Meet the 2021 AJEC Research Symposium Keynote speakers! 


Keynote Speakers

Sanjeev Sridharan

Dr Sanjeev Sridharan

Sanjeev Sridharan is Country Lead, Learning Systems and Systems Evaluation at the India Country Office of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His prior roles include: Director of the Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michaels Hospital; Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto; Head of the Evaluation Program and Senior Research Fellow in the Research Unit in Health, Behaviour and Change at the University of Edinburgh; and Associate Editor of the American Journal of Evaluation. Sanjeev also sits on the boards of the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, New Directions for Evaluation and the Journal of Evaluation and Program Planning.


Lesley Rameka

Dr Lesley Rameka

Lesley Rameka is a Senior Research Fellow at the Wilf Malcom Institute of Educational Research, Waikato University. She has worked in early childhood education (ECE) for approximately 35 years, beginning in Māori-language ECE (te kohanga reo) and later working for several professional development and tertiary education providers. Her research interests relate mainly to Māori ECE, language, culture and identity. Lesley was a writer for the New Zealand ECE curriculum framework, Te Whāriki (2017); and worked on the development of Te Hurihanganui: A Blueprint for Transformative System Shift (2019), which supports Māori achieving educational success as Māori.

Panel members

Rosemary Cahill

Dr Rosemary Cahill

Rosemary Cahill is the Chief Investigator at Telethon Kids Institute. She is currently evaluating the Early Years Initiative, a landmark 10-year partnership between the Government of Western Australia (WA) and the Minderoo Foundation. Until recently, Rosemary was the Director of Early Childhood Education, Literacy and Numeracy with WA’s Department of Education. She has been teaching, shaping policy and leading system-level initiatives for the WA public school system since the 1980s. Her achievements include implementation of key projects such as the Universal Access National Partnership; the National Quality Standard in WA schools; child and parent centres; a system-level partnership with Playgroup WA and the ground-breaking KindiLink initiative.


Sue Grieshaber

Professor Sue Grieshaber

Sue Grieshaber is a Professor of Early Childhood Education and the Associate Head of Research in the School of Education at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Her research interests are informed by a range of critical, feminist, and feminist post-structural theories that address issues such as social justice and equity, and include early childhood curriculum, policy, pedagogies and families; women in higher education; and qualitative and post-qualitative research approaches.



Samantha Page

Samantha Page

Samantha Page is the CEO of Early Childhood Australia (ECA), a not-for-profit organisation that advocates for quality, social justice and equity in all issues related to the education and care of young children. She also serves on the Board of Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA). Samantha has worked in the non-government sector for more than 20 years across varied roles encompassing executive management, management consulting, social policy analysis, advocacy and the delivery of human services. She has extensive experience in the development and implementation of sector-development projects funded by federal and state government agencies.

Invited Speakers

Susan Danby

Professor Susan Danby

Susan Danby is one of Australia’s leading experts in early years, social interaction, childhood studies and young children’s engagement with digital technologies. As Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child, Susan leads a collective of national and international researchers with partners across government, business and the community to inform policy, innovation and practice related to young children in a digital age. She was an ARC Future Fellow (2012–2017), the leader of three ARC Discovery Projects and a member the ARC College of Experts (2016–2017) as well as Early Childhood Australia’s Digital Policy Group. In 2019, Susan received an Honorary Doctorate from Uppsala University, Sweden, for contributions to international child studies, including studies of children and digital technologies.


Sheila Degotardi

Professor Sheila Degotardi

Sheila Degotardi is a Professor of Early Childhood Education and Deputy Head of Research in the Macquarie School of Education, Macquarie University. She is particularly interested in how very young children’s relationships contribute to their early learning, and how relationship-based pedagogies are enacted in early childhood centres. This has led her to investigate how infants’ social interactions contribute to their learning. Sheila is Chief Investigator on three ARC-funded projects and, with a multidisciplinary team, was awarded an ARC Discovery Grant to conduct a longitudinal study of infants’ language development and learning. She has over 50 scholarly publications to her name, including The Relationships Worlds of Infant and Toddlers, co-authored with Emma Pearson.


Susan Edwards

Professor Susan Edwards

Susan Edwards is Director of the Early Childhood Futures research program in the Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education, Australian Catholic University. Her group investigates the role of play-based learning in the early childhood curriculum for the 21st century. Susan has completed work as a Chief Investigator on four projects funded by ARC Discovery Grants concerning research into play-based learning. Most recently, she was chosen to lead a major ARC Linkage Project to develop an online tool guiding the use of digital technology in early childhood education and care services.



Andi Salamon

Doctor Andi Salamon

Andi Salamon is a lecturer and researcher in the School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University, with 20 years’ experience as an early childhood teacher. She is currently undertaking a research project funded by a Jean Denton Memorial Scholarship and is listed as Chief Investigator on an ARC Linkage Grant about practices enacted in digital society. Andi has a particular focus on making her work accessible to professionals and carers working and living with very young children. An advocate for infants’ rights and quality early years learning experiences for all children, she brings her passion to uphold children’s optimal learning into her work with pre-service teachers.