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Friday 30 - Saturday 31 August


Tickets can be purchased for an individual stream (half day), one or two days. Each stream includes morning or afternoon tea. Full day session also includes lunch. Group bookings are available and all prices are inclusive of GST.

EARLY BIRD (ends 30 June 2019)
One Stream – $99
Full Day (2 Streams) – $220
Two Days (All Streams) – $440

One Stream – $115
Full Day (2 Streams) – $260
Two Days (All Streams) – $520

Stream 1: anxiety


Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems of childhood and adolescence. Left untreated, anxiety disorders can impair students' ability to work or study and may affect their personal relationships. Hear from expert psychologists and specialist educators to receive some practical recommendations for schools and classrooms to better support these vulnerable children.

Session 1:

9.00am - 10:00am

Speaker: Dr. Rowena Conroy, Clinical Psychologist, CPMG Melbourne & Rowena Conroy Psychology

Dr. Rowena Conroy

Dr. Rowena Conroy


Anxiety in Youth: Identification and Management in School Settings

Session Overview
This presentation aims to help attendees to develop their understanding of:

  • What contributes to the development of childhood anxiety

  • How anxiety typically ‘looks’ at different ages, and in particular how it may present in the school context

  • How anxiety impacts on children’s daily functioning

  • Effective clinical interventions for anxiety in children and teens, and how school staff can contribute to implementing these interventions

  • Unique considerations for supporting children at school who have developmental disabilities
    (e.g., Autism, Intellectual Disability) and experience anxiety.

Practical examples will be used throughout to illustrate key points.

session 2:

10:05am - 11:05am

Speaker: Tim Connell, Special Education Consultant

Tim Connell

Tim Connell


The most common anxiety disorders affecting school students, their impact and best practice adjustments

Session overview:
Gain a more comprehensive understanding of specific anxiety disorders and how these can impact learning and engagement for school aged students.

Session 3:

11:30am - 12:30pm

Speaker: Ebony Birch-Hanger, Teacher, Neuro-developmental Therapist, Special Educational Teacher, Teacher of the Deaf, Education Consultant & Music Specialist

Ebony Birch-Hanger

Ebony Birch-Hanger


The link between neurology, anxiety and communication

Session overview:
Ebony will explain the underpinnings of anxiety from a neurological perspective – looking at the impact of neurological functioning on anxiety and vice versa. As a therapist, special educator and individual diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder and ASD, Ebony will share both her professional and personal experience.

Participants will:

  • Gain insight into the many triggers for anxiety in a school environment

  • Understand why students’ ability to manage anxiety can change from day to day

  • Learn how anxiety can present itself in different forms

  • Understand the link between communication challenges and anxiety

  • Learn strategies to minimise anxiety in the classroom

Stream 2: Mental Health & Childhood Trauma


Mental health is now the number one national concern for young people in Australia, according to Mission Australia’s annual Youth Survey. Mental health and trauma in children can manifest in different ways in a classroom setting. Hear from health experts, academics and trauma experts about why schools need to have a wellbeing strategy that incorporates mental health, resilience, empathy and emotional intelligence. Experts will also explore the consequences of trauma in children and how trauma can result in a disconnection from school. They will also provide practical strategies for educators to work with children affected by trauma in the classroom.


1.30PM - 2.30PM

Speaker: Sylvia Azzopardi & Sian Kennedy, Practice Development Consultants, Clinical Practice Development Team - Take Two / Berry Street

Sian and Sylvia (2) 400.jpg

Regulate, Relate, Reason: A developmental approach to supporting traumatised students

Session overview:
The impacts of trauma, abuse and neglect on children and young people’s behaviour and developmental functioning are diverse and complex. This session will focus on classroom and relational approaches informed by neuroscience, that will support students’ capacity to feel physically and emotionally safe at school and enhance their opportunities for active learning.


2.35PM - 3.15PM

Speaker: Tim Connell, Special Education Consultant

Tim Connell

Tim Connell


School based planning and support for students with mental health concerns including information sharing, risk assessment and return to school planning

Session Overview
This session is for those school personnel seeking to develop structured processes to support students with mental health concerns.

Session 3:

3.35pm – 4.30pm

Speaker: Dr. Claire Mayers, Clinical Psychologist, TreeHaus Williamstown

Dr. Clare Mayers

Dr. Clare Mayers


How to manage symptoms of trauma in the classroom to get better outcomes

Session Overview
The media focuses attention on devastating, one-off traumas, like terrorist attacks, despite around 80% of human trauma occurring within the family. Trauma can be very subtle e.g. a parent repeatedly shaming a child.

This talk will address:

  • The role of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

  • Describe the signs of trauma that you can see in the classroom

  • Outline the brilliant and free resource: Calmer Classrooms

  • Strategies that can help manage outbursts and promote engagement in class

  • Self care for teachers

Stream 3: Managing Challenging Behaviours


Challenging behaviour in children and young people can be disruptive and sometimes trigger hostile responses. Hear from a paediatrician, an educational psychologist and a behavioural specialist about different types of challenging behaviours and how to implement effective systems of promoting positive behaviour. Experts will also explore how behaviour can seriously impair some children’s ability to engage in effective learning.

session 1:

9.00am – 10.00am

Speaker: Dr Catherine Marraffa, Paediatrician, Deputy Director Neurodevelopment and Disability, Stream Leader- Intellectual Disability and Autism, Honorary Fellow Murdoch Children's Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne

Catherine Marraffa

Catherine Marraffa


Challenging Behaviours - a form of communication

Session Overview
This talk will discuss how children with developmental disabilities understand the world.

