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2023 ECTA Early Childhood Conference

June 24, 2023 @ 8:20 am - 5:00 pm



All presentations viewable from venue and online
All attendees are able to access recordings of all sessions

Click HERE to download the Date Claimer Flyer



*credit card processing fee may be added if paying online

Registration opening soon


Includes Individual membership for 12 months

KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: How to think like a philosopher
Join Christopher Phoenix from phoenix-support.com.au for a fun and engaging workshop that introduces key themes of philosophical thought. From Socrates through to modern theorists, attendees will hear from some of the greatest thinkers of all time. In this session, delegates will learn not what to think but how to think and will walk away with real-world concepts that can be applied directly to their own personal and professional lives. Reflect on your pedagogy and how your practice is informed by critical reflection.



Be excited over your QIP with Cassandra Button
‘Quality Improvement Plan’ (QIP), and ‘excited’ don’t usually show up in the same sentence…until now. Developing a QIP is crucial – and a requirement – but due to confusion, overwhelm and high stress levels many are pushing it down their priority list.
Those in leadership are taking on the burden of the QIP, but with the correct insight and tools this can be a practice of the past. Leadership needs to learn realistic perspectives on where to start, how to correctly unpack a QIP to support continuous improvement, how to use realistic evaluations of current outstanding practices, and how to reflect on practices to identify real areas of improvement that guide a centre’s trajectory.
This presentation aims to build professional confidence, capacity, and knowledge in developing, reviewing and maintaining a QIP by incorporating useful tips, reflective questions and activities on the day and at your service.

Becoming a brain architect: laying the foundation in the early years with Prerna Richards
Early childhood professionals have a great opportunity to help all children start life thriving instead of barely surviving. In this inspiring and motivational session, we will take a closer look at the role of adults in the life of young children aged from birth – 8 years. We will take a closer look at the levels of stress, brain states, and the role of educators in helping children master life skills.

Caring for self is key to caring for others with Janine Hockley
Within the ECEC sector, caring for others requires nurturing, nourishment, guidance, and protection, to meet of the needs of those in our care, enabling their experience of growth, joy, and fulfillment. The work of caring is underpinned by personal and professional values. When we take time and effort to care for ourselves, we not only give ourselves the gifts of nurture, nourishment, guidance, and protection, we also elevate the value of the care that we provide to others. This presentation explores how taking a values-based approach to caring for self creates a ‘caring loop’; caring for self is key to caring for others.

Children’s empowerment in play and decision-making to promote mental health with Shona Doyle
Growing a mentally healthy generation requires consideration of everyone’s perspective, including children’s voices. This respects their choice of play and learning. When children are active contributors and educators notice and encourage each child’s interests, children feel connected, valued, and accepted. By participating in decision-making about their learning, children’s sense of agency develops.
A whole learning community can create empowering environments that foster children’s social and emotional development. Pedagogical practice that includes the voice of children can support their mental health by promoting connection and belonging.
Explore Be You resources and consider how providing empowering environments offer children opportunities for agency, which is a protective factor for mental health.
Be You is the national mental health in education initiative delivered by Beyond Blue, in collaboration with Early Childhood Australia and headspace.

EY teams planning ahead – well-chosen mentor texts for literacy and inquiry with Katie Bryant & Emma Egan
A picture can tell a thousand words; a good quality picture book can be used in a multitude of ways to drive a literacy short cycle and teach concepts for a unit of inquiry. Year 1 teachers want to share 5 literacy tips and 5 inquiry tips on how a well-chosen focus text can be unpacked with students across a week. Working with our youngest students, teachers want to share literacy take-aways from reading a text repeated times and pulling out target vocabulary words, word study, parts of speech, figurative language, punctuation formats, as well as levels of questions to monitor comprehension. Further a well-planned and chosen text allows it to be used to teach key concepts in a unit of inquiry, find learner profile attributes in literary characters and cover key HaSS and Science content from the curriculum.

