE FARMSA


Centre or Service NameKindiCare Award 2023KindiCare RatingSuburbState
Goodstart Early Learning MoreeRegional Winner9.9MOREENSW
Jenny's Early Learning Centre - StrathfieldsayeRegional Winner9.9STRATHFIELDSAYEVIC
Condon Kids Early Learning CentreRegional Winner9.6CONDONQLD
Goodstart Early Learning AlbanyRegional Winner9.4ALBANYWA
Lobethal Community KindergartenRegional Winner9.3LOBETHALSA

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