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.

Professor

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.

Researcher

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.

Dr. Andrea Baldwin

Psychologist and children’s author

Workshop

She co-ordinates the Birdie’s Tree initiative for the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health. Andrea’s specialist area of practice is supporting the emotional wellbeing of babies, young children and their caring adults through natural disasters, with a sustainability focus.

Five magic ingredients: A practical workshop on sustainability, disaster resilience and educator self-care in early childhood

“In 2007, a group of psychologists and researchers led by Stevan Hobfoll named five elements essential to preventing and treating trauma in individuals and communities affected by a natural disaster or disruptive event. Disaster mental health practitioners now use these elements to support the wellbeing of young children and their families through the preparedness, response and recovery phases of natural disasters. As early childhood educators we use them every day, sometimes unconsciously, as we strive to help children learn and grow as happy, confident, responsible people.
This workshop will dive into practical ways to strengthen these five elements through sustainability education, with short and long term benefits for children and the environment. We will explore how a focus on these five elements can help educators communicate with families, and support our own wellbeing through challenging times. Together we will explore how the same five magic ingredients can promote health and wellbeing for young children, families, educators, communities, and our world. “

Ms Bronwyn Joslyn

Director and Early Childhood Teacher at Diamond Creek Memorial Kindergarten Association

Workshop

Bron Joslyn is an Early Childhood Teacher with a Masters in Education and over 30 years’ experience across a broad spectrum of settings. Bron is a passionate advocate for the ‘implantation’ of Education for Sustainability across curriculum. As a Service Director of three Community based Kindergarten in Victoria, Bron enacts a sustainability lens across all organisational practices. Bron is a long serving executive committee member of EEEC and Victorian Board member of Play Australia.

Growing with Integrity: Exploring Ethical Dilemmas through a sustainable lens

Early childhood educators encounter ethical dilemmas daily in their practice. Decisions about choice of resources for instance, involve multiple considerations: the cost and durability (economic lens), the origin and labor conditions (social lens), and the environmental impact of production and disposal (environmental lens). This session will delve into these challenges, guided by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) sustainability principle. Participants will explore the complexities of these dilemmas and workshop practical solutions. These solutions will aim to foster better decision-making among children, staff, and families, ultimately benefiting both our young learners and the planet.

Ms. Dominique Dybala

Team Leader, Education
Sustainability Victoria

Round Table Discussion

Dominique is passionate about sustainability education. Engaging with students in the classroom and providing professional development for teachers throughout Australia, Dominique works to inspire others to create a positive future.

ResourceSmart Schools for Early Childhood

The early childhood sector can use the ResourceSmart Schools framework to embed sustainability into the curriculum and into the service operations. This session highlights the ways Victorian early childhood centres are using the ResourceSmart Schools program in their centres. Come along to find out more about how this happens. Share your ideas for how ResourceSmart Schools can support you and your centre.

Mrs. Fiona Harris

Practice Facilitator – Professional learning Team
KU Children’s Services

Round Table Discussion

Fiona is an experienced Early Childhood Teacher and has taught in several preschool settings over the past 30 years. Her interest is in sustainability and place-based nature pedagogy, helping children to connect in the community. She is also interested in children’s art making and literature and views pedagogy as an ethical discipline.

Early Childhood Education for Sustainability - Finding your way

Fiona Harris will offer participants a glimpse into the work of KU Children’s Services. KU has been a leader in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 125 years, and has prioritised Sustainability as a core value. KU provisions services with a dedicated Sustainability Manager, and has developed training and mentoring programs to support educators and whole teams to be at their BEST – Becoming EcoSmart Together. Fiona will support conference participants to learn strategies to navigate their journey to become more sustainable, providing tips, resources and examples of how teams have moved toward sustainable pedagogical practice in areas such as waste management, increasing biodiversity, creative arts, purchasing and much more. Fiona will bring a lens of nature play and community connection to the session, recognising that ethics and values must be lived, in order that practice change might occur. Having been a practitioner for more than 30 years, Fiona is both a story catcher and a story teller, this session will be delivered in a narrative style with opportunities for questions and discussion. Participants are encouraged to bring their questions!

Dr. Fran Hughes

Lecturer
NSW Early Years Nature Connections

Workshop

Dr Fran Hughes is an experienced early childhood education lecturer and consultant. Her current research and teaching interests include early childhood education for sustainability (ECEfS), a nature sustainability nexus and new pedagogies for nature play. She is currently engaged in research projects and writing focused on natural outdoor settings in the early years. She convenes the NSW Early Years Nature Connections network.

Sustainability and nature play – reframing pedagogies for change!