Kindy uplift: Working together to build educator capability with Rachelle Bakker
The Queensland Kindy Uplift initiative provides funding to kindergarten services with the greatest opportunity to improve children’s learning and developmental outcomes. Eligible kindergartens are able to receive funding and support to invest in their capability to deliver early learning programs that are inclusive and responsive to the strengths and needs of children and families in the community.

This session will explore the ways in which eligible kindergarten services have been able to access community data tools, professional support and collaborative opportunities to identify priorities for enhancing educator capability. Presenters will outline ways in which evidence-informed planning has guided kindergartens to access programs and supports that align with their individual contexts. Participants will be provided with practical examples that showcase the positive outcomes being achieved through Kindy Uplift planning and collaboration.

Stonework Play with Tania Moloney
Stonework Play is a form of creative play and learning. It engages the senses and animates imagination, allowing each person to tell a story or make a unique pattern from handling and connecting with stones.
Stonework Play inspires creative and meaningful engagement with nature. It encourages self-directed learning, teaches critical thinking skills, and provides opportunity for sustained and purposeful effort.
In this hands-on, online session, participants will be guided through its five-step process: gathering their chosen stones from those previously collected in natural habitats; constructing their stone creation; rendering their work on paper; narrating what they’ve done in story form; and sharing their experience with the group.
This workshop will include an interactive discussion on ideas and applications in early years and primary school settings.

Supporting children’s pretend play, more than just a home corner with Kathelyn McArthur
This session is for early childhood professionals looking for practical and evidence-based ways to enhance children’s pretend play skills within the classroom environment. Drawing from a therapeutic play lens, Katelyn will highlight the importance of pretend play as a ‘melting pot of ability’ (Stagnitti, 2012). She will touch on the development of pretend play, before leading educators through practical examples of six key pretend play skills they can foster in their classroom environment. Educators will leave the session with a kit of practical ideas and tools for enhancing their pretend play practice, as well as the confidence to articulate the value of pretend play within the early years.

Using AEDC data in planning and practice with Emma Ross & Kate Crowe
Throughout Queensland, early childhood education and care services and schools are working to improve outcomes for children, both within the individual contexts and across the broader community. This session will explore how Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data can be used in planning and practice, showcasing examples from Independent Schools Queensland.
Presenters will provide insight into some of the actions and initiatives that have been implemented to address the unique complexities families and children face in their communities. There will be a particular focus on sharing practical examples for engaging with AEDC data in order to build a holistic picture of the strengths and needs of local children.


Extended break for shopping, networking, online chatting

Amplifying Children’s Voices: Exploring iPads in an Early Years Setting with Rachel Minns
Explore a range of Apple native apps and accessibility features, perfect for amplifying agency and a child’s voice in an early years classroom. Bring your iPad along to this session and get hands-on as we explore, create, and see just  what is possible when using  iPads with our youngest learners. You will leave the session with a tool kit of ideas ready to use  in your classroom the very next day.

Beyond ‘Positive’ and ‘Good’: Collaborative Relationships with Families with Claire Paino
‘Good’ and ‘positive’ are common descriptors of teachers’ relationships with families, but what does that mean and is it enough? In post-pandemic practice, does this look the same as it did before and what do we need to do differently? Incorporating information from neuroscience to go beyond social and ecological theories of development, Claire will facilitate critical reflection of what children need to see from our relationships with families and will present educators with key practical strategies to influence high quality practice.

From Enabling to Empowering – 5 strategies to rethink your role! with Prerna Richards
Rethinking the early years and the role of early childhood professionals. In this interactive and informative session, we will take a closer look at five specific strategies to empower the teachers on your team. We will discuss:

  1. the learning gap
  2. importance of teaching and practicing SEL vocabulary such as co regulation, self-regulation
  3. the role of agency and ownership for the educators as well as the students
  4. shifting the focus from policing to educating
  5. the power of connection before compliance.

You will leave the session energised and motivated to lead your team in a renewed way.

