Connecting to support children who are experiencing vulnerability
Meet the speakers!
Janet is the General Manager for Early Learning at TRY Australia, a not-for-profit early childhood organisation that operates 42 early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs across Victoria and South Australia. She has a multi-disciplinary background, with qualifications in early years care and education, and registrations in general and psychiatric nursing. She also holds a Masters in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Systemic Family Therapy. Janet has wide-ranging experience both in Australia and the UK in designing, developing and disseminating programs and services for highly disadvantaged families and young children.
Dr Kate Highfield
Dr Kate Highfield is an experienced teacher, teacher educator and researcher. As General Manager of Professional Learning and Research Translation at Early Childhood Australia, Kate explores effective technology integration and use, with a focus on potential impacts on learning (for adults and children), pedagogy and play.
Kate has spent over two decades working as a classroom teacher and as a teacher educator and researcher at Swinburne, Macquarie and Charles Sturt Universities. Her current research (supported by a range of grants and linkage projects) explores the impact of technology as a tool with young children, parents and educators. This work specifically focuses on the use of digital technologies in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEAM), including interactive screens, tablets, iPads and smartphones, robotics and techno-toys. Kate examines digital play, technology integration and how healthy media use can be used as a tool to enhance learning.
Dr Zinnia Mevawalla
Zinnia Mevawalla is a lecturer in the early years who has worked across universities in Australia and the United Kingdom. She is interested in understanding how initiatives and practices in the early years can foster social inclusion. Using critical and resistance theories, her work focuses on listening to children, families/caregivers and community stakeholders who experience disadvantage, disability and dehumanisation in order to examine the potential for inclusion, equity, participation and transformative resistance (see for example her recent work with children living on the streets in India). Zinnia is also interested in research which explores how educators, transdisciplinary professionals and community stakeholders work across early childhood contexts to support children and families/caregivers who experience social exclusion.
Mikayla King is a Kalkadoon/Dutch early childhood teacher, private Aboriginal education consultant and Masters of Aboriginal Studies student. She has worked in education for the past eight years. In 2019, Mikayla won awards from both Midland NAIDOC Community and Early Childhood Australia in recognition of her work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education.
Hillary Milton is a psychologist with over 15 years clinical experience working with children, adolescents and their families—including those who have experienced significant and complex trauma—in rural, regional and metropolitan areas. Hillary has completed a Masters in Family Therapy, and has held a variety of positions, working within multi-disciplinary teams, in-home visiting services, and running therapeutic group programs. She is currently based in Newcastle and facilitates key programs for the Child Abuse Prevention Service, including Safe Children, Safe Families and Child Safe Leaders, and is part of the Safe Arrival pilot.
Tiziana is a Stream Coordinator for Innovative Solutions Support Funding with KU Children’s Services Inclusion Development Fund Manager. This stream of inclusion support funding provides eligible early childhood education and care (ECEC) services with funds to implement an innovative project designed to address their unique barriers to inclusion. Tiziana works closely with inclusion professionals and services to access Innovative Solutions Support funding. Tiziana is passionate about her role and ensuring all children have equitable access to resources and can participate meaningfully in inclusive settings.
As Manager of the Hunter and Richmond Tweed Hubs of the NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency, Emma Hughes oversees the management and implementation of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment Inclusion Support Program. The Inclusion Support Program provides supports to eligible mainstream early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to build their capacity and capability to include children with additional needs, alongside their typically developing peers, so all children have genuine opportunities to access, participate and achieve positive learning outcomes. Emma is passionate about supporting educators to address barriers to inclusion so that all children are actively included and valued as part of their communities, both now and in the future.
Judy Kynaston is the General Manager of Be You, a mental health initiative for schools and early learning services. The Be You initiative empowers early childhood educators to support children and families experiencing vulnerabilities related to mental health and wellbeing. Judy’s extensive work experience includes leadership roles in a variety of early learning settings and community organisations, as well as delivery of training to the early childhood sector. Her experience also extends to advocacy and policy aimed at improving the lives and wellbeing of young children.
Dr Rebecca Goodhue
Starting her career as a paediatric speech-language pathologist, Rebecca worked for 15 years in early childhood centres, schools, homes, and sometimes in parks and playgrounds. After establishing a private practice in New Zealand, completing her PhD, and leading a speech-language pathology team in rural, remote Western Australia, Rebecca moved into the policy, research and knowledge mobilisation space. In her current role as General Manager, Capacity Building at Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth (ARACY), she has developed holistic wellbeing training which has received international interest, managed the development of a national strategy regarding early language and literacy, and is deeply involved in the evidence surrounding the wellbeing of children and young people.
Dr Reina Michaelson
Reina Michaelson has a PhD in Psychology from Victoria University and extensive experience in the field of child maltreatment, with particular expertise in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse. As Head of Research and Program Development at the Child Abuse Prevention Service (CAPS), Reina has coordinated and implemented a range of parenting programs, including 123 Magic, Triple P, Tuning Into Kids, and Tuning Into Teens. She has also developed and facilitated the Safe Children, Safe Families program in NSW early learning centres, preschools and playgroups since 2016.
Prior to joining CAPS, Reina worked with the Northern Territory Government Families and Children as a senior policy officer in child protection reform, particularly in relation to the prevention and response to complex child abuse in Indigenous communities. She has also worked as an international consultant with UNICEF to help developing countries create their own child sexual abuse prevention programs.
Dr Anthea Rhodes
Dr Anthea Rhodes is a paediatrician and medical educator with clinical interests in the health needs of the vulnerable child, and expertise in child development and behaviour. Anthea undertook her paediatric training at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Melbourne, where she has worked since 2004. She has postgraduate training in medical education and is a lecturer and subject coordinator in Child and Adolescent Health for the Doctor of Medicine program at the University of Melbourne. Anthea has been involved in a number of research projects across the fields of health service delivery and health professional education. She has also been the Director of the RCH Child Health Poll since its first release in December 2015.