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Whittlesea Early Years & Conservation Conference

Explore the emerging needs of our community in relation to social inclusion, health, wellbeing and nature play.

We will discuss the need for increased participation by children in decision-making forums to create vibrant libeable neighbourhoods.

Strengthen our community connections anc collaborate on emerging issues, including:

  • Engaging in nature play
  • Promoting a sense of wellbeing in children
  • Meaningful inclusive practices

Through the Lens of a Child:

Connecting through landscape, wellbeing and education

Date: Thursday 9 June

Time: 8:30am-4.30pm

Price: $75

List of Speakers:

  • Costa Georgiadis: "I Believe in gardening the soil as well as the soul"
  • Dr Red Ruby Scarlett: Creating Curriculum Though Culture 
  • Eco Explorers Melinda Bitto & Adam Mcnamara: Site assessments & bush safety 
  • Rachel Findeis: “Natures Dance – combining movement, nature and art to heal, ground and develop”
  • Louise Dorrat: The importance of outdoor play and selling it to the parents.
  • Tim Connell: Team Leader Conservation Management
  • Nicki Buchan: “ Health benefits of nature play with children – 7 reasons why children should be outside”
  • Sharon Hughes: Handy Play: A hands on experience - City of Whittlesea
  • Michelle Shaw and Kim Knersch: Nature Based Advocacy: A pathway to yes - Thomas Chirnside Kindergarten        

Events/ Keynotes:

Costa Georgiadis is a landscape architect, environmental educator and television presenter who has an all-consuming passion for plants and people.

As co-creator and host of Costa’s Garden Odyssey for SBS, he caught the attention of a nation. Since 2013, Costa has continued his journey as the much-loved host of one of the ABC's most iconic and Logie award-winning programs, Gardening Australia. Costa is a must have TV and radio guest on talk shows, lifestyle programs, current affairs programs, gameshows and brings the comedy gold in unexpected places to audiences young and old. As Costa the Garden Gnome on ABC Kid’s Get Grubby TV, he shares his love of nature and joy of gardening for a new generation of garden planet dwellers.

He wins hearts wherever he goes and his presenting work with Gardening Australia has been acknowledged with a Silver Logie and an AACTA Award. Beyond the screen, Costa is deeply involved with the importance of biodiversity and habitat, regenerative agriculture, permaculture and holistic land practices that deal with the issues arising from a rapidly urbanising world.

The story of soil is a driving narrative for him. Through his workshops, lectures, keynotes, expos and other events, Costa is actively involved in delivering his message to the broader community. His work with pre-schools, primary and high schools, TAFE colleges, universities, industry groups and community organisations demonstrates his ability to convey his knowledge of a permanent self-sustaining culture to any audience.



Niki has lived and worked in South Africa, Scotland and since 2011, Australia. She has a great love for the outdoors and has been working with both adults and children for more than 38 years.

Working internationally as a conference keynote speaker, nature pedagogue, mentor and author in the UK, USA, Canada, Iceland, Sweden, South Korea, China, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, and South Africa.  A strong advocate for children’s right to a high-quality childhood with a deep concern about children’s mental health and trauma. She trusts children as being capable and competent and believes children of all ages have a right to regular access to nature and to have their voices heard in matters that affect them. She is considered a leading voice in promoting Nature-based practice and is the author of “Children in Wild Nature”, “A Practical Approach to Nature-based Practice” , “Adventurous Play” and STEM Detectives.

After 38 years internationally as an ECE professional, Niki has gained a reputation as a strong advocate for children’s right to a high-quality childhood with an increasing concern about mental health and trauma. She trusts children as capable and competent and believes children of all ages have the right to play and to regular access in nature, supporting adults internationally in developing appropriate outdoor programs for children to thrive in. 

The NQF The Musical! - Written and performed by Dr Red Ruby Scarlet and Louise Dorrat is a professional development opportunity like no other.

This musical is written by educators for educators and is an inspiring way to reinvigorate teams and organisations.

In an all singing all dancing extravaganza, dynamic dramaturgical early childhood thespians, Red and Louise invite participants to walk through the experiences of a coordinator and an educator in an early year’s service.

It specifically focuses on:

  • Educational programs
  • Reflective practice
  • Aboriginal Perspectives
  • Health and safety
  • Team work
  • Leadership
  • Critical Reflection
  • Documentation
  • Inclusion and Anti-Bias
  • Art

Underpinned by:

  • The Assessment and Rating process
  • The Quality Improvement plan
  • Exceeding themes

The musical takes each of these issues and offers a humorous expression of them to acknowledge how people feel, but then brings each issue around to a positive perspective that has been carefully scripted to make educators feel empowered, knowledgeable and courageous in their encounters with the NQF in their everyday practice.