SNAICC’23 will feature over 102 concurrent sessions across three streams:




Click on each session title for more information.

We would like to thank the Larrakia People, the traditional owners of the lands upon which we will meet for their hospitality and pay our respects to their elders.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Wendy Nungarrayi Brown – Member (Marlpa Jungu Jintangka)
  • Ormay Nangala Gallagher – Member (Marlpa Jungu Jintangka), Literacy Worker in Bilingual Resource Development (Yuendumu School)
  • Gretel Macdonald – Project Manager (Pirlirrpa Ngurrju-maninjaku Project)
  • Yamurna Oldfield – Member (Marlpa Jungu Jintangka), Assistant Principal (Yuendumu School)
  • Belinda Napaljarri Wayne – Member (Marlpa Jungu Jintangka), NT Department of Education Aboriginal Engagement Officer (Yurrumpi Child and Family Centre)
  • Jean Brown – Member (Marlpa Jungu Jintangka)
  • Samantha Watson – Member (Marlpa Jungu Jintangka), Sage House Support Worker (Yuendumu School)

In their presentation, members of Marlpa Jungu Jintangka ‘the Yuendumu Early Childhood Reference Group’ will share about the Pirlirrpa Ngurrju-maninjaku 'Healing the Spirit' project, through storytelling and some short hands-on activities. The project involved a journey of learning, supported by the Australian Childhood Foundation, about trauma and its effects on brain development in young children. It also involved developing resources about healing from trauma, which have been designed specifically for use in Warlpiri communities.

  • Catherine Liddle – CEO (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)

This panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives from the Early Childhood Care and Development Policy Partnership will be facilitated by SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle. The Panel will have a dynamic and open discussion on the surprises, opportunities and challenges emerging from this new way of working with governments through the Policy Partnerships, including the importance of shared decision making as a step towards self-determination in policy making.

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  • Sheree Lowe – Djab Wurrung and Gunditjmara woman, Executive Director, Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centre of Excellence (Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO))

VACCHO’s Balit Durn Durn Centre is leading the implementation of key reforms from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System - an intensive Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing service model for infants, children and families, and a Healing Centre service model. This presentation will share insights from these co-design projects, including how to respond to the ‘missing middle’ in care for our children and families by understanding what really works to be healthy, safe and strong.

  • Vicki Atkinson – Early Years Service Manager – Koori First Steps Preschool (Mungabareena Aboriginal Coorporation)
  • Tameeka Glass – Leadership Advisor, THRYVE Division (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)

This presentation will raise awareness of how Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations can provide child centred services that nourish and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. We will unpack the narrative of how Koori First Steps Preschool expanded into the Early Years Hub, share the specific and targeted services for children in out of home care and explore the process of the expansion to early years programs and long-day care in the new purpose-built centre.

  • Dr Francis Bobongie-Harris – Senior Lecturer and Researcher, School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education (Queensland University of Technology)
  • Professor Linda Harrison – Professorial Research Fellow, School of Education (Macquarie University)

The Early Years Learning Framework Version 2 has the new inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives embedded throughout. It begins with a new Vision, the inclusion of a new Principle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, the Practice of cultural responsiveness to ensure cultural safety and Learning Outcomes. Examples will be shared from the pilot with educators, community representatives and policy makers the focus.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Emma Bamblett – Cultural and Healing Practice Lead, Aboriginal Children's Healing Team (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))
  • Angelica Tusini-Rex – Senior Therapeutic Practitioner, Aboriginal Children's Healing Team (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))

Learn about VACCA’s Aboriginal Children’s Healing Team’s (ACHT) use of culturally-led therapeutic work to support the healing journey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The presentation discusses the ACHT model, challenges and opportunities and a case study of a child's healing journey. The session is ideal for clinical and cultural practitioners who want to improve healing practices and learn about the benefits of advocating for culturally-led therapeutic models to support social and emotional wellbeing.

  • Rob Russell – Gomeroi Man on Awabakal Country, Director National Reconciliation (Life Without Barriers)
  • Adele Cox – Bunuba and Gija Woman, Director Sector Development (SNAICC – National Voice for our Children)
  • Rob Ryan – Executive Lead, Strategy and Partnerships (Life Without Barriers)
  • Peter Morris – General Manager, Reconciliation Action Planning Program (Reconciliation Australia)

Life Without Barriers has partnered with SNAICC and Reconciliation Australia and achieved the first Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for a Not-for-Profit. The Transformation project is founded upon the Family Matters Building Blocks and LWB’s commitment is to progressively step away from providing out-of-home care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children by 2031. In this panel we will hear from members of the partnership about the process undertaken to build the partnership, the challenges, opportunities and road map for the future.

  • Tanya King – Family Development Officer (Mulungu Family Care Service)
  • Jennifer Parsons – Project Coordinator (Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP))

This presentation highlights the work undertaken by Mulungu Family Care Service in developing and implementing Collaborative Competence with Child Safety and Families to have Newborn babies born safe and go home to family. The cohort represented all had previous children removed into OOHC and a high risk of these newborns also being removed.  The rights of the child, the rights of the family and the service advocacy made a significant difference to the expected outcome.

  • Central Australia Aboriginal Congress Family Support Staff
  • Professor Sharon Dawe – School of Applied Psychology (Griffith University)
  • Dr Carmen Cubillo – Healing Circle Psychology
  • Associate Professor Paul Harnett – School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (Griffith University)
  • Christopher Brockelbank  – iTalk studios

The Intensive Family Support staff at Congress in partnership with the developers of the Parents under Pressure program, Dr Carmen Cubillo and ITalk studios have created a series of resources to support work with families. Specifically, animations were developed, each telling a short story illustrating the importance of parental emotional regulation and helping children to feel sage and loved. The presentation describes the animations and how they are used as a resource for family support workers.

  • Palm Island Community Company

Our presentation will tell the story of how the Palm Island Children and Family Centre has evolved and grown over time to respond to community needs. Through visual mediums and storytelling, we will share how one remote community built an early childhood health and wellbeing hub, offering co-located and joined-up early supports for children and families that nurture our little ones’ physical, cognitive, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing, while creating local employment opportunities for Palm Island community members.

  • Keara Baker-Storey – Warumungu / Wambaya woman, Indi Kindi Team Leader and Representative on the Early Childhood Care and Development Policy Partnership (Moriarty Foundation)
  • Jessica Horne-Kennedy – Indi Kindi Early Years Specialist (Moriarty Foundation)

A case study of 100% Aboriginal-staffed Indi Kindi, a wrap-around Northern Territory early years solution addressing a critical gap in the provision of accessible and culturally-appropriate early education services for remote region Aboriginal children. By integrating the Aboriginal worldview, health, wellbeing, education and development, Indi Kindi offers a new model of early years delivery that improves the global readiness of Aboriginal children entering pre-school and school and gives them the best start in life.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Isabel Toby – Team Leader (54reasons Connected Beginnings)
  • Guy and Cecelia Douglas – Community Members

54reasons Connected Beginnings team, Doomadgee invites you to our yarning circle, where we will share with you the literacy and language projects and events we have run in partnership with our children, families, and community.  Our Digital Storyteller project, children’s story books, Black star Radio ‘Story Time’ and our Family Camps are each year to not only support our young ones in Doomadgee in their right to education, but to grow up strong in their culture.

