Dr. Sue Atkinson

My name is Sue Atkinson and I’d like to have a yarn with you about my experiences as an early childhood professional.


I am a Yorta Yorta woman and have been involved in Indigenous early childhood education and care since 1985 when I was invited to teach with the Aboriginal Child Care course. Even though I believe I was the first Koorie person to graduate as a kindergarten teacher in Victoria, up until 1985 I had little involvement with my local Koorie community. Over the next few years I was as much a student as a teacher as I had much to learn about my Aboriginal culture and identity. Elders like the late Aunty Iris Lovett Gardiner and Aunty Faye Carter who had strong links with the Aboriginal Child Care course were a great source of information and inspiration.


By the 1990s I was eager to share the knowledge and sense of self I had gained as an Aboriginal woman more broadly and began teaching Indigenous studies to pre service teachers at the University of Melbourne. I also joined Annette Sax and Delta Vidler creative and innovative graduates of the Aboriginal Child Care course in sharing Indigenous culture through Yarn Strong Sista by way of in service sessions with early childhood practitioners.


Currently I am an Honorary research fellow at The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood. I have recently gained my PhD by examining “Indigenous self determination and early childhood education and care” with wonderful support from my Victorian Indigenous community. Although I retired from teaching in 2004(due to ill health) I still have the pleasure of supporting the Yarn Strong Sista team in constructing documents such as the Aboriginal Resource Kit developed for FKA children’s services and sharing insights from my research with early childhood professionals.

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