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Early childhood experts to speak at University


Zoe Satherley
11 October 2007
Leading national and international early childhood experts are coming to Southern Cross University for a public symposium on Monday, October 29.

‘What matters in early childhood: a conversation with leading national and international experts’ will engage with participants about what matters most in early childhood and care in Australia, especially for children living in regional and rural settings.

The symposium is being hosted by the University’s Centre for Children and Young People at Invercauld House, Invercauld Road, Goonellabah.

Speakers include: Ms Pam Cahir – CEO, Early Childhood Australia; Professor Dorothy Scott – director, Australian Centre for Child Protection; Ms Muriel Bamblett – CEO, Victorian Aboriginal Childcare Agency and Chair of the Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC); Professor Anne Trine Kjørholt – director, The Norwegian Centre for Child Research; Professor Jennifer Sumsion – Foundation Professor, Early Childhood Education, Charles Sturt University; and Emeritus Professor Anne Smith – Children’s Issues Centre, University of Otago, New Zealand.

Professor Judy Cashmore will facilitate the day, and brings to the task a wealth of experience, having worked in research with children in all three areas of participation, protection and provision over the last two decades.

Professor Dorothy Scott will speak on ‘Sowing the Seeds of Innovation: ideas for enhancing the well-being of children and families’.

She will be looking at the issue of why models of excellent schools, effective job training, and wonderful early childhood programs remain only models.

“Why do interventions that actually change the odds for their high-risk participants succeed briefly … and fail the moment we try to sustain them … or expand them?” she wants to know.

“In child and family services in Australia and elsewhere there is a rich range of promising approaches emerging in response to problems such as child abuse and neglect. However, little is known about how and why some innovations spread from one context to another and others do not.”

Her presentation will provide insight into the complex interplay of the innovation, the individual, the organisation and the wider environment on the spread of innovative policies, programs and practice.

“Not all innovation is worthy of diffusion and in some cases it may be dangerous to do so. The task needs to be one of promoting the uptake of innovations that have been shown to be effective, delaying the spread of those that have not yet been shown to be effective, and preventing the uptake of ineffective innovations,” she said quoting research in the field.

Muriel Bamblett’s presentation will focus on what is working well in the early learning and care of young Indigenous children and how culturally-embedded practices are essential for improving outcomes.

“The toxic environment that is colonised Australia has broken many of the traditional circles of care and learning for Indigenous children,” she argues.

“At SNAICC we believe that an approach to Aboriginal children which is culturally respectful, culturally appropriate and is framed according to self-determination and human rights is necessary to ensure a positive outcome for Aboriginal children and families.

“My paper seeks to begin a process of exploring appropriate, well-targeted and innovative programs, using SNAICC’s experience in producing tools for culturally-embedded practice and developing engagement with the mainstream community services sector. It will present some examples of the culturally embedded programs and frameworks Aboriginal services are developing as we seek a positive future for our children.

“The only way to ensure that every Indigenous child is effectively cared for is by developing the capacity of Indigenous communities to look after their own by strengthening Indigenous organisations and agencies. It is Indigenous agencies who are best placed to deliver innovative programs which are culturally embedded and carefully targeted to restore the circles of care and learning for Indigenous kids.”

For further information and to register visit the CCYP website at or phone Wendy Britt on 6620 3605.