Council Members

President Maree Wiggins - AGECS Director

Bachelor of Education (La Trobe University); Diploma in Special Education (Melbourne State College); Diploma of Teaching (Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College)

Diploma of Teaching (Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College)Maree’s first teaching position was in Dunkeld then onto St Josephs Kindergarten Fitzroy from 1980 -1992. St Josephs’ ran an extended hour’s program working closely with family services, protective services, aboriginal community and refugees.

At this time Maree  worked as a research assistant with the Education Department on a longitudinal study following secondary school leavers from two Frankston Secondary colleges. Ex students were interviewed about their current positions of employment or study.

Maree underwent further studies specialising in Social Emotional Development in Early Childhood and graduated with a Diploma in Special Education from Melbourne State College. When doing this course it became apparent that her qualifications gave her an advantage against other primary/secondary teachers. Her Early Childhood training gave Maree a strong understanding and connection about how children learn and develop. To this day she believes that to be effective educators of children, training in early childhood development and special education are a good union and provide excellent teaching strategies to support children’s growth.

Maree completed her Bachelor of Education at La Trobe University, studying theories of girls/women in Education and social emotional development. Maree followed on from here in 1987 to do research coursework at La Trobe on ‘The role of Teacher Intervention on Children’s Resolutions’.

Maree then worked as a kindergarten teacher at Yappera Thornbury from 1993 – 97. She was the only non-aboriginal person teaching and forged a deep appreciation of the indigenous community which she will always be eternally grateful for the opportunity. Her respect for the indigenous community was nurtured through their support and acceptance.

In 1996, Maree worked part time as a research assistant at La Trobe University on an Intergenerational Literacy study.

In 1997, Maree began working as a Preschool Field Officer. In this role she sought to strengthen the child’s place in their community. Resourcing Kindergarten Teachers to promote their relationships with the children, their families and the community. To establish strong rapport with families so that they will make the demands to access the services and resources that will assist their child’s participation in the community.

Maree enjoys networking and building bridges between services to better support families and children.

President Alannah Dore


Master of Early Childhood (Macquarie University); Graduate Certificate Education Tertiary Teaching (Federation University); Bachelor of Education (Melbourne State College); Diploma of Teaching (Institute of Early Childhood Development)


Alannah’s professional background includes preschool teaching in rural and urban settings, professional development (PD) for teachers; preschool to secondary, TAFE teaching for trainee Parent Facilitators, Certification for pre-service early childhood educators, co-facilitator for Aboriginal childcare studies in Wodonga, inclusion support for KU Children’s Services, casual consultant to FKA multicultural resource centre, a lecturer at Federation University and two decades operating a personal development business with a focus on holistic wellbeing. Alannah is also a trained family therapist and counsellor with additional certification in developmental psychiatry.

Alannah was a recipient of an AGECS Fellowship for Leadership and Change grant in 2016 creating two videos designed for Assistant Educators who reported experiencing limited opportunities for Professional Development (PD) despite often spending the most time with the children. Designed to promote early stages of cultural competence, two short informative, enjoyable, easy to access, videos were created. Aimed to inform directly through transmission of information with interviews, original music and visuals were also used to subliminally promote the viewer’s emotional engagement with cultural inclusion concepts.

Cultural inclusion is one aspect of the heart of Alannah’s work which centres on promoting family wellbeing in innovative ways. She currently enjoys researching the link between teacher/educator wellbeing and the families they support. While vice-president of AGECS Alannah also actively encourages rural PD opportunities and self determination projects promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in early childhood.

Vice President Dorothy Connop

MEd, Grad Dip Special Ed, Grad Dip Ed. Admin, Grad Dip Movement and Dance, Grad. Dip Special Ed. (Visual Impairment), Bachelor of Early Childhood, Diploma Teaching Early Childhood

Dorothy initially trained as a Kindergarten Teacher at the Institute of Early Childhood Development in Victoria. After completing her B. Ed, working in Kindergartens and Long Day Care Centres, Dorothy moved to Special Education working in Day Training Centres, before being appointed as Supervisor of the Broad Insight Group, an Early Intervention Programme in Broadmeadows. Dorothy has also worked for the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (now Vision Australia), as a Home Advisor and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (in the UK), as Deputy Head Teacher and then Acting Head Teacher of a specialist school, prior to returning to Australia.

