About us

The ECA SA Branch is an active and vibrant group of volunteers with members from across the education, care and health sectors. This broad membership base shares a common aspiration to provide leadership and advocacy on behalf of all children.
Our branch priorities for 2017 include Advocacy, Reconciliation understandings and activities and a focus on the rights of children aged Birth to Three years.
Peak organisations and government sectors invite advice from our branch to contribute to and comment on early childhood issues and policies that affect young children and their families.

Upcoming Events

Please check back soon for upcoming events in 2018.

Past Events

An evening with Ms Helen Connolly South Australia’s first Commissioner For Children & Young People

ECA SA invites branch members and colleagues to engage in a facilitated professional discussion with Ms Helen Connolly, South Australia’s first Commissioner for Children & Young People. The role of Commissioner is to:

  • Promote and monitor the overall wellbeing of the children of South Australia.
  • Promote and advocate for the rights and interests of all children and young people
  • Promote participation by children and young people in the making of decisions that affect their lives.
  • Establish and conduct inquiries into matters related to the rights, development and wellbeing of children and young people at a systemic level.
  • Advise and make recommendations to Ministers, state authorities and other bodies on matters related to the rights, development and wellbeing of children and young people to relevant legislation, policies, practices and services.

Click here for further details

Cultural Respect and Safety Training Workshop

This all day workshop for Branch Executive members on 25 March 2017 will be held at the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre at Marion SA. Cultural Respect Training Consultants Sharon Gollan, Kathleen Stacey, Cara Ellickson and Tony Fletcher will lead the training.

Click here for further details.


At the AGM of Reconciliation SA on 16 November 2016 the Hon. Fred Chaney AO shared his years of experience working with both government and communities and the roles they each play in reconciliation and justice. The take home message of his speech was that it’s time for the government to work with Aboriginal people, not to or for. Fred reminded us that “… words are often easy and implementation is extraordinarily difficult. Implementation that is not based on total respect, understanding and preparedness to work with Aboriginal people will continue to make very modest progress.”

Reconciliation SA National Apology Breakfast

ECA SA sponsored three members and an Indigenous colleague as a guest to the 9th Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations Breakfast in Adelaide on 13 February 2017. Three Branch members provided the reflections below.

“It was a great privilege to attend the 9th Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations Breakfast. At the event we heard from some survivors of the Stolen Generations, telling their stories about their childhoods and their life pathways, conveying an immense sadness tinged with hope and humour. There was also a reminder of the ongoing hurt that is occurring for the descendants and extended family members of the Stolen Generations. Selected footage of the second series of the First Contact television series was shown with its emphasis on educating the non-Aboriginal population about the realities of our country’s dark history. It made me think about the understanding and action that is needed for reconciliation, and the importance of open-mindedness and challenge for new learning in the face of complacency from some and outright denial by others. Throughout the breakfast a recurring question was “What will we be able to celebrate this time next year as we mark the 10th anniversary of the Apology?” This surely is a pertinent question for all us to keep in mind in our work in early childhood as we move towards that important milestone and beyond. Thank you ECA SA for organising a table and supporting members’ attendance.”

“I would like to thank ECA for the opportunity to attend the Reconciliation Breakfast. I found it to be a really moving experience particularly hearing the stories from people who had experienced the atrocities of being placed in institutions. I was shocked at what these poor children had to deal with. Not only losing all sense of family but then being beaten and chained for trivial behaviours was quite appalling and made me very emotional. I am truly sorry for what they were subjected to and can’t understand why it took so long for anyone to acknowledge their suffering and apologise.”

“I was humbled by the bravery of the Survivors of the Stolen Generations as they shared their courageous stories at the Breakfast gathering to commemorate the 9th Anniversary of the National Apology.    The journey of healing from the repercussion of such an atrocity is a long one and for my part I am resolute to work with others to find ways to acknowledge and place meaning of the Apology into everyday practice with our Children, Families and Communities. Thank you for the opportunity to represent Early Childhood Australia.”

