Lyndsey Healy has a career spanning some 20 years across multiple roles and program areas at Gowrie South Australia.
She has experience working directly with children and families as an educator, teacher and service leader, as well as roles in facilitating professional learning and grant-funded projects around parenting and community programs. As a service leader, Lyndsey has authored multiple articles, guided families through legislative, financial and discriminatory barriers, and believes that early childhood education is an educational right of every child.
"I would like to see a shift in flexible policy approaches and funding models across the sector that are designed to enable rather than restrict access to services so that all families can access services for their children on an equitable basis around individual circumstances. The Apiary Fellowship enables professionals from different parts of the early childhood sector to deconstruct traditionally held professional silos and learn from one another's funds of knowledge."
Alexandra Heard is the Engagement Coordinator at the Association of Graduates of Early Childhood Studies while also working as an Early Educations teacher in Fawkner.
It is this mix of on-the-ground experience and broader consultation work that has shaped Alexandra to be a collaborative leader who recognises the importance of teamwork, understanding the systems lens and the role of disadvantage in the sector. Alexandra saw an opportunity to make a meaningful and direct difference in the lives of others and has a vision of a sector that makes children, families and sector professionals feel welcome and valued,
"My vision for the optics of the sector is that children and families feel welcome and valued, and that this is a reciprocal feeling towards the staff as well.”
Jason Roberts comes with extensive experience in early education as a senior leader. After completing his term as the CEO of G8 Education in 2018, Jason Roberts Founded the Sector, -a digital publishing company specialising in the ECEC sector.
He also acquired two small community focused for-profit centres in Sydney. Jason believes that his job as a participant in the ECEC community is to ensure that the families, team members and children are cared for and nurtured to the very best of his ability. Jason’s broader vision for the sector is that that all providers are as committed to the very best outcomes for those that are involved in their services as he his.
“There is no right or wrong way to deliver ECEC services. We are all on our journey and must strive to be better. If we are better, more unified, our stakeholders will be too.”
Jane Austen has spent years in strategic policy and intergovernmental relations roles at the Department of Education before joining C&K as the Manager of Advocacy and Communications.
Jane would like members of the ECEC sector take up active roles as advocates for child development and child agency and lead the broader education sector in adapting educational delivery models to the changing needs in society. Bringing an understanding of a systems lens as connecting elements and collaborating under shared values and purpose, compliments Jane’s natural outlook. I would greatly welcome an opportunity to further develop those skills and deepen that understanding. Her role at C&K combines advocacy and communications – a purposeful strategic combination that both leads the advocacy agenda and brings the workforce along on that journey; that empowers the workforce to influence and create ideas for change, with the expertise and opportunity to influence agendas of decision-makers
"My understanding of systems lens – connecting elements and collaborating under shared values and purpose – compliments my natural outlook. I would greatly welcome an opportunity to further develop those skills and deepen that understanding."
Melissa has worked in the early childhood sector for over 30 years. Her experience includes service delivery in long day care, pre-school, family day care, outside school hours care and occasional care.
Melissa has worked for different levels of government organisations - Commonwealth, State and Local government and has a good understanding of the influence of politics in the ECEC sector. Melissa has led the development of a Children's Services Strategy to ensure an aspirational vision for planning in the local community. Her experience also includes the development of a Child Safeguarding policy and Children's Services RAP. Melissa has been part of leading a national team who conducted quality assurance visits to services across Australia.
“Early childhood services are valued as an essential part of a healthy and engaged community. Integrated learning services and play-based approach are a quality benchmark for early childhood learning that should be available to all children in every community. Early childhood education should be accessible, equitable, flexible and enable community connections and support community values.”
Courtney Hala is the Statewide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perinatal and Mental Health Coordinator for the Children's Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service.
Courtney is a registered midwife and a strong, proud Aboriginal Wiradjuri woman who actively participates in her local (Brisbane North) Aboriginal community. With experience in government, non-government and Aboriginal Community controlled organisations, Courtney has first-hand knowledge of the integral role that early education services play in reducing the gaps in the health and wellbeing of communities.
“I believe that everyone, with the right support, has the potential to achieve positive growth for themselves and participate meaningfully in society … we need to work together and support our community through the journey of healing in a culturally safe and culturally appropriate way.”
Maurita Cavanough is a Bundjalung woman from Ballina NSW, who has worked in the Early Childhood sector for the last 20 years.
As the director of Jarjum Centre, an aboriginal early childhood service, Maurita has overseen a transformative approach to education. And in 2020 Maurita joined both the Board of the North Coast Aboriginal Alliance and the NSW ECED Aboriginal advisory group. The NSW ECED Aboriginal Advisory group co-designed with the Department the First Steps strategy which was launched in 2021. Maurita recognises that working with a system lens provides a great method to collaborate and co-design with many knowledge holders effectively and constructively. Systems thinking is how she has learnt to culturally identify, make meaning and connection to the world around her. She has a strong belief that to learn and act collaboratively there must be a shared vision and opportunity to hear and learn from one another.
"The early childhood sector should be reflective and responsive to the context of the community that it is situated in. I also recognise that our world is quickly changing, and I think that now is a great time to consider how to better prepare children for the future."
Birgitte Maibom started her career as a teacher, solidifying her belief in education and its power to make positive change in the world.
As the CEO of Learning Links, since 2015, Birgitte embodies the role of a leader with a long-term vision to remove the barriers that exist for children affected by learning difficulties and disabilities. Since 2021, Birgitte has participated as a partner in the Thrive By Five initiative which aims to bring much-needed reform to the early childhood system. By participating in Harvard Business School’s Perspectives in Non-Profit Management in 2019, Birgitte recognises the importance of global approaches to collaboration and social impact and the immense potential of the systems lens.