Strong Foundations: neuroscience and emotional development in the early years with Sandi Phoenix
What aspects of emerging science about the brain is most useful in our role as educators? We love analogies and metaphors, but which ones are going to get us closer to understanding the current research around the brain, its functions, and emotions? What does the science tell us about emotions and children’s subsequent behaviour? Sandi will explore these questions and more as she unpacks brain science from recent years and investigates how research might influence our pedagogy. Spoiler alert: We can’t teach about emotions with emojis! 😉

Taming Your Inner Critic with Kari Sutton
We all have an inner critic, a little voice inside our heads that can chatter on incessantly throughout the day. We beat ourselves up over mistakes, disparage our own appearance or talk ourselves out of great ideas. Negative self-talk can limit your ability to believe in yourself and stop you from reaching your full potential both personally and professionally.  Early childhood professionals’ attitudes toward themselves impact all their interactions with others – children, colleagues, and parents. It is therefore crucial that educators’ have the ability to tame that mean inner critic and maintain their emotional resilience. In this session, you will learn evidence-based strategies that can be implemented immediately to tame that mean voice in your head and improve both personal and professional wellbeing.

The Heart of Behaviour Guidance and Nurturing Children’s Wellbeing with Joanna Merton
Key content and learning outcomes of the session:
* Influences and triggers on children’s behaviour
* Factors that impact children’s behaviour
* Principles for guiding children’s behaviour
* The significance of emotions and feelings for children
* Martin Seligman’s PERMA Model
* Behaviour guidance strategies
* Observing behaviour using the ABC behaviour format
* Understanding ‘behaviour guidance plans’
* Empowering and building resiliency in children
* The benefits of mindfulness and activities for children
* Resources, websites and useful links

Unpacking Picture Books: extending the reading experience with Megan Daley
Early childhood professionals play a key role in nurturing young readers and the aim of this session is to arm educators with tips for using quality picture books to their full potential. Focus will be on visual literacy; developing language around book conventions; social and emotional learning through books; and play-based book experiences. The books we choose to share with the children in our care, the educational and play-based experiences we create to complement these books, and the literary conversations we have with young readers can spark a love of books in a child and set them on the path to becoming a reader.

Using the power of movement to improve children’s self-regulation with Maureen Hawke & Dianne Boyd
Come and learn how fun, easy to implement activities and developmental strategies can promote self-regulation in early childhood settings and the home environment. This hands-on workshop includes strategies to share with parents.  The Learning Connections Early Years Program is an integrated movement program that enhances children’s ability to focus, builds confidence and social skills, and promotes readiness for learning.
And it’s fun! Early childhood professionals enjoy delivering it and children love doing it.


Back to Basics with Natashja Treveton
In a world of burnout and turmoil, what should our priority be in our roles with children?
Early education and care is in a crisis state across the globe. There are different reasons for this, both historical and more recent. Our role, right now, is to get back to basics. Our children need us to prioritise how we spend our time with them. We need US to prioritise how we spend our time for and with them. This session will look at the key elements that we need to focus on – right now – in our work in early education and care to support wellbeing, in ourselves, our children, our families. We will look at research and other information that you will need to advocate for the importance of getting back to basics.

Making meaningful music with our early learners with Anne Belcher
Many educators lack confidence in their ability to make music with children. They feel they have lost their ‘mojo’ and are doing the ‘same old same old’ year in and year out …
In this practical workshop, you will learn a simple five-part framework for incorporating music into early childhood programs, working through each of the five key musical ingredients: beat; singing; instruments; movement; and listening.
Walk away with ideas for effective yet inexpensive props and instruments, as well as easily accessible songs, dances and listening activities that can be incorporated immediately into any early years learning and care program.

Manipulatives in mathematics with Naomi Helmood
Place value underpins the learning of mathematics, and it is vital that students have a deep understanding of it as they move through the early years. In this session you will see practical ideas for developing students understanding of place value through the model of concrete, pictorial and abstract representations. You will walk away with resource ideas to use within your classroom and develop this knowledge in your students.