In the 20th year since the “Bringing Them Home Report 1997” it is incumbent on all Australians to remain open to the effects of past government policy and practice on the Aboriginal community.

“Through acknowledgement of the wrongs of the past, we can begin to heal and build a future where the people of Australia walk together with reverence and unity.”

Margaret Trembath Scholarship

The ECA SA Branch was excited to offer the Margaret Trembath Scholarship in 2016. The scholarship, to the value of $20,000 (which is available to support research in young children’s learning, development and wellbeing) was awarded to a research team from Gowrie SA. The team, led by Kate Stone, is undertaking a research project titled Children are capable decision makers in natural learning environments: The use of benefit-risk assessments for strengthening children’s capacity to manage risk associated with nature-based learning. This project aims to demonstrate the value of the ‘benefit-risk assessment’ as a tool for supporting three- to six-year-old South Australian children to manage risks that are associated with natural learning environments within their community, as well as building families and educators’ acceptance of children’s engagement with nature-based learning.
News of members

In November, the Branch mourned the death of long standing member and Branch Vice President Andrea McGuffog OAM. A former State President (1995–1997), National Board Director (1997–2005) and ECA representative on the National Children’s Services Forum (1997–2011), Andrea was highly respected and inspired many in ECA and the early childhood field. In 2006, Andrea received a NIFTeY Excellence in the Early Years Award and in 2014 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community, particularly early childhood development. Many ECA members and the National President attended a memorial service for Andrea in Adelaide. A generous, kind and supportive member, Andrea will be sadly missed.

Following the resignation of Pam Linke, the Branch acknowledged Pam’s active contribution to the work of ECA SA over many years. Pam held almost every position including President, Vice President and SA National Director. Pam willingly supported branch members and participated actively in branch meetings, executive committee meetings, and represented ECA SA on a range of inquiries and committees. She was an active contributor to ECA SA newsletters and other ECA publications. Many of these publications are now considered as standard, required documents within early childhood services.

AGM November 2016

At the AGM held in December, Italia Parletta, State President, reflected on the priorities undertaken by the Branch during the year and highlighted successful activities on reconciliation, advocacy, play and pedagogy, children in detention and refugee settlement. National Board Member Kate Ryan conducted the election of the Branch Executive Committee and Office Bearers. This was followed by a presentation from guest speaker Ann Marie Hayes, Executive Director, Statewide Services and Child Development (SSCD) of the Department of Education and Child Development, on the priorities and future directions for SSCD.

Committees with Branch Representation

The state government and other key decision makers regularly seek our involvement in reference groups, and our opinions on projects and programs for South Australian children and families.

Currently the SA Branch is represented on the following committees:

  • National ECA Reconciliation Advisory Group (vacancy)
  • Supporting ECA Networks Reference Group (Margaret Sankey)
  • The Committee for the Lillian de Lissa and Jean Denton Memorial Trusts Committee (Rosemary Green)
  • SA Teachers Registration Board – Early Childhood Reference Group – Australian Standards for Teachers (Gerry Mulhearn)
  • Council of Education Associations CEASA (Sue Dahlenberg)
  • University of South Australia –Programs Advisory Group (Sue Jackson, Karen Winderlich)
  • Early Learning Everyone Benefits Campaign Reference Group (Italia Parletta)
  • National Quality Agenda Stakeholder Advisory Group (Joan Gilbert)
  • The South Australian Collaborative Childhood Project Governance Group – Kate Ryan
  • Re-imagining Childhood Birth to Three years Project Leaders Group (Joan Gilbert)
  • Margaret Trembath Research Fund – Lesley Ey

Branch Executive

President Joan Gilbert
Vice President vacancy
SA National Director Kate Ryan
Secretary Susan Jackson
Treasurer Lynne Rutherford

Committee Members

Kaye Colmer
Trish Cook
Sue Dahlenburg
Lesley-Anne Ey
Gerry Mulhearn
Trish Tranfa
Italia Parletta


e: ecasa@earlychildhood.org.au