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Sessional speakers

Sessional presenters are being confirmed and will appear here.

Anne Maree Taney

Anne Maree is passionate about the well-being of children and young people and dreams of a world where we commit our efforts to healing past traumas and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences, believing this will result in strong, confident and resilient children and young people and thriving, connected and compassionate communities.  She is a Senior Mental Health Clinician for the Royal Flying Doctor Service with qualifications in Social Work, Suicidology, Therapeutic Play and Creative Arts and Health. She has recently released a book: Emotional Storms: Preventing Emotional Dysregulation in the Classroom.


Rhi Sugars

Rhi is a passionate educator with over 15 years experience in the early childhood sector. Proudly identifying as neurodivergent, Rhi is a fierce disability advocate and also a member of the consumer advisory group for the organisation, Syndromes Without A Name Australia. Her commitment to disability advocacy resulted in the creation of her early childhood advocacy and inclusion support consultancy, The Atypical Educator.


Christine Payard

A Neurodevelopmental Educator, the Director and  founder of Integrating Thinking and Body to Brain Learning, and the INPP Australia Principal. Dr Christine Payard’s passion is learning and how we learn, knowing that the body trains the brain and grows the mind preparing it for learning success, starting in Early Childhood. Christine teaches, consults, advises, and mentors educators, allied health practitioners, parents, and community groups about the ways neurodevelopment from age zero impacts learning and function at later stages and ages. Her research and teaching interests include neuromotor and sensory maturity, professional learning in Education, and, student thinking and learning processes.


Rod Soper

With over 20 years experience in the field of education as a teacher and head of school, Rod s the principal advisor with Thinkers.inq. He is also the chief investigator of The Playing with Gratitude Research Project; a wellness endeavour supporting change in about 3500 Australian children, families, and teachers.

Rod is also an author, speaker and leadership coach.

Sarah Louise

Sarah Louise Gandolfo

A Melbourne-based early childhood teacher, mum of two, and the Founder of Learning to Lead in Early Childhood. Sarah Louise’s 20+ year career spans a variety of roles and settings, and she has complemented her work with formal studies in the areas of early childhood education, leadership and research. She is a forever learner who is committed to making the world a better place for children by tapping into love and kindness.


Alexandra Morse

Registered Music Therapist, who’s turned her love of music into using it as a super power to connect to, and support vulnerable humans, including the neurodiverse and people with neurodegenerative disease. Alex has spent 16 years working in early years and is now the director of Creative Therapies Tasmania, a creative hub for people kicking their goals based in Devonport. Alex believes all people can sing, even the non verbal, she oddly gets excited conducting mass choirs. But that doesn’t mean she’ll make you sing, although she’ll find a way for you to find your voice and LOVE IT. Sometimes her days are spent sitting on the couch listening to Skrillex with disconnected teenagers because you don’t always have to talk to understand what is going on.


Diane Sherman

An Accredited Triple P Facilitator, A Circle of Security Facilitator, and Abecedarian -3A Facilitator, Diane is currently facilitating four playgroups and, until recently, a fifth specialist Budget Healthy Eating program wrapped around our Playgroup delivery model. She has worked with children and families for the past 32 years within the Not-for-Profit sector.


Nicole Talarico

Founding director of Talarico Consulting and Medical Action Bag, Nicole has most recently written a book about Asserting a Culture of Child Safety to guide education and care services to create and maintain physical, emotional, spiritual and culturally safe environments. Best known as an advocate for professionalism and children’s rights with a social justice lens always present, she is a Reconciliation Ambassador and member of council for the Association of Graduates of Early Childhood Studies, a committee member of Early Childhood Australia Victorian Branch and sits on the Early Childhood Australia National Reconciliation Advisory Group, as well as a member of Social Justice in Early Childhood.


Jamie Finger

Deputy Principal at Bentley Park College in Cairns, Far North Queensland, Jamie has led early childhood projects for over eight years, including transition to school, underpinned by strong community partnerships.


Sandi Phoenix

The founding company director and principal facilitator at Phoenix Support for Educators. Sandi’s framework, The Phoenix Cups, have revolutionised how education and care professionals proactively plan for the wellbeing of children and young people, and understand children’s behaviour.


