Our trainers

Our trainers are experts and knowledge holders in their own right. With extensive experience in the First 1000 Days Australia movement, they have variously contributed to short courses, research projects, community implementation and the conceptualisation of key elements used in our work. Some trainers have presented on more than one course because of feedback received on the evaluations. Over a two-day course, and depending on availability, Course Coordinator Professor Kerry Arabena and her team cover off on a range of subjects including the following.

Childhood interventions

Dr Wendy Bunston is an author, senior trainer and consultant who has more than 30 years’ experience in the child and family welfare sector. Wendy specialises in working with infants, children and their parents impacted by family violence, and uses the short courses to share her understandings of infant-led therapeutic interventions for families, and infant mental health and wellbeing.

Anna DollardCommunity Elders and local representatives discuss how they work with playgroups to embed cultural practices, languages and kinship relationships in children-led publishing projects. Anna has worked on more than 50 community publishing projects – bringing together artists, designers, booklovers and communities of readers. This is particularly empowering for children who are learning language with their families. 

Economic participation and family empowerment

Paul Kruspe (General Manager) and Lee-Anne Emzin (Aboriginal Economic Broker) from Kinaway Chamber of Commerce present on the role contributed by Indigenous businesses to family empowerment. The presentation focuses on Indigenous procurement, employment and business mentoring, employment programs for at-risk youth, and workshopping early-life business opportunities.

Samantha French is a Torres Strait Islander woman employed through Aboriginal Housing Victoria as a life coach and mentor for public housing tenants. Since her employment in this role, she has been able to work with the University of Melbourne to facilitate an aspirations-focused household survey. In working with families and individuals as a result of this survey, she has seen people achieve remarkable results. Sam presents the findings from the More than A Landlord project, highlighting what can be achieved when community people’s voices are listened to and responded to.

Peer researchers and coordinators

Alisha WardenSharyn Lovett and Candice Arnfeild are peer researchers who have co-designed and participated in the delivery of our First 1000 Days Australia Household Survey. Their work was transformative and has facilitated regionalised approaches to working with family aspirations. They have continued their engagement with First 1000 Days Australia by participating in the delivery of training programs, undertaking further research and consulting and sharing personal stories of their view of success, as well as supporting additional peer researchers as part of the First 1000 Days Australia work. 

Working with families on disability 

Jody Barney is a Murri–South Sea Islander woman who, over the past 25 years, has undertaken extensive work as an Aboriginal disability cultural safety consultant. Jody’s work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities has seen her be the first deaf Aboriginal woman to present on the empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities. A representative on numerous boards, she advocates on behalf of Aboriginal people with complex needs. Jody is Australia’s only Aboriginal cultural forensic communicalist (Aboriginal sign languages) and is a 2018 Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity

Regional implementation

Mornington Peninsula, Healesville and Dandenong in Victoria, Townsville and Deception Bay in Queensland, and Alice Springs in the NT are implementing First 1000 Days Australia strategies, with an emphasis on co-design, co-production and culture being the protective factor for children. On each of the courses, we have coordinators, practitioners and industry partners involved with implementing First 1000 Days Australia initiatives to share with us what is happening on the ground, and strategies that are having an impact. 

Culture-led practices

First 1000 Days Australia works with culture as the protective factor for our families. We have a range of presenters who have implemented cultural healing strategies, including Wayapa, and they share their understanding of cultural engagement during the early years and how to engage men and women in the care of their families. We also present the' Welcome Baby to Country’ and other culture-led practices including Elder-led engagement, reintroducing ceremony and the power of cultural parenting practices.