WELCOME TO SYDNEY
Thursday 13th July 2017
FRIDAY 14th July 2017
Megan Mitchell is Australia’s first National Children’s Commissioner, her job is to promote, and advocate for the rights of all children and young people in Australia, with a particular emphasis on vulnerable children. Megan’s appointment in February 2013, marked a significant step in the protection of children. Her work is grounded in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its four guiding principles of: non-discrimination, best interests, survival and development, and the right to be heard.
Megan holds qualifications in social policy, psychology and education. She has extensive experience in issues facing children and young people, having worked with children from all types of backgrounds.She also has practical expertise in child protection, foster and kinship care, juvenile justice, children’s services, child care, disabilities, and early intervention and prevention services.
Megan’s previous roles include NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People, Executive Director of the ACT Office for Children, Youth and Family Support, Executive Director for Out-of-Home Care in the NSW Department of Community Services and CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service.
As National Children’s Commissioner, Megan reports annually to the Australian Parliament about the human rights of children and young people in Australia. To date, she has produced four reports, all containing the findings of a major investigation, with each investigation being inspired by the finding of the previous work.
Megan’s first report the 2013 Children’s Rights Report – The Big Banter, saw Megan embark on a listening tour across Australia. Her priority was to ensure that the voice of children was foregrounded in the report. She spoke with 2,300 children and young people, listening to what they had to say about their rights. When asked what would make for a better life for children in Australia, the children spoke about safety and freedom from violence, having strong family and community relationships, getting the help they and their families need when they need it, not being treated unfairly, and being seen, respected and heard. These observations have formed the ongoing core thematics for her work.
In her role, Megan has connected with many people in the community, in government and in the non-government sector, who are committed to championing the rights and welfare of children and young people and supporting the work that she does. This support makes her extremely optimistic for the future of Australia’s children and young people, and our ability to fulfil the promises we have made to them in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
But most of all, her optimism comes from engaging with children and young people themselves. As she travels across Australia, children and young people continue to impress her with their insights, energy and enthusiasm to be involved in their communities.
MASTER OF CEREMONIES
Leanne Gibbs has worked in the early childhood and community sector for over 30 years. Her experience is supported by qualifications in education and public policy with a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), Post Graduate Diploma (Teaching Gifted and Talented Children) and a Master in Politics and Public Policy (MPPP). She is now undertaking her PhD at Charles Sturt University focusing on leadership.
She was most recently CEO of Community Child Care, a peak and professional development not-for-profit organisation. Her former roles have included teacher and director of long day care and preschool programs, adviser and manager with local state and federal government and the former National Childcare Accreditation Council, teacher and lecturer within early education, management and leadership programs for TAFE and Macquarie University and manager of professional development programs for major providers. Her publications include Action, Advocacy and Activism; Standing up for Children (2003, CCCCNSW) and Policy Development in Early Childhood; from idea to implementation (2008, Pademelon Press), The Director’s Manual (2013, Bryant and Gibbs),and Thinking and Learning about Leadership: Early Childhood Research from Australia, Finland and Norway (2015Waniganayake, M., Rodd, J. and Gibbs, L.) (Eds.), (2015).
Leanne believes a strong focus on children's well-being and civic participation together with child-centred communities ensures a promising future for the world!
CONFERENCE GUEST SPEAKERS FROM REGGIO EMILIA
Maddalena Tedeschi was born in Reggio Emilia and holds a degree in Pedagogy. She was a teacher from 1980-1990 at the Gianni Rodari Municipal Infant-toddler Centre. Since 1990 she has been part of the pedagogical coordination team of the Preschools and Infant-toddler Centres - Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia.
She currently coordinates three services, the Gianni Rodari Infant-toddler Centre, the Salvador Allende Preschool and the new School at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre. We know that Maddalena will challenge all participants to think about the many Landscapes of Identity.
Maura Rovacchi, was born in Reggio Emilia and graduated in arts (specialising in fabrics) from theScuola d’Arte Gaetano Cherici in Reggio Emilia in 1988.
Maura worked as a fashion designer for the knitwear company SIMA for two years, before becoming a cartoonist and illustrator for the Reggio Emilia magazines “Reporter” and “Tutto Reggio”.
She completed the one year ateliarista training course promoted by the preschools and infant-toddler centres of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia. She began working as an ateliarista in the municipal preschool 8 Marzo in 1992 and has continued in that role until the present.
Maura has participated in many professional development initiatives in relationship to the pedagogical experience of the preschools and infant-toddler centres of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, many of them related to the travelling exhibition “The Hundred Languages of Children”. Maura welcomes study groups throughout the year inside the preschool 8 Marzo.
Catherine Lee is an early childhood teacher and is currently the Teaching Director of The Point Preschool, Oyster Bay, NSW. Catherine is passionate about listening to children's voices, education for sustainability, reconciliation, play and social justice.