  • Dr Bianca Kelly – Research, Evaluation and Youth Engagement Specialist (Queensland Family and Child Commission)
  • Andrew Loft – Community Partnerships Officer (Queensland Family and Child Commission)

This presentation will talk about how the Queensland Family and Child Commission have prepared Queensland’s first child rights report drawing on the data available from government and non-government organisations, as well as gathering and sharing the voices and stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, their families and those who work with them.

  • Kathy Pickett – Aboriginal Cultural Advisor (Yorgum Healing Services)

Yorgum’s Healing Services, Aboriginal Cultural Advisor, Kathy Pickett, will a present case study that demonstrate cultural responsiveness by listening to the voices of young Aboriginal children removed from family, and culture and placed in the child protection system. By using therapies grounded in cultural practices such as therapeutic cultural tools along with mindfulness practices that connect to country and culture which support young Aboriginal children to begin to heal from the significant loss, grief and trauma.

  • Jack Stanton – Team Leader, Lakidjeka, Aboriginal Child Specialist Advice Support Service (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))
  • Alys Sebire – Aboriginal-Led Case Conference Convenor, Aboriginal-Led Case Conferencing Trial (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))
  • Bethany Uhe – Project Manager, Aboriginal Child Protection Diversion Project (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))

As part of the Aboriginal Child Protection Diversion project, VACCA trialled the innovative Aboriginal-led Case Conferencing (ALCC) model that was found to successfully divert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children away from investigation by child protection into culturally safe supports. This presentation will provide an understanding of the model, the Aboriginal-led co-design process, and evaluation findings from Sarah Wise and Graham Brewster, University of Melbourne, Seeking Safety: Aboriginal Child Protection Diversion Trials Evaluation Final Report (2022).

  • Sherilee McManus – Stakeholder Relations Manager, First Nations Unit (Hearing Australia)

I will be presenting on our co-design approach of creating a service delivery specific to individual communities needs. I will also talk about how this helps with increasing hearing health awareness, pathways, and developmental milestones in children in our communities. Not only are we working with the health workers in community, but also with early childhood educators, parents and carers as well.

  • Stacey Brown – Chief Executive Officer (Yappera Children’s Service)
  • Dr Jane Page – Associate Professor and Associate Director, REEaCh Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education (University of Melbourne)

In this presentation Yappera and University of Melbourne colleagues will share their learning from their engagement in a research project - the Early Learning Teaching Pilot - including how the implementation of an intentional teaching practice – explicit instruction - in play-based literacy and numeracy learning experiences can be achieved within the priorities and aspirations of the Yappera community.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Gordon Campbell – Language Teacher Consultant (Bermagui Public School)
  • Julia Loughran – Primary School Teacher (Bermagui Public School)
  • Julie Kirk – Primary School Teacher (Bermagui Public School)

Our presentation will feature Bermagui Public School’s newly launched website, which was made in collaboration with students, families and community. It gives voice to the local Yuin people and one of our languages, Dhurga. Participants will be able to follow the journey of its creation and interact with the site, seeing the many resources it includes – songs, games, art, printable resources and Ganandhimila-nj – We Learn, a NSW awarding-winning documentary.

  • Daniel Powell – Senior Quality Advisor, LGBTIQA+ Inclusive Practice, Continuous Quality Improvement (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))
  • Sandy Gillam – Program Manager, Continuous Quality Improvement (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))

The paper will outline how VACCA achieved Rainbow Tick accreditation in Victoria. It will cover the steps in the process, including meeting the accreditation standards, the importance of governance, the consultation process and engagement of key stakeholders. The session will also cover how VACCA navigated physical spaces to ensure they promoted cultural safety for the LGBTIQA+ community. The presentation will also outline ongoing activities, such as inclusive yarning circles, to further inclusive practice and maintain accreditation.

  • Candice Butler – Director, Innovation and Practice Development (Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP))
  • Community Researchers (names TBC)

The Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak, Australian Catholic University and eight community researchers from across Queensland partnered to undertake a significant piece of research to understand how services and systems including health and education can better hear from and respond to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people who experience domestic and family violence.  This joint presentation will guide participants through the development of the framework and provide practical examples of how this framework can be implemented in their daily practice across all system levels.

  • Terri Libesman – Associate Professor, Faculty of Law (University of Technology Sydney)
  • Paul Gray – Associate Professor, Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research (University of Technology Sydney)

Hear new research about the experience of parents with disability of child protection systems, across notification, access to support, child protection intervention and out-of-home care, including the views of parents, advocates, and service providers. The research identified challenges in systems and practice, including intake, support and assessment, and legal systems, with recommendations to improve outcomes for children and families.

  • Tracey Brand – CEO (Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service)
  • Dr Robyn Williams – Senior Research Fellow (Curtin University)

This presentation includes an overview of a ground-breaking Aboriginal led, co-designed pilot to address the urgency of screening, assessment and early interventions for neurodevelopmental concerns in Aboriginal children aged 0-6 years. Aims include improving life outcomes for our young children with suspected developmental delays and secondly to build new clinical expertise in the assessment and screening of early childhood development within the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service (DYHS) Child and Maternal Health Team.

  • Tarsha Jones – Partnerships and Engagement Officer Aboriginal Development (Benevolent Society)
  • Sarah DeLemos – Access Coordinator, Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, Community Partnership Worker (Benevolent Society)
  • Ashleigh Ryan – Benevolent Society
  • Trent Coad – Benevolent Society

Working collaboratively to ensure that we provide our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with culturally appropriate processes. This partnership has now been working alongside each other for 3 years where we have successfully reduced barriers for families and supported the utilisation of funded plans. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children that have developmental concerns or a diagnosed disability are now being supported in a culturally safe and sensitive manner to gain access to the NDIS and ensure the utilisation of plans.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Tennille Lamb – National Policy Director (First Peoples Disability Network)

FPDN has recently established a First Nations Young People's Advisory group to ensure their voices and experiences are at the core of our systemic advocacy efforts.  This presentation will provide young people with disabilities a platform to share their experiences and needs and discuss opportunities to achieve the transformative and systemic change needed to enable positive outcomes.

  • Jodie Lalara – Community Connector (Connected Beginnings Angurugu)
  • Roshania Lalara – Community Connector (Connected Beginnings Angurugu)
  • Mabel Nunggumajbarr – Community Connector (Connected Beginnings Angurugu)
  • Lesley Richardson – Director (Connected Beginnings Groote Archipelago)

To assist Anindilyakwa children to thrive; we are creating a culturally strong sustainable service integration model co-designed with community members. This presentation focuses on the Connected Beginnings service integration model across the Groote Archipelago. It sets out our approaches and working in partnership with families, community members and service providers utilising Identity and Culture, Healthy and Learning (ARACY NEST indicators) that support positive outcomes for Anindilyakwa children and other Aboriginal children living in the Groote Archipelago.

  • Candy McKay – Transition Coach (Yorganop)
  • Gareth Morkel – Home Stretch Coordinator (Yorganop)

Home Stretch is a post care service for young people aged 18-21 years, designed with young people with lived experience of the out-of-home care system, and with a focus on Aboriginal young people. Yorganop is WA’s only ACCO providing OOHC services and commenced Home Stretch in 2022, implementing the service with a focus on the program principals but delivering the service with culture at its core.