“My vision is an early education sector that is an integrated part of an equitable, affordable and high-quality inclusive education system that is welcoming and open to all children and families irrespectively of socio-economic status and children's abilities, cultural background, and other characteristics.”
Michele Carnegie’s experience of the early childhood sector is one of great strength, shaped by the education needs of children and care requirements of parents.
Michele is the CEO of Community Early Learning Australia (CELA), where her leadership and management decisions since commencing her role as CEO, have depended on applying a systems lens. Michele believes that working with a systems lens view enabled CELA to become the highly influential and financially successful organisation it is today.
Michele’s vision for the ECEC sector is of integrated education, health, and family service where children are at the centre of all decisions, where all families feel culturally safe and genuinely belong, and where educators are professionally supported, valued, and suitably remunerated and leaders are resourced to build the type of positive culture that inspires teachers and educators to enrich the lives of every child they work with.
“Acting collaboratively amplifies the collective voice, which can have an influential and powerful impact, particularly when individuals that make up the collective voice are recognized for their integrity, experience, expertise, and knowledge.”
As the National Training Manager at Catalyst Education, Katherine Hussar has 17 years of experience in the Early Childhood sector.
Katherine’s vast experience has given her a unique opportunity to be able to continue down her own path of making a difference in the lives of children and families by supporting the training and development of Educators of the future. Katherine champions working collaboratively with a range of people that come with this unique perspective provides an opportunity for everyone involved to widen their knowledge, skills, opinions, and thoughts. Katherine has a passion to create a greater opportunity for impact.
“As a sector, we should continue to question process and continuously reflect and grow to meet the ever-changing needs of children and families in a constantly changing and evolving world. All children should have an opportunity to access Early Childhood Education and should not be disadvantaged in any way to be able to access this.”
Starting out as an early childhood educator for 18 years, Elfie Taylor has a wide range of experience in early childhood education.
Currently the manager of an Early Childhood Improvement Branch within the Department of Education, she has in-depth knowledge of the Early Childhood reform and the functions and responsibilities required by the Department, the sector, and key stakeholders. Through her experience both in managing the Early Years Management Implementation and the Quality Assessment and Regulation Division, Elfie has solidified her voice as a senior expert in early childhood education.
“High quality can only be successfully achieved if we all do our part...I love the concept of capacity building rather than rules and compliance. I feel once others understand the why you can bring them along for the journey. They then, in turn, can own their part of that journey.”
As a qualified early childhood teacher, Carrie Rose has over 30 years of experience in various positions ranging from lead educator, assistant director, director, educational leader and as an approved provider.
Carrie's early learning centre received a service's highest rating under the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education in 2016 and 2019. In addition, in her role as a consultant, Carrie has supported over 300 early learning centres to improve practices, pedagogy and leadership through coaching and mentoring.
Carrie believes that remaining up to date with professional theory can inform significant change and improve the outcomes for children and families.
"Learning and acting collaboratively "is where innovation can happen … early childhood in Australia deserves those who can and will be a voice for improvement."
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.
Mia has been a teacher for nearly 30 years working in remote, regional, and urban settings in Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia. For the past fifteen years, she has worked as an academic at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Mia is currently working as the Education Innovations and Partnerships Manager at G8 Education. In 2020, she was the recipient of the prestigious Jean Ferguson Memorial Award in Early Childhood Education recognizing the significant contribution her Doctoral studies have made in building the capacity of teachers and educators to support young children’s access and engagement in early childhood sustainability education. Mia’s research for her Doctoral thesis enabled the voices of young children, specifically in relation to the complex concept of sustainability, to be heard.
“My vision for the future is a sector that celebrates and embeds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, promotes inclusion and strengths-based approaches, celebrates and communicates the benefits of a play-based curriculum, and where the broad concept of sustainability is valued and informs transformational early childhood education and care.”
Tracey McKay is an innovative, collaborative leader with strategic and business planning experience across the ECEC sector, including operational, financial, human resource and stakeholder management.
Tracey has over 18 years of experience in early education and since March 2021, has been the Chief Executive Officer of Swinburne Children’s Centres . Tracey is an skilled communicator with proven ability to build relationship networks. She brings experience managing, leading and motivating teams in order to achieve goals and objectives for change. Tracey believes that the early education sector should offer high quality education and care that is affordable and accessible for all Australian children, regardless of family circumstances.
“I believe that every child has the right to learn and thrive in Australia, regardless of race, religion, gender or postcode. A systems approach can help identify and understand the cause of problems and what is needed to break the cycle of disadvantage. Working across the whole system can influence change at all levels, improving early learning outcomes for all children.”
Having begun as an enthusiastic graduate teacher in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in 1981, Penny Cook has over 40 years of experience in the early childhood sector.
She has worked in New South Wales; city, rural and remote South Australia and New York, in a wide range of roles including teacher, consultant, site leader, and project and policy officer. Penny is now working as Director of an integrated site in rural South Australia. Penny would like families to experience equity and respect for their cultural practices and beliefs to be able to rely on stable processes in a system that is easy to navigate.
“I love it when we have a professional learning community that can ask each other questions such as ‘what makes you say that?’, ‘how have you come to do things in this way?’ ‘who might be advantaged or disadvantaged by this action or thought?’ We’re currently working towards this at our centre and it takes trust, practice and unlearning.”