The Early Learning Leaders Summit will be held on Friday 1 April 2022.

Book now to secure your place!


Meet Our Speakers

EVENT MC: Marianne Van Dorslar

We're delighted to present Marianne Van Dorslar as our Master of Ceremonies (MC). 
Marianne is one of Australia's well-known television presenters, with previous regular guest presenter roles on Network Ten's national morning show 'The Circle', Bert Newton's 'Good Morning Australia' and Channel 7's Lotto draws.

We know she'll brighten our spirits with her naturally warm personality and sense of humour.

Kurt Fearnley
disability advocate, paralympian
Shade Zahrai
Steven Bradbury
Dr Ros Baxter PSM
Deputy Secretary 
Department of Education, Skills & Employment (DESE) 
Jane Hunt
Paul Mondo
Kim Little
Deputy Secretary, Early Childhood Education, Department of Education & Training (DET)

Tamara Brown
Partner, Private Clients, PwC

Kurt Fearnley


Kurt Fearnley is a passionate disability advocate and devotes himself to a number of national and Hunter-based charitable initiatives. He is a board member of the Australian Paralympic Committee, Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation and member of the International Paralympic Committee's Athlete Advisory Council.


Kurt was born without the lower portion of his spine but never allowed this to hold him back. Kurt went on to become one of Australia's most successful and respected athletes and advocates.


His achievements as a Paralympic athlete, service to people with a disability, and fundraising efforts when it comes to Indigenous athletics and charitable organisations earned him an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2018. In the same year, he was named as NSW Australian of the Year and awarded an Honourary Doctorate from Griffith University.

Shade Zahrai


An Award-Winning Leadership Strategist, former commercial lawyer with a background in psychology and strategy consulting, Harvard-trained coach and former member of the esteemed Forbes Coaches Council, Shade Zahrai is a specialist in building a success mindset, self-belief and self-mastery for business professionals, and enhancing people-centric cultures.


As Principal and Director of Influenceo Global Inc., a leadership development, consulting and research firm, she consults, trains and coaches leaders and teams from startups to Fortune-500s, breathing life into organisational culture to enhance change-readiness for transformation, increase engagement, support the development of people-centric strategies and boost commercial performance.


Shade is a best-selling author, Harvard-trained leadership coach, an established performer and speaker featured on TED and TEDx, and 3x Australian champion latin dancer. She's a former lawyer with a background in psychology (specialising in positive psychology) and also received her MBA in 2018.



Steven Bradbury


Dubbed 'the luckiest gold medallist', Steven Bradbury's remarkable and unlikely victory at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics was achieved after a spectacular final-lap spill took out his four rivals. 


As many may remember, Steven threw his arms up in disbelief and smiled as he crossed the finish line, winning fans the world over for the honesty and humility he showed after the win.  But his gold medal win was not entirely as fortuitous as many would believe, and Steven sees his victory as reward not for one race, but for a decade of hard slog that has included more than his share of misfortune.


Now a successful business owner of Revolutionary Boot Company (RBC), Steven believes there are two factors to his success - the determination to put in the hard work required and the willingness to take a risk. At RBC, and in Steven's speed skating career, he took many chances. Some worked, some didn't. However, he stuck at them and played the long game. Today he has an Olympic gold medal, while RBC export their custom speed skates and cycling shoes to 19 countries around the world.


Dr Ros Baxter PSM


Dr Ros Baxter PSM is the Deputy Secretary for Early Childhood and Child Care in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. In addition to this, she is also the Deputy Secretary with overarching responsibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy within DESE, including providing strategic oversight of the Department’s work under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Ros has a Doctorate in Philosophy, holds several Bachelor degrees and is a recipient of a Public Service Medal. Ros has a strong leadership record in policy, program delivery and central agencies; high-level expertise in stakeholder and people management, with hands-on experience managing and reshaping policy and programs.

Paul Mondo


As President of ACA National since 2016, and seven years as President of ACA Victoria (currently Vice President), Paul has played a key role in advocating for the interests of members at the Federal and State Government levels. He has successfully built strong working relationships with key stakeholders across all major political parties, and is dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to high quality, affordable early learning services in Australia.


