In April 2016, 'Down the Rabbit Hole: A festival of bold childhood ideas' conference was held at the NSW Art Gallery. The gathering was unique, stimulation of the senses with a feast of ideas to challenge those who attended.
The conference – Down the Rabbit Hole: A festival of bold childhood ideas – held by Gowrie NSW, gave leaders in early childhood centres and schools a chance to hear from some of Australia’s leading education experts discuss important topics including: gender, culture, inclusion and parenting.
Well-known social commentator and author Jane Caro spoke about modern-day parenting. “Today we have a generation of the most anxious parents the world has ever seen,” Caro told attendees. “By wrapping our children in our own anxiety we are limiting their opportunity for growth.”
Caro explained that by overprotecting children, they don’t get to be a part of the “non-perfect and ordinary world”.
Dr Elizabeth Riley unravelled the issue of gender and what it means for children to be gender variant. “Transgender is just another way of being human. It exists in all cultures – it is nothing new,” Riley said.
Riley explained that the gender divide is only getting greater for children today and is resulting in high suicide rates amongst that population group.
Cultural curator, Alasdair Foster also took to the stage to discuss creativity in education. “We need to bring imagination back into education,” Foster told audience members.
Foster argued that modern education shapes children to become adults in a looking glass world in which they consume other people’s ideas rather than working together to find the best outcomes for their community. “Educators need to find a way to actively engage children and find the freedom in teaching,” Foster added.
Meanwhile the Stronger Smarter Institute’s Fiona Bobongie asked “are you ready for the black baby boom?” Bobongie told conference-goers that the Indigenous population is increasing, with the fastest growing group being zero to four-year-olds.
“There is a sense of urgency to create strong and supportive educational spaces for the growing number of indigenous children who will enter education,” Bobongie explained.
All speakers later joined a panel discussion alongside ACECQA National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone, chaired by academic Dr Frances Press, giving audience members the opportunity to ask questions.
Gowrie CEO Natalie Grenfell said the event was a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the sectors most important issues.
“I’d like to thank the speakers for their inspirational and thought-provoking presentations,” Grenfell said. “They certainly stretched my own thinking and offered bold ideas that allowed all attendees to expand their thinking on childhood matters.”
Media contact: For interviews or to gain more information about the conference, please contact Marketing and Communications Manager Antonia Maiolo on 02 8571 9760 or email