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Large audience watching a panel discussion at the conference

Hosted by the Department of Education, the Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference brought together early childhood Educational Leaders, experts and practitioners from across the state. The conference was held on 15 February 2023 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne and online via live streaming.

The conference theme, ‘Evidence for impact: giving children the best start’, encouraged strong, evidence-informed discussion about early childhood education, with world-renowned experts and leading practitioners sharing their thoughts.

The conference, hosted by journalist Ellen Fanning, built on the significant expertise of attendees to enhance their professional development and connect with colleagues.

The conference explored the critical role of quality practice in the $9 billion Best Start, Best Life reform, and supported Educational Leaders to guide the delivery of two years of high-quality play-based learning for Victorian children.

Recordings and resources

Where possible recordings and resources from conference speakers and panellists are available below.

Panel: Evidence and reflective practice

Panellists on stage at the conference


  • Rachel McKay, State Lead Practice Partner Vic/Tas, Goodstart Early Learning
  • Sunil Kumari, Educational Leader, Goodstart Early Learning, Clayton
  • Elfie Taylor, Director of Services, Early Years, Our Place
  • Kristie Dowell, Educational Leader, Gowrie Carlton Learning Precinct

Facilitated by Ellen Fanning, this panel of Educational and Pedagogical Leaders discussed practical ways that the panellists have used evidence and reflective practice to deliver high-quality education in their services. Learn about their journey of improving practice and the approaches they have embraced.

Keynote: International perspectives of pedagogical leadership

Professor Jane Bertrand lecturing on stage at the conference

Speaker: Professor Jane Bertrand, Program Director, Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation

Leading researcher in early childhood practices, Professor Jane Bertrand, explored the latest international evidence on pedagogical leadership. She highlighted the common factors of great leadership and the best ways Educational Leaders can lead effectively.

Keynote: The evidence for educational leadership in improving quality

Speaker: Professor Iram Siraj OBE, Professor of Child Development and Education, Oxford University

Professor Iram Siraj, a world-leading early childhood expert, spoke about the evidence for educational leadership improvement. Although a recording of her conference presentation is not available, her research into how leadership plays a key role in learning and teaching quality is available through the following links:

Presentation: Intentional teaching and play-based learning

Speaker: ARC Laureate Professor Marilyn Fleer, Foundation Chair in Early Childhood Education and Development, Monash University

Renowned researcher, ARC Laureate Professor Marilyn Fleer, discussed practical and evidence-based strategies to improve intentional teaching and play-based learning. Marilyn discussed how children embed concepts within a play-based program and the importance of developing a balance of teaching practices to support children’s learning.

Keynote: A call to action for Educational Leaders

Speaker: Sir Kevan Collins, Vice Chairman of the Board, Committee Chair at Learning by Questions, Youth Endowment Fund, Board Member, Goodstart Early Learning and Board Member,

Sir Kevan Collins discussed the important role of the focused and active Educational Leader, drawing on his deep evidence-based knowledge. He spoke passionately about how Educational Leaders can embrace change and enhance children’s learning and development.

Backfill and long-distance travel contributions

Applications for backfill and long-distance travel contributions for the Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference closed on 31 March 2023.

General enquiries

Please contact the Events Team if you have any queries about the conference.

Email us

Privacy notice

Learn about how we handle your information when registering for the Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference.

By completing the registration form and providing your details, you have agreed to providing your information via the Eventbrite system and for your information to handled, including to be collected, used and disclosed as described in this notice.

The Best Start Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders conference (conference) is a one-day conference where childhood Educational Leaders, experts and practitioners from across the state will be able to engage in an evidence-informed discussion about high-quality teaching in early childhood. The conference is hosted by the Department of Education (the department) at the Melbourne Convention Centre and online via live streaming.

What information will be collected and why is it needed?

The information required is demographic data including:

  • your name
  • email and phone contact details
  • details of your role and the organisation you are employed by.

The information you provide in Eventbrite will be provided to Department of Education staff involved in administering the conference. The information is needed to be able to register you for the conference, check you are eligible to attend, provide you with the information needed to attend (either in-person or online) and ask if you would like to opt-in to undertake a voluntary survey to provide feedback on the event. You may be providing a small amount of health information if you indicate you have dietary or accessibility – this information will be used by Department of Education staff to make appropriate adjustments to food provided and/or accessibility at the event.

The department protects your personal information in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic), the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) and the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic).

What will the information be used for?

The Department will use your personal information for the purpose of registering and administering your attendance at the conference, and to ensure the event is accessible for you. This will involve providing your name, contact details, role and the organisation to Conference Works to:

  • enable in-person participants to register for the conference at the start of the event
  • enable online participants to access the conference via live-streaming
  • enable all conference participants to access a conference app.

If you have opted in for the post-conference survey your name, contact information, role and organisation details will be provided to Hall & Partners to contact you to complete a voluntary post-conference feedback survey. If you opt in your survey answers will be de-identified and any details from your individual response will not be published. The survey will be used to understand the value of the conference and improve future department events.

Information collected by the department will be used or disclosed for the purposes stated in the Notice or where otherwise permitted by law.

How will my information be secured?

Your personal information will be managed securely and consistently with Victorian Privacy laws, by both the Department of Education, Conference Works and for participants who have opted into the survey, to Hall & Partners.

Your personal information will be stored securely on:

  • Department servers
  • Conference Works will store information on EventsAir servers
  • Hall & Partners servers (for participants who have opted into the survey only).

Only those administering conference from the Department or Conference Works and those providing technical support at EventsAir or those administering the post-conference survey from Hall & Partners will have access to your data.

Filming and photography

For in-person conference attendees only, the Department of Education will be taking photos and filming at the Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference. These images will be used by the Department of Education to share news, for example about the event and future events/professional development opportunities.

Images and videos may be used in printed materials and published on the Department of Education’s website and social media channels.

If you would prefer not to be photographed or filmed, please let the staff at the registration desk know. They will provide a sticker for you to display clearly on your lapel. This will ensure you are not photographed/filmed or featured in published photos or videos if you are inadvertently photographed/filmed.

Further information

For further information on this statement, or to request access and correction of personal information contact

For more information about the way the department collects and handles personal information, including access, correction and complaints, read our privacy policy.

For further information about the way that Eventbrite handles personal information, read their privacy policy.

For further information about the way that EventsAir handles personal information, read their privacy policy.