THE HON. SARAH MITCHELL, MLC
Sarah Mitchell was born and raised in Gunnedah and has spent most of her life living in North-West New South Wales. She continues to live in Gunnedah with her husband Anthony and their daughters Annabelle and Matilda.
Since entering parliament in 2011, Sarah has served on numerous committees and as Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Health and Western NSW. In 2017, Sarah was appointed Minister for Early Childhood Education, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Assistant Minister for Education.In 2019, Sarah was appointed as Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning.
Sarah is a graduate of Gunnedah High School and is passionate about education, particularly in regional and remote parts of NSW. As Minister, she is committed to ensuring every child – no matter where they are from – has access to top-quality education. Since becoming Education Minister, Sarah has lead evidence-based reform with student outcomes at heart. Introducing mandatory phonics and creating the School Success Model to bring more transparency into the system to ensure students receive the support they need to succeed. Regional, rural and remote students are a focus. A revitalised regional strategy backed up with on-the-ground support is a big step to address the regional divide that Sarah is dedicated to closing.
Sarah is an active supporter of local community organisations and has been involved with several local charities, including the Gunnedah Family and Children’s Services and Gunnedah Paediatric and Maternity Support (PRAMS). Sarah’s eldest daughter is in year two at their local public school, and her youngest daughter started preschool this year. Sarah has a deep love for the regions she represents.
A young Minister who is invested in the public education system both personally and professionally, Sarah is committed to making NSW the best education system in the southern hemisphere.
THE HON. ANDREW GEE, MP
Andrew Gee was appointed Australia’s Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education, and Minister Assisting the Trade and Investment Minister on 6 February 2020.
Andrew was born in Wagga Wagga and raised in Maitland, where his father was the local mayor. He studied Economics and Law at Sydney University where he met his wife Christina. They have four children. Prior to entering politics, Andrew set up a business with his brothers in Hong Kong before practising as a barrister in Orange, NSW in the fields of civil litigation and family law.
Andrew secured the NSW state seat of Orange for The Nationals in 2011. Andrew resigned from the NSW Legislative Assembly in 2016 and was elected to the House of Representatives the same year, for the seat of Calare, NSW. In January 2019, Andrew was appointed Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Throughout his time in politics, Andrew has successfully led a number of community campaigns, including 24 hour helicopter rescue services for the Central West; a new hospital for the town of Gulgong; a new medical school for Charles Stuart University; funding for a new road link between Orange and Mudgee; and increased access to radiotherapy services for country cancer patients – Andrew himself is a stage 3 melanoma survivor. Andrew continues to be a strong voice for the communities of his Central West electorate.
Rachael spent 12 months in the Antarctic, where she successfully led the 58th Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to Davis Station. She is only the second female to ever lead a team at the Station and one of the youngest ever leaders.
This leadership role is a truly unique experience. Antarctica in winter is totally inaccessible which means once the last ship leaves at the end of February, no one can leave the base under any circumstance until the ship returns in November. It’s a 24 hour a day, every day of the year, leadership role.
Rachael was responsible for all aspects of life on the Station, from the safety and welfare of over 120 expeditioners in Summer, to the delivery of the Australian Government’s $30mn science program. In any circumstance, this would be a tough role, but for a female in a male dominated environment, it was also a very challenging one!
Jean Kittson is an author, public speaker and commentator. She is an advocate for education, youth, health, equal opportunity and aging and is a regular speaker on the role of women, both at home, in education and in the workforce.
Jean is also an actor, comedian and scriptwriter for stage, television, theatre, radio, magazines and newspapers. She is the author of two books and has contributed to many others. Jean came to national attention on ABC TV’s, ‘The Big Gig’, followed by Let the Blood Run Free, Kittson Fahey, Good News Week, the Glasshouse, Flat Chat, The Einstein Factor, Media Dimensions, Strictly Speaking, Talking ’Bout Your Generation, Studio Ten, the Today Show and she is also well known for her comedy debates for the ABC, Channel 9 and Channel ten. She has been a regular columnist with New Weekly, Sunday Telegraph, the Sydney Morning Herald – Sydney Magazine, Inspire Magazine, the Readers Digest Health Smart Magazine and the on-line magazine, The Hoopla.
Jean was a founding Director of the National Cord Blood Bank, the inaugural chair of the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation (AGCF) and a founding Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia. She currently the Patron of Palliative Care Nurses Australia, and an Ambassador the Macular Disease Foundation, Northcott Disability Services, the Raise Foundation – youth mentoring and Taldumande Youth Services.
