Previous Conferences

2016 Presenters - Innovative Teaching - Moving Through the 21st Century

Hugh van Cuylenburg

Hugh has been working in education for over 12 years. Starting out as a primary school teacher, he then moved into a position with Cricket Victoria as a development facilitator working with disengaged adolescents. The highlight of his teaching career, however, was the year he spent in the far north of India volunteering and living at an underprivileged school in the Himalayas. It was here that he discovered resilience in its purest form.

Inspired by this experience (and subsequent trips to Bangaldesh and Sri Lanka) Hugh returned to Melbourne and commenced working on his own programs for schools. ‘The Resilience Project’ was born. Off the back of his post grad. studies into mental resilience, Hugh’s presentations emphasise the value of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. Of note, Hugh has developed and facilitated programs for over 220 schools Australia wide. In 2015, the National Rugby League asked Hugh to design and implement a program for every single club in the competition to ensure the entire NRL community were emotionally engaged on the challenges of mental health. Hugh has also worked closely with Collingwood, Gold Coast Suns, Geelong, Essendon and Hawthorn in the AFL. He has also served as CEO of Step Back Think.

Kathy Walker

Kathy Walker is one of Australia’s leading parenting and education experts, public speakers and authors. In 2014 she was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM). She has received many other awards and Fellowships throughout her career and has also been nominated for Australian of the Year on two occasions. She is the Founding Director of Early Life Foundations one of Australia’s leading parenting and education consultancies in areas of research and consultation in education and parenting. Her expertise in these areas spans over 30 years.

Kathy is a lead author with Penguin Publishing and the Australian Council of Educational Research; her texts for families include: Ready Set Go which focuses upon school readiness and preparation, Parenting, What’s the Hurry, and her latest book Future Proofing Your Children is due for release through Penguin publishing in early 2015. Kathy’s texts for educators include Play Matters and Engagement Matters. Early Childhood Matters is due for release in February 2015.

Kathy is one of the country’s leading curriculum, teaching and learning experts in personalised learning. She is the designer of the first major personalised learning pedagogy (Walker Learning – Preschool to Year 8) that is being implemented across Australia and internationally.

Louise Doratt

Louise has extensive experience in managing early year's services- from Family Day Care to Inclusion Support. She assisted in the set up of the first Victorian Bush Kinder and has taught the Bachelor of Education at a number of Universities including the Institute of Koorie Education (IKE) at Deakin. She is contracted by organisations such as Federal and State Governments, Children’s Ground, ELAA, Child Australia and Gowrie to deliver training across Australia. Louise's background in theatre provides sessions that are at once engaging and entertaining. (MEd, BTeach, Dip SSc)

Meredith Lane

Meredith is a certified Practising Speech Pathologist who graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology) in 2014.

She currently works in a rurally based community health pediatric clinic focusing on capacity building early childhood professionals with speech pathology knowledge in order to improve children’s speech, language and literacy outcomes, as well as project based community capacity for Adult Complex Communication Difficulty – providing support and raising awareness.

Meredith is also involved in the “Every Toddler Talking” research project which is examining the benefits of establishing collaborative working groups between Speech Pathologists and Early Childhood Educators. She is also certified for It Takes Two to Talk ™ The Hanen Program® for families of Children with Language Delays, and Learning Language and Loving It™- The Hanen Program® for Early Childhood Educators.

Sally McNamara

"Sally grew up in the Myrtleford area and completed her occupational therapy degree at Charles Sturt University in Albury. She started her career in paediatrics by taking two positions in the Gold Coast/South Brisbane area; one with the Family & Early Childhood Services Team at Disability Services Queensland, and the other as part of the Developmental Assessment Team at Community Child Heath (part of the Gold Coast Hospital).

Sally returned to the North East in 2007 and worked in early intervention and educational settings seeing children with various developmental delays and disabilities. In 2010 she started her own private practice part-time and also worked in a school specifically for children with autism in Albury. Simultaneously, she accepted a job with Ovens and King Community Health as a Health Promotion Officer. This role allowed her to run infant massage programs, give talks at new mother’s meetings, run a local Mother Goose group, promote physical and mental health in children and families, and complete research on a program that she developed for children with anxiety- called the 'Calmer Kids Mind and Body Program'.

She worked at Belvoir Special School in Wodonga- where she was the OT and Allied Health Team Leader for 3 years. In 2014 Sally published a resource called 'The Motor Skill Flip-Book Program'- which is now available on 4 major therapy/education websites and through two educational stores.

Tash Treveton

Natashja Treveton feels strongly about children's rights to a REAL childhood, of imaginative play in open ended environments. She is particularly passionate about children connecting with nature and her focus tends to drift to those areas.

Tash began as an untrained casual 14 years ago and through study and experience became a Service Director as well as an Educational Leader of Woodrising Community Preschool & CCC in Newcastle, NSW. This became one of the first centres to gain an ‘Exceeding the National Standards’ levels in the current rating system in the area.

