ARMEDIA was lucky to be invited to the 35th birthday celebrations for our friends at Community Child Care Co-operative (NSW).

The theme of their smart party was ‘Speaking Up and Speaking Out’, and a range of speakers known for their tendency to do just that challenged the 200-strong audience to think about key topics currently affecting the early childhood education and care sector.

audience-To kick off, Michael West, a cultural representative from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, gave a Welcome to Country. Michael shared his message sticks with the audience, encouraging everyone to celebrate diversity within our nation and emphasising our ‘one tribe’—humanity.

jane-caroJane Caro, author and commentator, then addressed the gathering with her entertaining and thought-provoking presentation, ‘You can’t change the world by

being nice’. Commenting on how outspoken women are continually labelled a ‘bitch’, she encouraged all women to embrace the tag, make some noise and stand up for what they want: “If you don’t ask for what you want, you will never get what you want.”

Jane also talked about how our inequitable society sees woman as “deficit”, focusing in the idea that they can always do better. “We need to understand how pervasive biases are,” she said.Leanne-gibbs

Community Child Care CEO Leanne Gibbs kept the provocative entertainment high, with a poetry slam that reminded the audience that “education is everything”.

And the hits kept coming.

Emily Donnan, activist and educator, presented ‘Stepping Up: a recipe for change’, calling on politicians and the sector to have our cake, and eat it: “quality education and quality educators”.

Then it was the turn of ARMEDIA’s own creative director, artist and activist Deborah Kelly to take to the stage, sharing some of her favourite political artworks.


eva-coxWhen Eva Cox, feminist, public commentator of a founding member of Community Child Care, took to the stage, she caused some controversy when she suggested the sector had lost its way, and needed to get back to its original community roots. While some points may have been controversial, there was agreement about commercial interests in the sector—when she asked how many people in the audience thought that market forces are a good way to allocate childcare, the silence was deafening.lisa-bryant

Lisa Bryant, consultant and advocate, followed with ‘Enemy in the ranks: the fight our sector needs to have’, imploring the female-dominated sector to do away with the voice that says “You cant’!” Instead, she says, “‘I’d love to work in a sector where we’re all up ourselves”.

Researcher and consultant Anthony Semann came on next, and challenged the audience to take the sector on a journey that celebrates difference and diversity, rather than striving for sameness in our quest for quality. Liam McNicholas reminded early education and care advocates of the need to be fearless and continue to fight—loyally and loudly—for the sector. While Dr Miriam Giugni suggested we get mavericks to dream and leave the conservatists to pursue the policy.

To round out the smart party, Alma Fleet, advocate and academic, questioned whether the ‘Pendulum swings too far’, and Fran Press, associate professor and two-time CCCC employee, delivered her ‘Confessions of a contrarian’. She started by saying that Community Child Care changed her life, and encouraged the audience to view challenges to the world as opportunities.

Missed it? Not to worry, you can watch each of the guest speakers here.



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