Catherine takes inspiration from the principles of Reggio Emilia and is especially interested in how children see themselves in our world and how they reflect on their identity and learning.
In 2008 Catherine was awarded the Cee Award from NSW Community Child Care Co-operative for Director with Vision. Catherine has worked in a variety of early childhood and early intervention settings and taught Child Studies at NSW Tafe. Catherine has written an ECA Research in Action book "Stories from the Heart - connecting children and families with our Earth" and co-authored "Authentic Inclusions of Aboriginal Cultures".
Catherine is a trained children's yoga teacher and is delighted she can connect children and families through yoga, play and mindfulness and bring happiness to children’s lives.
Meredith Chan obtained an early childhood diploma in Singapore and went on to complete an undergraduate degree in early childhood and a postgraduate degree in children’s literature at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is currently the teacher in the Birth to Twos’ room at Mia Mia, Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney. Meredith has worked with children aged birth to two for eleven years and her current research is focusing on infant peer relationships and their high level of competency in developing social meaning. She is also interested in analysing the effects of having 2 Early Childhood Teachers in a birth to two room and the outcomes for children.
Rodney Davies is a primary school educator with over 30 years experience in early childhood and primary school settings. He is currently Deputy Principal of Woodleigh School and Head of the School's Minimbah Junior Campus, a K - Yr 6 geographically separate campus, located on Victoria's beautiful Mornington Peninsula. Rodney is passionate about providing experiential educational opportunities for children and a global, inquiry based outlook for Primary aged students. He has travelled to Reggio Emilia in Italy, to pursue his passion for hands-on, differentiated learning, which grows from the curious nature of the very young, pre-school child and then is fostered throughout their formative elementary schooling. Rodney sees each child as a strong, capable and resilient individual who plays an active role in shaping their education and recognises that strengths, weaknesses and passions play a large part in the success of a learner. This philosophy is at the centre of all learning at Woodleigh School - as a notable 'School of Independent thought'.
Ruth Wallbridge is a co-director at Davis Street Kindergarten. She has been working with the ideas of Reggio Emilia for 17 years and is the current Chairperson of REAIE.
Melinda Gregory joined the Davis Street team in 2015. She has working with families and children for many years and discovered Reggio 10 years ago whilst upgrading her qualifications.
Together they job share the teaching role in the Pre-Prep class at Davis Street and are continually amazed and surprised by the children they work alongside. They are excited to share their journey with the children and families as together we have pioneered CIRCLE Days.
Dr Stefania Giamminuti’s engagement with the early childhood field internationally spans over 20 years. Previously an early childhood teacher in an International School in Rome (Italy), she is currently is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, Curtin University (Perth, WA). Stefania was awarded her PhD with Distinction at The University of Western Australia in 2010, she is the recipient of the 2010 Early Career Award of the Western Australian Institute for Educational Research, and she is a recipient of the Early Childhood Australia Doctoral Thesis Award for 2010.
As Creswick Foundation Fellow for 2006, Stefania spent six months engaging in PhD research in the world-renowned municipal infant-toddler centres and schools of the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy. She is the author of the eminently acclaimed book Dancing with Reggio Emilia: Metaphors for Quality, published in 2013 by Pademelon Press and recipient of the Curtin University Humanities Research Book of the Year Award 2014 (Early Career). She is in high demand as a public speaker internationally.
Stefania’s research interests include: the inspirations of the Reggio Emilia educational project; quality in early childhood education and care; pedagogical documentation; and professionalism of early childhood educators. Her current major research project investigates the role of the pedagogista in the educational project of Reggio Emilia (Italy). Stefania is also a member of the Council for Childhood and the City, Scuola Pablo Neruda, Reggio Emilia (Italy).
Juliet Lewer commenced her teaching career in 2008 at Lance Holt School in Fremantle, where she is currently Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten Teacher. Juliet is a passionate early years educator who believes teaching is a partnership between home and school and who values strong relationships with families in her classroom. Juliet regularly partakes in action research and uses research to inform her teaching and learning program.
Juliet takes inspiration from the principles of the early childhood schools of Reggio Emilia in Italy, particularly in her image of the child as being strong, curious and capable.
David Gilkes has been an early childhood educator for 23 years and currently teaches at Illawarra Primary School, south of Hobart. In 2014 he was recipient of a NEiTA Award for Innovation in Early Childhood. He has worked mainly with 4 and 5 year old children and their families in both government and independent settings in the ACT and Tasmania. David recently completed his Master of Early Childhood Education, where his research explored parent perspectives on the importance of beauty and aesthetics in the early years of schooling. He is currently convener of the Tasmanian Reggio Emilia Network and has been fortunate enough to have participated in Study Tours to this northern Italian city on four occasions, as well as visited Forest Schools in Denmark. He has presented for a number of organisations and has articles published in various education journals.
