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People's Choice Awards 2020

Category: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Janaya Millgate

Janaya MillgateQualification: Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
Trained by: Early Childhood Training & Resource Centre (ECTARC)
Employed by: Farran Street Pty Ltd

“When I was 18 my parents decided to foster. My life went from doing next to nothing to helping raise four beautiful babies. This sparked my interest in childcare. I like to tell people that childcare chose me.”

Janaya had no qualifications when she decided to explore childcare as a career. She was aware of her learning style so a traineeship at Farren Street Quality Childcare seemed the best option for her. Over 36 months she gained both her Certificate III and diploma qualifications.

“Caring for four babies, I thought I knew everything about children,” says Janaya.  “Once I started my traineeship, my eyes were truly opened! My success has given me the freedom to become independent and created pathways towards a brighter future.”

Janaya MillgateJanaya’s motto is: ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’ Her team consists of colleagues, the children and their families. She’s been grateful to observe those working around her so she can develop her own teaching style.

“It’s important to model positivity,” says Janaya. “Children soak up every little thing around them. I take pride in being the most positive influence I can be. I model manners and acceptance and I exhibit self-love.”

Janaya’s ECTARC training supervisor Natalie Fernandes has enjoyed watching Janaya grow into a confident, assured leader.

“Janaya’s commitment to her service and the children in her care is obvious,” says Natalie. “She’s warm, engaged, caring, and performs all of her duties to the highest standard. Janaya is an asset to everyone at her service and to the field of early childhood education.”

Janaya is the Indigenous liaison at Farren Street. She’s been instrumental in ensuring that all children and staff have a deep and authentic understanding of and respect for Indigenous cultures. Acknowledgement of country is respected because Janaya ensures these are words that are believed, not merely spoken.

“I’m an Indigenous girl from a small country town,” says Janaya. “There’s a stereotype in my home town that young girls are either teen mothers or young offenders. I want to show my community that we can be more than a statistic. One day I hope to take my knowledge and experience back home, not only to my local preschool, but to promote childcare as a great profession to the young people in my community.”

Janaya’s biggest challenge has been her mental health.

“I’ve had to push through obstacles including depression and anxiety,” says Janaya. “I’ve learned to become self-aware and understand what my body and mind require to be at their best. Overcoming these challenges has been hard, but having the support of my team means I’ve been able to progress to where I am today.”

Her childcare career has been her best medicine.

“I’m fortunate that my passion for my work helps me. The little hugs I’m greeted with coupled with those sweet goodbyes at the end of the day sustain me. I’ve developed relationships of a lifetime with my colleagues and my children’s families. I am beyond grateful for their support.”