During the Little People Big Dreams Conference on Saturday, 23 September, over 400 attendees from across Australia’s ECEC sector united in Darwin for a day filled with incredible insights and thought-provoking speakers.

The day started with the Minister for Education, Honourable Eva Lawler opening the conference and inspiring us with her words and presence.

Minister for Education, Honourable Eva Lawler

CEO Tina Holtom: “Reflecting on the incredible success of the ‘Little People Big Dreams’ conference fills me with immense pride and gratitude. Together, we embarked on a journey of empowerment, inspiration, and transformative change. 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.”

Delegates mentioned the conference supported and motivated them in the following ways:

  • “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.”
  • “I learned to build up the confidence to work with families and learn how to strike a perfect balance in work and handle stress.”
  • “How amazing was it to learn about different behaviours of children and what happiness means to an individual in creating a good working environment.”

The day kicked off with keynote Catherine Liddle, who exemplified the aboriginal way of learning through story telling. She told the story of Kuniya and Liru 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.

Keynote Speaker, Catherine Liddle from SNAICC

One of the delegates mentioned: “One key takeaway from Catherine’s speech was her emphasis on the immense power of words. She eloquently articulated how the language we choose to use can either nurture a culture of safety and respect or unintentionally perpetuate harm.”

Another delegate said: “Catherine Liddle’s keynote was fantastic – she weaves storytelling and true (and hard) facts together seamlessly.” “The highlight was Catherine Liddle, she said Aboriginal people want to have a proper early education for their child so that their child’s well-being will be holistically ready when going to the ’big school’. As a student, it helps me understand the perspective of Aboriginal people regarding early childhood education and care and its effects on their lives.”

Keynote Speaker, Linda Harrison

After the inspiring first keynote, we dove into Early Childhood Education and Linda Harrison, who worked on both versions of the EYLF, provided us with an overview of the new EYLF V2.0. She explained how they worked to clarify understandings and in particular expanded to the glossary, to make it three times as big, to assist.’

Feedback on Linda included: “Seeing who contributed to EYLF and MTOP and how they achieved the results was the highlight of my day” and “How amazing was it that I was introduced to ORICL, a tool to enhance educator capability, especially for those working with infants and toddlers, and aims to fill the gap of knowledge training can miss.  With its aim to look at where the child is at and to support understanding of quality for each unique child, I will be following up to find out more”.

Trina Bourke from Child Australia

In the break-out rooms we had many fabulous speakers like: Trina Bourke from Child Australia and she was the highlight of several delegates who mentioned: “My highlight was especially the interactiveness that Trina Bourke brought us with “The Multimodal Language of Dance”, got everyone up and moving. Seconded by a delegate saying: ”I love it! It gave me a lot of inspiration and reflection”. While another said: “The multi-modal language of dance session was fun and engaging. I will be trying to incorporate more dance for self-expression in our Preschool group.”

All of our speakers were highlighted, like Kelly Oldfield and Nicole Talarico:  

  • “Going to listen to Kelly Oldfield was my highlight as I found her extremely engaging and got so much out of it.”
  • “Nicole Talarico’s session on safety was also fantastic – she was inspiring and engaging, can’t wait to read her book!”
  • “Kelly’s concurrent session was a thought-provoking exploration of a crucial aspect of child development that often goes unnoticed: the concept of a ‘social and emotional developmental deficit.’ Her 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.”

Sasha Beirne and Connie Borg from Child Australia

Other highlighted speakers were Sasha Beirne and Connie Borg from Child Australia. The feedback stated: “Sasha and Connie were sensational. Their content was engaging, and I took a lot away from this.”

The day was jam-packed to ensure there was something for everyone. A delegated mentioned:  ‘My highlights were Play therapy and Trauma’ by Kylie Ellison and ‘Can young children self-regulate’ by Sarah Forgan. They both gave me strategies that I can use with my children and share with my colleagues. Another delegate mentioned: “I LOVED the Kylie Ellison’s, Play Therapy and Trauma, she was fun, informative and engaging during the session and this would be my highlight of the conference.”

For those of you who missed out on her session, Kylie Ellison shared with us her presentation slides on Play Therapy: click here  

The vibe and energy from everyone who attended during the Little People Big Dreams Conference 2023 conference was fantastic and as one of the delegates said in her feedback, the speakers were all fantastic, “I can’t pick just one!”

Keynote Speaker, Robbie Figg from Happiness Co.

The day finished with Robbie Fig and a presentation on Happiness and the distinction between personal and peak performance. He was nothing short of inspiring as Robbie’s wisdom encouraged us to take a step back and reflect on the subtle yet profound differences between personal happiness and achieving peak performance. He emphasised that true happiness often lies in the journey itself, in the everyday moments that bring us joy, rather than solely in reaching a pinnacle of success. Robbie’s words left us with a renewed sense of purpose, encouraging us to strive for excellence while also nurturing our inner happiness.

One of the delegates said “Robbie was an amazing emcee and incredible advocate for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Robbie was such a positive light for the conference.” Another feedback comment we got was: “I really resonated with the statement, ‘everything you do takes you away from or towards the person you want to be’ and thinking about how this links to being an authentic educator, team member and person.”

Major thanks to our partners and sponsors!

We extend our biggest thanks to our major partner, the Northern Territory Government, and all our sponsors: Berry Street, HESTA, TCCG, The Y NT, The Sector, Twinkl, Goodstart, Wildings Forest School, Affinity Education Group.

The exhibitors, who sparked in our Marketplace and provided delegates with new resources, tools and ideas were: 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 FurnitureTCCG, The Y NT, Ronald McDonald House Charities North Australia and Yarn Strong Sista.

We are not the only ones who are thankful to our sponsors and exhibitors, as one of the delegates mentioned: “It was great to hear from all of the hosts of course but also being able to communicate with the sponsors and exhibitors was such a great touch.”

…and not to forget a big shout out to our dedicated staff for making this day possible!

If you couldn’t join us this time, we will be back next year. If you are located in WA, we’re already gearing up for something exciting in Perth in 2024!