With over 15 years of experience as an early learning service provider, Paul has a hands-on knowledge of the sector, which started through his work in the family business from the age of 13.


Paul has built and managed his own services and currently has one service in Victoria. Throughout his time in the sector Paul has spent time filling most roles within the daily operations of the service and continues to work day to day in these services with children, families and educators. 

Tom Scantlebury


Tom Scantlebury has been an experience enthusiast since an early age. From chasing waves, snow, music and great food around the world, to managing 5-star hotels, he has been dedicated to creating and savouring memorable experiences.

Since pivoting from hotel management to XM (experience management), Tom has helped ASX listed companies design, measure and improve the quality of experiences they provide their customers (CX) and employees (EX).


He is a passionate believer that a differentiated, emotionally-engaging customer experience - regardless of the industry - delivers profitable and meaningful business outcomes. For the last five years he has specialised in the early learning sector, becoming an authority on how to create better customer experiences to drive occupancy growth.

When Tom isn’t speaking, training or conducting CX research he is searching for the best surf conditions and often dragging his family along with him.

Jane Hunt


As Founding CEO of The Front Project, Jane Hunt is passionate about children’s education, health and development. She combines her expertise in systems change with a deep knowledge of how nurturing our children during their earliest years has beneficial social and economic outcomes for all Australians. Jane’s commitment to seeing all children fulfill their potential drives business and community leaders to help execute this vision.


In creating The Front Project, Jane was able to tap into her senior extensive experience across the for-benefit, corporate and academic sectors. She has held various senior roles, including CEO at both Adopt Change and Fitted for Work, and was also Victorian Strategy and Operations Manager for Mission Australia. 


Aside from heading up The Front Project, Jane also serves on the CEDA Vic/Tas Advisory Group and previously was a Non-Executive Director of Unison Community Housing. Fittingly, Jane has been recognised for her important work with a number of prestigious awards, including:

  • the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur Award, granting her ongoing participation at World Economic Forum events
  • a Victorian Telstra Business Women’s Award
  • the Melbourne Business 3000 Award for Community Innovation.

Kim Little

Deputy Secretary, Early Childhood Education, Department of Education & Training (DET)

Kim is the lead Deputy Secretary for the implementation of the Victorian Government’s ambitious Education State kindergarten reforms, including the introduction of universal three-year-old kindergarten in sessional and long day care settings, equity funding to support educationally disadvantaged kindergarten children to thrive, and successful programs to lift the quality of kindergarten-offering services.

All of this is done in close collaboration with Victoria’s diverse and committed kindergarten sector of over 2,500 services – whether sessional or long day care based, and whether run by parents, the community sector, small business or large, local government or schools.

Kim’s part of the department is also home to the critical work of the early childhood education and care regulator for Victoria, and the whole-of-Victorian government reform to create better information sharing to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

Prior to this appointment, Kim was the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Early Childhood Portfolio in her department. She has also worked in the Higher Education and Skills in that department, with a focus on tertiary education policy matters, including market design and intervention. Before joining the Department of Education and Training, Kim worked in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet on education and social policy issues. Kim has also worked as a philosopher at Monash University and as a corporate lawyer.


Tamara Brown


Tamara is a Partner in PwC’s Private Clients practice with over 20 years’ experience working with privately owned organisations, family groups and entrepreneurs to help them grow and realise value. Tamara works closely with her clients to understand their needs and growth aspirations.


In recent years, Tamara has led the firm’s childcare practice - presenting at many key childcare seminars with respect to strategy, growth and benchmarking as well as personally acting for a number of childcare groups across Australia.

Tamara provides a range of tailored business and tax advisory and compliance services. These include business growth services such as development of strategy, business models, financial forecast modelling, helping clients realise efficiencies, drive profit and free up cash flow as well as tax structuring and tax advice, such as capital gains tax, small business CGT concessions, employee share schemes and the use of trusts in family group structures. Tamara also provides tax compliance services to her clients.

We invite you to join us for
what promises to be
a really special event.