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People's Choice Awards 2020

Category: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Raymond Steadman

Raymond SteadmanQualification: Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
Trained by: International Child Care College Pty Ltd
Employed by: Awabakal Preschool

“As an early childhood educator, I’m privileged to be able to make an impact on children’s lives by assisting each child to see their potential. I want them to have pride in their culture and ensure their voice is heard.”

Raymond is part of the childcare team at Awabakal Preschool that provides a culturally appropriate learning environment to assist Aboriginal children to connect with their culture.

“I wasn’t confident when I started my traineeship,” says Raymond. “I didn't talk much and was hesitant to share my ideas. My wonderful mentors Auntie Karen and Jen encouraged me to speak out respectfully and have faith in my professional opinions.”

Raymond’s studies have enabled him to view the world from a child's point of view and understand how their brains work.

Raymond SteadmanRaymond’s trainer Liza Corrigan from International Child Care College admires Raymond’s quietly respectful interactions with children.

“Before entering a child's play, Raymond observes what’s happening,” says Liza. “He enters their play as a partner respecting the child's agency and ideas. He’s able to encourage children to fulfil their own goals instead of imposing. His level of observation is so well tuned that he notices things in children's behaviour that others miss.”

Ear infections are a significant health issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. They impact their speech, language, social skills, and ability to learn. Raymond is committed to making a difference when it comes to this serious health issue.

“Children often can’t tell you they’re in pain,” says Raymond. “People think young children are acting up when it’s actually because they can’t hear. They don't know they can’t hear. It’s up to us adults to help them.”

Raymond is deferring his childcare diploma to undertake further studies in Aboriginal health. He wants to be able to identify concerns early and educate parents and carers on the importance of seeking treatment for ear infections.

On National Close the Gap Day, Raymond designed and delivered an innovative program for Awabakal Preschool. He ran a show-and-tell for the children featuring a range of medical equipment so they could feel comfortable when receiving medical treatment. The program was so successful; he’ll extend it to Awabakal’s Playgroups for children aged 0-6.

Throughout his studies, Raymond juggled commitments including Club Captain of the Toronto District Workers Cricket Club and touring with the Sydney Thunder Indigenous XI Cricket Team.

A proud member of the Worimi community, Raymond represents his culture when he plays the didgeridoo at community events.

Raymond was recently part of a Training Services NSW program aimed at inspiring young Aboriginal people to try VET.

As Awabakal undergoes building redevelopment, Raymond hopes a treatment room will be added. Here, with the support of a doctor, Raymond could assess children’s health in culturally sensitive ways and suggest specialist or medical support.

“I want to guide young people to have meaningful lives because they are our future. Our children must have the best possible start in life. Their early years are so important for future learning and success.”