Symposium Speakers


Nature Play QLD is proud to announce our international and nationally renouned speakers of Kids Outdoors 2030, Nature Play Symposium.

Symposium Speakers


Mike Lanza, USA

Mike Lanza is author of Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Place for Play .  He also blogs at He's worked hard to create a very rich neighbourhood play life for his three boys - ages 7, 4, and 2 - in Menlo Park, California. He's also discovered and written about dozens of neighbourhoods throughout North America that are doing innovative things to make a vibrant life for kids. Prior to his writing career, Mike was a five-time software and Internet entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. He holds an MA in Education, an MBA, and an MA and BA in Economics, all from Stanford University.

Niki Buchan, Inspired EC Pty Ltd  

Niki Buchan has a great love for the outdoors and has been working with both adults and young children nationally and internationally in very consultative, naturalistic and sensorial environments for 32 years. She is Forest School Leader trained, helped to set up and was the Head of the first outdoor Nature Kindergartens in Scotland. She has a special interest in Nature-based practice, has supported Australian educators in setting up bush, creek and beach schools and has advised local authority on the benefits of naturalistic play spaces. Niki is the author of a practical book Children in Wild Nature supporting nature-based practice. She is a Company Director and the Senior Educational Consultant of Inspired EC Pty Ltd.

Dr Rachael Sharman, University of the Sunshine Coast

Dr Rachael Sharman is a lecturer and researcher in psychology, specialising in child/adolescent development. Rachael's research is focused on the optimal and healthy development of the paediatric brain.

Rachael has a long history in working in child-related fields including child protection, juvenile justice, disability, advocacy and genetic research.  Rachael successfully lobbied Queensland Health Minister in 2002 to invest in expanded newborn screening, to prevent unnecessary disability or death of children with inborn errors of metabolism.

Rachael is an enthusiastic and engaging public speaker and regularly seen in the media, including newspapers, magazines, internet, radio, and commercial television (e.g., the news and the Project).

Angela Wright

Angela Wright is the Principal Advisor Strategy and Policy for the Redland City Council City Spaces Group. She is also on the management committees of Parks and Leisure Australia (Qld) and the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation. In her spare time Angela advocates through work with Nature Play Qld for children to have better and more meaningful access to natural areas for a whole range of benefits including play.


Jane Hanckel, Spirit of Childhood Foundation

Jane Hanckel is a children’s advocate and author of Eco Parenting – Growing Greener Children. Jane has spent ten years engaged in social, cultural and environmental education research in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities.  In 2014 she launched the Rainforest Kindergarten Project, a nature education project designed to help children and families to connect with natural wonder of the environment. She runs training programs for educators to develop alternative futures thinking in education, health and wellbeing. Her field of research includes the effect of lifestyle interventions, environment, diet and the connection to nature to support children, families and communities to thrive. 

Lauren Weston, Silkwood School

Lauren Weston is an Early Childhood Leader and passionate advocate for children getting out and about in nature as much as possible. As a leader of the Prep – Class 2 Syndicate, as well as the Garden to Kitchen coordinator at Silkwood, you’ll often find her working alongside children in the garden, playground, or even down at the creek which runs through the Silkwood nature Learnscape. Lauren would like to share with other educators the benefits of increasing opportunities for children to interact with nature in various ways, whether it be as part of the learning program, or secret kid’s business ……. PLAY!

Norm Hunter, Thinkit Through

Norm Hunter was a founding Co-Principal, then Principal, of Hillbrook Anglican School, serving for a period of 21 years. His work in creating an inclusive school culture with a shared vision, along with his contribution to Queensland and Australia's education community has been recognised through national Fellowships of the Australian College of Educators and the Australian Council for Educational Leaders, the awarding of the 2006 Australian College of Educators' Biennial Queensland Medal, and the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2007 for his services to educational leadership. In 2010 Norm was awarded the ACEL Queensland Excellence in Educational Leadership Award, and in 2013 the ACEL national Nganakarrawa award for educational leadership.

Norm has a Certificate of Teaching from Kelvin Grove Teachers' College, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Queensland, and a Master of Education (Leadership and Management) from the University of Southern Queensland, for which he was awarded the Dean's Commendation for Outstanding Achievement.


His work has included assisting a number of independent schools in the appointment of their principals, convening school and system workshops on the Leadership Capability Framework of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders, leading strategic retreats for independent school boards, conducting professional learning seminars for school leaders and outdoor educators from all three education sectors, and mentoring/coaching principals, school leadership teams, and aspiring leaders.

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