This is an important time to be an early childhood educator. In the current global context, engaging with young children around sustainability is critical to educating for Earth’s future. Outdoor play in nature is often perceived in Western societies as the antidote to modern childhood, and the rapid emergence of nature play type programs attests to this. Therefore, it is vital for educators to reflect on their pedagogical roles in outdoor nature settings, particularly in relation to the demands of global sustainability. How might educators remain curious, imaginative, inventive, attentive to the more than human web of entanglements, and shift the focus to education for sustainability (EfS) whilst being immersed in nature? This presentation identifies the more than obvious connections between sustainability and nature play and what this might look like in practice, such as embracing: slowing down, listening, more inclusive worldviews, the intertwining multi-dimensions of sustainability, the complex sustainability concepts of the more than human (commonworlds) and reciprocity. Examples of practices that establish a foundation for sustainable thinking for educators in immersive nature programs will be shared.

Dr. Jayne Kinley

Sessional Academic and Researcher

Round Table Discussion

Jayne has a strong focus on practical approaches to sustainability with children from birth to under three years of age. This session will explore how the dimensions of sustainability can be embedded in daily practices with infants and toddlers and their right to contribute to a sustainable future.

Sustainability with infants and toddlers

With the introduction of the new Sustainability Principle in the Early Years Learning Framework V2.0, educators who work alongside children from birth to under three years of age are asking “How do you do sustainability with babies and toddlers?”. This round table discussion will invite you to explore the intertwining multi-dimensions of sustainability and how they can apply in practices with very young children. We will discuss the abilities of babies and toddlers to engage with concepts of sustainability, their capability to advocate for change and their rights to be recognised as agentic citizens and active contributors to a sustainable future. Finally, this discussion will investigate practical ideas and approaches to acknowledging the abilities of babies and toddlers and to embedding their rights in every day sustainable practices.

Dr. Jennifer Pearson

Program Manager
Little Green Steps WA

Workshop

Motivated by my love of working with learners from 0 and beyond gives me an intergenerational perspective about sustainability and environmental education. My belief is that all learners what to achieve skills and knowledge, to make sense of their world to give hope and confidence to make a difference.

Two-way Science in Early Years

“Little Green Steps WA (LGS WA) is a unique and innovative program that partners with
early childhood educators to connect them with our hub of practical resources to achieve a lifetime of sustainable living. This involves engagement on an individual and group basis in training and support measures, together with leading edge research, to embed ‘reaching out and treading lightly’ through the concepts of the “”Social Handprint and Ecological Footprint””. The AAEEWA Chapter has created an early years resource for educators working with children from 0 -8 yrs to showcase the Noongar Culture of weaving, tracks and glue making. The three video’s are accompanied by a Teachers Guide aligned with Early Years Learning Framework and WA Curriculum. After viewing the short videos and exploring the teachers guide, participants will be encouraged to complete a planning framework about integrating first nations learning experiences into their practice. We will also discuss how this fits into the social handprint, a principle of Little Green Steps WA program. “

Mr. Jonny Isacsson

Owner
Kids by the Bay Children’s Centre & Kindergarten

Workshop

“Shane Creaney and Jonny Isacsson are co-presenting the workshop.
Shane Creaney is an experienced early childhood educator with a special interest in outdoors education for pre-school children. Shane has extensive experience in camping and outdoor leisure activities as well as gardening. He runs both Beach Kinder and Farm Kinder at Kids by the Bay.
Jonny Isacsson is part owner of Kids by the Bay and Hobsons Bay Farm. Jonny supports the KBTB kinder team and other kindergartens in running their farm kinder programs. Jonny has previously completed a Master of Education, and he has worked in a variety of roles within tertiary education. Besides managing Hobsons Bay Farm, Jonny facilitates the professional development and learning for all the Kids by Bay teams, including the development of eLearning modules.

Compost is the Cornerstone of your Ecosystem

“In our workshop we hope to showcase examples of environmental practice at Kids by the Bay and at our Farm Kinder.
We will provide specific examples of how:
• we have worked to minimise our waste at KBTB and the Farm.
• our awareness has shifted in relation to what and where we buy/shop.
Compost is the Cornerstone of your Ecosystem
Why compost!
• It minimises waste that goes to landfill. The average household produces what equates to 60 wheelbarrow loads per annum.
• It minimises waste that needs transport to a recycling plant.
• It enriches your local eco system by being composted and then used back in our garden.
We will engage participants in a few hands-on activities. We will demonstrate how to make a simple but durable compost for your service, we will show practical example what and how to compost.

Ms. Julia Landford

Founding Director
NatureArt Lab

Workshop

Julia Landford is a passionate artist, naturalist and educator who developed a love of art and nature from an early age. Over the past 30 years Julia has been a leader in arts and environmental education in Australia, bringing communities together to connect with nature through art, photography and nature tours with NatureArt Lab. Julia also recently established the Australian Nature Journaling Association (ANJA) to help build resources and networks for communities across Australia, promoting environmental sustainability advocacy.