In a classroom setting, there are many reasons for children with disabilities behaving in a way which can be destructive, potentially harmful to others, as well as to themselves that impede learning.

The importance of having a good knowledge of the child's particular language skills, their cognitive ability and what difficult behaviours mean, will be discussed.

We will explore ways to prevent challenging behaviours arising, and will also discuss the lack of a simple one size fits all solution. The role of behavioural interventions, a plan for managing behaviours once they occur and how judicious use of medication may be helpful, will be examined .

Session 2:

10.05am – 11.05am

Speaker: Pooja Patel, Education Psychologist & Project Coordinator, Calm Kids Study, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Pooja Patel

Pooja Patel


Anxiety in children with ADHD

Session Overview
About half of children with ADHD also experience significant anxiety – although anxiety is often overlooked in this population. This presentation is based on the Calm Kids Study, which is looking at treating anxiety in children with ADHD. It will discuss the presentation of anxiety in children with ADHD and practical strategies that can be used to address the anxiety.

session 3:

11.30am - 12.3opm

Speaker: Anthea Naylor, Special Educator, The University of Melbourne

Anthea Naylor

Anthea Naylor


Using Video self modelling to address challenging behaviour

Session Overview
Video Self Modelling (VSM) is a very exciting evidence-based intervention that is being used in education for skill-acquisition. It involves creating a short video using simple videoing techniques that shows the subject themselves performing a skill that is just out of reach, but which is potentially reachable.

VSM has successfully been used to address challenging behaviour, teach skills such as social skills, play skills, self-care, daily living, communication skills, self-regulation and physical skills.

VSM is widely used with students with autism, intellectual disability and complex, challenging behaviours.

  • Clear tips and strategies to take back to the classroom or use at home in supporting students on their academic journey; and

  • How these skills are vital for a successful transition from primary to secondary school.

Stream 4: Language and Processing Disorders


Understand and learn about language and processing disorders, what they are, how they are identified and how to manage them in a classroom with varying needs and distractions. Gain clarification from the experts around the misinformation teachers are often getting around processing disorders particularly.

Session 1:

1.30pm – 2.15pm

Speaker: Ros Lugg, Dyslexia Specialist & Assessor, The Learning Staircase

Ros Lugg

Ros Lugg


Understanding Dyslexia

Session Overview
Dys = problem, Lexia = reading. So, dyslexia is a problem with reading. Well actually, it’s a lot more complex than that and not all people with dyslexia struggle with reading!

This presentation will cover the knowledge teachers and parents need, in order to understand a child with dyslexia’s needs and cater for them effectively. It will describe how our understanding of dyslexia has evolved, the neurological, genetic and biological basis, and the pattern of difficulties experienced by learners of all ages.

The presentation will also cover practical strategies and teaching approaches needed to enable children with dyslexia to access the curriculum and the world of books at their intellectual level. Plenty of information, extensive notes and an opportunity to ask questions!

The presenter is one of the leading NZ experts on dyslexia, an assessor with over 20 years’ experience, the creator of the StepsWeb online literacy programme, the wife of a dyslexic and the mother of two wonderful dyslexic sons!

Session 2:

2.20pm – 3.05pm

Speaker: Troy Waller, Learning Delivery Specialist, Microsoft

Troy Waller

Troy Waller


The Inclusive Classroom: Helping students with dyslexia thrive with technology

Session Overview
Microsoft was the first company to sign the Made by Dyslexia pledge: to give the 700 million people with dyslexia around the world access to technology that empowers them to excel in their academic journey, and in life. The pledge calls on us to build a better future for those with dyslexia and, together with Made by Dyslexia, we aim to democratize dyslexia support, so that every dyslexic child is understood and given the right support to realise their brilliant potential. Microsoft Windows and Windows-based applications like Office now offer features that make computers easier to use for those who need it, giving teachers the opportunity to provide personalised learning in literacy instruction, and students an improved experience when reading.

Session 3:

3.25pm – 4.30pm

Speakers: Jessica Trevena Peters, Neuropsychologist & Occupational Therapist and Lize Roos, Occupational Therapist, Building Blocks Therapy

Jessica Trevena Peters

Jessica Trevena Peters

Lize Roos

Lize Roos

‘Processing disorders’ - what these terms mean, the misinformation, what they actually represent and what we can do

Session Overview

‘Processing disorders’ is a wide and varied area of development which commonly includes conflicting and confusing information. Terms such as ‘auditory processing disorder’ and ‘sensory processing disorder’ are often used. The aim of this talk will be to disentangle the web of processing difficulties, provide information about the patterns of these difficulties and clarify these profiles also. Lastly, practical strategies in supporting children facing such processing difficulties will be explored with key takeaway ‘tips’ provided. Processing difficulties can have a notable impact within the classroom and we hope this session equips you with skills in identifying, understanding and supporting these students.



making classrooms inclusive, covering ANXIETY, Mental Health & Childhood Trauma, Challenging Behaviours and Language & Processing Disorders

Where Academics, Experts & Health Professionals share their knowledge and provide practical strategies for educators to implement in the classroom.

A 2 day Special Needs Symposium designed to bridge the knowledge gap, dispel myths, promote research, and explore the development of special needs in education settings.

This Special Needs Symposium will bring educators together with the common goal of facilitating appropriate classroom strategies for educators, students with special needs and families of children with special needs.


This conference is best suited to all educators working with special needs students including classroom teachers, special needs educators and leadership pre-service teachers and those on the executive looking to innovate at a school level or within the individual classroom.