Oral language – a natural bridge to reading and writing withJennifer Peach
Over 30 years of research has firmly established that oral language skills are the foundation for reading and writing development. Children who are surrounded by, and included in, rich and increasingly complex conversations have an overwhelming advantage in vocabulary development, understanding the structures of language, and tuning in to the sounds of language. As children engage in these early interactions, they are immersed in various aspects of language that will ultimately support their reading development. While limited oral language skills are considered a risk factor for children, strong oral language skills act as a protective factor for reading proficiency. We will explore how early childhood professionals can create language and literacy-rich learning environments that not only progress but accelerate children’s language and support their transition from a biologically natural code (talking and listening) to one that is biologically unnatural (reading and writing)

Supporting Expressive Communication for Social and Emotional Development with Poppy Woodhouse
A child’s opportunity to communicate their wants, needs, choices, and ideas in a way that best suits their abilities is a crucial consideration when planning for learning in an early childhood environment.  An early childhood professional’s ability to encourage expressive communication not only supports a child’s language learning but has strong positive outcomes for social and emotional skill acquisition and wellbeing.  When children are presenting with challenging behaviours, these often stem from a lack of expressive communication skills that would support them to share meaning effectively in way that can be understood by the people in their early childhood community.
This session will focus on the key aspects of expressive communication development and the planning and implementation of practical strategies in an early childhood education setting.  It will help educators gain skills, for analysing a child’s challenging behaviours and identifying why and how these may be linked to expressive needs.

Supporting young children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) with Vanessa Spiller
FASD is up to 2.5 x more common than autism, meaning it’s found, often undiagnosed, in all early childhood settings. Unrecognised and unsupported FASD contributes to lifelong disadvantage, including poor health and educational outcomes. Unfortunately, most early childhood professionals (ECPs) have not received training in this area. This presentation will help ECPs to recognise the behavioural symptoms of FASD, understand why they arise and most importantly what they can do to help young people impacted by FASD in the classroom. ECPs are among the first people to recognise young people experiencing neurodevelopmental issues such as FASD and autism and play a vital role in providing early supports. This presentation will introduce FASD, what it can look like in young children (3.5 to 7 years), the brain and evidence-based explanations for behavioural symptoms and most importantly what classroom supports, strategies and accommodations will be most helpful for these children.

Sustainable Storytime: engaging with themes of sustainability and nature Megan Daley
Join author and educator Megan Daley in exploring the natural world, with a particular focus on native Australian bees. Megan will share the story of her upcoming picture book, ‘The Hive’ (Walker Books, 2024) and how a lifelong fascination with bees has been a key part of her life as an early childhood professional for many years now. She will discuss how books that explore the natural world and issues of sustainability are all-important in our early childhood settings. She will share how best to use these titles, how to source the best titles on sustainability and nature, and how native bees can be a part of early childhood settings and educational programs.

You Can’t Come to My Party: Navigating Friendship with Nicole Halton
“You can’t come to my party”; “I’m not your friend anymore.”
Do either of these statements sound familiar? Chances are, if you have worked with or parented a child over the age of three, you will have heard some version of these. Friendships are tricky. They are tricky for adults, and they are tricky for children. The common refrain of “we are all friends here” doesn’t always ring true either. In this session, you will explore ways to navigate the trickiness of friendship, including how to support children and their families.

You do you: Staying True to Your Values and Context with Rachel Rooke
When you don’t have a clear understanding of who you are as a service you can feel pulled in all directions and pressured to jump onto every new trend you see. Learn how to clearly identify who you are within the parameters of your values, your image of the child, and contextual needs. Then use these guidelines to make decisions that align with your philosophy and beliefs. This will allow you to stay true to who you are as a service and feel confident that your decisions are right for you, regardless of what other services are doing. You will also learn ways to use this approach to drive your self-assessment tool content and demonstrate all the exceeding themes through your decision-making process.