  • Nicole Milburn – Clinical Psychologist and Chair (Tweddle Foundation and Australian Association for Infant Mental Health)
  • Ashley Morris – Manager Koori Services and Programs (Children’s Court of Victoria)
  • Meena Singh – Aboriginal Children’s Commissioner (Victorian Commission for Children and Young People)
  • Matthew Wilson – Program Manager (Family Drug Treatment Court Victoria)

The presentation will share solution focused approaches to infants and their families who are involved in Child Protection Services from the UK and US. The work of the Marram-Ngala Ganbu program will be presented as one example of a specific approach to Aboriginal families in the Children’s Court, and Commissioner Singh will lead a group discussion advocating for change the Child Protection Court system in Australia so it better meets the needs of Aboriginal families.

  • Kristi Watts – Playgroup Facilitator (Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative)
  • Gina Chapman – Family Educator (Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative)
  • Jackie Brown – Family Educator (Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative)
  • Hayley Boehm – Koorie Pre School Advisor (Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative)
  • Gabrielle Middleton – Aboriginal Best Start Facilitator (Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative)
  • Tahlia Dempsey – Early Years Team Leader (Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative)

This presentation details how the different programs and initiatives within the Wathaurong Early Years sector at Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative work collectively to achieve outcomes for community and to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are confident with being their child’s first teacher whilst strengthening the safety, wellbeing, development, and cultural identity of our children within community. The programs to be discussed include playgroup, parenting support programs, Aboriginal Best Start and the Koorie Pre School Advisor program.

  • Jo Goodwin – Assistant Director, Children’s’ Taskforce, Remote & Very Remote (NDIA)
  • Kirsten Nield – Director, Children’s Taskforce, Early Supports (NDIA)

Remote and very remote communities are truly diverse, so a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not appropriate. Recognition of the strengths, opportunities and challenges of individual communities is necessary regarding capacity to actively engage with the NDIS Early Childhood Approach. This interactive session will seek to understand not only the challenges and barriers to accessing NDIS supports in remote Australia, but also an understanding of the successful ways of working with remote communities. We must listen to, learn from, be led by, and codesign with First Nations communities.

  • Nooky – Yuin and Thunghutti Rapper, Co-Founder (We Are Warriors
  • Ben Miles – Co-Founder (We Are Warriors)
  • J-Milla – Mak Mak Marranungu Rapper, Advocate

We all want to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children the best possible chance of becoming strong elders for future generations. In this interactive session, we will hear from young up-and-coming Aboriginal musicians who have overcome the challenges they faced growing up to become loud and proud advocates for children and families. In sharing their experiences through word and song followed by a Q&A session with all participants, these amazing young people will help us explore ways we can all encourage young people to find and use their voices for positive change.

Be sure to stick around at the end of Day 1 for a fun and casual Welcome Function. The evening will commence with a Smoking Ceremony that everyone is welcome to participate in. Then, join us for some yummy street food-style fare and network with your fellow delegates while relaxing in the shade of the Frangipani Plaza. Tickets to the Welcome Function are included with all full registrations. If you have only registered for one day of the conference, you can purchase tickets for $69 per person via the registration portal or at the Registration Desk on the day.

Day 2 – Wednesday, 6 September 2023

  • Rob McPhee - CEO (Danila Dilba Health Service)

  • Patricia Turner – CEO (Coalition of Peaks)

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect in June 2020 and has several targets specifically aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of our children. This address will discuss what’s been achieved to date and where accelerated action is needed.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Deeann Sailor – Manager, Youth Services (Palm Island Community Company)
  • Jeanie Sam – Manager, Children and Youth (Palm Island Community Company)

The issue of youth crime has become a hot topic in the media. In Queensland, the messaging by government is that they will adopt a ‘tough on crime’ approach. These punitive approaches do little to address the underlying causes of offending behaviours for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. Our presentation will tell a hopeful narrative about our young people and offer an alternative approach to tackling the complex issues driving the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the youth justice system. Together with young people who have participated in the program, we will share stories of our early wins and successes and demonstrate that addressing social and cultural determinants of health improves community safety.

  • Office of the Children's Commissioner NT

Every child has a right to have a say in matters that affect them. Hear directly from Territory children and young people about two significant issues impacting the communities they live in, Racism and Homelessness. How their experiences of these issues have impacted them and those around them, and their ideas for how things in their community can be improved.

  • Alex Liddle – Project Officer (NPY Women’s Council)
  • Crystal Ibrahim – Kinship Case Manager (NPY Women’s Council)

NYP’s Walytjapiti and Child Advocacy Programs work to support families with early intervention and ongoing support whilst also addressing and reducing systemic stressors across the child protection spectrum.  The programs have worked to capture Anangu family stories of strength using story-telling and narrative therapy approaches. This presentation will outline the process that has been used to capture these stories in a strengths-based and culturally safe way. Most importantly it will highlight the strength and resilience of Anangu families.

  • SNAICC - National Voice for our Children

In 2022 SNAICC worked with our members and ACCOs in the child and family sector to scope a new peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in South Australia. SNAICC heard from Aboriginal communities throughout SA about the need for a peak body to help transform outcomes for Aboriginal children and families involved with child protection. This presentation will highlight the model for a new peak body, how the peak body can enhance the sector, and can support legislative and policy reforms going forward.

  • Michelle Parker – Early Childhood Educator (Maari Ma Aboriginal Health)
  • Briony Callaghan – Early Childhood Educator (Maari Ma Aboriginal Health)
  • Krista Tatt – Early Childhood Educator (Maari Ma Aboriginal Health)
  • Tina Oniel – Early Childhood Educator (Maari Ma Aboriginal Health)

Our approach to two of Maari Ma Aboriginal Health’s programs, Aboriginal Families as Teachers (AFaT) and the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) not only develops community capacity, it supports adult learning and parent-child interactions and learning through play. Our presentation will show how each component of our Early Years Project (EYP) aims to be respectful and supportive of the participating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and the roles that these families play in raising strong and healthy children.

  • Jodie Bell – Manager, Waranwarin (Tharawal Child and Family Centre)
  • Alinta Pencheff-Scott – Early Years Coordinator (Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation)

Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation is licensed and operates two Long Day Care centres, Oorunga Wandarrah MACS and Waranwarin Early Learning Centre. Our centres provide culturally safe services in a culturally safe environment. Aboriginal children and families can access a range of coordinated services in the early years and beyond. We pride ourselves on quality pedagogical practices that embrace the elements of the Early Years Learning Framework and will demonstrate how we continuously build proficiency and excellence.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Shirleen Campbell – Co-coordinator - Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group (Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Connie Shaw – Facilitator - Youth Family Safety Group (Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation)

The Girls Can Boys Can project aims to create generational change that will prevent violence against women by challenging rigid gender stereotypes, and showing healthy, fun, equal and respectful relationships between girls and boys, along with the strengths of Aboriginal children, families, and communities. The original toolkit, developed for use by Early Years and Primary School educators, is being expanded and adapted by Town Camp communities and translated into Central Desert languages.

  • Josephine Crawshaw – Gurindji Elder, Chairperson (Close Don Dale NOW!), National Co-Chair (Uluru Statement from the Heart Working Group), former ATSIC Commissioner, former CEO (Northern Territory’s Peak Body for Aboriginal Children, Youth and Families)

Josephine Crawshaw presents holistic and incisive commentary on the interlocked systems working against First Nations children—child removal, prisons, courts, and the police. She highlights the necessity for those working within these systems to recognise them as tools of genocide in the colonial project, which must be abolished so that First Nations peoples can reclaim the restorative and transformative justice practices that have been sustaining our peoples since the first human sunrise.

