Get to know your AO – Julie Munro
Dubbo-based Julie Munro is passionate about building connections with services and supporting the relationships they nurture within their local community.
16 June 2023
Julie Munro is an authorised officer (AO) based in Dubbo in Central West NSW. Before becoming an AO, Julie worked in family day care and vacation care for school-aged children for 10 years. She now enjoys visiting regional, rural, and remote services across the state as an AO at the NSW Regulatory Authority for the early childhood education and care (ECEC).
In her role as an AO, Julie’s eyes have been opened to the beauty of the outback as well as the challenges rural and remote services face. Working across regional, rural, and remote communities, Julie is aware of the importance of community connections in early childhood education and care.
Connecting with services
Julie travels to services across NSW’s Central West. Before visiting a service, she conducts research on the local community and services that operate in the area. According to Julie, this is important as it provides an understanding of the context a service operates in. Conducting research also makes it easier for Julie to build rapport with staff at the service and encourage them to open up and engage in discussion.
A key aspect of visiting a service is making sure she has the opportunity to talk to everyone who works there. “Everyone has a story, including the maintenance person, gardener, cleaner, chef and especially the children,” Julie explained.
Passionate about relationship building, the experienced AO makes sure she is always respectful and finds common ground with everyone at the service. “Everyone should feel involved in an assessment and rating visit, and the visit should be meaningful for them,” Julie explains.
Community enriches service practice
“When a service connects with community, they become a better, more authentic service,” reflected Julie.
One example she shared was a service she visited in NSW’s Central West. Local Aboriginal Elders often dropped by the service to have breakfast with the little learners and engage with them around the yarning circle or firepit. “It was just such a beautiful, authentic thing to see,” said Julie, reflecting on the connections the children formed with the Elders.
Julie has observed that while many mainstream services are eager to connect with their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, some lack the confidence to make initial contact with their local Aboriginal Lands Council or other Aboriginal community groups. When visiting these services, Julie encourages staff to take that first step by reaching out to local community members. She also under takes her own research to provide resources for educators to use.
Supporting opportunities for a positive future
Community connections create positive outcomes for the children attending ECEC services. “It's about belonging,” explained Julie. “Children feel that they belong when practices at a service are like what they experience in everyday life.”
In some areas, there may only be one service that operates in the community one day a week. Julie is passionate about supporting these services, as they are often the only opportunity children in these areas can access early childhood education and care and get a strong start to lifelong learning.