All attendees are automatically placed in the draw. All at venue and online are invited to view the prize draw.

Biographies of presenters below
Rachelle Bakker is a Principal Program Officer in the Early Childhood division of the Department of Education. As part of the Early Childhood Programs and Innovation team, Rachelle has contributed to a range of projects and programs that work alongside the early childhood sector to ensure that children and families are able to access early learning programs that are responsive to their needs. Key initiatives in which Rachelle has taken a leadership role in the Everyday Positive Play Project, the Refugee and Asylum Seeker Early Childhood Project and Kindy Uplift. Rachelle is also a former primary school teacher with experience in Brisbane, Cape York and London.
Anne Belcher (B.Mus, B.A, Dip.Ed) is passionate about bringing the joy of music and all of its developmental benefits to as many children as possible! She has taught music to a wide range of ages for over 20 years.  Anne runs her own music school, “Branch into Music”, teaching music and movement to babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, families and educators in the Ballarat region (Victoria). She has run music programs in early childhood services and schools and regularly presents workshops for early childhood educators on behalf of national peak bodies, including Early Childhood Australia (ECA), the Early Learning Association of Australia (ELAA) and Community Early Learning Australia (CELA).  She also teaches early childhood music and movement to preservice teachers at Federation University Australia.
Katie Bryant is an early year’s classroom teacher at St Peter’s Lutheran College. Katie has also worked at St Margaret’s in Pre-Prep to Year 2. Katie has a strong, demonstrated passion for early childhood education and takes an evidence-based approach in all areas of teaching and learning. Katie has a deep interest in literacy and enjoys exploring ways to track student progress through data capture, using technologies such as iPads. Prior to teaching, Katie worked in mining for 12 years. She has worked with government, academic, industry and community stakeholders to develop policies, systems, and processes to bring about practical change to meet the sustainable development challenges of resource extraction.
Cassandra Button is an Early Childhood Leadership Mentor and Consultant, with extensive experience in the sector. Cassandra works closely with owners and leaders to build self-belief, develop resilience, overcome everyday challenges, and create exceeding QIPs. Her aim is to have high quality early childhood services with happy and highly driven leadership.
Cassandra is the CEO and Founder of Sprouts Consultancy and is known for her innovative approach to leadership development and her ability to ensure maximum transfer of learning to the workplace. She takes a holistic approach to coaching, facilitation, feedback, and leadership development.
Cassandra holds a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood), Leadership and Management Certificate and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.
Dianne Boyd has been part of the Learning Connections team for over 25 years, delivering professional development programs for early childhood educators and teachers, and home-based therapy programs for families.
Growing up in the country herself, Dianne is particularly passionate about working with whole communities in regional and remote centres, engaging parents as partners in the program, and integrating our Early Years Program and School Programs into the whole community.
Dianne has delivered presentations about our work at numerous conferences, including:
Early Childhood Teachers Association
The Lady Gowrie Early Childhood Association
Avenues Early Learning Centres
Early Childhood Australia – New South Wales
Schools and Kindergartens across Queensland
Kate Crowe is a School Services Advisor at Independent Schools Queensland. In addition to supporting schools with operational compliance, Kate supports the implementation of the AEDC, Kindy Uplift and the operation of Central Governing Body for ISQ Kindergartens. Kate has previously held the role of Project Manager (Educational Data & NAPLAN) with responsibility for supporting independent schools in Queensland in their transition to NAPLAN online and interpreting their NAPLAN results (paper and online). She delivered school-based projects that incorporate using Educational Data to inform decision making and assists school leaders to plan, build and sustain highly effective teacher growth and development programs and practices.
Megan Daley is an early childhood trained teacher/librarian at St Peters Lutheran College and received the Queensland Teacher Librarian of the Year Award, as well as the national Dromkeen Librarian’s Award. Megan is the author of the bestselling book ‘Raising Readers’ (UQP) and upcoming title ‘The Beehive’ (Walker Books). A former national vice-president of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Megan is also a regular literary judge, workshop presenter, the creator of the popular website Children’s Books Daily, and co-creator of the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast.
