Program- Engage, Empower, Enact

Are you passionate about sustainability and looking to connect with like-minded colleagues? Join us at the ECS Conference 2024, where collaborative inspiration, revitalisation and empowerment await the Education for Sustainability in the Early Years Sector. We will explore how we can be stronger together and support one another, accelerating Education for Sustainability in the early years through the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) v2.0 Sustainability principle across the Environmental, Social and Economic dimensions.

Immerse yourself in a transformative experience that will leave you with renewed purpose, energy, and a host of tools to inform professional practice.

Whether you’re an educator, researcher, advocate, or organisation, this conference is the perfect platform to learn, practice, and celebrate education for sustainability in the early years.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear from leading national and international Keynote Speakers Dr Sue Elliott, Prof Julie Davis and Prof Eva Ärlemalm-Hagsér and to drive worldwide sustainability forward to create a better future for all. 

DAY 1 – Friday 25th October 2024 -ENGAGE

Field Trips/Transnational Dialogues

& Welcome Event

Afternoon Field Trips 12-4pm

Immerse yourself in a diverse range of field trips during the Early Childhood Sustainability Conference 2024. Choose from an exciting selection that will take you on a journey through the stunning semi-rural landscapes of Nillumbik’s “Green Wedge,” have you visiting Melbourne’s North including the Darebin Parklands, home of the first Bush Kinder in Australia, and meandering along Port Phillip bay for a glimpse of Beach and Farm kinder.

Experience immersive visits to Early Learning Centres and organisations leading Education for Sustainability in early years’ curriculum that will ignite your passion for sustainability. Running between 12.00-4.00pm (12-12.30 registration) using a variety of Melbourne’s sustainable transport options like trains, trams and self-drive buses, each field trip encompasses 2-3 captivating stops.

Embark on a transformative adventure and deepen your understanding of early childhood education’s vital role in driving worldwide sustainability. Join us for an unforgettable experience.

Transnational Dialogues in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability Research (TND) 12-4pm

This international research network was established in 2010 by Professor Julie Davis (Australia) and Professor Eva Johansson (Norway). The network participants have been meeting online and in person for over 10 years to promote research collaborations and publications, they met most recently in August 2023 at Mälardalen University, Sweden.

The national Early Childhood Sustainability Conference 2024 in Melbourne presents an opportunity for a mini-TND to gather local researchers and those considering research possibilities. As the updated EYLFv2 (AGDE, 2022) is implemented, it is timely to examine what are the ECEfS research gaps in Australia for informing policy to practice shifts. We invite you to join this gathering for an engaging roundtable discussion.

Welcome Event 6pm-8pm

After the engaging field trips/TND you are invited to join us for our welcome event at Hawthorn Hotel. The evening will give conference attendees the chance to network and reflect on the field trips and TND before the formal conference kicks off on Saturday. We will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ian Potter Children’s Garden. Refreshments and grazing platters will showcase local produce and provide you with a touch of Melbourne’s sustainable foodie focus.

DAY 2: Saturday 26th October 2024 -EMPOWER & ENACT

Keynote Speakers and Workshops

Join us for our formal conference program on Saturday 26th October 2024 8.45am-4.30pm at Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, Melbourne.

We will start the day being EMPOWERED by our local Keynote speakers Dr Sue Elliott and Professor Julie Davis joined by our international speaker Professor Eva Ärlemalm-Hagsér, all the way from Sweden!

After our delicious vegetarian lunch with a focus on ethical produce and packaging provided by Paul Mattei at Fresh Fork we move into workshops, case studies and round tables that will support you to ENACT your sustainability plans and journey.

Workshops (60 mins)

Presenters will engage participants in active learning through hands on activities and shared participation where they experience a strategy, a technique or a practical demonstration. Workshops can showcase examples of sustainability practice in early childhood education, highlight activity-based learning and demonstrate planning methods and frameworks.

Round Table Discussions (60 mins)

Round table discussions will enable presenters to engage in in-depth discussions about sustainable practice and research in early years settings. After a short introduction, discussions are facilitated for approximately 50 minutes, and delegates are free to move between roundtables during this period as they choose. Roundtables will encourage shared dialogue and a flow of ideas, provide brainstorming opportunities on issues and concepts, and provide stories of sustainability change in early childhood practice.

Research Presentations (30 mins)

Research presentations aim to empower participants with current research that shares knowledge and sheds light on a particular topic, bridging the gap between theory and practical application, offering a comprehensive view of the research process. Research presentations offer opportunities to align research with sustainability practice and provoke new ideas, theories and worldviews.

Keynote Speakers

The conference keynote will take the shape of a three-way panel titled ‘Conversations about ECEfS: History, hope and resilience in times of polycrises

Adjunct Senior Lecturer

University of New England (AUS)

Dr Sue Elliott is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of New England (UNE), New South Wales and visiting scholar at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Sue is a long-standing early childhood education for sustainability advocate, researcher and author.


Mälardalen University (SWE)

Eva Ärlemalm-Hagsér is a Professor at the Division of Early Childhood Education, Mälardalen university within early childhood education. Eva is research leader for the research department Children and Young People at School and in Society (BUSS). Her research focus is on education for sustainability in early childhood education and children’s participation and agency within policy and practices. As well as sustainability education in initial teacher education. She is appointed as convener a Special Interest Group (SIG) Sustainability in Early Childhood Education within the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) as in the and co-convenor an active participant in the Transnational Dialogues in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability research group since 2010.


Queensland University of Technology (AUS)

Julie is a national and international leader in early childhood education for sustainability. Although retired, she continues to write and present on ECEfS, including recently as co-editor of the 3rd edition of 'Young Children and the Environment: Early Education for Sustainability' (Cambridge, 2023). She has advocated for ECEfS for over 35 years.

Conversations about ECEfS: History, hope and resilience in times of polycrises

We see the multiple issues afflicting the globe as primarily crises for children. We know that young children and future generations have been identified – by multiple authors from diverse disciplines – as the most vulnerable to ongoing climate crises, unsustainability, conflict and fundamental inequities. Early childhood educators, as all educators, are integral to a multi-faceted forcefield, together with children, in aiming for global sustainability. Our perspective on these crises comes from our shared standpoints as teacher educators, researchers, and advocates for children and Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (ECEfS), having been at the forefront of nurturing this field since the 1980’s. In this keynote conversation, we share our thoughts around ECEfS history, hope and resilience in a time of converging polycrises for people and planet. We reflect on the continually evolving ECEfS movement and consider theory and practice shifts in an emergent research context. Lastly, with an enduring sense of hope and resilience, we speculate about ongoing challenges and possibilities for the continued empowerment of children, early childhood educators, parents and communities – indeed all of us who have children’s best interests at heart.