History of the Conference

In 2009 Mission Australia and Queensland Health financially funded the first Cairns Early Years Conference.  Annually the conference has continued to grow and attract a wider audience of Partnering organisations, speakers and delegates. James Cook University have been involved in the organising committee since 2010, The Benevolent Society joined financially in 2012, DET and Department Communities joined in 2015 and ARACY were welcomed for the 2016 Conference.
The Early Years Conference promotes the wellbeing of children and families by advancing collaboration and evidence-based practice, and provides a platform to reflect multiple perspectives to improve early childhood development. Over the years, this conference has attracted nationally acclaimed keynote speakers and has provided valuable opportunities for professional development for delegates from throughout the FNQ region working in the children and families space, to share knowledge and to network (see feedback and overview of keynotes from the 2016 conference here). The conference attracts service providers, volunteers and community members who work in the early years. This may include early childhood educators, teaching staff, family support workers, child & family health professionals and counsellors, community workers, managers, child protection workers and academics.



2018 Conference

The 2018 Early Years Conference – Today’s Children Tomorrow’s Future – is a collaboration between Mission Australia, the Benevolent Society, QLD Department of Education and Training – Early Childhood Education and Care, the Department of Communities, Child Safety & Disability Services, Queensland Health and The Cairns Institute, JCU.  This holistic and cross-sectional collaboration will create a unique opportunity to have a strong state and regional focus on the importance of birth to 12 in regards to evidence based planning with a community collective impact.

2018 Conference Themes

The 2018 Conference will focus on 3 themes within the sector:

1. Safe Hands: supporting families, and protecting children

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Domestic and family violence
  • Challenging conversations – working with parents
  • Capacity building
  • Mandatory reporting requirements

2. Children with additional needs

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Trauma, attachment & child development 
  • Challenging behaviour
  • NDIS
  • Mental Health

3. Reaching Families and Children

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Trends
  • Engagement
  • Effectiveness of home visiting 


Conferenece Organising Committee

Rebecca Giacomi Child Safety Services, The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services rebecca.giacomi@communities.qld.gov.au
Gwen Kemp Child Youth & Family Health Team, QLD Health gwen.kemp@health.qld.gov.au
Jennifer McHugh The Cairns Institute, JCU  
April Schipke Director Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), Department of Education and Training april.schipke@det.qld.gov.au
Sarah Brown Mission Australia BrownSa@missionaustralia.com.au
Cassy Bishop The Benevolent Society cassy.bishop@benevolent.org.au

Early Years Conference - Today’s Children - Tomorrow’s Future

The conference is Financially Supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services