Masterclass on Early Childhood Education for Sustainability with Dr Lisa Sonter, Dr Sue Elliott, Dr Fran Hughes, Dr Lyndal O’Gorman and Ms Sharon Kemp

Young citizens have protested globally for their voices to be heard on climate inaction. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and the School Strike for Climate movement she inspired have drawn attention to the rights of children growing up in a climate crisis. Another crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, has now captured our attention globally and offers a ‘pause button’ to rethink how we can live sustainable and healthy lives. Challenges such as social justice, intergenerational inequities, health and wellbeing significantly impact our work with young children and their families now. The theme of the 2021 ECA National Conference, Young citizens: The right to play, learn and be heard, resonates pointedly with the almost daily media images of children desperately seeking acknowledgment that their future matters. Sustainability is integral to children’s rights as active citizens seeking a sustainable and healthy future.

This masterclass will offer a purposeful interactive opportunity to learn about cutting-edge national and international research in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (ECEfS) and the intersection of policy and practice. Designed to support emerging and current leaders in ECEfS, it will broaden their understanding of sustainability and embedding of sustainable practices in and beyond the natural environment.

Date: Monday 6 September 2021
Time: 9.00 am to 12.00 pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
Venue: Virtual
Presenters: Dr Lisa Sonter, Dr Sue Elliott, Dr Fran Hughes, Dr Lyndal O’Gorman and Ms Sharon Kemp
Rates: $89.00 (including GST)


Lisa Sonter  is Director of Pedagogy and Practice Projects at Lady Gowrie Queensland and President of the Queensland Early Childhood Sustainability Network (QECSN). She is a teacher, consultant, mentor, author and lecturer with over 35 years of experience in the early childhood education and care sector, and was recognised in the 2005 National Excellence in Teaching Awards for leadership and innovation in early childhood teaching methods. Lisa is particularly interested in education for sustainability, play, pedagogy and professional practice. Her PhD thesis explored the lived experiences of a small group of teacher aides in Qld Prep settings, whose voices are under-represented in research.


Sue Elliott is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW. With a founding role in ECEfS in Australia over several decades, Sue is an experienced practitioner, academic, consultant and author whose academic work focuses on education for sustainability, outdoor play spaces and nature-play programs. She recently co-edited the book Researching early childhood education for sustainability: Challenging assumptions and orthodoxies. Internationally, she is a co-convenor of the TransNational Dialogues in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability research group and the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) Sustainability Special Interest Group. Sue is currently engaged in various research projects across nature pedagogy and play-based learning in primary school settings.


Fran Hughes is Coordinator of the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care at TAFE NSW Higher Education . Her professional interests include education for sustainability, nature play, reflective practice and educational philosophy. In recent years, Fran has presented at international and national conferences on sustainability and nature play in the early years. Fran brings a passion for sustainability through her work in connecting young children, early childhood practitioners, families and environmental educators with nature. Fran has co-written and delivers the TAFE NSW Early Years Bush Connections course, which won an Australasian Green Gown Award in 2013, and convenes the NSW Early Years Nature Connections group.


Lyndal O’Gorman is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education at Queensland Institute of Technology (QUT). Lyndal is particularly interested in investigating the intersection of the arts and education for sustainability (EfS), specifically focusing on how images can prompt children to think about and take action for sustainability. Her work in this space is published in academic journals and textbooks and is recognised internationally. She is a co-leader of the Transnational Dialogues in Research in Early Childhood EfS, as well as the Centre for Children and Families research group at QUT, and serves on the committee of the Queensland Early Childhood Sustainability Network.


Sharon Kemp is Secretary of the Queensland Early Childhood Sustainability Network (QECSN). An experienced early childhood teacher, director and advocate for sustainable education, her nature-based learning environment at Banks Street Kindy in Brisbane is a place of wonder, exploration and endless possibilities. Sharon completed a Master in Education in May this year through research into early childhood EfS, and is particularly interested in social sustainability and embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals in practice. Sharon has been recognised by QECSN as an Educator Leading Change and for her extraordinary commitment to nature education.



Who can register?

The Masterclasses are open for for all to register.


Virtual ECA Leadership Masterclass with Professor Emeritus Ann Farrell and Professor Susan Irvine – SOLD OUT

Our community has increasing expectations of teachers and educators working in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings, and there is growing recognition of the professional nature of this work. The future of the profession demands versatile leaders who can create positive and supportive workplaces that enable professional practice, and make this visible within the broader community.

In this year’s Leadership Masterclass, Susan and Ann will engage colleagues in a professional conversation about leadership that enables professional practice, supports professional autonomy and collaborative teamwork, and, more importantly, retains qualified and experienced educators. They will also examine practical approaches and strategies that support a positive and professional work culture, as well as build the confidence and ability of teachers and educators to articulate their professional practice within their services and in the broader community.

This Masterclass will speak to the heart of professionalism in ECEC and expand on ECA’s Leadership Capability Framework, Capability 3: Builds respectful, trusting, nurturing and equitable professional relationships.

Date: Monday 6 September 2021
Time: 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
Venue: Virtual
Presenters: Professor Emeritus Ann Farrell and Professor Susan Irvine
Rates: $89.00 (including GST)


Ann Farrell is a passionate leader in the early childhood education and care sector and a proud member of Early Childhood Australia. Commencing her professional career as an early childhood teacher in Australia and Canada, she went on to head the School of Early Childhood at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) for 15 years. Ann is Deputy Chair of the Board of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) and serves on the National Advisory Board of Be You.

Ann earned a PhD from the University of Queensland in 1996 and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) in 2012 for international leadership in early childhood research. She has authored more than 100 scholarly publications and is committed to sharing her insights in professional and community contexts.

Susan Irvine  is an early childhood professional with a diverse work history, spanning leadership roles in early childhood education and care (ECEC) service delivery, public policy and higher education. She has taught in a range of education and care services and the early years of school in Australia and England, and worked for many years in ECEC policy. Prior to joining academia, she served as chief executive of Lady Gowrie Queensland and is currently Head of the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education (formerly the School of Early Childhood) at QUT. Drawing on her work background, Susan’s research interests include ECEC policy, standards, leadership and workforce development. She has been Chief Investigator on several collaborative multidisciplinary research projects with policy and practice implications, including the Quality Improvement Research Project commissioned by ACECQA, and was a co-author of ECA’s Box of Leadership Provocations.

Who can register?

The Masterclasses are open for for all to register.

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