Connect with nature through nature journaling!

“Slow down. Look at nature. Find your inspiration in the natural world.

Join me for an inspiring, creative session where you’ll learn how nature and art can be combined to create unique, beautiful and captivating artistic images. Find out why mindfulness, immersion in nature and art are so important for our health and for promoting learning, emotional security and intellectual capacity. Develop skills with observation, connection and appreciation for our natural environment. “

Ms. Katie Vander Donk

Outdoor Teacher
Explore & Develop Annandale / NSW Early Years Nature Connections

Round Table Discussion

Katie Vander Donk, is an Early Childhood Teacher with a Master of Education in Sustainability. With extensive experience across the early years, she values young children as community contributors. Katie’s passion for nature pedagogy drives her to create inclusive, place-focused programs for infants and toddlers, emphasising children’s visibility, voice, and meaningful relationships with place.

Pedagogies of place: Deepening sustainability through play with very young children

This round-table discussion will explore what a curriculum rooted in place-based pedagogies can look like for infant and toddler classrooms, with opportunities for delegates to hear and share stories of practice. The presenter will share their experience developing and implementing urban nature-based excursions with children aged three and under, highlighting how this program cultivates connections to community and place. The role of rituals in enhancing belonging, facilitating deeper learning, and enriching relationships with the land while deepening understanding of Country will also be discussed. Dialogue will include examples of very young children’s engagement in sustainable classroom practices that establish a foundation for sustainable thinking, empower children’s agency and foster relationships with place.

Dr. Lisa Sonter

Early Childhood Consultant
Queensland Early Childhood Sustainability Network

Workshop

“Dr Lisa Sonter is an experienced early childhood teacher, consultant, mentor and author. Lisa is particularly interested in supporting educators to build understandings of play-based pedagogies, executive functioning, and early childhood education for sustainability. Lisa is President of the Queensland Early Childhood Sustainability Network (QECSN).

Empowering sustainable futures: Enacting the Sustainable Development Goals

“The inclusion of a sustainability principle encompassing environmental, social and economic dimensions in the revised EYLFv2.0 is a major milestone in Australian early childhood education for sustainability (ECEfS). Thinking beyond the environmental dimension of sustainability, we can identify and connect ECEfS with broader early childhood practices, such as promoting social inclusion and participation. in this workshop, we demonstrate how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)(UNESCO, 2015) offer a framework to support educators to amplify children’s agency and build collective participation in and advocacy for social-political-economic issues. This workshop aims to raise awareness of the SDGs and explore links between these goals and the National Quality Standard. Alignments between practice and the SDGs are mapped to illustrate transformative pedagogies.

Of particular significance to sustainable futures is children’s capacity to engage and participate as citizens. Transformative pedagogies promote children’s meaningful and authentic participation and decision-making in events that affect them and the world around them. We share examples of practice which showcase early childhood educators working with children as social agents to enact change and empower equitable and hopeful futures.

Ms. Lisa Thomson

Assistant Centre Manager
Guardian Childcare & Education Export Park

Round Table Discussion

I have been involved in the early education sector for 25 years. I love to share my love of learning and respect for the environment through building community connections. I am passionate about igniting children’s curiosity with environments and supporting children to become environmentally responsible.”

Community Butterly and Bee Garden Project

“Discussion about how to establish a Community Butterfly and Bee Garden to provide a safe-haven for native butterflies and bees to return to an urban area.

This will involve how Families, Educators and children from Guardian Childcare and Education are working in partnership with our local Community Centre and the Open Space Planner from City of Charles Sturt Council to develop a unique butterfly and bee garden. The relationships with our broader community and senior citizens, encourages life long learning and provides extensive opportunities to collect information about visiting butterflies and bees in our local community.

Information about how fill garden beds with native nectar and host plants for native butterflies and build bee motels to attract native bees.

Also, information on interpretive signage and stobie pole art to provide educational information about butterfly and bee habitats will be shared.”

Dr. Lyndal O'Gorman

Senior Lecturer
School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Queensland University of Technology

Workshop

Lyndal is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, at QUT. Lyndal teaches and researches in arts education, and education for sustainability. Lyndal so-convenes of the Transnational Dialogues in Research in Education for Sustainability; international researchers who gather regularly to progress the field of ECEfS.

Engaging children, empowering children and enacting sustainability: Using the images of Chris Jordan to explore sustainability ideas with children.