Dorothy then worked at Holmesglen TAFE as a teacher on the Diploma of Children’s Services and Certificate III in Child Care courses.  Following this, she returned to mainstream education and worked as a Literacy Support Teacher and then as a Reading Recovery Teacher in Primary Schools. For the past 7 years Dorothy has worked in the Nationwide Inclusion Support Programme as an Inclusion Professional.

Dorothy has completed a Masters Degree and 4 Post Graduate Diplomas, two of which are in Special Education.

Honourary Treasurer Avril McHugh - AGECS Director

Diploma of Teaching (Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College)

After graduation Avril’s first kindergarten was at Lalor in the Shire of Whittlesea. It was a new kindergarten in a new housing development. She taught there for five years before moving to Bendigo where she taught at the Maldon Preschool. After a break to have children, Avril did some emergency relief teaching in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. With her family she then moved to North –West Tasmania, where she worked for the Tasmania Education Department. Initially she worked as a kindergarten teacher at Moriarty Primary School and then in a literacy recovery program at the Ulverstone Primary School.

Upon returning to Melbourne Avril taught a three year old Group at Vista Valley Pre-school, Bulleen. In 1997 she accepted a position at Yarralea Children’s Centre teaching the three year old group and today she is still happily working there. During her time at Yarralea she taught with some wonderful directors. At Yarralea, Avril worked under the Educational Charter: Story- Spring board for Learning, Literacy and Life. Under this governance, she greatly expanded her knowledge and teaching experience.

Assistant Honorary Treasurer Sophie Patitsas - AGECS Director

Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood), Graduate Diploma Special Education, Master of Education (University of Melbourne).
Sophie has been working in the E.C. field for over 20 years. Her first teaching position was at Dobson Kindergarten in Maidstone.  She also taught at Sunshine Kindergarten and worked as an After School Care coordinator at Albert Park Primary School. After completing a Grad Dip in Special Education, she moved into the field of early intervention and worked at Uncle Bob’s Child Development Centre for approximately 6 years before leaving and becoming a consultant at Play works.  She has worked for Moreland City Council (12 years), as a Family Day Care Field Officer (2 years) and currently she works as a Preschool Field Officer. Sophie has a passion for supporting and building communities.  She has worked on a project with Communities for Children in Broadmeadows.

General Member Helen Holden

Advanced Studies in Child and Family Development (Centre for Child and Family Development); Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) Phillip Institute; Bachelor of Arts (University of Melbourne)

Helen completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne in 1975 studying history and psychology. This provided an introduction to the work of theorists such as Freud and Eric Erikson and lead to further studies in child and family development.

Helen completed her Early Childhood Teacher training in 1983 after working at the Kalker Montessori Kindergarten in Hawthorn.

Her first teaching position was as an Early Intervention Teacher in the western suburbs of Melbourne from 1984 – 1988. While raising a family she worked extensively as a relief teacher. She has also worked with children aged 2-6 years in Montessori Pre-schools.

Helen completed the Advanced Studies in Child and Family Development course in 2007 and has since attended various workshops and seminars on psychodynamic theory including an ‘Introduction to short-term psychodynamic counselling and therapy’ in 2013.

She has had extensive experience as a Practicum Supervisor and most recently worked as the Team Leader in the Infants Room at a Long Day Care Centre for Aboriginal families.

General Member Sue Atkinson (Lopez)

PhD, M.A, Grad Dip Arts, Grad Dip Ed, B.Ed
Sue is a Indigenous Victorian, a Yorta Yorta woman, who has taught and worked across the education sector within Kindergartens, Tafe and the Higher Education Sector with Indigenous and non Indigenous communities for over 35 years. She gained her PhD in 2009 by research into ‘Indigenous self determination and early education and care in Victoria‘. She has recently retired due to ill health but remains an Honorary Research Fellow at Melbourne University’s Graduate School of Education and continues to contribute to her local community by active membership on several committees including the City of Moreland’s Reconciliation Advisory Group.


[accordion_item parent_id=”5″ title=”General Member Wendy Grenfell – Editor of AUDAX”]Wendy began her career in early childhood studying at IECD for a diploma in teaching. She taught in Niddrie, then moved to Bena Angliss Kindergarten for 7 years, before having children. Wendy then completed a bachelor in Special Education at Monash Uni. After several years teaching in Knox, she moved to Canada with her family. There she became involved in programs supporting parents/carers of children with additional needs, within the Psychology Dept of University of New Brunswick.