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  • Ashum Owen – Principle Policy, Research and Advocacy Officer (Office of the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People South Australia)

Our Aboriginal children and young people have the right to healthy development and wellbeing, and the right to their family, culture, community, and country. The child protection and youth justice systems often deny these rights and cause significant loss and harm. This presentation explores research into the impacts of the intersection of these systems and what we can do to support children and young people’s mental health, wellbeing, and cultural identities.

  • Amie Porter – Program Manager Community Engagement, Western Region (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))
  • Madeleine Lowrie – Aboriginal Liaison Worker and Early Help Coordinator (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))

This presentation will focus on supported playgroups for Aboriginal children and families implemented by VACCA across Victoria. Noting findings from a recent evaluation, the presentation will detail the critical importance of the program for early intervention, the model’s uniqueness, and how culturally informed facilitation and cultural activities supported program outcomes for Aboriginal children and parents/carers. The session will be of interest to practitioners in early years and early intervention programs with Aboriginal children and families.

  • Miranda Edwards – National Workforce Advisor, Early Years (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)

We know that a strong, sustainable and culturally safe ECEC Workforce is needed to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. This session will share information on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ECEC Workforce Development Strategy and discuss the challenges and opportunities to attract, retain and value a highly skilled early childhood workforce sector.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Anita North – Senior Project Officer Family Violence Initiatives (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))
  • Nina Levin – Executive Manager Capacity Development and Service Reform (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))

Aboriginal approaches in healthy respectful relationships yarns for our young mob is the path forward to living free from family violence in our community. This is why VACCA has developed the Deadly Lovin’ program. In this interactive workshop, you will see how the program uses traditional and contemporary cultural wisdom to get the message across to the next generation and support them to make good choices in their intimate partner relationships.

  • Sheree Hilt – Project Officer (Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP))
  • Lucas Moore – Advocacy Lead (Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP))
  • Jacinta Keys Lively – Gunggandji Woman, Youth Bail Support Practitioner
  • Walanbarra Yanner – Gangalidda Woman, Housing Support Worker
  • Gullara McInnes – Koko-Muluridgi Woman, Science/Law Student (James Cook University)
  • Simeon Mays – Yidinjdji Man

In this interactive session staff and young people from the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP) will explore with participants a recently created resource Solid Voices of Tomorrow focused on supporting youth voice in service design, evaluation and research. This session will feature a yarning circle and some activities to help those who aren’t so young anymore to put themselves in the shoes of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young person today.

  • Samantha Jeffree – Therapeutic Practice Lead (Tangentyere Council)
  • Shaunna McDowell – Senior Safe House Carer (Tangentyere Council)

This presentation will track the journey of collective care that the Safe House team embarked on over 2 and a half years through a collection of stories of practice across levels of operation from management through to day-to-day running of the houses. The presentation, supported by a short video, will share the voices and stories of the children and young people and carers that have come through the house during this time and some of the outcomes achieved.

  • Tenneil Murray – Program Lead, First Nations and Child Rights Advocacy (Queensland Family and Child Commission)

This presentation will share the views and perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who have experienced Queensland’s youth justice system. There are a disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the youth justice system therefore opportunities must be provided to allow the voices of those impacted, to be heard and taken into account in decision making.

  • Sheryl Hicks – Program Coordinator, Gumala 3a Early Learning Program (Gumala Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Ashley Councillor – Pilbara Regional Area Manager (Gumala Aboriginal Corporation)

In this yarning circle, we will discuss how the Gumala 3a Early Learning Program benefits for Aboriginal children and families and how the program includes capacity building for families for successful employment within the program and provides career pathways. We will also discuss how we have built relationships with the Department of Communities – Child Protection to effectively engagement families in our service.

  • Tamasin Tunny – Manager, Early Childhood Education and Development (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)

SNAICC and the Commonwealth Department of Education co-developed an ACCO Leadership Transition Framework to guide the transfer of the project’s coordination and leadership within Connected Beginnings communities, from non-Indigenous organisations to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations. This presentation describes the development, piloting and use of the ACCO Leadership Transition Framework. The potential for adapting this framework to support increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in other areas of service delivery will also be explored.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Kyalie Moore – Private Consultant (Boomerang Consultancy on behalf of No to Violence)
  • Joshua Wanganeen – Private Consultant (Dungullah Dreaming on behalf of No to Violence)

The Southern Cross Model was designed to encourage mainstream agencies to deliver more culturally competent services to First Nation men who use family violence against women and children. The content and delivery of the model is through a First Nation lens providing a two way learning platform for both participants and trainers.  This model can also be applied to work with women and children experiencing violence.

  • Selina Walker – Ngunnawal
  • Thomas Saunders – Wiradjuri and Gunditjmara
  • Tanya Chatfield – Wiradjuri
  • Valerie Wandin-Gillies – Adnyamathanha
  • Deanne Booth – Punthamarra and Gubbi Gubbi
  • Dominique McKinnon – Policy Officer (Community Services Directorate, ACT Government)

The Nayi (look at) Ngurungal (tomorrow) Network is a different way of working that brings community voices to a policy table. It sees Aboriginal people impacted by child protection provided with the support and opportunity to work directly with government. Through sharing their stories and using their experiences, members influence policy, practice, and system change. Hear how members work in partnership with government, and about the value and impact of working in this way.

  • Kateena Narrier – Cultural Advisor (Yorganop)
  • Monique Rampono – Programs Manager Service Delivery (Yorganop)

Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) are uniquely placed to connect with and support parents in identifying safe family members that children can be placed with when entering OOHC, and assist government in placing Aboriginal children in better alignment with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP).

  • Amy Cleland – Aboriginal Strategy and Engagement Lead – Australian Centre for Child Protection, Program Director – Social Science (Human Services), Justice and Society Academic Unit (University of South Australia)

This presentation shares research led by Aboriginal women, to explore the position of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle in the Australian legal system. The research aims to address the best interests of Aboriginal Children in child protection and examines the potential of a decolonising approach in the practices of law and social work. The findings imagine justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

  • Dr Emily Hindman – Clinical Neuropsychologist and Clinical Services Manager (Abcare)  
  • Holly Kovac – Consultant (Nama Jalu)
  • Greg Bennett – CEO (Abcare )
  • Merrick Powell – Consultant (Nama Jalu)

Abcare aimed to address the support service gap for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care (OOHC) with the Bimirr Darrundaygu program. This strengths-focused programme promotes adaptive strategies used by families and children. The guidelines were developed by reviewing literature and adapting existing support programmes and clinical skills used effectively by our clinicians within OOHC. The final program comprises twelve sessions for children and six for carers, emphasising brief emotion regulation strategies and fostering interpersonal connections. The presentation will outline the development, implementation and evaluation plans.

