About Us

The Infant and Toddler Advocacy Network Australia (ITANA) is a not-for-profit organisation with a volunteer board dedicated to providing professional development opportunities and support to expand awareness of best
practice in caring for infants and toddlers.

Infant and Toddler Advocacy Network Australia


Katherine - Director, Chair ITANA


Director, Chair
Dr Katherine Bussey, is a passionate infant and toddler specialist and advocate from New Zealand living in Melbourne. She has spent the last 16 years actively learning about, and developing practice in, NZ early childhood education based on the Pikler approach and Magda Gerber’s Educaring Approach (RIE). She is currently working on the process of becoming a Pikler pedagogue. Katherine mentors and provides professional learning and development to educators, engaging in inspiring critical reflection, learning and growth in infant and toddler teams.
Emily - Director, ViceChair


Director, Deputy Chair
Emily McDonald is a parent educator at Being with Baby facilitating Parent & Baby Classes and workshops on infant & toddler care, influenced by Magda Gerber's Educaring® Approach. She has been a passionate Early Childhood Teacher in Perth, WA for 7 years, studied the Reggio Emilia Approach to Education in Italy in2013, completed her RIE® Foundations Course in LA in 2015 with RIE® Associate Patricia Ryan, in 2016 completed her RIE® Practicum under the mentorship of both Patty and RIE® Associate Sharon Smith, and Emily is currently completing her RIE® Internship.
Emily has two young boys who inspired the beginning of her journey into respectful care of infants & toddlers.
Michelle - Director, Secretary ITANA


Director, Secretary
Michelle Richardson is an early childhood teacher, who is passionate about the rights of infants and toddlers, and is particularly committed to advocating for quality pedagogy for infants and toddlers in group care settings. She works in the not for profit children’s services sector in Sydney in a senior management role. Michelle discovered the work of Magda Gerber and Dr Emmi Pikler in 2007 and since has completed both the RIE Foundations Course and Pikler Level one training, in Budapest Hungary.


Director, Treasurer
Rose has over 25 years’ experience in early childhood education in New Zealand and Australia. Over the last 15 years Rose has held positions with State Government in policy development, regulation and compliance of children’s centres and in senior management overseeing the development and operation of early childhood and outside school hours care centres.
Rose holds qualifications in early childhood education, adult education and business management and has a particular interest in the development of children under 3 years of age completing studies of Magda Gerber and Dr Emmi Pikler’s work. Rose volunteers on a number of early childhood committees within NSW as an advocate of young children.
Kate - Director, Committee ITANA


Director, Committee Member
Kate Russell is a parent educator at Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids where she facilitates classes for parents interested in understanding more about raising their children respectfully. A former school teacher, Kate has spent many years researching, adopting and applying Magda Gerber's Educaring Approach in her work and more recently in her role as a mother to her three young children. Completing RIE FOundations - Theory and Observation training in Los Angeles last year provided her the stepping stone to enter into the RIE Associate mentorship program more recently. Her popular blog (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids) advocates for the respectful treatment of infants and toddlers, encouraging parents to look inwards to help find answers to their parenting difficulties.


Committee Member
Peta Gibson has an AMI Assistants to Infancy (0-3) Diploma and is the Director of an innovative Under Three's Program at Cameragal Montessori School in Sydney that successfully combines best practice from both Montessori pedagogy and the Piklerian approach. 
She has presented workshops & keynotes at Montessori Conferences in Australia and New Zealand. and completed the RIE Foundations: Theory and Observation in Los Angeles (2013), Pikler courses for Professionals in Budapest (2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017), and Pikler Training through Pikler Loczy USA (2015 & 2016).
Nellie - Board Member, ITANA


Committee Member
Nellie Hodda is an early childhood educator whose work focuses on infants and toddlers in group care. For the past four years Nellie has been working as the nursery room leader in a not for profit service in Sydney. In this role Nellie has grown in her understanding of Magda Gerber's Educaring®Approach and has worked to adapt the Educaring® principles to guide centre practice in an Australian context. Nellie completed the RIE®Foundations™ course in 2014 and is currently engaged in the RIE®Practicum™.


ITANA is an infant and toddler advocacy network influenced and underpinned by the respectful approach of Dr Emmi Pikler and Magda Gerber in early childhood settings and families around Australia.

Our advocacy work is demonstrated through professional learning and development, networking, mentoring and support. 

ITANA strives to:

  • Connect educators and families alike to professional and family networks
  • Enhance access to learning opportunities for educators and families
  • Create access to mentoring for educators and families
  • Advocate for the very young child
  • Provide professional development opportunities and support to expand awareness of best practice in caring for infants and toddlers.
  • Offer ideas and support to parents and educators to provide a respectful curriculum. 
  • Highlight the importance of building strong emotional connections and relationships with children.