Noni Hazlehurst, AM, is known to almost every Australian, and is loved by just as many. Children’s charity, Baby in Mind, is honoured to have Noni support our work.
For 24 years (in a 43 year career that is still going), along with a host of critically acclaimed film and TV roles, Noni came in to our lounge rooms almost every day as presenter of the ground-breaking children’s program Playschool. She taught us how to solve problems and transform the ordinary by sticking scraps together with a bit of masking tape. She sang to us, read to us, engaged us in play and – most of all – made us feel that we were OK just the way we were. She let us know we were important, that what we did, what we made and what we said mattered.
For those of us who were parents, Noni provided more than a bit of baby-sitting. She reminded us that young children don’t need expensive toys or parents who are perfect. They need relationships and engagement with people who love them and who are available – at least sometimes – to be interested in them. She has played other roles in film and TV, fictional characters, but always driven by the same underlying passion for telling stories that help people connect, develop empathy, and to feel.
Noni has been awarded the Order of Australia, for her services to children and the performing arts. In 2016, she became only the second woman to ever be inducted into the Australian Logie Hall of Fame. Noni gave a controversial acceptance speech that made headlines around the world. In it, she implored us to consider the increasingly urgent need that very young children (and their parents) have to experience hope, empathy and reassurance that there is good in the world, and that they matter. We are, she reminded us, in the midst of a crisis of depression, suicide, violence and loneliness. The two are undoubtedly linked.
For twenty-four years as a Playschool presenter, I worked to support child-development in the pre-school years. I am still a passionate advocate for this precious age-group.
The young child’s brain develops at a staggering rate in these early years, but particularly during infancy.
And just as the importance of feeding children a healthy diet cannot be overstated, nor can the importance of providing nourishment for their brain development, of stimulating their imaginations, of offering them positive and nurturing experiences, and of protecting them from harmful influences as much as possible.
We can’t protect our little children from everything, especially once they start school, but we can help them to make sense of what they see and experience, and teach them resilience and confidence through how we manage our relationships with them and with others.
Children benefit enormously if their formative relationships are characterized by empathy, compassion, respect, honesty, resilience and, of course, love.
Baby In Mind is a charity working to ensure that all children and parents are able to experience the lifelong benefits of healthy early relationships. They receive no government funding or support, but their work is impressive and very much needed.
Playschool always focused deliberately on simple, achievable playing and learning. It wasn’t about consuming, it was about being and developing. Baby In Mind also uses simple ideas that are appropriate for infant development, with the aim of providing parents and carers with skills, confidence and hope.
Playschool and Baby In Mind share the philosophy that no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you look like, you need to know that you are valued, respected and loved.
I encourage anyone with an interest in the welfare of this unique age group to consider becoming involved with Baby In Mind, and there are several possible ways – you can share tips, ideas and experiences, you can make an individual donation or sponsor a specific project or program, or you can receive training to teach the Baby In Mind program in your own community.
I’m sure you agree that there could be no greater legacy than helping to provide the foundations for every child to feel connected, empathetic and loved.
Noni Hazlehurst, AM.
How To Get Involved