The Apiary Fellowship Chronicles - July 2023 Convening Recap


From Wednesday 26th until Friday 28th July, the 2023 cohort of Apiary fellows convened for their second gathering of the year, this time at Peppers Resort in Noosa, Queensland.

Over the course of the three days spent together, fellows deepened existing connections and relationships, were open and vulnerable with one another in dialogue, and ventured forth to take the next steps in their action learning journey by furthering their agenda for collective action.

What did fellows do and achieve?

Day 1

On the afternoon of the 26th, fellows walked together to Noosa Woods on Gubbi Gubbi (Kabi Kabi) Country for a bush tukka lunch kindly prepared by Nooks and Cooks, a First Nations-led cuisine provider based on the Sunshine Coast. Following this, Uncle Lyndon Davis and his Gubbi Gubbi Dance troupe performed historic cultural dances, a smoking ceremony, vivid storytelling, as well as a walk on Country alongside fellows. Thanks to the generosity and patience of Uncle Lyndon and his family, fellows learnt about the history of the Gubbi Gubbi people, the local flora and fauna’s symbolism and cultural significance. Many remarked how it was an unforgettable cultural learning experience and Lyndon’s well-informed narration, sense of humour, and his family’s magical presentation of song, dance, and storytelling left fellows curious and engaged.

This year, Fellows set a course for their collective action to partner with children and families to lead change in the early learning into a system designed to meet the timeless needs of children, now and into the future.

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After exploring the surrounding environment in home teams – small groups designed to foster mutual support and sensemaking – fellows regrouped for a filling dinner back at the Peppers Resort venue and a collective yarn. The yarn was led by the First Nations and Aboriginal fellows who emphasised the importance of identity, curiosity and two-way learning, and consultation and inclusion of Aboriginal and First Nations people in designing and implementing systems change.

Day 2

In the second day of the Convening, fellows dove into action learning by refining, prioritising and planting their “seeds of the future” identified at the previous Convening in April. Out of these seedling ideas, fellows developed challenge and solution statements and leverage hypotheses. In the doing so, respective groups mapped their systems of interest, boundaries, and conducted root causal analysis. With successive rounds of group feedback and questioning, the following areas of interest were identified:

Anti-bias, community, and equity – a collaborative model for development;

Retention and attraction in the 0 – 3 years age range of early learning – privileging this otherwise overlooked age group for the purposes of establishing strong foundational precedents concerning equitable funding, holistic policy development and continuity into 3 – 5 years age range of early childhood;

Review assessors and inclusion support agencies – these parties need to be better informed on cultural safety in ECEC settings to assess appropriately, and effectively and equitably allocate resources.

Following this intensive learning and action-oriented day, fellows kicked back in the evening with a selection of canapes and drinks at the bar and lounge area.

Day 3

The third and final day of the Convening began with Lisa Walker (co-facilitator and co-designer) leading the collective in a yarn about her personal experiences of cultural connection and family, slowing down, and Dardiddi. Fellows then checked-in individually by striking an engaging pose to embody how they were feeling. After rounds of laughter and applause, the collective dove into dialogue on the emerging collective agenda for the cohort. Due to the levels of openness, honesty, and vulnerability, fellows were able to delve deeper into uncomfortable and potentially confronting territory, recognising that in doing so these uncomfortable conversational “edges” were where the action for change could happen.

The dialogue resulted in a shift in direction from the previous day’s outputs, wherein the existing three areas of interest (see bullet points above) were in some cases discarded and in others reshaped, becoming those written below.

Group Number




System intent

Changing mindsets on the value of 0-3 years = building a movement


Power, roles, relationships

Vision holding for cultural safety in early learning + changing narratives and mindsets on cultural harm = building shared understanding and working for change over the long-term, making the invisible visible, emphasis on truth-telling and prevention of harm


System design

Best practices for integrated hubs and therapeutic early learning experience = community-led, place-based change championing learning, wellbeing and development + integrated services enabling changed mindsets and practice models + bridging gap between child protection and early learning

Each of the above three groups were united by the cohort’s collective agenda statement which was agreed upon following group discussions around terminology, language, and directionality:

“We wish to generate an 0-3 year-old environment in the early childhood system that does no harm and is genuinely safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse families and carers, so all children can thrive.”

Where to next?

In the coming months before the next Convening at the end of November 2023, fellows will be jumping into action within their respective three groups. Each will be discovering, identifying and mapping what content, knowledge, and practices already exist within respective contexts and capturing and sharing the subsequent unknown amongst their networks and with other Apiary fellows. Once gaps are discovered and exposed, new pathways can be forged by fellows as they can create content, prototypes, and solutions to fill those voids in their identified system.

With lots of exciting developments coming soon, be sure to stay tuned via the Apiary newsletters and The Front Project website!