  • Emma Stubbs – Senior Research Assistant (Central Australia Aboriginal Congress)
  • Isabel Brooks – Project Coordinator, ASQ-STEPS Research Program (University Of Melbourne)

This presentation reports on findings of a study piloting the first culturally appropriate developmental outcome measure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – the ASQ-Steps for Measuring Aboriginal Child Development (ASQ-STEPS). Working with an urban and remote site, we piloted the ASQ-STEPS to learn about its acceptability to caregivers and practitioners, and functionality of administration. Findings and their application to the final ASQ-STEPS instrument will be discussed.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Lisa Braddick – Nabu Family Preservation and Restoration Team Leader and Caseworker (Waminda – South Coast Women’s Health and Wellbeing Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Tammy Osgood – Child and Parenting Support Service (CAPS) Caseworker Coordinator (Waminda – South Coast Women’s Health and Wellbeing Aboriginal Corporation)

This presentation explores key approaches emerging from work with women and their Aboriginal families in the Shoalhaven region of NSW by Waminda, South Coast Women’s Health and Wellbeing Aboriginal Corporation. Waminda’s Model of Care reflects a holistic approach which places women and their Aboriginal families at the centre, supporting their healing journey through a coordinated, wrap-around and strengths-based pathway to services and supports.

  • Adele Cox, Eva Ruggiero, Miranda Edwards, Janine Dureau, Sandra Edwards and Anna McCracken – Sector Development Team (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)

This session will be an interactive yarn with the SNAICC Sector Development team sharing the ways we work with communities that uphold cultural ways of keeping children strong in culture, connection and spirit. Our principles of working aim to honour each community's unique child-rearing practices and integrated service contexts to promote trauma-aware and healing-informed supports. This session will offer practical examples of how co-design can challenge historical power dynamics and ensure community is in control of decisions, processes and outcomes.

  • Candice Butler – Director, Innovation and Practice Development (Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Care Peak (QATSICPP))

This session will explore my Churchill Fellowship journey by highlighting key learnings, the challenges and barriers experienced and how we can overcome these challenges and barriers, and the next steps of our journey in reclaiming child protection decision making for our children and families. I will also present an overview of how we can have cultural change within Australia by providing evidenced based means to effect substantive change in legislation, policy, and practice.

  • Zoe De Re – Managing Solicitor, Care & Protection (Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd)

As lawyers for Aboriginal children in care proceedings before the Children’s Court, we are bound by the rules and practices of that Court. Where we are acting in the best interests of Aboriginal children, how are we introducing, elevating and amplifying Aboriginal voices in those proceedings? This paper will examine the extent of our legal and community mandates, the tension between them and whether there should be reconsideration of our roles and responsibilities.

  • Robert Salt – Senior Aboriginal Policy Officer, Early Childhood Outcomes (NSW Department of Education)
  • Lliam Findlay – Executive Director, Strategy and Partnership, Early Childhood Outcomes (NSW Department of Education)
  • Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Connected Men, Deadly Workplace Network (TBC)

This presentation will amplify the voices of Aboriginal males working in Early Childhood Education. It will explore research and evidence that shares the importance of the role that Aboriginal males have performed across time, pre and post-invasion, in raising and educating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children 0- 8 years. The presentation will share a new initiative underway in the Early Childhood Outcomes Division in the NSW Department of Education called the Connected men, Deadly workplace initiative.

  • Ms Vicki Hayes – Early Years Section Manager (Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Ms Adrienne Lispcombe – Senior Therapeutic Practitioner (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))
  • Associate Professor Anita D’Aprano – Consultant Paediatrician (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne), Principal Research Fellow in Indigenous Child Health (University of Melbourne)

The ASQ-TRAK is a culturally responsive developmental screening tool co-developed to improve developmental services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and promote culturally safe developmental practices. We will highlight the experiences of two Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations using the ASQ-TRAK:  the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency will focus on the implementation of ASQ-TRAK for their staff; and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress will describe the value of ASQ-TRAK in facilitating access to NDIS.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Lisa Coulson – Northern Regional Manager (Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre), Director (Aboriginal Children’s Centre)
  • Wendy Moore – Manager Family and Youth Programs (Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre)

This presentation is a showcase of the holistic model of care that the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) provides to Aboriginal children, young people and families including those who have been, or are at risk of, coming into contact with the child protection and safety system.

  • Jason Field – CEO (Central Queensland Indigenous Development (CQID))
  • Darcy Cavanagh – CEO (REFOCUS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child & Family Support Services)
  • Garth Morgan – CEO (Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP))

This presentation will share the learnings and experiences in the Queensland community-controlled sector as it embeds Delegated Authority across the State. We will explore the different approaches taken by our early adopter sites, the journey taken to develop our 10-year Blueprint Reclaiming our Storyline: Transforming systems and practice by making decisions in our way, and how through cultural strength and sharing of power we create lifelong positive change for our children, young people and families.

  • Dr Wendy Hermeston – Senior Research Fellow - ALIVE National Centre for Mental Health Research Translation, Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Melbourne Medical School (University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Terri Libesman – Associate Professor, Faculty of Law (University of Technology Sydney)
  • Louise Cody – Principal Solicitor, Care & Protection / Family Law Practice (Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT)
  • Eloise Chandler – Research Associate and PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law (University of Technology Sydney)

We discuss our research findings about routine breaching of Aboriginal parents’, families’ and community organisations’ legislative and human rights to participate in significant care decisions in NSW. Interviews with Aboriginal family members, community groups and organisations, lawyers and Children’s Court magistrates revealed a lack of awareness about these rights, how power differentials and racism can interact to influence care decision-making and how care decision-making structures and court processes can undermine participation and obscure Aboriginal families’ strengths.

  • Kylie Ponchard – Senior Program Manager (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) Nugel)
  • Jodie Kinsmore – Program Manager (Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative Mutjang bupuwingarrak mukman Program)

This session will focus on the Community Protecting Boorais Program – an expansion of Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care by Nugel (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, VACCA) and Wartaka (Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative). The presentation will provide an overview of this ground-breaking new model, centred in culture, self-determination, and human rights – emphasizing how Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations are shifting the language and culture of child protection practice.

  • Helen Morton Napurrula – Committee Member, Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT) Advisory (Central Land Council)
  • Rhonda Larry Nungarrayi – Committee Member, Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT) Advisory (Central Land Council)
  • Enid Gallagher Nangala Committee Member, Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT) Advisory (Central Land Council)

In this presentation, members of WETT's advisory committee will share their aspirations for quality, accessible and sustainable early childhood development services in Warlpiri communities and reflect on the successes and challenges in achieving these goals. They will be joined by local staff and reference group members from the Willowra playgroup, a WETT funded initiative which delivers a service four days a week for children and their caregivers in the Willowra community, and embeds training for Warlpiri staff in delivery.

  • SNAICC - National Voice for our Children

Current individualised funding models do not support sustainable operation of ACCO ECEC services which engage with and provide integrated services to families. This presentation will present preliminary findings of a study examining current and future needs of the ACCO early years sector, and to develop dedicated, reliable and consistent funding model options designed to suit the types of services required to meet the needs of families receiving the services.

  • Natalie Lewis – Commissioner, Queensland Family and Child Commission (QLD)
  • April Lawrie – Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (SA)
  • Shona Reid – Guardian for Children and Young People (SA)
  • Nicole Hucks – Acting Children’s Commissioner (NT)
  • Jacqueline McGowan-Jones – Commissioner for Children and Young People (WA)

In January 2023, all Australian First Nations Children's Commissioners, Guardians and Advocates agreed to eleven national advocacy priorities to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families. Keeping children’s rights at the heart of the conversation, this panel of First Nations Children’s Commissioners, Guardians and Advocates will provide an engaging exploration of these priorities, what they mean in practice and how they can be practically implemented across the country. The panel will also discuss best practice models for fully empowered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioners in every state/ territory and nationally.