Shona Doyle is an early childhood professional currently employed as a Be You consultant, supporting early learning services  to grow strong, mentally healthy communities. Her first experience of childcare and education was travelling on a double-decker mobile playgroup bus in Scotland.  She has since worked in many childcare services including family day care, in-home care, and long day care. Shona has a Masters in Human Services with Griffith University, which she sees as providing community knowledge and strength to early years education practice.
Emma Egan
Prue Gardner is an early childhood professional who has spent 15 years working as an educator, director and area manager in the early learning sector. She has spent the last three years working with various organisations to design and create learning environments reflective of the children in care and their local community. Prue has a strong passion for Indigenous culture and including it authentically within the learning environment and program. Prue has worked with children from various cultures in a variety of communities, as well as with neurodivergent children.
Nicole Halton is the co-founder of Inspired EC, Inspired Family Day Care and TimberNook Newcastle, and is a former early childhood educator and director. At the age of 21, Nicole became the director of Woodrising Community Preschool and Child Care Centre (now known as Woodrising Natural Learning Centre) embracing the opportunity to guide the service in the direction of nature-based pedagogy and practice. It was here that Nicole met her “professional soulmate” Tash Treveton and they soon launched their dream: Inspired EC. For over 10 years Nicole has shared her passion for the early years through workshops, conferences, and consultancy. A highly regarded writer, Nicole writes regularly on the Inspired EC website, as well as guest writing for other publications, and has had several books published by Teaching Solutions. Nicole is an advocate for children’s rights and has a particular interest in positive school transitions, nature play and working with infants and toddlers.
Maureen Hawke is the director of the Learning Connections Centre. She is a neuro-developmental therapist and a registered nurse. Maureen has been working with children with learning difficulties, attention and behaviour problems, and developmental delays for over 40 years.
She is an accomplished speaker who, in recent years, has presented numerous times at the Early Childhood Teachers Association Conferences, Lady Gowrie Conferences, Early Childhood Australia Conference (New South Wales) and at many schools and kindergartens across Queensland. Maureen is the creator of the Brightstar Programs, which are practical programs to help parents of babies from birth to 2½ years promote their optimal development.
Naomi Helmood works as a Year 1 classroom teacher at St Peters Lutheran College. She is also the Curriculum Leader Assistant for Numeracy for the primary years at the college. Naomi has been teaching for 15 years and has taught in Singapore, Brisbane, and Sydney. She has a passion for inspiring a love of learning mathematics in all the students in her care and is dedicated to improving student outcomes and engagement through the use of concrete materials in mathematics learning.
Janine Hockley is a behavioural scientist, specialising in psychology and organisational behaviour. She holds a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and is currently completing a PhD. Janine is an Adjunct Fellow, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Queensland, and an Associate Faculty Member, School of Health, Medical, and Applied Sciences at Central Queensland University. She supports organisations with change and culture transformation, leadership coaching and development, team building, mental health first aid, and staff wellbeing; and is passionate about supporting workforces to flourish and thrive, particularly where there are risks of vicarious traumatisation, occupational stress, and change fatigue.
Janine has three adult children, nine grandchildren, and two spoilt cats. Her greatest loves are Australian Rules Football, reading, jigsaw puzzles, and the colour purple.
Katelyn McArthur is a Queensland early childhood teacher with over a decade of experience as a teacher and director of community kindergartens. An advocate for lifelong learning, she has pursued multiple degrees within the early childhood field, including a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary) and Master of Early Childhood Education. Most recently she has expanded into children’s psychosocial and emotional health and wellbeing by undertaking a Master of Child Play Therapy and working as a therapeutic play practitioner. Katelyn is also very passionate about supporting beginning teachers as they enter the early childhood field, which had led to casual employment as a sessional academic with the Australia Catholic University. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise in the areas of emotional intelligence, early childhood professionalism, attachment theory, and the therapeutic powers of play.
