Early Childhood Australia National Conference 2016



We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers for the 2016 conference in Darwin.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Carla Rinaldi

Adelaide Thinker in Residence 2012–2013 Professor Rinaldi is a world leader in education for children in the early years. She has been the President of Reggio Children since 2007 and is the first President of the Reggio Children-Loris Malaguzzi Centre Foundation. Carla is also a Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. 

Professor Rinaldi worked side-by-side with Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach, from 1970 until his death in 1994 in the municipal infant toddler and preschool system of Reggio Emilia, where she was the first pedagogical coordinator.

Claire Warden. B.ED (HONS)

International educational consultant, working across Australia, Canada, USA and Europe. Founder of Living Classrooms Charity MD Mindstretchers Ltd.

Claire’s approach to Nature Kindergartens has earned her international recognition as a pioneer in educational thinking. Her respect for children and families runs through the Floorbook approach that is used within Nature Pedagogy to incorporate children’s voices into intentional teaching. Claire Warden is one of the world’s leading consultants and writers on the use of consultative methods in education.

Maria Aarts

Maria Aarts is the Founder and Director of the Marte Meo International Network.

In 1974 I was a specialist for children with autism in a residential Child Psychiatry Institute in the Netherlands. I was successful in working with these children. But on a Sunday afternoon my professional life changed. A mother came to visit her little son and she saw that I was able to get in contact with him and she started to cry and said to me, “Maria, I am his Mum; he is my son, if you know how to get in contact with my son why don’t you teach me?”

“I have time enough, I have love enough and I have motivation enough, the only thing I am missing is information on how to give that special support to my child with autism.” This is called now in Marte Meo concept CIRCLE OF LOVE.

So, since then I developed Marte Meo. Marte Meo is a film-based interaction analysis program that provides detailed and practical information to parents, carers and professionals on supporting the social, emotional and communication development of children, in daily interaction moments. The aim of the Marte Meo programme is to identify, activate and develop supportive interactions that will support the child’s developmental process in daily interaction moments. The program is used now in 43 countries.

Dr Chip Donohue

Chip Donohue, PhD, is Dean of Distance Learning and Continuing Education and Director of the TEC Center at Erikson Institute in Chicago. He is a Senior Fellow and Member of the Advisory Board of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College, where he co-chaired the working group that revised the 2012 NAEYC & Fred Rogers Center Joint Position Statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs serving children from Birth through Age 8. Chip is the editor of Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years: Tools for Teaching and Learning, co-published by Routledge/NAEYC in 2014, and is editing a new book, Family Engagement in the Digital Age: Early Childhood Educators as Media Mentors to be published in 2016. In 2012 he received the Bammy Award and Educators Voice Award as Innovator of the Year from the Academy of Education Arts & Sciences. In 2015, he was honored as a children’s media Emerging Pioneer at the KAPi (Kids At Play International) Awards

Malarndirri McCarthy

Malarndirri McCarthy, a Yanyuwa woman from Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory, is a Senior Journalist/Presenter for NITV News and host of Week in Review. Malarndirri spent 16 years presenting and reporting for ABC News and Stateline in the Northern Territory, Sydney and Canberra. From 2005–2012, Malarndirri represented the people of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory Parliament.

In 2008 Malarndirri opposed the NT Labor Governments’ legislation to divert the McArthur River near Borroloola for mining expansion, and she crossed the floor against the legislation on cultural and environmental grounds.  A first in the history of the NT Parliament and Labor Government. Malarndirri then became a Northern Territory Minister in 2008-2012 and held numerous portfolios.

As Minister for Children & Families, she recommended a Board of Inquiry to conduct a broad-ranging public inquiry under the Inquiries Act into the Northern Territory’s child protection system.

Malarndirri is passionate about seeing Indigenous young people stay at school through to Year 12, and on to tertiary study and work. She continues to work closely with Sydney schools to foster the educational development of Indigenous students.

Professor Susan Edwards

Susan Edwards is a Professor in Early Childhood Education at the Australian Catholic University, Learning Sciences Institute of Australia. Her research investigates the role of play-based learning in the early childhood curriculum.

