Early Childhood EC Conference reflections

  • By Heidi Ratje
  • This article was published more than 9 months ago.
  • 20 Jul 2023

This year’s Early Childhood Conference emphasised the importance of our role as activists, reminding us that our diversity gives us power.

Our annual EC conference was held on Saturday 20 May, both in person and online. It was a very welcome opportunity for members to join us at the AEU building for the first time in a number of years.

We opened the conference with a Welcome to Country from Uncle Bill Nicholson before hearing from Cara about our role as activists, the current political landscape for early childhood; two years of free, funded kindergarten; and the Best Start, Best Life reforms.

During our morning keynote address, consultant Nicole Talarico and teacher Sarah Louise Gandalfo encouraged us to prioritise ‘checking-in’ with ourselves. They discussed the importance of connection and collaboration in supporting our wellbeing; recognising the language of our nervous system; tuning-in to our physiological responses; and to practice sticking to our boundaries, effectively saying no, and recognising our capacity.

Members connected with one another, networked, explored big ideas, and reflected on their workplaces and experiences.

While the morning workshops put wellbeing into practice, the afternoon workshops delved into union issues – consultation, workload, our rights at work, a psychologically safe workplace, the capability assessment, and the First Nations Voice to Parliament.

Early childhood researcher Anthony Semann delivered the second keynote, prompting us to reflect on the state of early childhood education at a national level, shift our perspectives and embrace our diversity while embedding equality and social justice into our practices.

To end the day, members were invited to use their voices to shape our log of claims by hosting a meeting and nominating to become a campaign leader and sit at the negotiation table. Members can contact AEU organiser Max Grarock to further explore some of the big issues, or to participate in Level 1 Activist training.

Overall, the day was a huge success. Members connected with one another, networked, explored big ideas, and reflected on their workplaces and experiences. We walked away recognising the importance of prioritising our own wellbeing. Thank you to everyone who joined us, both in-person and online. We hope that you found the day as energising as we did.

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