Helen Smith

A speech pathologist within the Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing (CCHW) at Children’s Health Queensland, Helen has over 15 years’ experience working with children in both health and educational settings within Queensland. Areas of interest include developing and evaluating strategies and responses to improve speech and language development, social emotional wellbeing, school readiness and ultimately lifelong health and wellbeing, for children in the early years. She enjoys working on speech pathology promotion and prevention interventions in partnership with a range of stakeholders, including the early years sector.


Sue Chapman

Manager of Search Light Inc’s early learning and family support services in Sunnybank, QLD. Search Light Inc provides early childhood education and family support to young families (under 23) completing their high school education and young families experiencing adverse life circumstances which put them at risk of statutory intervention. She has tertiary qualifications and experience in early childhood, developmental trauma, child protection and family support. Sue is very passionate about the early childhood sector responding the growing need for trauma informed practice in early childhood and family inclusive practice in early childhood services.


Tania Herrington

A Certified Practising Speech Pathologist and founder of Words To Grow and author of the Growing Words program for early childhood teachers. She has extensive experience using oral storytelling to support children’s language development, literacy engagement and mental health. She is a Clinical Educator and Casual Academic at the University of Queensland.


Lee Town

A father of 4 adult children, grandfather of two and Lee has been an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker since 2007, and a Medicare/NDIS/EAP provider. He is passionate about working with families from an ante and perinatal perspective and engaging with Dads.


Kathryn Baltrotsky

Kate is a PhD candidate and Lecturer in the Faculty of Health at Southern Cross University on the Gold Coast of Australia. Her current area of interest is in the use of playful discipline as prevention and management of challenging child behaviour. Looking forward, she hopes to conduct research on the child’s experience of playful discipline.


Kylie Ellison

A Registered Counsellor and Registered Play Therapist- Supervisor with Australian Counselling Association and Play Therapy Practitioners Association respectively. Kylie has been working in the human services industry for the last 20 years, having completed a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), Graduate Diploma in Psychology, Master in Counselling and Psychotherapy and Advanced Clinical Skills in Play Therapy. In 2016, Kylie founded the Centre for Play Therapy, and began delivering clinical training in play therapy from 2018 including founding Play Therapy Training Australia. Additionally, Kylie is a strong advocate for providing a pathway to registration as a play therapist in Australia, founding the peak professional body Play Therapy Practitioners Association in 2018. Kylie is a proud mum of two, with a vision to ensure all children across Australia have access to quality play therapy services.


Marie Stuart

The State Social Inclusion Coordinator QLD at  Goodstart Early Learning since December 2016, Marie did post school study in Brazil, and returned to do a dual degree at Macquarie University in early childhood teaching and psychology and returned to the university to study further in early childhood and family therapy. Marie currently sits on the executive committee for ECA QLD.


Kym Dunstan

A paediatric speech pathologist with experience working in Australia, New Zealand and the UK providing clinical services to children with a wide range of communication difficulties. Kym has worked in the Early Childhood, Education and Health sectors, community organisations and private practice. Her current role in the Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing team (Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service) involves bringing together what is known about the Social determinants of Health and the importance of the early years to improve health equity, especially for vulnerable children.


Antonia Kish

A health, family and child psychology researcher, Antonia’s research interests centre around families, child development and wellbeing and the early years. Currently, she is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Health Research Institute, University of Canberra and has been working on the ‘A Good Start in Life for Young Children’ project since 2022.


Annette Fuller

Senior Project Officer for the B4 Early Years Coalition (B4) in Tasmania, having an extensive history working in community development, early childhood education and care, and service system reform. This is alongside her outside of work life, as a visual artist. Before moving to Tasmania in 2017, Annette spend 10 years working in Central Australia and prior to this with the Australian Government in a range of policy and programming areas. Annette is a passionate advocate for social justice and the need to get it right in the early years so we get it right now and for life!


Amanda Franklin

A proud Kokatha (gug-a- dah) woman from the Gawler Rangers area in South Australia, Amanda has been employed through Play Matters Australia as a Play helper for the Southside Supported Playgroups Program for the past 4yrs. She has also facilitated a school holiday program for families and works at Freshwater State School as an educator a their OSHC program.