In a career spanning four decades, Wendy has found success as a journalist, columnist, radio broadcaster, TV host, author, playwright and comic performer.
A former political journalist, Wendy ran away with the circus in the 80s and forged a career in comedy at the Edinburgh Festival, London’s West End and on stages in Ireland, the US and all over Australia.
Wendy was a pioneer for women in media as MC of ABC TV’s the Big Gig and as the headliner in 2Day FM’s Morning Crew.
She is the author of some 30 fiction books for children, teens and women. She has also written plays, an opera libretto and has been a prolific columnist for many magazines and newspapers, most notably as Editor In Chief of her own site for women, The Hoopla.
Gillian White is the Acting Executive Director, Early Childhood Education and Schools Policy in the NSW Department of Education. In this role, Gill is responsible for early childhood policy focused on ensuring participation and outcomes for children in NSW, as well as early childhood programs including the NSW Government’s Start Strong funding. In addition, Gill works on a range of schools policy areas and is passionate about the journeys and relationships for children and young people between early childhood, school and OSHC.
Prior to this role, Gill has worked in other executive positions at the Department of Education, and previously worked at the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet across a range of social policy areas, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on social, economic and intergovernmental issues. Gill has two children – one who has just started school and the other in early learning! She likes taking them on weekend adventures to discover new places, and finding the occasional moment to read a good book and have a glass of wine.
Sharon Gudu is the Executive Director, Quality Assurance and Regulatory Services, Early Childhood Education in the NSW Department of Education, with responsibility for regulatory strategy, policy, practice and quality improvement across a sector of over 5,500 services. Sharon is passionate about making a difference to the lives of all children through ensuring access to high quality services.
Sharon has held a range of executive roles in the public sector across a broad range of areas including child protection, housing, homelessness and early intervention programs. Her work has always focused on making a difference to people who are vulnerable or disadvantaged.
Sharon’s key focus in her current role is in building strong, collaborative relationships across the sector to uplift quality and ensure safety for children; using a co-design approach to identify opportunities for continuous improvement at all times.
Glenda has worked for over 20 years across both Government and not-for-profit organisations in the delivery of human services. Glenda joined the Department of Education in early 2019 as the Director, Statewide Operations Network, and is responsible for leading the teams of Authorised Officers who regularly visit Early
Childhood Education and Care Services across NSW.
With a passion for social justice, she is a strong advocate for the importance of quality early childhood education in building a foundation for positive life outcomes for all children.
Kim joined the NSW Government in the early 2000, as an Authorised Officer and is influencing sector change as a State Manager, in the NSW Statewide Operations Network (NSW Regulatory Authority).
She is responsible for leading teams across Metro Sydney and Northern NSW, and managing the newly established NSW Quality Support Team, who are building capacity of approved services to identify quality self-assessment practices and building on services uniqueness.
Nat Heath is a proud Martujarra and Minang Aboriginal man. Nat grew up in Forster on NSW mid north coast and completed a Bachelor of Social Science (Major Social Policy and Aboriginal Studies) at the University of Newcastle. Nat has 15 years’ experience working in the Aboriginal education space working in early education, primary, secondary and tertiary education systems.
Rebecca has worked for over 20 years across both Government and not-for-profit organisations in the delivery of children’s services and child protection services.
Rebecca joined the Department of Education in 2012 as an authorised officer. In 2019 Rebecca became the relieving hub coordinator for the North Coast of NSW. Rebecca has a strong passion for pedagogy and had worked and studied in early childhood services in France and Denmark, including forest school and nature kindergartens.
Perry is ACECQA’s Deputy National Education Leader and Senior Manager Educational Leadership.
Perry’s work and study in the children’s education and care sector spans over 30 years. Perry has worked across a number of different service types in a range of roles. Before joining ACECQA in 2012, Perry was employed by the NSW Regulatory Authority for over ten years where he worked as an authorised officer with all service types before becoming a regional manager and then working on the National Quality Framework implementation team. He also spent six years teaching children’s services qualifications with TAFE NSW.
Merise Bickley works at the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) as Head, Early Childhood within the Teaching Standards and Accreditation directorate since 2016.
Her career has spanned over thirty years reaching nationally and statewide in well-established early childhood organisations and service providers. Merise’s career began as an early childhood teacher and service director followed by numerous years of experience in quality assurance, regulation and the training and support of teachers and educators in quality practice reflective of the Early Years Learning Framework and National Quality Standard.
