We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers for the 2019 ECA National Conference in Hobart.

International Keynote Speakers

Gunilla Dahlberg

Gunilla Dahlberg is professor emerita of education at Stockholm University, Department of Child and Youth Studies. Since 1971, she has been carrying out research in the area of education and social welfare policy for young children and their families. Currently she is engaged in three different research-projects: Children’s dialogue with nature, Trans-culturalism and communication, and The magic of language.

In 1993, Gunilla was the scientific leader of an experimental and network-oriented project, ‘Pedagogy in a changing world’, in which new philosophical, theoretical and aesthetical perspectives were brought into the field of early childhood education and care (ECEC). The project is, till today, considered a huge inspiration for ECEC in the Nordic countries, as well as internationally.

Gunilla has served on several curriculum committees during the years. She was one of the experts who wrote the first national curriculum for the Swedish preschool system (children of age 1–6). She has also co-authored several books on ECEC along with Professors Peter Moss and Alan Pence.

Over the past thirty years, Gunilla has carried out research in close cooperation with preschools in the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and she is a member of the scientific board of Fondazione Reggio Children, Centro Loris Malaguzzi.

Peter Moss

Peter Moss is Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood Provision at UCL Institute of Education, University College London. He has researched and written on many subjects, including early childhood education and care; the relationship between employment, care and gender; and democracy in education. Much of his work has been cross-national, and he has led a European network on child care and an international network on parental leave. He was founding co-editor, with Gunilla Dahlberg, of the book series, Contesting early childhood, whose aim is to question ‘the current dominant discourses surrounding early childhood’ and to provide a platform for alternative narratives. His books include Beyond quality in early childhood education and care (with Gunilla Dahlberg and Alan Pence); Ethics and politics in early childhood education (with Gunilla Dahlberg); Radical education and the common school (with Michael Fielding); and Transformative change and real utopias in early childhood education. He recently co-edited—with colleagues from Reggio Emilia, Loris Malaguzzi and the Schools of Reggio Emilia—a selection of writings and speeches by the great Italian educator.

Australian Keynote Speakers

Lester-Irabinna Rigney

Lester-Irabinna Rigney is Professor of Education in the School of Education at University of South Australia. Lester is also a Distinguished Fellow at Kings College London. He is a member of the Reggio Children Scientific Committee that works in partnership with Loris Malaguzzi Centre Foundation and Reggio Children. One of Australia’s most respected Aboriginal educationalists, Professor Rigney is a descendant of the Narungga, Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri peoples of South Australia.

Sheila Degotardi

Sheila Degotardi is an Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education from the Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney.  Her research examines the processes of learning and teaching with infants and toddlers in early childhood education centres. She is particularly interested in the nature of social interactions between children, their educators and peers, and in the learning potential of these interactions. In her recent work, she focussed on the power of talk in shaping very young children’s learning. This led her to investigate the nature of language-based interactions, how and why these interactions vary, and how educators and infants contribute to the language and learning potential of the interaction. Her work has direct implications for those invested in providing infants and toddlers rich learning experiences.

Megan Mitchell

Megan Mitchell is Australia’s first National Children’s Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission and was appointed in 2013. She is experienced in both government and non-government roles in child protection, out-of-home care, youth justice, disability, and early childhood services. Each year she presents a statutory report to the federal Parliament about the state of children’s rights in Australia. Her work has looked at the prevalence of suicide and intentional self-harm in children and young people, the impact of family and domestic violence on children and young people, the oversight of children and young people in correctional detention, and the experiences and trajectories of young parents and their children. She also holds qualifications in social policy, psychology and education.

Rachael Robertson

Rachael Robertson returned to Australia after 12 months in the Antarctic, where she successfully led the 58th Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to Davis Station. She is the second woman to lead a team at the station, and also one of the youngest to have held this role.

This unique role required her to be a leader 24 hours a day, every day of the year, as Antarctica is completely inaccessible during winter and, once the last ship leaves in February, no one can leave the base—under any circumstance (not even if you are dying)—until the ship returns in November. Rachael was responsible for all aspects of life at the station—from the safety and welfare of over 80 expeditioners in summer, to the delivery of the Australian Government’s $20 million science program.

Prior to this, Rachael had held senior operational management roles, for 16 years, across a range of complex and challenging environments. She now works in the field of leadership development, sharing her varied experiences.

Her sessions cover themes including:

  • leading through adversity and change
  • building a ‘safety’ culture
  • learning to lead and to be authentic
  • building a resilient and successful team
  • creating and harnessing diversity
  • the power of preparation, training, planning, systems, teamwork and trust
  • managing performance, leading difficult people and giving feedback
  • looking after yourself.

Since her return, Rachael has completed her MBA and has presented as a keynote speaker at over 1200 national and international conferences.