The Reconciliation Advisory Group was appointed by the ECA Board of Directors to continue and support the philosophy and implementation of ECA’s Reconciliation Action Plan.


Catharine Hydon (co-chair)
Catharine has over twenty years early childhood sector in Australia and overseas.  Beginning as a teacher in a sessional kindergarten program Catharine has gone on to manage a range of services for children and their families from childcare in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne to school based programs in Papua New Guinea.Catharine’s involvement in the early childhood field is an important part of her commitment to the sector.  She is a long time member of the Victorian Branch of Early Childhood Australia (ECA) and served as a Director on the National Board of ECA for 6 years until October 2011.  She was a co-founder of Real Rights for Refugee Children – an advocacy group for the promotion of refugee children’s place in early childhood services and in 2003 was awarded the Barbara Creaser Memorial award for outstanding contribution to early childhood education.  Catharine contributed to the review of the ECA Code of Ethics in 2006 and again in 2012 as well as the facilitation of ongoing professional learning sessions to support educator’s engagement with the code.   In 2011/12 she led ECA’s work on the Reconciliation Action Plan (between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader community), culminating in the release of the plan in October 2012.

Geraldine Atkinson (co-chair)
Geraldine Atkinson is a Bangerang/Wiradjuri woman who has devoted her career to expanding the possibilities available to Koorie people through education. For over 30 years Geraldine has been a significant presence in the Koorie and wider Victorian community, beginning as a Teacher’s Aide in 1976 to her current role as President of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI) since 1999.As IECB representative for Victoria, Geraldine has worked with counterparts in IECBs from all States and Territories in providing advice to the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood. (SCSCEC – formerly known as the Ministerial Council on Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs or MCEECDYA).Geraldine has added her expertise in Early Childhood to committees at the local, State and National level including: the Premier’s Advisory Council Childcare (under Premier Steve Bracks, from 2003-04); National Childcare Accreditation Council 2005-2011; National Children’s Services Forum (Early Childhood Australia); Early Childhood Australia Reconciliation Committee.Geraldine is the Deputy Chair of the Secretariat National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) and the Chair of Lulla’s Children and Family Centre in Shepparton.In all of her roles in early childhood Geraldine has continued to assert VAEAI’s position that child care and kindergarten for Koorie children should be culturally appropriate, welcoming of Koorie families, and accessible to boost participation of Koorie families in early childhood settings and support the transition of Koorie children into school.

Denise Proud
Denise Proud was born in Cherbourg, an Aboriginal settlement in Queensland, and in Wakka-Wakka country.  She was an early childhood educator for many years and is a popular international speaker in this field. Denise has also worked in correctional centres, youth detention centres, and women’s centres. Her parents along with many brothers and sisters were major influences in her life and more than a few of the ‘Chambers’ family are well known artists.
Denise has lived for many years at The Gap in Brisbane with her husband David and daughter Monique, where she has set up a studio and likes to paint into the small hours of the morning.
She continually supports her family, her community and her country.

Rhonda Livingstone
Rhonda Livingstone is the National Education Leader, ACECQA and brings a wealth of experience to this role, having worked in preschools and long day care centres and as an assessor of programs and services for both the Queensland Government and the Crèche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland. Rhonda’s extensive involvement in the National Quality Agenda reforms saw her contribute to the development of the National Quality Standard and its Guide, assessment and rating tools and processes, and the training and testing program for authorised officers. Rhonda has also worked as a Senior Advisor, Excellent Rating with ACECQA and as a sessional education academic with the Queensland University of Technology.

Gisella Wilson
Gisella Wilson is the Coordinator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs at KU Children’s Services.Gisella is a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation, with 20 years of experience in working with staff, children, families and communities throughout NSW. Gisella’s commitment to ensuring Aboriginal children have access to high quality early childhood education has been demonstrated through her close work with Aboriginal communities and early childhood services. Gisella believes one of the key components of reconciliation, is the education of all children about Aboriginal history and culture and that making connections and strengthening respectful relationships between Aboriginal people and the wider Australian community is essential.

Kaye van Nieuwkuyk
Originally from Tasmania, Kaye now lives and work in the Pilbara.  Originally trained as a teacher, Kaye has worked in the early childhood sector in various roles for the past 20 years.  Kaye is based at the YMCA Early Learning Centre where her work is focussed in early childhood settings in Newman, as well as more remote Aboriginal communities in the East Pilbara.

‘I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to learn about the families and their culture and to bring the principles and practices of the Early Years Learning Framework to them.  The work is not without challenges—we drive long distances in the heat and dust and sometimes mud, to create learning opportunities for the children and their families.  The children are always excited to see our van arrive and are very eager participants in whatever resources and experiences we bring.  The women participate in training and some are employed in playgroups that we support.’

I am very honoured to be a member of the Reconciliation Action Group and to participate in the thought-provoking discussions in which we engage.  In my time in the Pilbara I have learned that the journey to Reconciliation is challenging and that there are no quick solutions for the issues that we face.  I look forward to working with the Group as we develop the Implementation Plan.’

Uriel Whipp
Uriel Whipp is a descendent of the Yalangi people from Far North Queensland.

‘This is my mother’s country, my county where I feel a real sense of belonging and connection. My country begins at Mossman, north of Cairns and continues north to Cooktown before sweeping inland to as far as Laura. Within my country is the gorgeous Daintree Rainforest, we are rainforest mob. I feel very privileged to be invited to be part of The Early Childhood Australia Reconciliation Advisory Group and to begin a journey with others using dialogue and inquiry to develop a shared meaning of reconciliation.’

Uriel has worked in the Department of Education and Development in a range of positions where I have worked with young Aboriginal children and their Families for the past thirteen years. Uriel currently works in The Australian Early Years Development Index (AEDI) where her role is to support communities to interpret the AEDI data, (what is it saying about how children are growing up in communities) and ways community leaders can collaborate with services in partnerships between Government and Non-Government to implement strategies that will address issues for young children and families in a strategic and informed way.

Adam Duncan
Adam is a Biripi man, whose ancestors were traditional custodians of areas of the Manning River region of north-eastern New South Wales. He has worked as part of the team developing the Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning program to support educators in their exploration of reconciliation in early childhood education and care settings. He is an early childhood educator, storyteller, educational consultant and artist, currently working as the preschool teacher and educational leader at Wiradjuri Preschool and Child Care, at the University of Canberra.


The function of ECA’s Reconciliation Advisory Group is to:

  • Support the implementation of the Reconciliation Action Plan
  • Monitor and report on progress against ECA’s Reconciliation Action Plan
  • Provide advice to the ECA Board and leadership team on priorities and opportunities for effective action on reconciliation
  • Identify any risks or challenges to ECA’s work in this area
  • Inform the next evolution of the Reconciliation Action Plan (beyond 2014).