In 2007 Tash and her business partner, Nicole Sheehan, spent countless hours discussing the need for inspiring professional development in their local area and as a result, founded their educational training and consultancy business, Inspired EC. Their passion and enthusiasm in their beliefs has allowed the company as well as the services they offer to develop and expand and has been successful in ‘inspiring’ thousands of educators Australia wide.

Tash is passionate and enthusiastic about anything related to children’s well being and supporting adults to develop this. She has a particular interest in creating naturalistic playgrounds for children and communities and likes nothing more than getting in there and digging creek beds or creating fairy gardens!

2014 Presenters - Expand Your Toolbox

Niki Buchan

She delivered early years training, led action research projects, co-authored books and was head of the internationally recognised outdoor Nature Kindergartens. These achieved the highest possible status from the Scottish inspecting body (HMIE) as a Centre of Excellence, the first outdoor kindergartens and only the second centre in Scotland to receive this accolade. Niki has worked in Australia as a FDC service pedagogical leader and now works as an educational consultant.

Morning Workshop: Can documentation be that simple?

In this workshop we will look at meaningful, child centred planning and documentation using Claire Warden’s Talking and Thinking Floorbooks™ and Talking Tubs™. Children take ownership of their learning and are part of the documentation process which increases engagement. The Talking Tub is the Intentional Teaching Tool - a collection of real objects to stimulate discussion and allow children to direct their own learning. That simple!

Niki founded her own family day care, long day care and preschools in South Africa and then moved to Scotland where she worked with Claire Warden, CEO of Mindstretchers.

Barry Peters

Barry Peters is a singer-song writer and children’s entertainer. He began writing for his own children and music is now his full time profession. Although Barry’s show has played some of the bigger events in the country and interest in his songs and CD’s is rapidly growing on the national stage, it is performing in kindergartens and schools that remains Barry’s favourite type of show, particularly because of the opportunities for communication, intimacy, education and interaction.

Barry has been dubbed the Paul Kelly of the underage music scene, capturing the deepest ideas in the simplest words. Based in Warrnambool, Barry is the father of three children and married to a paediatric OT. His middle child has autism. Reflecting upon the world of disability has played a significant part in the understanding Barry brings to his performance and writing.

Barry is also building a reputation as a writer of songs on environment themes, but don’t switch off. Barry’s songs do not preach or growl – he has a capacity for creating music that is profound, but also delightfully joyful, age appropriate and remarkably simple.

Afternoon Workshop: When The Adult Dances With The Child

A non academic and interactive workshop for professionals working with children keen on developing confidence and skills in simple, age appropriate, musical story telling. The workshop explores the vital role adults play in modeling music, dance and storytelling in the lives of children. This workshop is as much about encouraging confidence in educators as it is about explaining why! The workshop also includes the writing of group songs and the creation of dance, which of course makes for a wonderful, light and laughter filled session.

Each of the elements of the workshop will be illustrated with samples of song and dance composed by the presenter. All the songs included are professionally recorded and available for use by teachers in their programs the very next day.

Connie Cudini

Connie Cudini is a Psychologist who works at the North East Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (NECAMHS) where she coordinates the Infant Mental Health Program for infants and toddlers. She is a member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health Inc (AAIMHI). She has worked as a Psychologist in the Northeast region of Victoria for over 16 years across disability and infant, child and adolescent mental health services. She has completed post graduate studies in infant, child and adolescent psychotherapy and certificate in developmental psychiatry.

Connie is currently involved in mental health secondary consultation for preschools and long day care, as well as the further development of infant mental health clinics for maternal and child health services. She is a member of the Child Protection High Risk Infant Panel, and offers secondary consultation to the community services and training and supervision of mental health staff in infant and toddler mental health.

Morning Workshop: Emotional intelligence and emotion coaching

Emotional intelligence assists children to identify and understand their own emotions, successfully use emotions during social interactions, and have stronger emotional awareness to guide them when solving problems. Families and educators can assist children deal with frustration and keep distress from overwhelming their ability to think. Emotion coaching demonstrates how to help children be in control when they express their feelings. This presentation will also include DVD material and some activities to assist with exploration and discussion of the content.

Madonna Flanagan

Madonna Flanagan has worked in many varied roles within the Early Years sector. Madonna started her career working in Childcare centers and preschools almost 30 years ago.

Madonna then worked with the Queen Elizabeth Center in an outreach role for 8 years in the North east region. Her work here included the Parenting Assessment and Skills Development Services home based program (PASDS). This program involves families who are working with the Department of Human Services, Child protection Unit. Other programs were Parenting Plus (home based) and Day Stay (Sleep and Settling clinic). Madonna also worked for Family Care in Cobram doing a similar role for two years.

Madonna returned to the Queen Elizabeth Centre to work as the Upper Hume Early Childhood Coordinator which involved creating awareness of ChildFIRST and Family Services in the early years Sector.