Join us for a relaxing evening of great food and entertainment. Enjoy a delicious menu featuring selections from Darwin Convention Centre’s famous ‘Seven Seasons’ menu and a fantastic lineup of performances by Warnindhilyagwa songstress Emily Wurramara, the NT Dance Company and Larrakia singer and comedian Richard Fejo. Tickets cost $119 per person and can be purchased via the registration portal until Thursday, 31 August 2023.

Day 3 – Thursday, 7 September 2023

  • Pat Anderson AO – Alyawarre woman, Co-Chair (Uluru Dialogues)
  • Facilitated by: Catherine Liddle – CEO (SNAICC – National Voice for our Children)

With the Referendum vote likely weeks away, we will hear from a woman who has walked every step of the journey from Reconciliation to Voice Referendum. Alyawarre woman Pat Anderson is co-chair of the Uluru Dialogues and has been a powerful social justice advocate for many years. She was born and grew up on Larrakia land in Darwin, working in health, education and child safety. In 2007 she co-authored the landmark report Little Children Are Sacred. A recipient of the 2021/22 Sydney Peace Prize on behalf of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Ms Anderson was Co-chair on the Referendum Council which consulted with hundreds of Indigenous people to deliver the historic Uluru Statement in May 2017. She has been tireless in her work promoting the Uluru Statement, promoting the need for Voice so Governments listen to solutions put forward by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Jamie Sorby – Lecturer, Justice & Society (University Of South Australia)

Positive, strengths-based stories of Aboriginal children growing up in culture needs to be heard, as it will contribute to the change in deficit narratives of Aboriginal Peoples and promote recognition of cultural strengths. This presentation will describe the partnering with a young Aboriginal woman, respectfully and collaboratively, in writing an article for the mainstream environment. The article explores her experiences of neglect and abuse as a child, while sharing the cultural strengths and the impacts these strengths have had on her life and wellbeing. Her story exemplifies how kinship and community helped her overcome the impacts inflicted on her family from colonisation in light of family violence, neglect and trauma. Co-authors: Dr. Fiona Buchanan, and Ms Amelia Smith (pseudonym).

  • Joanne Della Bona – CEO, Coolabaroo (Moorditch Gurlongga Association Inc)
  • Emily Armstrong – Senior Policy and Research Officer (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)

The structure of Government funding is a well-known barrier to holistic service delivery for ACCOs. Funding silos reduce flexibility and impede ACCOs’ ability to deliver services that work best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. The Stronger Families, Stronger ACCOs project aimed to extend the evidence on the strengths of ACCOs as providers of these services, the barriers to accessing funding and identify unmet needs and opportunities for reform.

  • Michelle Rogers – Partnerships and Engagement Manager (Ngunya Jarjum Child and Family Network)
  • Michele Laurie – Targeted Early intervention and Partnerships Worker (Ngunya Jarjum Child and Family Network)

Self-determination and empowerment - overused words in legislation and policy – they rarely transfer to action for community, because systemic oppression buffers ability.  Systems oppress – oppression disempowers – disempowerment causes dependence and dependence feeds systemic intervention (oppression). The cycle is self-fulfilling. Our presentation will share some of our experiences of community led, family centred practices where there is genuine connection to traditional ways of knowing, being and doing. We make self-determination and empowerment more than words.

  • Marissa Balch – First Nations Lead, First Nations and Child Rights Advocacy (Queensland Family and Child Commission)
  • Ashum Owen – Principle Policy, Research and Advocacy Officer (Office of the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People South Australia)

This presentation will share the methodology of monitoring over-representation of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system and the dual accountability of First Nations Children’s Commissioners and Guardians. It will discuss the work of dedicated First Nations Children’s Commissioners and Guardians in Queensland and South Australia in monitoring and publicly reporting on overrepresentation and their accountability to First Nations children, young people, families, and communities.

  • Amanda Waters – Service Designer (Goodstart Early Learning)
  • Peter Pilot-Wakaisu – Torres Strait Islander Cultural Liaison (Goodstart Early Learning)
  • Magidama Enosa – Educator (Goodstart Manunda)
  • Aunty Emma Beckley – Chair (Ngurupai Early Childhood Advisory Group)

Not-for-profit early learning provider, Goodstart, partnered with the Ngurupai (Horn Island) community in the Torres Strait with a shared goal to improve early childhood outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Through a co-design process, which included establishing the Ngurupai Early Childhood Advisory Group, the strength and aspirations of the Ngurupai community were uncovered. A roadmap is now underway to sustainably increase children’s access to early learning and strengthen home-based learning opportunities over the short to long-term.

  • Milly Phillips – Manager, Early Childhood Education Services, Family, Health and Wellbeing Unit (Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH))

This presentation will highlight how families and children’s voices and needs are at the centre of IUIH’s approach to health and wellbeing. IUIH’s integration of health and education systems in a culturally safe way is explored as the key to the success of the Family Centred Practice Framework. We will also explore the Deadly Kindies program, Speech and Occupational Therapy school readiness initiative, the Birthing programs and the work of our other playgroup and early childhood services.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Cherisse Buzzacott – Head of Health & Wellbeing (Children's Ground)
  • Amunda Gorey – Co-coordinator of Research & Evaluation (Children’s Ground)

This session will present research processes and findings of Arrernte cultural knowledge and practices from interviews with Arrernte and First Nations women to understand their experience of current western MCH services. This cultural mapping around MCH was seen as a priority for the continuation of culture and the strengthening of practices & sharing knowledge with little ones to better empower their journey to long and healthy futures.

  • Mandy Collie – Practice and Implementation Lead for the PFF program (Rumbalara and Ozchild)
  • Chris Russell – PFF Program Manager (Rumbalara)

Our presentation will include a short power point explaining what the PFF program is about, our target cohort and how the program is structured regarding the consortium and interdisciplinary teams. Following this we will present a case study and a short sound/video clip by a community member that has been supported through the PFF program and how this has changed their outcomes.

  • Rohan Collard  – CEO (Dooga Waalitj Healing)
  • Dawn Wallam – CEO (Yorganop)

This presentation explores how transforming the cultural safety and experience of children engaged with child protection services can lead to rebuilding cultural identity, resilience and connection back to Community, Culture and Kin for young Yorga’s (girls) and Nop’s (boys) who have been in Out of Home Care. The Nitja Yorga Nop Bidi Koort Mia Cultural Framework embraces the Journey with our Yorga’s and Nop’s in an equal partnership as we dabakaarn koolingy (walk together) towards interdependence in recognition of an enduring connection to people, community, and culture.

  • Nerita Waight – Chief Executive Officer (Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service)
  • Anna Gibson – Legislative Reform Project Executive Advisor (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA))

Treaty and truth-telling in Victoria presents significant opportunity for transformational change in the child protection system including new legislation that’s designed & delivered by Aboriginal communities and is exclusively for Aboriginal children. VALS is calling for new legislation developed by/for Aboriginal Communities based on what WE know is best for our children. Legislation that is strengths-based, culturally-safe and self-determined, not built on a legacy of dispossession, forced removal and racism in the guise of protection.

  • Tania Timu – Early Years Coordinator (Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Beccy Carr – Early Years Educator (Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation)

Tangentyere’s Town Camp Family Playgroup Program is Aboriginal lead, community designed and community controlled.  The program responds to the needs and aspirations of Town Campers identified through the Town Camp Wellness Survey and Local-Decision Making priority agenda setting process.  Town Campers aspire to have equitable access to the best early years learning experiences which are then consolidated by access to school, and other adult education pathways to support lifelong wellness.