Multiple global sustainability challenges increase the urgency collaborative and effective responses and call for bold approaches on the part of educators. The revised EYLF and inclusion of a new Sustainability principle offers opportunities for Early Childhood Education for Sustainability. For Primary aged children, the Australian Curriculum supports the integration of Arts education with Education for Sustainability. Complex ideas about sustainability can be communicated through the Arts. Responding to artworks is a key aspect of high quality Arts education for children of all ages. Chris Jordan is a US artist whose online media galleries communicate ideas about environmental and social justice themes. In this workshop I will present recent research on children’s responses to Chris Jordan’s artworks. The research involved conversations 28 children aged between four and 12 as they navigated Jordan’s website to explore the images. Thematic analysis of the data revealed five themes; connections to prior experience and knowledge, links with local contexts and places, emotional engagement with the images, solutions and action-taking, and ideas related to post-humanism and the human-nature binary. Participants in this workshop will engage with Jordan’s images, discuss the potential of Arts-based experiences for empowering children and consider how images like these can support action for sustainability.

Dr. Mia Christensen

Academic
Southern Cross University

Workshop

Dr Mia Christensen is a registered teacher, early childhood researcher and professional facilitating and leading innovations and partnerships in the early childhood education and care sector. She has been a teacher for 30 years working in early childhood, primary, secondary, and tertiary contexts in remote/regional, and urban settings throughout Australia.

Transformative Early Childhood Education for Sustainability

“This workshop explores children’s understandings of sustainability-related topics and issues, within the context of affording children the right to engage in complex discussions around topics that are important to them. This work is drawn from recently completed doctoral studies that explored and described the varying ways a group of 6-8-year-old children understood sustainability-related topics and issues. The findings captured the voices of young children that were underpinned by transformative ways of seeing in relation to sustainability-related topics and issues reflecting up to date perspectives on early childhood education for sustainability (ECEfS).
The challenge is to action these voices. A way to action these voices is to use the voices to inform a pedagogical framework such as the 4C Transformative Education for Sustainability: A Pedagogical Framework (4C Framework) to facilitate transformative ECEfS. The 4Cs: Curious; Collaborative; Creative; Connected, will be explored in this workshop. The 4C Framework supports educators and teachers to embed the sustainability cross curriculum priority in the Australian Curriculum and the additional sustainability principle in the updated Early Years Learning Framework V2.0. The 4C Framework supports teachers and educators in planning for and delivering transformative ECEfS. It does this by enabling young children access to complex sustainability concepts that are inclusive of the non-human world.

Mrs. Stephanie Willey

Coordinator
Yarralea Children’s Centre

Workshop

“Stephanie Willey is the Coordinator and Bush Kindergarten Teacher at Yarralea Children’s Centre in Melbourne and Convenor of EEEC (Environmental Education in Early Childhood). Over the last 26 years she has worked in a variety of public and private Early Childhood settings both in Australia and overseas and is passionate about embedding Education for Sustainability into daily practice and advocating for children’s right to access rich natural outdoor play spaces for healthy development and wellbeing.

Growing with Integrity: Exploring Ethical Dilemmas Through a Sustainable Lens in Early Childhood

Early childhood educators encounter ethical dilemmas daily in their practice. Decisions about choice of resources for instance, involve multiple considerations: the cost and durability (economic lens), the origin and labor conditions (social lens), and the environmental impact of production and disposal (environmental lens). This session will delve into these challenges, guided by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) sustainability principle. Participants will explore the complexities of these dilemmas and workshop practical solutions. These solutions will aim to foster better decision-making among children, staff, and families, ultimately benefiting both our young learners and the planet.

Dr. Tracy Charlotte Young

Researcher/Lecturer
Southern Cross University

Research Presentation

Tracy Charlotte Young is a lecturer-researcher at Southern Cross University, Australia sustained by a commitment to animal rights activism and ecological justice. Her transdisciplinary research embraces the complex interrelationships of ecologies, education, early childhood, human-animal studies and cultural geographies. Her work considers modes of attention such as embodied knowledge and more-than-human relational ways of being and knowing. Tracy is a chapter author for the edited book – Multispecies Thinking in the Classroom and Beyond: Teaching for a Sustainable Future (Born, 2024).

Multispecies relations towards more inclusive, more just, and more hopeful futures.

How could teaching and learning with, and as animals be known and practiced differently? What does it mean to share worlds beyond the human gaze? By expanding more inclusive, ecological worldviews, children and educators can navigate more hopeful futures that bring about the reciprocity of living on a shared planet in times of ecological degradation. Multispecies relations in early childhood have been aligned with pedagogy that broadens how social justice intersects with the lives of other creatures. This presentation identifies the benefits from this mingling of multispecies relations, why they matter for sustainable futures and what they might look like in early childhood education practice.