As CEO of Goodstart Early Learning, Australia’s largest provider of early learning and care since February 2011, Julia has successfully shepherded the organisation from its early beginnings to establish a unique and sustainable social enterprise employing more than 15,000 educators and supporting 70,000 children and their families.
Julia’s focus is on ensuring Goodstart is a flexible, innovative organisation in which all children, families and educators have a voice in shaping its future. Over the past three years she has worked very deliberately to nurture this culture of innovation across the organisation. She is excited by what the next five years will bring, as innovation becomes further embedded in Goodstart’s DNA.
Prior to joining Goodstart Julia had extensive senior management experience in the human services sector in Australia and the UK.
Julia Davison, CEO - Goodstart Early Learning
Gary Carroll joined Australia’s largest for-profit early childhood education provider, G8 Education, as Chief Financial Officer in July 2016 and was appointed as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director in January 2017. An ASX200 company, G8 Education comprises approximately 10,000 team members across a network of more than 500 early learning centres in Australia, providing quality early education to more than 50,000 Australian children every week.
Gary came to G8 Education having spent more than a decade with ASX listed Super Retail Group, where he commenced as Chief Financial Officer in 2006. He later moved on to become General Manager Group Development before taking on the role of Chief Supply Chain Officer during a particularly significant period of change and expansion for the organisation.
Gary’s leadership experience also includes roles with National Australia Bank as Director of Institutional Banking and retail travel group, Flight Centre, where he was General Manager, Business Services.
He holds Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degrees and is a CPA.
Gary Carroll, CEO - G8 Education Ltd
Jane Bourne is a highly-regarded expert in Early Childhood Education and Care, with more than four decades of experience to her name. Jane has held a variety of senior management and executive positions in both profit and not-for-profit organisations, including eight years as CEO of Lady Gowrie Queensland, before commencing as CEO of C&K in October 2018. Jane is also the President of the Early Childhood Australia Queensland Branch.
Jane’s management and leadership experience is an extension of her background as an early childhood teacher. She is a fierce advocate for children, and is dedicated to creating systems and opportunities that promote best outcomes for children, families, and the Early Childhood Education and Care profession.
Jane Bourne, CEO - C&K
Jenni is the CEO of Big Fat Smile. Big Fat Smile is a child and family services provider whose vision is to enrich the lives and minds of our children and families in their communities. Big Fat Smile primarily provides centre-based care to children 0-12 through early learning and care, out of school hours and vacation care. Big Fat Smile also provides inclusion support nationally in partnership with KU and Gowrie. Big Fat Smile provides community-based services such as Post Natal Depression groups and supported playgroups. Big Fat Smile partners with educational institutions to collaborate on research projects to continually improve on best practice.
Jenni brings a passion for strong governance and actively developing and enhancing innovative service delivery to reduce disadvantage in our communities and scaffold children and families to flourish and thrive. The underlying philosophy is about quality and inclusion for all children, through our values of Inclusion, Integrity, Safety, Child-centric, Collaboration and Leadership. Jenni’s work in NFPs has centered on working with individuals and communities to create change and meet the needs of our most vulnerable in the community. Jenni led the commencement of one of Australia’s first Social Benefit Bonds and has a passion for creating Child Safe Organisations.
Jenni has specialised in child protection for more than 20 years and is passionate about providing high quality services to children, women and families to enrich their lives and help to build strong and vibrant communities.
Jenni Hutchins, CEO - Big Fat Smile
Sinead has been in the business since October 2016 and during that time she has led several improvements in professionalizing the OSHC delivered via our school partnerships. She has drove consistency and understanding of the importance of the essential service we provide to families and has represented the business by giving input into several sector forums. Sinead brings over 20 years’ experience in leading distributed teams and implementing large transformational change programs including mergers and acquisitions. She has extensive experience in embedding governance and process controls to ensure standards are embraced and encourages business improvement and innovation from the bottom up. Sinead has held several General Manager and COO roles across multiple sectors and has led significant global transformation programs with Ernst & Young and Deloitte both overseas and in Australia. Sinead holds a BA(Hon), MSISS (Mathematics and Statistics) from Trinity College Dublin.
Sinead Ryan, CEO - Junior Adventures Group
Michael’s vision for establishing TheirCare emerged from over two decades successfully managing large service focused organisations. Michael’s passion is establishing organisations with integrity and unwavering commitment to delivery. His most recent role saw him manage an organisation with over 2,000 field based personnel and delivering complex services in medical, aged care and technology industries. His customer focus results in successful large scale projects, strict adherence to safety with quality outcomes.