  • Joanne Goulding – National Director, THRYVE Division (SNAICC – National Voice for our Children)
  • Renee Leslie – Director, THRYVE NSW (SNAICC – National Voice for our Children)

This presentation will demonstrate and discuss the importance of capturing and telling story to influence change. It will provide examples of life changing interactions that could have had negative or alternative results, if Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander knowledge had not been a part of the interaction. Thus, demonstrating the power of First Nations story.

Concurrent Sessions


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  • Evelyn Djotja – SCfC Local Community Board Member, Program Impact Officer/Researcher (Yalu Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Jerome Lacey – SCfC Local Community Board Member/Emerging Leader, Support Worker (Yalu Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Anahita Tonkin – CEO (Yalu Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Daphne Daniels – Chair (Strongbala Pipul Wanbala Bois Komiti (SCfC Local Community Board)), Deputy Chair (Yugul Mangi Development Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Ian Gumbala – Former Cultural Governance Manager (Yugul Mangi Development Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Julie-ann Bassinder – Former Director of Social Services (Yugul Mangi Development Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Allison Stewart – SCfC Program Manager (National Indigenous Australians Agency)
  • Moderated By: Hyemi Jacka – SCfC Program Manager (Ninti One Limited)

SCfC Local Community Board (LCB) members will share their journey along with their partners (Aboriginal organisations and government staff). The presentation will cover the importance of cultural authority in SCfC governance, the steps they had taken, what worked and did not work as expected, lessons learned and the real changes they have made in the lives of children and young people. The audience will gain first-hand knowledge about cultural authority and how this can be realised in a government-funded program, and will be able to seek empirical guidance from SCfC LCB members.

  • Dr Elise Hilder – Research Officer (CREATE Foundation)
  • Brooke Oliver – CREATE Young Consultant (CREATE Foundation)

It’s so different to see kids who connect with country; it’s a different lens… why can’t we do it in care? Decolonising Out-of-Home Care for First Nations young people begins by listening to their stories. In South Australia, experiences of removal and placement were shared with CREATE. Conversations ranged from not having “an Aboriginal presence in my corner,” to imagining what genuine healing and connection might look like through the presence of more Nunga workers, community expertise, and Grandmother’s Law.

  • Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT)

APO NT will provide an update on work underway for action plan 1 – “Planting the Seeds 2023-2025”.  The presentation will focus on the perspective of the community sector and will reflect on the health and strength of the partnerships with the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments to undertake this work. APO NTs presentation is not intended to represent the views of the Northern Territory or Commonwealth government partners to the Strategy.

  • Katie Norman – Registered Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher (Durungul Minds/ Attunga Yoga), Part-Time Inclusion Support Teacher, Kid’s Uni (University of Wollongong (UOW) Pulse)

Connecting neuroscience and mindfulness, this paper is delivered from an Aboriginal perspective.   Strategies that educators can use to support children’s self- regulation and brain health include a brief overview of the neuroscience relating to educaring, a window on to educaring  through the lenses of traditional Aboriginal child rearing practice, attachment- based and brain- based educaring models, and practical ideas for intentional teaching of self-regulation and wellbeing via the modes of deep listening and playful movement on Country.

  • Darnell Chantrelle – Aboriginal Child and Family Linker, Little Murras (Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc)
  • Nili Bagnell-Smith – Child Health Nurse, Strong Mums Solid Kids (Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc)
  • Denise McDonald – Team Manager, Strong Mums Solid Kids (Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc)
  • Office for the Early Years (South Australian Department for Education)

An innovative collaboration in Metropolitan Adelaide between Nunkuwarrin Yunti (ACCHO) and SA Office for the Early Years to co-design and pilot a new service model to expand Aboriginal child developmental screening (0-5 years): Aboriginal led, culturally informed, built on existing service relationships, delivered within the broader service context of Aboriginal community controlled comprehensive primary health care. Key learnings are presented covering service model context, design, workforce, implementation processes/impacts and family perspectives of the service.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Tyrelle Smith – Community Engagement Officer (Townsville Aboriginal and Islanders Health Service (TAIHS))
  • Patricia Hunt – Family Wellbeing Worker (Townsville Aboriginal and Islanders Health Service (TAIHS))

Our service will present tools and strategies we use that strengthens the safety and wellbeing of our children, raised within family and culture throughout our everyday roles and responsibilities. We will highlight the importance of family kinship roles and responsibilities and show how they can be recognised and acknowledged by all services and support systems, whilst ensuring Integrated Service Delivery is at the forefront within the health and community sector when supporting First Nations people.

  • Gretchen Young – National Project Manager, Connected Beginnings & CCCFR (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)
  • Mike Jackson – Director, Connected Beginnings Program (Department of Education)

The Connected Beginnings program has significantly expanded and this interactive session will provide insights into place-based approaches across Australia, findings from community consultation processes in remote, regional and urban locations and will outline the important work of transitioning back-bone organisations across to the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector. We will discuss place-based approaches to community engagement, partnerships and innovative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander models of leadership and governance.

  • Helen Westbury – Executive Manager,  (Yalu Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Jasmine Yunupingu – Acting Program Manager (Yalu Aboriginal Corporation) Board Member (Yalu Aboriginal Corporation), Emerging Leader
  • Jermaine Dhurrkay – Support Worker (Yalu Aboriginal Corporation), LCB Member, Emerging Leader

The challenges of delivering child protection work with Yolngu families where English is not readily understood and the need for cultural sensitivity is a priority along with the safety of the child/children.

  • Virginia (Jinni) Dingo – Cultural Practice Leader (Yorganop)
  • Chipo Nchimunya – Senior Programs Officer (Yorganop)

Why cultural safety is just as important as any other consideration when making a permanent care order and the role of an ACCO in providing the Court with a report detailing the cultural safety and responsiveness of an OOHC placement before permanent placement orders are made.

  • Angela Ross – Assistant Principal (Yipirinya School)
  • Bess Price – Assistant Principal (Yipirinya School)
  • Bianca Eastaughffe – Kinesiologist (Yipirinya School)
  • Lachlan Sharpe – Educator (Yipirinya School)

Yipirinya School in Mparntwe/Alice Springs, is a two-way learning community that has been strengthening children in culture since 1978. The presenters will discuss the arc of the school’s journey to the current era, encompassing multi-lens perspectives on wrap-around health, wellbeing and education.  Wrap-around mechanisms provide a strong start for early years education that supports families to connect to understanding and know-how from internal and external stakeholders, such as western medical providers to local Ngangkari (healers).

  • Geraldine Atkinson – President (Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated)
  • Neville Atkinson – Program Policy Manager (Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated)

Focused on embedding Koorie perspectives into Early Childhood programs and strategies to support local Community engagement. This presentation will showcase VAEAI’s work in supporting Aboriginal languages education in the Early Years, and the unique statewide professional learning program aimed at strengthening Koorie-inclusive practices in early years education, creating opportunities to develop increased knowledge and understanding of local Aboriginal culture and history, and working with Koorie children, families and local Aboriginal communities.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Glenda Kickett – CEO (Karla Kuliny Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Shaun Chandran – Manager Therapeutic Services WA (Australian Childhood Foundation)
  • Janise Mitchell – Deputy CEO (Australian Childhood Foundation)

This presentation explores the partnership journey between Karla Kuliny Aboriginal Corporation (KKAC) and the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF). Over the last 12 years, both organisations have developed a model of out of home care that is culturally strong and trauma-informed. They have developed this approach with a shared purpose and dedication to advocating for, supporting, healing and empowering Aboriginal children and families, which has enabled each organisation to bring their knowledges together in practice.

