2024 ECA National Conference - Realising the Vision: an integrated future for the early years

2024 ECA National Conference, 17–20 September, Brisbane

Realising the Vision: an integrated future for the early years

‘Realising the Vision: an integrated future for the early years’ is the theme for the 36th ECA National Conference, to be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Queensland, from Tuesday 17 September to Friday 20 September 2024.

The early years are at the forefront of policy debate and reform across Australia and globally. This is an extraordinary ‘moment in time’ to shape the future—to build a universal platform for early childhood education and care, to stabilise and recognise the early childhood workforce, and to better integrate supports for both children and families across allied health, social services and major service systems such as the NDIS . It is critical that reform is driven by a clear vision that puts children at the centre of policy and service design. It is also important that the early childhood profession is actively engaged in both decision-making and implementation.

We are also on the cusp of creating a reconciled nation that recognises, values and celebrates the enduring strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and identities. The early childhood sector has an important role in this—through embracing cultural responsiveness and inclusive practice to foster children’s connection to culture and identity, while also forming respectful partnerships to empower First Nations communities and families.

The ECA National Conference is an opportunity to come together and help shape the future of Australia as a nation and the legacy we leave for the next generation of children.

The ECA National Conference provides a platform for professional discourse relevant to the rights, wellbeing and early education of young children (birth to eight years). It is attended by early childhood educators, teachers, service leaders and executives, as well as policy-makers, program administrators, academics, researchers and those involved in pre-qualification training and ongoing professional development.

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2023 ECA National Conference Highlights

Celebrating and supporting the workforce

Working with young children can be demanding and challenging but also incredibly rewarding, fulfilling and joyful. The ECA National Conference is an opportunity to come together to celebrate and inspire early childhood educators, teachers and leaders. It is an opportunity to build professional belonging and pride. We welcome papers that celebrate and/or support the workforce.

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Play in curriculum, pedagogy and praxis

ECA is a champion for play and play-based learning, as articulated in the ECA Statement on Play released in 2023 and during our annual celebration—Early Learning Matters Week. The ECA National Conference seeks to advance public understanding of the importance of play and supports the professional skills of educators who teach through play in both early years and school contexts.

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Welcoming transdisciplinary practice

There are increasing expectations for professionals working with young children across a range of sectors to work collaboratively. It is essential to maintain our strength-based and holistic approach to working with children and families.

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Leading a sustainable future

There has been a strong focus on sustainability at ECA National Conferences over many years and it is imperative that we keep pushing ourselves to contribute to environmental, economic and social sustainability beyond the service setting.

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Future directions in digital technologies

We live in a time of rapid digital technology evolution. The early years are a critical time to teach children important skills that empower them to navigate complex social and ethical challenges likely to arise across their lifespan.

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Welcome from Trevor Brown, ECA National President

Trevor Brown, ECA National President

Each year, the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) National Conference is eagerly anticipated across the early childhood sector in Australia and beyond. Its big and bold four-day program encompasses a range of keynote addresses and panels that showcase the research and ideas of respected international and national thinkers and leaders. It also fosters connection and celebration through a concurrent sessional program that invites early childhood professionals to share innovation and practice.

This year, the 36th ECA National Conference is called ‘Realising the Vision: An integrated future for the early years’. The program is organised into five sub-themes which, together, demonstrate the rich tapestry of contemporary professional interests critical to the future prosperity of our children, families and workforce.

During the conference and associated events you will have many opportunities to listen, meet with old and new acquaintances, and forge relationships with others from the sector and beyond. I look forward to warmly welcoming you to the 2024 ECA National Conference, ‘Realising the Vision: An integrated future for the early years’ in Brisbane in September!

Discount for ECA members

Discount for ECA members

Early Childhood Australia members receive a discount to the conference. If you are interested in becoming a member, there are a variety of Early Childhood Australia membership categories to choose from.

