NSW Early Childhood Environmental Education Network

ECEEN People

The 2019 Management Committee
  • Convenor – Julie Gaul
  • Assistant Convenor – Fay Knibbs
  • Treasurer – Deb Watson
  • Secretary- Kate O’Hara- Aarons
  • Committee members – Karen Dresser, Fran Hughes, Lyn Davidson


Convenor: Julie Gaul
Treasurer: Deb Watson

Julie Gaul and Deb Watson are proud recipients of the Australian Association of Environmental Education (AAEE) NSW 2012 Community Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Education in NSW. Both Julie and Deb hold a range of qualifications within education and sustainability and bring a passion to their presentations based on a wealth of experiences. In their work through the recently revised Eco Smart for Early Childhood a Sustainable filter for the National Quality Standards the team are leading within to influence sustainable change for the Early Childhood sector.

Within ECEEN’s management Julie is a founding member, coordinator and holds the Assistant Convener’s role and Deb is the Treasurer, a role she has held since joining in 2006.

Convenor: Julie Gaul and Treasurer: Deb Watson
Assistant Convenor: Fay Knibbs

Fay is an Early Childhood teacher, with over 20 years experience in the field and her passion is gardening and the natural environment.

At several preschools ,she has helped create interesting , teaching and learning outdoor spaces which complement the indoor learning program.

Fay has always been interested in the environment and sustainability ,and by joining ECEEN it has given her the platform to help her move towards creating a caring , sustainable preschool community.

Assistant Convenor: Fay Knibbs
Secretary : Kate Ohara

Kate is an early childhood teacher, perpetual uni student and proud cat Mumma. Kate has 20 years experience in early childhood education and is passionate about social justice issues, children’s environmental education and climate change action. Starting out as an educator in long day care, she has worked in quality assurance, regulatory compliance and advisory roles for the Australian and NSW governments. Kate is currently a Policy Officer at the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and joined the ECEEN Board in 2019.

Secretary - Kate Ohara
Committee member: Fran Hughes

Fran is the Course Co-ordinator of the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care (Birth-5) at TAFE NSW, Randwick College. Her professional interests include nature play, sustainability, reflective practice, applied research and educational philosophy. Fran holds a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood, Graduate Certificate in Sustainability and is currently enrolled in a PhD on nature pedagogy and sustainability. Fran brings a passion for sustainability through her work in connecting young children, early childhood practitioners and environmental educators with nature. Fran has presented at International and National conferences on sustainability and nature play in recent years. She has co-written and delivers the TAFE NSW Early Years Bush Connections course which won an Australasian Green Gown Award in 2013 and convenes the NSW Early Years Nature Connections group. In 2012 Fran was the recipient of the NSW Ministers Quality Teaching Award for TAFE NSW Sydney Institute for work in sustainability. Fran joined ECEEN as a board member in 2012 with a desire to support education in nature through the ECEEN network.

Committee member: Fran Hughes
Committee member: Lyn Davidson

My name is Lyn Davidson and I have many years’ experience working in the early childhood sector including as a teacher and director in preschools and long day care centres, FACS Children’s Services Advisor and currently as a Child Studies Teacher at Petersham College, TAFE.

I joined ECEEN in 2014 and over the past 4 years I have gained a greater understanding and inspiration from my involvement with ECEEN. I have been motivated to reflect on my practices with children and to take care in the use of resources by reducing, reusing and recycling. I have found it so pleasing to see how the sustainable message is now so prominent in early childhood centres.

As a TAFE teacher, I have seen the introduction of a compulsory unit on sustainable practices in the Diploma and the knowledge I have gained from ECEEN has helped me to share quality practices with the students in our courses.

At home, I have been motivated to reduce waste and am always proud when the rubbish bin is barely full on collection day. ECEEN provides me with opportunities to learn more and to share ideas with others in our early childhood community.

committee member: Lyn Davidson