  • Meg Hewett – Director (Connected Beginnings Galiwin’ku)
  • Danny Daŋadaŋa – Community Engagement Leader (Connected Beginnings Galiwin’ku)

In 2022, the Galiwin’ku Child Circle embarked on a journey of deep listening to understand the real pathway for a Galiwin’ku child – pathway that begins at conception through to the commencement of school. We would like to share our journey as we worked together to understand the many pathways of a Galiwin’ku child and how this process of deep listening highlighted areas of need, collective strength and community aspiration that informed our next steps as the Child Circle.

  • Verity Roennfeldt – Director Cultural Practice Development (Department of Communities WA)
  • Janine Nannup – Aboriginal Practice Leader (Department of Communities WA)
  • Lauren Lawrence – Aboriginal Cultural Space Project Coordinator (Department of Communities WA)
  • Mrs. Eliza Woods – Noongar Elder, Menang Goreng Country, Great Southern Region, Albany WA
  • Dr Kelly Thompson – Principal Practitioner, Clinical Psychologist (MacKillop Family Services, WA/NT)

This interactive Yarning Circle launches Wonky’s Yarn, the 12th publication in the Story Animal Yarn Book series.  Menang Noongar Elder Aunty Eliza Woods, Verity, Lauren, Janine and Kelly share their journey of collaboration, creativity and love of textiles to connect children, families and culture. Participants can choose a mindful project while learning about the Story Animal characters. The books use metaphorical situations to explore ‘tough stuff’ that lead children and those around them to experience big emotions.

  • Dr Jacynta Krakouer – UniSA, Professor Catherine Chamberlain (The University of Melbourne)

This presentation discusses a co-design research project to develop a culturally-safe ‘Wise Counsel’ model of care to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families at risk of infant removal by child protection. Led by a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers, and supported by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Group, this model aims to centre Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing to create a meaningful support to prevent infant removal.

  • Camilla Krauze – Initiatives Manager (East Arnhem Children’s Services, Anglicare NT)
  • Tanya Kelly – Program Manager (Milingimbi) (East Arnhem Children’s Services, Anglicare NT)
  • Jeanine Zijerveld – Senior Project Officer (East Arnhem Children’s Services, Anglicare NT)
  • Gwen Warmbirrirr – Secretary (Nyäḻka Milingimbi Women’s Corporation) Community Advisor (Anglicare NT)

The Anglicare NT ‘We Grow Them Up’ – Learning Forum (WGTU) an integral feature of East Arnhem Children’s Services work practice, is a community led, place-based event for early childhood/children’s services, service providers, community leaders and local stakeholders to come together to collaborate, share learnings and showcase their work. With deep listening and two-way learning, highlighting how local wisdom and innovation has informed community responses to issues and challenges, with sessions often taking place in language, reflecting the diverse groups across the region.

  • Adele Cox – National Director Sector Development (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)
  • Joanne Goulding – National Director THRYVE (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)

Cultural Safety is paramount in relation to programs, services and organisations who provide support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families, and communities. This workshop is aimed at both ACCO and non-Indigenous NGO’s who are working in the early childhood education and care sector. We will explore and share experiences and learnings from work undertaken in NSW recently developing a cultural safety framework in an early learning and early education setting. This will allow participants to provide insight, input and shared understandings of how cultural safety needs to be at the core of everything that the sector does.

Concurrent Sessions


  • Lisa Thorpe – CEO (Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child And Family Centre)
  • Worrin Williams – Deputy CEO (Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child And Family Centre)
  • Leann Graham – Early Years Manager (Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child And Family Centre)
  • Jade Young – Team Leader Health and Wellbeing Unit (Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child And Family Centre)

This presentation will be about the development and successes of Bubup Wilam over the past ten years. We fought against the odds and held our ground. Bubup Wilam is an authentic self-determining Aboriginal Community Controlled Early Years organisation. Through development our own programs and working with strengths of our children and families, we are leading the way and measuring our own successes through the strengths of our families – we are Closing the Gap.

  • Catherine Liddle – CEO, SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)
  • Paul Gray – Co-Chair (National Family Matters Leadership Group)

The Family Matters National Reflective Practice Tool was developed for signatories to the national Family Matters campaign to identify their strengths and challenges in implementing the campaign principles and to identify activities to achieve the campaign vision and target. This presentation will discuss Queensland Family Matters’ recent phased trials using the tool, implementation, and recommendations for further development of the tool. It will also discuss SNAICC’s recent Family Matters report, which outline current developments and the solutions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have called for.

  • Dr Wendy Hermeston – Senior Research Fellow, ALIVE National Centre for Mental Health Research Translation, Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Melbourne Medical School (University of Melbourne)
  • Belinda Kendall – Chief Executive Officer (Curijo)
  • Tina McGhie – Operations Manager (Curijo)

The “best interests of the child” is a fundamental standard in child protection and family law. Every day, judges determine care matters based on the notion. Yet there’s little evidence about what best interests means to First Peoples. We share Aboriginal community member understandings of best interests, gathered from yarning circles held as part of a small PhD study in metropolitan NSW. We then talk about implications of the findings and possible applications in practice.

  • Tina King (Koori Services Coordinator, Children’s Court of Victoria)
  • Liz Langdon (Magistrate, Children’s’ Court of Victoria)

In 2016 the Children's Court of Victoria became the first Australian court to establish a Koori Family Hearing Day that utilises culturally informed decision-making processes to enable greater family participation, known as Marram-Ngala Ganbu (MNG). Following an independent evaluation in 2019, the Children’s Court expanded MNG to a rural location - the Shepparton Law Courts. This presentation will provide an understanding of the MNG model and detail the steps taken to adapt the MNG model to a new, regional location.

  • Kristi Watts – Playgroup Facilitator (Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative)
  • Tahlia Dempsey – Early Years Team Leader (Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative)

This presentation will provide delegates with an insight into our Wathaurong way of structuring the different playgroups within our organisation and how the playgroup environment and structure strengthens cultural identity and community connectedness for children and families within the Wathaurong community. Sharing knowledge and practice is what this presentation is all about! For anyone who wants new ideas or inspiration for their own community!

  • Bruno Alahakone – Director & Principal Architect (BA Architects)

This workshop explores how practical, inclusive and consultative co-design approach could have a meaningful impact for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being of children and young people. Our approach towards the design of facilities will be shared through the belief in education as the fundamental basis of closing the gap within a country that is moving towards reconciliation. We will share our co-design approach based on ‘whole of community’ consultation to reflect the strategic visions of the learning environment.

  • Facilitated by: Catherine Liddle – CEO (SNAICC - National Voice for our Children)

SNAICC has been instrumental in the development of Safe and Supported: the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children. The National Framework is a platform for a new way of working between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to keep children safe and reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. The Framework is governed jointly by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Group and by all governments under the Closing the Gap Agreement. This plenary will discuss what it will take from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and governments to shift the trends in overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care, and to transform how governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.