Professor Edwards has completed work as a lead Chief Investigator on an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (2009-2012) titled ‘Examining play-based approaches to teaching and learning in early childhood education and care’. She is currently working as a Chief Investigator on two new Australian Research Council Discovery Grants (2014-2016; 2015-2017) investigating the role of play-based pedagogies in the provision of obesity and sustainability education in early childhood, and leading a project examining the use of digital technologies in the early years. Susan has over 70 publications in peer reviewed journals, and has published several books with publishers including Cambridge University Press, McMillan and Open University Press. 

Associate Professor Richard Fletcher

Richard Fletcher (PhD) is an Associate Professor in the Family Action Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle. His research has covered many aspects of fathering from fathers’ use of YouTube, young fathers’ roles, fathers’ information needs, Aboriginal fathers’ service use and father-child rough and tumble play. He has a particular interest in the role of professionals in building father-infant and father-child connection for the benefit of the whole family. He is the convenor of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) national network of fatherhood researchers, The Australian Fatherhood Research Network. He teaches father-infant attachment and working with vulnerable fathers in the Masters of Family Studies at The University of Newcastle and in the Masters in Perinatal and Infant Health at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry.  His book ‘The Dad Factor: how father-baby bonding helps a child for life’ was published by Finch has been translated into five languages.

Invited Speakers

Jill McLachlan

Jill McLachlan is an early childhood educator and leader, currently working at Northern Beaches Christian School, a K-12 school in Terrey Hills, Sydney. She works there as both a Stage 1 classroom teacher and as the K-2 Community Leader. Since beginning teaching Jill has been exploring the role of Pedagogical Documentation as a research and advocacy tool in schools and considering the role of the teacher as co-researcher with children. Of particular interest has been the way in which Pedagogical Documentation enables teachers to walk alongside children, listen to them, celebrate their voices, and leave a trace of their thinking and theories.

Jill’s work continues to challenge the positioning of the teacher with ‘power over’ children and their experiences, offering instead a hopeful, and alternate, positioning of teachers as engaged and present companions with children as they learn and live out their lives in school. Jill has also recently co-authored the book, “Unearthing Why?: Stories of thinking and learning with children”, with her colleague and friend Clare Britt. The book brings together a collection of stories to make visible, and open to question, the intersection between theory and practice in the daily life of educators.

NPY Women’s Council Ngangkari Program

In Anangu culture, ngangkari (traditional healers) have responsibility for taking care of the health and wellbeing of people. NPY Women’s Council (NPYWC) Ngangkari Program supports and promotes ngangkari practice in communities, working to increase awareness and respect for traditional healing within mainstream health and human services.

Ngangkari are Anangu (Indigenous people) who have received special tools and training from their grandparents. Anangu have a culturally based view of causation and recovery from physical and mental illness and attribute many illness and emotional states to harmful elements in the Anangu spiritual world. Ngangkari are highly valued for their unique ability to protect and heal individuals and communities from this harm.

The ngangkari believe that collaboration and mutual respect between western health and human services and ngangkari lead to the best outcomes for Anangu. They say western and Anangu practitioners have different but equally valuable skills and knowledge and both are needed to address the significant problems Anangu face. The ngangkari of the NPYWC project have worked hard in the past 10 years to have the importance and value of their work recognised by mainstream health systems, and have successfully established strong relationships with local health and mental health services. The effectiveness of their work in Indigenous mental health was acknowledged in 2009 with a prestigious award from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and also with the Dr Margaret Tobin Award for Excellence in Mental Health Service Delivery. In 2011 the program received the prestigious Sigmund Freud Award for Psychotherapy, which recognised the importance of this lineage of healing practice internationally.

NPYWC is a service delivery, advocacy and support organisation created by Anangu women from 28 remote communities in the cross-border region of Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. NPYWC delivers services and programs working with Anangu to improve their health, wellbeing and safety. Through its determination to improve the quality of life for families in the region, NPYWC has become a respected and influential stakeholder and advisor to the territory, state and Commonwealth governments, and the NGO sector covering issues such as substance abuse, domestic and family violence, child protection, policing and other safety concerns.