Morning Workshop:: Strategies for working with young children with trauma This workshop will explore the impact of trauma on young children, along with identifying some strategies, reviewing how environments can be established and investigating a range of strategies for working more effectively with young children with trauma.

Madonna is currently running her own business SNAPS (Sleep, Nurturing and Parenting Skills)

Julie Baker

Julie Baker has a background as an Occupational Therapist, but is currently raising 3 young children while running her business Sensory Matters which stock mostly handmade products for children with special needs. She has nieces and nephews who have Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder and her son also has sensory processing issues, alongside an addiction to sewing and making 'cool' products that are also incredibly beneficial for all developing children!

Afternoon Workshop: Sensory Integration

This workshop will provide information regarding Sensory Processing Disorder, Sensory Integration and the difficulties children with SPD have to deal with in the classroom environments. It will provide some interactive activities to help participants appreciate what the child with SPD experiences during the classroom and some strategies commonly used by Occupational Therapists to assist children with SPD, and provide resources where to find further information.

Claire Hocking

Claire Hocking is a fully licensed Educational Kinesiologist and Brain Gym Instructor/Consultant with 20 years' experience. With an extensive teaching background including a classroom, music and special needs teacher, Claire successfully uses Educational Kinesiology and Brain Gym schools, tertiary institutions, community and senior groups, nursing homes and work places around Australia and overseas.

2012 Presenters

Lee Fox

Lee Fox is the author of the hilarious picture book, Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush her Hair, illustrated by Cathy Wilcox (shortlisted in the 2007CBCA awards), and Jasper McFlea Will Not Eat His Tea and Ginger McFlea Will Not Clean Her Teeth, illustrated by Mitch Vane. She has also written a YA novel, Other People's Country. Lee's most recent picture books are 10 Little Hermit Crabs, a counting backwards from ten story illustrated by Shane McG, and the next book in the Ella Kazoo series, Ella Kazoo Will Not Go To Sleep. Prior to becoming a writer, Lee was a production assistant for a commercial radio station, a Mormon, a cook in a childcare centre and the store manager on a remote Aboriginal community - and she has five children. Her writing career began in 2000, with several articles for The Age. Lee lives and works in Castlemaine with her partner and youngest daughter. She is currently writing her second YA Novel and a new picture book.

Jo Lange

Jo Lange has been a teacher and educator for over 30 years in a diverse range of settings. She has worked in primary schools, both as a classroom and specialist teacher. Her experiences also extend to teaching ‘at risk’ young people who are not in mainstream schooling. She has also worked in the community education area, being involved with young people and adults with a psycho-social disorder or an intellectual or physical disability. Jo has also had seven years within the TAFE sector, teaching youth workers, child-care workers and teachers in the areas of human development, psychology, interpersonal communication and behaviour management.

Jo now works as a private educational consultant, specialising in the behaviour management, personal effectiveness, and team dynamics areas, working directly with teachers in schools. She is affiliated with the ACER, Teacher Learning Network Victoria, Lady Gowrie, Child Centre, where she undertakes a diverse range of workshops and seminars, on managing difficult behaviours of five to fifty year olds and pastoral care for teachers.

2012 Presentation

Anne Stonehouse AM

Anne Stonehouse AM is a consultant, writer and facilitator of professional learning in early childhood. She has published many books, articles and other resources for educators and families. Her main professional interests are the nature of good quality curriculum for babies and toddlers and family-educator relationships in early learning settings. She was a member of the writing team in the Charles-Sturt-University-based consortium that developed the national Early Years Learning Framework. She is currently engaged in a number of projects related to the national and Victorian Frameworks.

2012 Presentation

Heather Monro

Heather Monro is a qualified and highly experienced kindergarten teacher. She has taught for over 30 years and is a confident and dynamic motivator of children and adults. Heather has completed post grad study in Orff Music Education. She leads music workshops and classes for teachers and children around Australia. Currently she runs her own music classes and keeps her teaching skills up by teaching a pre kinder group one afternoon a week and a kinder group on another day. Heather is the author of the children’s book ‘Peggy’.

2012 Presentation

Brooke Scantleton

Brooke Scantleton is a qualified Speech Pathologist who has a special interest in oral language and its links to literacy and learning. Her experience includes working within school communities as an Educational Speech Pathologist for the Catholic Education Office. Brooke works within a school-based service delivery model which allows for collaboration with teachers to make oral language learning more explicit within the classroom context. Brooke runs sessions for prospective prep parents and has developed a large number of resources for teachers and families to support oral language development that underpins learning.

Colourful Semantics Cheat Sheet Phonological Awareness Chatterbox

Anthea Markowiak

Anthea Markowiak holds a Bachelor of Education, Masters in Education and M.Phil in Education focussing on language development and learning difficulties. Anthea has taught in Primary schools for 30yrs and at The Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University Sydney, tutoring in core subjects of literacy and language development. Anthea has supervised students doing Early Childhood practices in both long day care and pre-school settings. She has worked as an aid in a community pre-school whilst attending university and actively reads and sings to children at her local library.

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