Jo Merton has 30 years of experience in the early childhood sector and over 15 years in training and assessment.  Jo currently works at ACE Community Colleges as a trainer and assessor, and at Southern Cross University as a university advisor. Jo runs her own small business – Inspire Me Professional Development Company. Jo has obtained a Master of Education, Bachelor of Education (ECEC), Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, Associate Diploma in Social Science (Child Studies), and Certificate IV in TESOL. Jo is passionate about sharing her knowledge of behaviour guidance, children’s wellbeing (positive psychology), and fostering children’s language and literacy skills.
Rachel Minns is an innovative and passionate early years professional and Apple Professional Learning Specialist, who has taught across a range of settings from kindergarten – Grade 2.
Combining a deep understanding of the early years curriculum frameworks in Australia, along with extensive experience in implementing purposeful technology with our youngest learners, Rachel loves sharing hands-on ideas to spark imagination and invite wonder among teachers and students.
Tania Moloney is the founder of Nurture in Nature Australia, where she helps educators to grow their knowledge and skills so they feel confident and supported in their nature-inspired teaching and learning practice.
She presents regularly at national and international conferences; runs innovative nature programs in her mobile classroom, The Nature Bus; leads engaging professional development programs, including an annual in-person Campference Teacher Nature Conference and an online Campference: Where Nature Meets Story; and facilitates an online professional learning community, Treehouse Educators.
She’s also the author of a new children’s picture book, Nature Ninja Saves the Natural World, and is on a mission to help children and their adults care for the planet in their own backyards, balconies and neighbourhoods.
Claire Paino has over a decade’s experience in educational leadership, as an inclusion consultant and most recently as an early parenting educator. Claire brings a unique skillset to her role as facilitator at Phoenix Support for Educators. Claire works with a key focus on supporting the social and emotional wellbeing of both children and the adults who support them.
Claire holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Behavioural Studies) and a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, which equips her with the theory and knowledge to complement her practical experience and passion for supporting early childhood professionals to realise their projects and goals. Claire looks forward to this important work with services.
Claire is an advocate for play and for an ongoing commitment to high quality service provision within the sector.
In her spare time, Claire loves to fill her Freedom Cup by learning new things, exploring inner city Melbourne, or planning her next trip away.
Jennifer Peach is a certified practising speech pathologist with extensive experience in the design and delivery of speech pathology practice in educational settings, from early childhood through to secondary. In her current role as Director, Language and Literacy at the Queensland Department of Education’s Reading and Writing Centre, Jennifer builds capability of school, region and system leaders and educators in effective and inclusive practices in the teaching of reading. A key focus of this work is working with early childhood professionals and parents to increase their understanding of the integral relationship between spoken and written language and to create language and literacy-rich home and learning environments that lay the foundation for children to successfully transition from pre-reader to reader.
Christopher Phoenix is an author, keynote speaker, researcher, and the wellbeing specialist for the Phoenix Cups and Phoenix Support for Educators. He is the co-author of the Phoenix Cups book, and tours Australia and beyond delivering the Phoenix Cups framework through a highly entertaining workplace wellbeing workshop, and keynote presentation. Chris’ workshops and presentations have been dubbed “edutainment”, the perfect blend of education and fun. As someone who continues to learn, Chris is currently undertaking his Ph.D. in Philosophy, to pursue his theories on authenticity as a community virtue, and how we can create meaningful lives and attempt to meet our human needs.
Sandi Phoenix is the founding company director and principal facilitator at Phoenix Support for Educators. Her framework, The Phoenix Cups, has revolutionised how early childhood professionals proactively plan for the wellbeing of children and young people, and understand children’s behaviour. Sandi started studying Psychological Science in 1998 when she began working as an educator and continues to study post-grad at Griffith University. Sandi has many years of experience collaborating with staff and teams, delivering workshops, and developing resources, to translate information from current and emerging psychology to the education and care sector. She is highly regarded nationwide as a speaker, coach, mentor, and professional development facilitator.