Dr Alma Fleet is an Adjunct Associate at Semann & Sattery. She has a particular interest in qualitative research methodology, educational change, practitioner enquiry and diverse cultural ways of understanding the world, pedagogy and teaching. She is committed to working with a diverse range of organisations interested in implementing and undertaking a process of change.
Dr Fleet has been involved in a range of research projects at Semann & Slattery including a review of the Aboriginal Youth and Family Strategy for the NSW Government, exploring educational leadership, and a range of community development programs. Her work has been published in a range of national and international journals. She has written for and edited two internationally respected publications jointly with Dr Catherine Patterson and Janet Robertson.
Dr Fleet has taught children in Scotland and America and worked for schools in Australia. She is constantly learning from and enjoying her work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are pursuing higher degrees. Her practical experiences led her to an ongoing interest in issues associated with literacy development and the transition to school, as well as tensions between constraints and opportunities in educational settings.
Dr Fleet has also recently accepted a position as an Honorary Associate Professor within the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University, Sydney.
Based in Hobart, Fiona Zinn is an education consultant, teacher and writer with 25 years of classroom and leadership experience working in the early childhood, primary and tertiary sectors. She currently collaborates with International Schools to boldly re-imagine early years pedagogy and learning environments in response to research.
Lecturing in the Masters of International Education at the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Fiona draws on a long history working with educators, children and schools in a wide range of international settings. She has a particular interest in the role of culture and context in education and the evolving identities of trans-national children. Much of Fiona's work finds strong resonance with the ideas of Reggio Emilia; her current research agenda looks closely at educators’ conceptual understandings of the ‘environment as the third teacher’. Since 2004 Fiona has actively supported Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange as part of the nationally elected Committee and she now convenes the REAIE Professional Learning Project Group.
Fiona presents professional development workshops across the world and has been invited to speak at conferences in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. Her work with the International Baccalaureate in various contexts over the past 18 years has included roles of Asia Pacific Professional Development Educator, IB Field Representative, Global Early Years Curriculum Writer and Workshop Content Developer. She has been an invited consultant at several Global Curriculum Summits and continues to work towards developing more authentic and agentic early childhood education for children, teachers, schools and families.
Liz Chick has had over 20 years’ experience in Early Childhood and has filled most positions within it. Based in Tasmania, Liz oversaw the early year’s programs at 4 state schools, implemented the States Early Year’s Initiatives and worked alongside local council to raise the profile of young children within the municipality. In 2014, two years after she moved to the NT, Liz founded the Top End Early Year’s Research Network that provided educators and teachers the chance to reflect on the Educational Approach of Reggio Emilia within the Australian context. Liz has been a committee member of Early Childhood Australia NT branch for the past 3 years and currently works for Batchelor Institute teaching and learning alongside remote and urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Liz is currently researching the links between Aboriginal pedagogy and some of the key principles of the Educational Project of Reggio Emilia. She is passionate about advocacy and empowering a strong sense of identity in others.
Kylie McLennan is the Head of St Peter’s Early Learning Centre in Melbourne. The centre has 2 rooms, offering full day 3 year old and 4 year old programs. It is a partnership in education between Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak, St Kevin’s College and the Parish of St Peter’s. The ELC is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Educational Project and placing this in the local, as well as Australian context. Emphasis is placed on the value of respect for self, others and the environment. Strong school values of social justice and positive education are woven into the ELC program too.
Although she has been an early childhood educator for over 27 years, it has only since Kylie has been at St Peter’s ELC that she has come to be more consciously aware of, and feels she has gained a greater understanding of, her own ‘Identities’. Through the range of opportunities as a researcher, learner, collaborator, and teacher she continues to be inspired by children’s curiosity, knowledge, investigations and understandings.
This year’s REAIE conference theme “Landscapes of Identity” has resonance with the St Peter’s ELC educators who are excited to be taking part in the “Walking Strong on Country” project with Annette Sax. The centre’s pedagogy and passion continues in learning and researching ways to embed Aboriginal perspectives in their programs. Over a number of years working with Annette as well as local Elder Aunty Faye Stewart Muir, Kylie’s experience has been enriched as a learner as well as an educator. This is what fuels her passion to do and be more.
Annette Sax is a Taungurung woman from Central Victoria. Annette is the Education and Creative Arts Director from Yarn Strong Sista Indigenous Education Consultancy (YSS). She has worked in the early childhood profession for 26 years. Annette completed her Associate Diploma in Social Science (Child Care). Annette's mentor, Dr Sue Atkinson-Lopez, has given YSS permission to share her research from her PhD "Indigenous Early Childhood Curriculum and Self Determination in Victoria". It is Aboriginal Pedagogy and Annette's experience of being on Country with her Elders that have inuenced her World Views and inspired her to become an activist in her own community.