Little People, Big Dreams a big success
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Little People, Big Dreams Conference dubbed “an inspirational success”

Little People, Big Dreams Conference dubbed “an inspirational success”

by Freya Lucas

October 03, 2023

Over 400 attendees from across Australia united in Darwin on Saturday 23 September for the Little People, Big Dreams Conference, which has been described as being “a day filled with incredible insights” from a range of thought provoking speakers. 


The day began with the Minister for Education, Honourable Eva Lawler opening the conference and inspiring those in attendance with her words and presence.


Inspiring keynotes


First keynote speaker Catherine Liddle, CEO of SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, shared the story of Kuniya and Liru, which she used to explain the importance of connection, mothers, aunties and grandmothers in the process of empowering and educating children in setting that meet their needs without walls, that meet their needs in their ways. 


For one delegate, the opening keynote was a reminder of the immense power of the words we use with and around children and families, saying “she eloquently articulated how the language we choose to use can either nurture a culture of safety and respect or unintentionally perpetuate harm.” 


“Her insights brought awareness of the responsibility we all share in selecting our words thoughtfully and considerately, ensuring that they align with the principles of cultural safety.”


The next keynote speaker was Linda Harrison, who worked on both versions of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), who provided delegates with an overview of the new EYLF V2.0. She explained how the Australian community reshaped the EYLF and the Framework for School Aged Care (also known as My Time Our Place). 


Ms Harrison shared insights from the two year process of engaging with educators, providers, professionals, families, governments, children and young people as the Frameworks were revised. She explained how all stakeholders worked to clarify understandings within the framework, with a particular emphasis on expanding the glossary – making it three times as big – to assist in this clarification. 


As one attendee said, “…seeing who contributed to EYLF and MTOP and how they achieved the results was the highlight of my day.”


The day finished with Robbie Fig, who motivated those in attendance with a presentation on happiness and the distinction between personal and peak performance. As he delved into the intricacies of what it truly means to be happy and how it correlates with our individual and peak performances, it was evident that his insights struck a chord with everyone in attendance. 


His wisdom encouraged attendees to take a step back and reflect on the subtle yet profound differences between personal happiness and achieving peak performance. 


Breakout sessions with impact 


One of the unique aspects of the conference program was the care and attention paid to the breakout rooms, with dedicated programs for those in both outside school hours care (OSHC) and early learning settings. 


A few speakers to mention included Trina Bourke (Child Australia), Kelly Oldfield (Owner and Director of Child Development and Behaviour Specialists), Nicole Talarico (early childhood consultant), Sasha Beirne and Connie Borg (Child Australia), Kylie Ellison (Founder, Co-owner and Managing Director at Centre for Play Therapy and Play Therapy Training Australia, Podcaster, and Founder and President of Play Therapy Practitioners Association), and Sarah Forga (Consultant, Berry Street Education Model). 


Ms Bourke’s session made an impact with a number of delegates, with one saying “my highlight was especially the interactiveness that Trina Bourke brought us with The Multimodal Language of Dance, got everyone up and moving.” 


Ms Oldfield’s session was described as “extremely engaging”, while Ms Talarico was noted for her session on child protection and safety, and for being an inspiring and engaging speaker. 


“(Ms Oldfield’s)  insights shed light on the significance of recognising that some children may face challenges in their social and emotional growth that require empathy and understanding,” one delegate said. 


“She brought to light the fascinating and critically important concept of the “cycle of escalation and de-escalation” in children. Her insights delved into the dynamic process through which children can move from a state of heightened tension and emotional escalation to a state of calm and de-escalation.”


A conference program which was supportive and motivating


Delegates as a collective commented that the conference left them feeling supported and motivated. 


“I loved the well-being and psychology speakers. They touched on the psychological aspect we all need to build on to develop stronger mental health and how to support children, building on our knowledge around child psychology,” one said. 


Developing the confidence to work with children and families, and learning how to manage work stress were other key takeaways, along with having time to meet with colleagues, having the time to discuss ideas between sessions, and meeting others. 


For Child Australia CEO Tina Holtom, the conference was an event which filled her with “immense pride and gratitude.” 


“Together we embarked on a journey of empowerment, inspiration, and transformative change,” she said. 


“The conference was not merely an event; it was a testament to our collective dedication to nurturing the potential within every child. Witnessing the passion, knowledge sharing, and collaborative spirit among delegates reaffirmed our shared commitment to shaping a brighter future for our children. Our journey continues as we carry the spirit of this conference forward, transforming dreams into reality, one little step at a time.”


Child Australia extended the ‘biggest thanks’ to its major partner, the Northern Territory Government, and all sponsors: Berry Street, HESTA, TCCG, The Y NT, The Sector, Twinkl, Goodstart , Wildings Forest School, Affinity Education Group, along with its dedicated staff who made the day possible.


A number of exhibitors participated in the Marketplace and provided delegates with new resources, tools and ideas: 


  • Modern Teaching Aids
  • 1Place
  • Kangarootime
  • Be You
  • Early Childhood Australia
  • Berry Street
  • Catholic Education NT
  • Early Start Australia
  • ECANT – Early Childhood Australia NT
  • Essential Resources
  • Mile End Office Furniture
  • TCCG
  • The Y NT
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities North Australia and; 
  • Yarn Strong Sista


For those who were unable to join Little People, Big Dreams in 2023, the Conference will be back next year, and for those in Western Australia, there are exciting plans for 2024. 


To stay in touch with all the events, learning and professional development opportunities at Child Australia visit the website, or follow Child Australia on Facebook.  


Lead image features Simone Griggs (L) and Kellie Picker (R) from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) who presented their research at the conference.

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