Extensive exposure to public/private programs and ensuring community engagement have created the foundation of strong probity and governance of TheirCare’s operations.
Michael Abela , Managing Director - TheirCare
Rod is an Executive Community Services and Program Delivery Specialist with extensive experience in strategic community planning and innovative program expansion resulting in stronger inclusive communities. His proven success in program delivery, policy development and major event management for people of all ages and interests, in diverse backgrounds – resulting in strong community satisfaction, exceptional customer service, extensive networking, higher organisational planning, growth and operational excellence.
Rod is highly effective in leading top-performing collaborative teams and building positive culture through personal development and professional training plans. He has proven success in growing new business opportunities and developing strong relationships within local community networks (council members, local businesses, schools, residents, visitors), ensuing increased event collaboration, funding opportunities and community awareness.
Rod is highly skilled in managing both internal and external relationships and providing strategic long and short-term direction for community and project development. He has a track record in leading timely holistic programs and initiatives to meet the needs of local communities, and managing the communication and presentation of outcomes and action plans whilst strongly engaging all key stakeholders.
Rod Nadwie-Smith, Head of Early Learning
Gabrielle Sinclair is the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).
Gabrielle commenced her career as a teacher and has held senior executive positions in a number of Queensland Government portfolios including Education, Infrastructure and Planning, Local Government and Corrective Services. Before her appointment to ACECQA, Gabrielle was Deputy Director-General, Early Childhood and Community Engagement in the Queensland Department of Education and Training.
Gabrielle has a Master’s degree in Education and Executive Master’s degree in Public Administration.
Gabrielle Sinclair, CEO - Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)
Elizabeth has a broad experience base in social policy and service delivery coupled with a solid track record of achievement in both the public and for-purpose sectors. Elizabeth is highly experienced in stakeholder management, including with Ministers’ offices, government departments, universities and for-purpose organisations. Elizabeth began her career as a teacher in early learning, has deep experience as a Centre Director, multi-site management and has worked as General Manager Early Childhood Education and Care for the Northern Territory Department of Education. Elizabeth is co-author on a seminal Australian and New Zealand academic text, Programming and Planning in Early Childhood Settings, currently in its 7th edition.
Elizabeth Death , CEO - Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA)
Susan Irvine is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at QUT and was recently appointed Head of the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, commencing in 2020.
She is an early childhood teacher who has diverse experience in early childhood education and care (ECEC). She has taught in prior to school settings and the early phase of school, led service provision and worked for many years in ECEC and child and family public policy. This eclectic work background continues to shape and influence her work and research.
She is recognised nationally for her leadership and expertise in early childhood policy and practice and engages in research to support quality improvement in ECEC. Maintaining a strong interest in the ECEC workforce, recent research projects have focused on: identifying effective strategies to grow and sustain a professional ECEC workforce; leadership that enables professional practice; and enablers and challenges to quality improvement in long day care.
Susan applies a range of qualitative research methods, and has extensive experience working in multi-disciplinary teams on collaborative research projects that include the development of professional learning programs and resources to support practice change.
Professor Susan Irvine , Faculty of Education - QUT
Anthony is one of the founders of Semann & Slattery. Often asked how Semann & Slattery was established he often has a temptation to make up a story of some well-planned out business model and long-term investment strategy but the truth of it is that the business was born out of a desire to make a difference. No long-term planning, no business model and definitely not an investment strategy. And this desire to make a difference has been the fuel that has kept Semann & Slattery going for 20 years. Qualified as an early childhood teacher Anthony spent the first part of his career working in long day care programs eager to learn as much as he could about how to make a difference. It wasn't long after he began his career that he discovered the importance of equity and social justice as been a driving force in social change. He remains committed to naming out inequity, shifting practice towards justice and living a life that embodies all that he preaches.
Anthony has grown to understand that power of leadership but the more he thinks about it the more confused he has become. This confusion perhaps has been one of the driving forces about his struggle with leadership, as he tries to find ways to unshackle himself and others from processes which dehumanize the human spirit.
Often seen wearing black, you can find Anthony most days in an airport with a smile on his face. He enjoys nothing more than a holiday abroad and a day at the beach. His family and friends are his oxygen in life and give him pleasure in the everydayness of life. His long-term plan is to live a full life which is balanced and never succumb to old age.
