Meet the 2023 AJEC Research Symposium Keynote speakers!
International keynote speaker
Associate Professor Milda Brėdikytė
Milda has been an Associate Professor at Vytautas Magnus and Vilnius Universities in Lithuania since 2018. She has also worked at the University of Oulu in Finland (2002–2010) and the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences (1989–2001 and 2012–2018). At the University of Oulu, Milda was responsible for educational practices and coordinated research activities in the Play Research Lab Silmu. Since 2012, the Play Research Lab’s activities have continued at the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences. Together with Professor Pentti Hakkarainen, Milda is the creator of Narrative Play and Learning Pedagogy (2001–2017).
She is the author of many presentations, articles, books and book chapters, and is a participant in several research projects. Her research interests include children’s cultural development in the frame of cultural–historical theory, narrative play, creative drama and puppets in educational processes, formation of imagination and narrative thinking in play.
Australian keynote speaker
Dr Jacob Prehn
Jacob is a proud Worimi man, Indigenous Fellow, Senior Lecturer and the Master of Social Work Course Coordinator in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania. He is an award-winning early career researcher in the fields of sociology and social work and is currently a co-CI on a $1.25 million National Health and Medical Research Council (NMHRC) research grant.
Jacob is a critical social theorist who works with qualitative and quantitative data and aims to advance our knowledge of Indigenous people’s experiences in Indigenous and non-Indigenous societies. Within this work, he investigates a range of topics with a focus on Indigenous men and fatherhood, Indigenous families growing up strong and Indigenous data sovereignty.
Knowledge perspectives in early childhood panel
Professor Suzy 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.
Professor Linda Harrison
Linda has a long-standing interest in the design and use of innovative research methodologies to better understand the relationships and conditions that support high quality practice and promote children’s learning, development and wellbeing in education and care contexts. A key feature of her research career has been to form or contribute to collaborative partnerships, including with the Commonwealth, state and local governments, providers of early education and care, and other stakeholders. With her colleagues, she has been awarded eight Australian Research Council grants and many more research tenders and contracts, generating about $8 million to support research capacity-building and knowledge generation. Linda holds a part-time appointment as Professorial Research Fellow in Early Childhood Education at Macquarie University, and is an Adjunct Professor of Early Childhood Education at Charles Sturt University.
Professor Sue Grieshaber
Sue Grieshaber is Professor of Early Childhood Education in the School of Education at La Trobe University. Her research interests are informed by a range of critical and ‘post’ theories that address social justice and equity, and include early childhood curriculum, policy and pedagogies and women in higher education.
Associate Professor Deborah Pino-Pasternak
Deborah investigates how early regulatory functions are fostered or hindered by home and school environments, with an emphasis on the quality of parent–child and teacher–student interactions. She has conducted numerous quantitative and qualitative studies in this area and developed significant expertise in the analysis of interactive video data.
Professor Sandie Wong
Sandie Wong is a Professor at Macquarie University and a Research Fellow with Goodstart Early Learning. She has worked as an academic, manager, researcher, evaluator, educator, consultant and nurse in a range of early childhood, academic and health organisations. Sandie is committed to working in collaborative, strengths-based ways with academics from a range of disciplines, early childhood organisations, practitioners and governments to lead and support high-quality research, evaluation and practitioner inquiry that contributes to best practice in early childhood. Her current work investigates early childhood practices (including inter-professional practice), workforce issues (including educator time-use), educator wellbeing and the history of early childhood internationally. Sandie is on the Editorial Board of the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood.
Dr Cara Swit
Dr Cara Swit is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. Her main research activities attempt to understand how children learn to understand and engage with their social world, with a particular focus on the influence of parents, teachers and peers in face-to-face and digital contexts. Cara currently teaches in the Child and Family Psychology program and is the facilitator of the new micro-credential Understanding and Responding to Child Behaviour. She is on the Editorial Board of the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood and is a Council Member of the International Society for Research on Aggression.