Returning to Australia, Wendy resumed teaching in preschools, early intervention and Private school ELCs. Later, Wendy became a Preschool Field Officer with Knox and Booroondara and was a founding member of the Victorian PSFO Association. This role enabled Wendy to become an advocate for the PSFO service in Victoria for 10 years.

Currently, Wendy is working as a team leader in Preschool cluster management in Knox.

Honourary Secretary Tess Brooks

Master of Education (Special Education) (Deakin University); Graduate Diploma in Special Education (Intellectual Disability) (Deakin University); Diploma of Teaching (Institute of Early Childhood Development)

Tess graduated from the Institute of Early Childhood Development (now University of Melbourne) as Therese Glenister in 1982 where, in her final year, she had represented students on the Academic Board and joined the Kindergarten Teachers Association of Victoria (KTAV) at this time. After working as Director of Mossfiel Preschool in Hoppers Crossing after graduating, in 1985, Tess took the opportunity to join a newly established early intervention program in the Inner East region, STRIDE Forward program as a teacher for children aged 18months – 6 years experiencing developmental delay or disability.

During this time Tess commenced a Graduate Diploma in Special Education (Intellectual Disability) at Deakin University (conferred May 1993) and enjoyed working with local Manningham colleagues in planning educator conferences, and also became involved with KTAV on the publications team for ‘Ianua’.

Tess began a Masters Education (Special Education)  at Deakin University focusing on what was, at the time, a relatively new term “Asperger Syndrome” and the debate about whether it was the same as or differentiated from high functioning autism. Her thesis focused on how assessment and diagnosis was occurring at the time, beliefs about differential diagnosis, and what information was being shared with families to assist them in understanding and supporting their child’s needs. Responses demonstrated much variation in what tools were being used for diagnosis at the time, and the limited information readily available to parents.

In 1995 Tess worked with one of the first Victoria families to import the Lovaas program from the USA and was trained in ABA therapy by an accredited trainer alongside family members. She worked with the family to modify the program in regard to minimising the harshness of the instruction style, and maximising the familiarity of those working with the child.

Choosing to work part time during the time her children’s early years, Tess was able to commit energy at a Committee and Board level with educational administration and parent engagement between 1995 and 2006. Tess was involved in projects such as the ‘Just Imagine’ (a gifted and talented program utilising the skills of parents and community members) “Think World” (a project embedding philosophy for children in the Year 3/4 curriculum) and establishing community International Women’s Day events.  Tess also undertook integration aide work at Roberts McCubbin and Kew Primary schools – utilising her skills in individualised support, and also relief work at a number of Primary schools as a registered Primary Teacher between 2003 and 2006. In 2005 she received a Caroline Chisholm Volunteer Award presented by Anna Burke MP, nominated by the Robert McCubbin School.

From 2006 to 2008 Tess was employed by a Primary School, as a specialist early childhood educator, to transition a child from a home-based program to school.

In late 2008 Tess joined the City of Boroondara as a Preschool Field Officer, where she is now in her tenth year. She also contributes to the Council internal Indigenous working group and is currently on the Victorian Preschool Field Officers Executive.

Tess maintains her broader interest in education through her role as Chair of the Learning & Wellbeing Committee on the Kingswood College Council, and work with university students via University of Melbourne Alumni programs.
She is engaged in her local community through social justice activities associated with the Uniting Church (including organising a series of annual Stand Up & Take Action Concerts raising awareness of the UN MDG goals and raising funds for local, national and international projects supporting increased access to supports and self-determination for the past  9 years), with IMPACT for Women (a not-for profit group supporting women and children fleeing domestic violence),  is a keen supporter of athletics, an avid reader of mainly fiction novels, and enjoys music, theatre and travelling.

General Member Sue Emmett


Dr Sue Emmett has been extensively involved in early childhood education and the translation of research into the practical environment for over thirty years. Her professional experience includes early childhood teaching in a range of settings, work as an early childhood educational consultant and teaching and researching within TAFE and Higher Education sectors.

Sue is currently working as Senior Lecturer in Education at Federation University Australia where she coordinates and teaches in Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Programs and manages partnerships with external organisations both  in rural Australian and international contexts.

Prior to this, Sue worked as a Research Fellow within the School of Social and Policy Research at Charles Darwin University where early childhood literacy was central to her research, particularly in relation to rural and remote indigenous education.