Prerna Richards is a keynote international and national speaker, a behaviour coach and NAEYC consultant. She has been in the early childhood education field for the past 37 years. She is a registered master-level trainer with the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System. Her educational philosophy is grounded in a play-based approach along with a strong social-emotional foundation. She is the winner of the Susan Hargrave Trainer of the Year Award from TXAEYC in 2020.
Rachel Rooke has been running RARE since 2016 with a mission to advocate for children and improve the quality of early childhood services across Australia. Rachel creates flexible support opportunities that are contextualised for each service allowing them to meet the needs of their stakeholders and use their strengths to strive for continuous improvement. Rachel has over 20 years’ experience in the early childhood sector and aims to find accessible ways to build all early childhood professionals’ skills and knowledge because when you know better you can do better.
Emma Ross is a Program Officer in the Early Childhood division at the Department of Education. Emma works in the Queensland Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) team, with responsibility for supporting the use of the AEDC by schools, early childhood services and communities to improve early childhood outcomes. Emma has experience working with communities to showcase their efforts in improving outcomes for children and families at a local level.
Dr Vanessa Spiller is a clinical psychologist, author, educator and parent to a young adult with FASD. She is the author of “Explained by Brain: The FASD workbook for parents, carers and educators” and runs a yearlong online education program by the same names. She has given several keynote presentations on FASD nationally and internationally and creates online resources that help others understand the complex behavioural symptoms associated with FASD.  Dr Spiller has co-authored several journal articles on FASD and is determined to change the outcomes commonly associated with FASD by training others to ‘explain by brain’, thus changing the environment, expectations, and implementation of strategies to facilitate success for children with FASD.
Kari Sutton has helped over 25,000 children, parents, and educators, providing evidence-based strategies and tools to foster children’s positive mental health resilience and emotional wellbeing. Kari delivers tangible strategies that foster both children’s and educator’s positive mental health and emotional wellbeing and are immediately actionable. Kari has delivered presentations, keynote speeches, workshops, and online webinars in Australia and internationally for parents, educators, and early childhood professionals. She has extensive qualifications and over 25 years of experience in early childhood education. Kari leaves her audience empowered with the confidence that they have what it takes to help the children in their lives thrive.
Tash Treveton is the co-founder of Inspired EC, a Newcastle-based early childhood consultancy and training company that supports EC services nationally and internationally. Tash is a trainer and consultant for Inspired EC and has co-authored several books. Tash also co-founded Inspired Family Day Care and TimberNook Newcastle, the first TimberNook operation in Australia, using a program developed by Paediatric Occupational Therapist Angela Hanscom, author of the bestselling Balanced and Barefoot. Tash started her career as an untrained casual at Woodrising Community Childcare Centre. Now Woodrising Natural Learning Centre, Tash spent nine years there studying and gaining experience as an educator, educational leader and nominated supervisor of the long day care service and OOSH. Tash is passionate about children having access to natural, risky and engaging outdoor play spaces for children. This has led her to become a licensed trainer for Claire Warden.
Poppy Woodhouse is a preschool field officer, supporting and capacity-building early childhood professionals to provide inclusive programs that are responsive to the needs of all children. This role embodies Poppy’s strong professional interest in the areas of inclusion and additional needs, ranging from diagnosed disability to trauma-informed practice. She has worked as a kindergarten director, educational leader, and teacher in multiple settings. Poppy has also worked in the tertiary education space, facilitating university courses for Bachelor of Education students.
Poppy acquired her early childhood teaching qualification at RMIT through their Graduate Diploma in Education program. She has a Masters in Education from the University of Melbourne, specialising in Equity, Diversity, and Social Change, a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from the University of Melbourne, and a Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Disability Support from the University of Newcastle.



June 24, 2023
8:20 am - 5:00 pm
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0418 157 280


St Peters Lutheran College
215 Lambert Road
Indooroopilly, Queensland 4068 Australia
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