As Head, Early Childhood, Merise continues her commitment to quality early childhood education for children in supporting and guiding teachers to develop quality teaching practice as they are welcomed to the broader teaching profession.
Robert has over 25 years experience in the commercial sector with a focus on not-for -profit membership organisations, he has headed marketing teams for large national membership organisations and communications teams in the banking and financial services sectors. Robert is passionate about helping community based not for profit organisations thrive, he chairs the board of a Lithgow Community Private, a community owned local health service and has recently co-authored “A Case for Economic Change”, a local development strategy adopted by the Lithgow region to transform the local economy from its dependency on coal.
Donna Guest is an Early Childhood Teacher with over 25 years working in early childhood environments. Donna currently works as a Training and Development Officer with ECTARC and has also worked in community based, privately owned and corporate services in regional and city based contexts. Donna’s vibrant presentation style and commitment to quality in early childhood service provisions inspires listeners to embrace new ideas and work towards continuous improvement for the best outcomes for all children.
Tracie McMahon, FCA, MCom (Acc) (Hons) CSU, BCom (Acc) UNSW
Tracie is a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand with over thirty years of experience providing accounting, audit and corporate governance advice to small and large entities in both the commercial and Not-for-Profit sectors. Tracie holds a Master of Commerce in Accounting and has published in the fields of corporate governance and auditing. In recent years, Tracie’s interests have focused on training and education consultancy and she is currently undertaking a Masters of Education to extend her skillset.
In the ECEC sector, Tracie has filled many roles, ranging from parent to committee member, Treasurer and President of a mobile ECEC, a LDC and a preschool. She has also provided ongoing governance support, training and audit services to the sector over a twenty- year period and is looking forward to assisting CCSA and its members to reflect, restore and refocus at the Rural and Remote forum.
Dr Carmen Huser
Dr Carmen Huser is an educational consultant at Early Childhood Australia for the National Mental Health Initiative Be You. She has worked in the early childhood education sector for 20 years and brings experience from her prior employment as early childhood educator, research associate and university tutor in Germany and Australia. Carmen is strongly committed to children’s rights and ethical decision making and graduated with a PhD at Charles Sturt University with her doctoral thesis on children’s
Meg Mendham (CEO, CCSA) has over 20 years’ experience in the Early Childhood Education and Care sector, with direct service delivery experience in Long Day Care, Multipurpose Centres, Preschool, Mobile Children’s Services and Playgroups as an Early Childhood Teacher and Director.
Meg has extensive governance and management experience, having held various executive positions on State and National boards including the NSW Mobile Children’s Services Association, National Association of Mobile Services and CCSA. She has also served on steering committees and reference groups working with Federal/State government departments on the development of regulations, policy and funding models.
Meg’s extensive engagement with Aboriginal early childhood peak bodies such as the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) and Aboriginal Early Childhood Support and Learning (AECSL), focussed on improving quality and rates of attendance for Aboriginal children in early childhood education. Leading CCSA’s engagement with the Aboriginal community of Weilmoringle to establish a Community Safety Net preschool on behalf of the Department of Education.
John is the General Manager at CCSA and has extensive experience in the managing public sector and not for profit organisations. John is a skilled leader with strong people skills, financial skills and change management skills.
In the role of General Manager he is focused on reporting, human resources management, financial management, information technology and assists with business development including overseeing our contracts.
John is the Resource Engagement Coordinator, CCSA
John holds a Bachelor of Science and Graduate Diploma in Defence Studies, as well as being a graduate of the Australian Army Command and Staff College. John joined CCSA in 2011, after 24 years as an Army Officer and then working as a Business/Operations manager in various not-for-profit organisations from 2005. John’s role is focused on compliance and contract delivery, and on resource development for delivering our programs.
Kate has worked as compliance, risk and legal manager in the corporate business world for many years. Kate joined our team at CCSA in 2016. Her work at CCSA has been across Member Support, Sector Support and assisting with establishing community-based preschools in remote areas. As the CCSA in-house lawyer her focus is to roll out a new enterprise risk management program.
Blake is the Member Services Engagement Officer, CCSA
Blake joined CCSA in March 2020. Blake holds a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care (Birth – 5 years) and a Dual Diploma in Leadership and Management. Over the past 8 years, Blake has gained extensive experience across various roles including an Early Childhood Teacher, Educational Leader, Preschool Director and mentoring other Preschools. Blake has a strong passion for embedding Digital Technology into everyday educational program and practice. Blake’s role at CCSA includes developing new member business opportunities, leading campaigns, assist in resource development, consultancy and training and funded projects.