Her research interests also include the well-being of children and educators including trauma informed practice in early childhood contexts. Sue has recently published journal articles, reports and a book chapter in these areas. She completed her PhD in 2011 entitled ‘Preparing Professional Caregivers as Young Children’s Attachment Partners: A longitudinal study of a new Australian pre-service program’ which centred upon relationship focused theory and practice in early childhood contexts as well as learning and teaching at tertiary level.

General Member Candy Koch
General Member Sandra McCarthy-Wilson
General Member Sarah O'Donnell

After graduating from Melbourne University, Sarah spent a year living and teaching in London before settling into the city of Knox as a preschool teacher. After ten years teaching across the municipality Sarah moved to her first leadership role as the coordinator of PSFO’s at the City of Casey also completing a Postgraduate Diploma.  A passion for family partnerships lead Sarah to the department of education as an intake worker for early intervention services working with all the “priority” children and as team leader of specialist children’s services. Seeing an opportunity to use all the skills gained in previous roles Sarah took up the position as the founding coordinator of Springvale Service for children, spending 6 years developing an integrated hub, including early learning programs, MCH, toy library and playgroups. Currently Sarah is working at the City of Yarra remaining passionate about the delivery of high quality children’s services.

General Member Annette Sax

Associate Diploma in Social Science (Child Care; Certificate in Social and Community Studies Management (SACS)

Annette has worked in the early childhood profession for over 27 years. In 1992 Annette completed her Associate Diploma in Social Science (Child Care) at Swinburne. The following year she took part in The Victorian Education Foundation’s Travelling Fellowship. She observed at Pacific Oaks College, Pasadena where the Anti-Bias Curriculum was developed. Annette visited Anti-racist early childhood programs across England. She also worked at the First Nations School in Toronto in the kindergarten and out of hours program. It is these experiences and the her Aboriginal role models that have influenced Annette’s World Views and inspired her to become an activist in her own community. When Annette returned from abroad in 1995 she worked at Yappera Children’s Service (MACS), mainstream child care centres and for the Department of Human Services as the Koorie Early Childhood Field Officer (KECFO). Annette has also completed a Certificate in Social and Community Studies Management (SACS) at RMIT in 1996.

For the past 17 years, she has been the small business owner and director of Yarn Strong Sista Pty Ltd. Yarn Strong Sista is an Indigenous Education consultancy that provides storytelling, conducts cross cultural training with teachers, and develops culturally appropriate resources. Annette feels blessed to be able to go out on Country where she has been taught her traditions and stories by her Taungurung Elders. She is passionate about passing on the knowledge they have shared with her.

Annette is a storyteller and artist and who paints using ochre and wattle sap on canvas. She also felts on silk. Annette has taught these mediums during a variety of art projects with children in Kindergarten and Primary schools. Annette has illustrated 3 Aboriginal children’s books written by Yorta Yorta author Dr Sue Lopez- Atkinson.

Project Administrator - Non-council member Kay Margetts

PhD; MEd(research); PostGrad Dip EC Studies; Dip Teach (MKTC)
In her role as AGECS Project Administrator, Kay supports the AGECS Council in a wide range of administrative functions including memberships and events.

Kay is an Honorary Associate Professor in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, having retired from her position as Associate Professor in Early Childhood Studies where she was active in early childhood and primary teacher education programs and coordinated and developed the postgraduate International Baccalaureate programs. Prior to this she was lecturer in Child Development and Special Needs at Monash University; Project Officer – Inservice and Professional Development Programs at the Lady Gowrie Child Centre; writer and producer of children’s television programs; and worked closely with primary schools.

Her research interests include children’s transition and adjustment to school, child development and teaching practice. Kay has published widely, with two of her key publications (with Bridie Raban) being The Early Years Learning Framework in Practice and Principles and Practice for Driving the EYLF. She regularly provides professional development to early childhood services and primary schools around transition, early childhood curriculum, development and pedagogy.

Behind the Scenes


Behind the scenes here at AGECS there are a number of very busy volunteers keeping abreast of the best ways to support early childhood and to add value to becoming a member.

As a member there are opportunities to join our Council, or to volunteer to help organise events or institute programs. If you have any suggestions or ideas on how the Association can serve you or the field of ECEC better, please either email us directly or comment on one of our community media. Alternatively as a member, you are invited to attend Council Meeetings and the AGM and talk to any current Council members directly.

The Council meets quarterly. As well as addressing official business, discussion surrounds what programs and events the Association can become involved in or organise. The best way we can institute this is to hear from you. What are your greatest needs at study, at work, or at play with children?