Anthony Semann, Director - Semann & Slattery
Joe Waters is the co-founder and CEO of Capita. A nonprofit ideas lab, Capita works at the intersections of research, policy, social innovation, design, and the arts to explore how the great cultural and social transformations of our day affect children and their families, and to foster a future in which all flourish. Joe also serves as a Senior Advisor to Openfields, a Greenville, South Carolina-based consulting firm.
Prior to starting Capita, Joe was the Executive Vice President of the Institute for Child Success. His commentary on issues facing America’s families has been published by Investor’s Business Daily, Stanford Social Innovation Review, The State, The Charlotte Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and other outlets, and he has moderated public dialogues with diverse figures including National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds, Washington Post columnist Arthur Brooks, and architect Itai Palti. Joe has been an invited speaker at the White House’s first forum on social impact finance, the Aspen Forum on Children and Families, the Lego Idea Conference (Denmark), Think Future (South Africa), and the World Forum on Early Care and Education (China).
He is a member of the Board of Directors of AIR Serenbe, the acclaimed artist-in-residence program in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, the Felician Center, which helps those who struggle to meet their basic needs in South Carolina’s rural Pee Dee region, and the Greenville Chorale. He also chairs the South Carolina Advisory Board for Nurse-Family Partnership, an evidence-based home visiting program that serves first-time mothers across the state. He graduated from Furman University (BA, history) and earned a master’s degree in divinity from Duke University.
Joe Waters, Co-Founder and CEO - Capita
Anna has worked in Australia and internationally for a number of Australian and global organisations, and has 25+ years’ experience in the Childcare, Retirement Living, Financial Services and Leadership Consulting sectors. Her roles have included senior positions in Operations, Internal/External Consulting, and Sales and Marketing.
Anna commenced her current CEO position at Only About Children (‘Oac’) in September 2017. Oac has 70+ early years learning and preschool campuses across Australia, serving 10,000+ families and employs approximately 2500 staff.
Prior to her current role Anna worked as a Senior Executive for ASX listed Stockland in the Retirement Living Business, and held senior roles with Egon Zehnder International and GE Capital.
Anna started her career as a Music Therapist focused on Child Psychology and Special Education. She holds a Masters of Business Administration and Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy.
Anna Learmonth, CEO - Only About Children
Peter Dixon is Co-CEO of Storypark - an organisation synonymous with innovation in the family engagement and digital documentation space internationally.
Storypark is Australasia's leading platform and now supports over 7,500 centres in 37 countries. As a purpose-led organisation, they're focused on deepening impact for children, families, educators and organisations by supporting quality practice.
Peter works with academics, partners, practitioners and other experts to understand challenges within the ECE sector globally. He has a background in social enterprise - supporting innovation across multiple sectors.
Peter Dixon, Co-CEO - Storypark
A Senior Lecturer in the School of Early Childhood at Queensland University of Technology, Dr Megan Gibson is a respected researcher in her field. Her background as an early childhood educator with experience in teaching and leadership positions, culminated in her role as Director of an industry-leading childcare centre in Brisbane. Megan’s award-winning doctoral research examined the professional identities of early childhood educators. This work combined with her extensive professional experience have laid the foundations for her ongoing program of research in attracting, preparing and retaining the early childhood workforce. Megan is currently engaged in research across a number of workforce studies, including the Exemplary early childhood educators at work study and a community-based action research projects in Tasmania, where she is a Research Associate with Gowrie Training and Consultancy. In her current role at QUT, Dr Gibson co-ordinates the Master of Teaching (Early Childhood) program and is responsible for teacher education units on leadership, professionalism and health and wellbeing. Megan is a Non-Executive Director of the Creche and Kindergarten Association and Chairs the Early Years and Innovation Committee. Recently Megan was appointed to the ELACCA Early Childhood Workforce Expert Advisory Panel. Above all else, Megan is an early childhood teacher, who is passionate about building and sustaining the early childhood workforce.
Dr Megan Gibson, Senior Lecturer, School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education - QUT
Jason Roberts entered the ECEC sector in 2013 as CEO of G8 Education. He spent four years in senior executive positions before transitioning out of the business in January 2018. Since leaving G8 Jason launched Sector Publishing which operates The Sector - News, views and reviews platform and Events series and also continues to actively consult across the sector on matters of strategy, due diligence, business performance and market dynamics. Jason is an active contributor to The Sector platform with responsibility for covering policy, provider and innovation related topics.
Jason Roberts, Founder and CEO - The Sector