Meet the 2024 AJEC Research Symposium Keynote speakers!
International keynote speaker
Associate Professor Sonja Macfarlane
Sonja Macfarlane (Ngāi Tahu; Ngāti Waewae) is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Education, Massey University. The focus of her research and writing is on culturally responsive evidence-based approaches in education, health, psychology and counselling. Her work has been widely published in leading research journals, both nationally and internationally, and she has been the recipient of several national awards in recognition of her contributions to Māori research over many years. In 2019, Sonja was made a Fellow of the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS) for her contributions to the discipline, and is also an advisory member on several ministerial-funded projects.
Australian keynote speaker
Associate Professor Serene Yoong
Associate Professor Serene Yoong is Associate Director of the Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition at Deakin University and Deputy Director of the National Centre of Implementation Science. She has expertise in undertaking large-scale implementation trials to reduce risk factors for chronic diseases in community settings. She has worked for almost a decade undertaking research to support the capacity of early childhood education and care services to implement evidence-based nutrition, physical activity and wellbeing interventions obtaining over $15 million in grant funding and publishing more than 200 manuscripts. She has produced seminal work related to implementation methods including providing guidance for undertaking implementation trials, the development of measures of implementation determinants and pilot/hybrid trials. In 2018 she was awarded an Australian Institute of Policy and Science Tall Poppy Award and a BUPA Early Career Researcher award.
Panel on Being attuned to people, culture and place
Professor Andrea Nolan
Andrea Nolan is Professor of Early Childhood Education in the School of Education at Deakin University. She is a member of the university’s strategic research centre, Research for Educational Impact, and has conducted research in preschools and schools across a number of state, national and international projects. Her research is framed around the capabilities of the early childhood education and care workforce, focusing on the professionalisation and practice of teachers. She has researched the impact of the Australian Government initiatives on professional identities and educator practice, mentoring, interprofessional work, and reflective practice.
Professor Bindi Bennett
Dr Bindi Bennett (she/her) is a K/Gamilaroi woman, mother and social worker, and is a Professorial Research Fellow at Federation University living and working on Jinibara lands. She is a social justice scholar—a compassionate radical and activist committed to improving and growing cultural responsiveness, re-Indigenising Western spaces, understanding and exploring Indigenous Knowledge Systems in research, and exploring the human–animal bond.
Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett
Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett is a Professor in Early Childhood, member of the national Early Childhood Development Council and Academic Director of the Early Years at the University of Wollongong. She has demonstrated leadership and scholarship in translational research with a strong track record in developing and delivering professional learning initiatives across the early childhood education sector. She has co-led numerous large-scale research projects across three Australian states, in over 600 early childhood education and care services, reaching more than 4,000 children. Her current research projects focus on quality early childhood environments, workforce development, children’s development and wellbeing, integrated early childhood service platforms, and approaches to assessment.
In conversation with the AJEC Editors – Present and future
Professor Suzy Edwards
Professor 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 to guide the use of digital technology in early childhood education and care services.
Professor Susanne Garvis
Professor Susanne Garvis is an international expert in early childhood education and care within the Griffith Institute for Educational Research, Griffith University. Her research has focused on quality improvement, evaluations, pedagogical practice and policy development in Australia and across the world. Susanne has worked with many governments and non-government organisations to support early childhood education policy. She has worked in higher education in Australia, Sweden and Norway.
Dr Pauline Roberts
Dr Pauline Roberts began her professional career as a teacher and director of early childhood services in NSW. After moving to WA, she began shifting her career focus to mentoring through professional experience supervision of pre-service teachers for Murdoch, Curtin and Edith Cowan universities. Since 2015, Pauline has been a lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Edith Cowan University and continues to focus on reflection, ePortfolios and technology. Pauline also focuses on advocacy and workforce issues impacting on the early years.
Dr Claire Blewitt
Claire Blewitt is a Research Fellow in the Health and Social Care Unit in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. Her background in developmental psychology and, prior to that, engineering and sustainability, has led to an interest in transdisciplinary research. Claire works across education, social care and health to co-design, implement and evaluate approaches that aim to strengthen children’s development and positive mental health. Her current research focuses on early childhood social and emotional learning and trauma-informed practice.