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Become a sponsor

Become a sponsor

Sponsorship of the ECA National Conference is a great way to promote your organisation or business to the early childhood sector. ECA will ensure that your investment is worthwhile with many direct and indirect benefits.

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Registration for the 2024 ECA National Conference is open!

Subscribe to the E-newsletter to keep up to date with the latest conference news.

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Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Cnr Merivale and Glenelg Streets
South Bank, Brisbane

+61 2 6242 1800 conference@earlychildhood.org.au

Our Sponsors

We would like to thank our sponsors—without your support the ECA National Conference would not be possible.

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Modern Teaching Aids: Inspiring learning for over 65 years

For over six decades, Modern Teaching Aids (MTA) has been Australia’s trusted partner in education, empowering teachers and educators to unlock potential in every student. We offer the widest selection of high-quality resources in the country, sourced globally to ensure you have the best tools for engaging lessons and optimal learning outcomes.

From developmental resources to art, maths, literacy and STEAM, our 20,000+ products cover every subject and developmental stage. We take pride in providing quality-assured resources, backed by a 12-month warranty, so you can focus on what matters most—inspiring young minds.

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  • Modern Teaching Aids
  • G8 Education
  • KU Children's Services
  • Goodstart Early Learning
  • Xplor Education
  • C&K Creche and Kindergarten Association
  • Gowrie Australia
  • Save our Service Childcare Recruitment
  • Be You
  • Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
  • Little Scientists Australia
  • Explore & Develop
  • Explorers Early Learning
  • Victoria Department of Education
  • Finexia
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Hey Dee Ho Educational Services


Artist—Laurie Nona

Laurie Nona has been collected by the National Gallery of Australia since the 1990’s and is regarded as one of the most exciting artists in the Torres Strait.

Laurie works beautifully across lino relief, copper plate etching and carving with a unique strength – both in style and symbol. He is ambitious and courageous as an artist, and has successfully completed some superb works including a massive tribal drum, standing over 6 feet tall.

All of Laurie’s work shows his deep connections to, and recognition of the importance of Island culture. His work recognises his place in the greater wider world and shows beautiful relationships with the fish and other creatures from the ocean, the skies and winds, the storms and currents and the Islands of the Torres Strait.

The Turtle and the Dugong are frequent reference points, as are some of his unique symbols – which are the artists signature marks. Little known are his informal collaborations with other artists of significance, including Joseph Au, Aiona Gaidan Jrn, Weldon Matasia, Matilda Nona and Alick Tipoti – and also his monumental efforts in the early 2000’s supporting Joseph Au in starting the Badu Art Centre with support of Alick Tipoti, and leading the push to have Badu Artists recognised.

A leader and a warrior at heart, “Uncle Laurie” is revered across the Torres Strait and well known for his work. His versatility is almost perhaps without precedent – and he journeys into colour, form and design across his tribal drums, hand coloured etchings and prints. Perhaps one of his greatest strengths is the purity of his line, and the careful and wise balance of form, design and function in his imagery.

Kirisgamul Mut

© Licensed by Laurie Nona

Kirisgamul Mut (Sunbird)

'In this image I show flowers from my mum’s garden around my home - padau muthd (house on the hill) - here on Badu Island, where I grew up and still live today. As one of my many after school and weekend jobs, I would water my mum’s garden of hibiscus and frangipani flowers. Whilst watering the plants, I would get visited by this kirisgamul mut (little yellow chested sunbird). This little visitor seemed to me a very free, friendly, joyful and happy singing little bird. The designs within the bird image represent its flight from flower to flower in search of sweet nectar and insects for its young. I would watch the kirisgamul mut fly from flower to flower, listening, licking its beak and manoeuvring in ways that would have me stunned by its ability to defy laws of gravity. Even today, I still see the what could be the same kirisgamul mut repeating its daily flight plan around my mum’s garden. From this bird I learnt that if he or she could live life freely, friendly, joyfully and happily, I could too! I now believe we all can thanks to the kirisgamul mut.'
Laurie Nona 2011