December 5, 2023

ECV2024 - First meeting

Today members of the Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Research Group met for the first time to begin planning ECV2024. This will be our third conference. ECV2020 and ECV2022 were extremely successful and ECV2024 promises to be even better. ECV2024 will be held from 25-28 November 2024.

Conference chairs: Belinda Downey and Sharynne McLeod Conference secretary: Carolyn Gregoric

CSU pink will be the official ECV2024 colour (it was a close vote with CSU orange coming second)

Our first  ECV2024 committee meeting

December 4, 2023

2023 Charles Sturt Excellence Award winners

WOW! Today our teams were notified about the 2023 Charles Sturt Excellence Awards:  

**RESEARCH EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS: Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Research Group (ECIR) 

Recognises and celebrates outstanding contributions of individuals and teams who engage in research excellence that contributes to the success of Charles Sturt and drives regional outcomes with global impact. 

Research Winners: 1. Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Research Group (ECIR) 

Names: Sharynne McLeod (Team Lead), Belinda Frieze, Kristen Andrews, Kate Margetson, Belinda Downey, Linda Mahony, Kelly-Ann Tribolet, Laura Delli-Pizzi, Michelle Brown, Olebeng Mahura, Kate Freire, Ben Pham, Carmen Huser, Nicola Ivory, Sheena Elwick, Nicole McGill, Jessamy Davies, Laura Hoffman, Shukla Sikder, Roslyn Cox, Marie Ireland, Lysa Dealtry, Anna Cronin, Jenny Dwyer, Leanne Gibbs, Julian Grant, Sarah Verdon, Audrey Wang, Carolyn Gregoric, Azizur Rahman, Robyn Brunton, Suzanne Hopf, Cheree Dean, Van Tran, Holly Mcalister, Andi Salamon, Sarah Stenson, Kate Crowe, Libbey Murray, Cherie Zischke, Graham Daniel 

What the nomination was for: This nomination is for excellence in research capacity building. ECIR provides an internship model where early career researchers are well supported by more experienced researchers in a wide range of research activities including organising conferences, editing books, writing book chapters, running research projects, analysing data, writing journal articles, and applying for promotion and grants. Members work collaboratively on projects such as the hosting of the Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2022), recent submission of an edited book arising from ECV2020 presentations, and analysis of children’s drawings from across the globe. These joint projects develop knowledge, skills and experience for members to pursue their own research interests. 

Why it is Excellence Award worthy: Not only have ECIR members been very research active themselves, but they have created capacity building opportunities for other researchers, within and beyond the team. Members willingly share with each other for the benefit of all and to grow knowledge about early childhood and conducting research, particularly from an interdisciplinary perspective. The group brings together Educators, Speech Pathologists, Psychologists, Computer Scientists, Nurses and Physiotherapists who may not usually research together. Achievements over the past year include journal articles (55 accepted + 16 submitted), conference papers( 59 presented/accepted for presentation +18 conference workshops/seminars etc + 4 submitted), book chapters (29 published/in press + 1 submitted), books (3 published/in press + 1 under contract), and conference proceedings (1 published). They also have a high level of community engagement with 3 events hosted/training delivered, 22 media coverages, 4 media contributions, social media profile, 5 public lectures/presentations, 19 community consultations. Members are well recognised for their achievements with 3 individual and 1 group awards, leadership/membership of professional associations and editorial boards, invited working party and advisory participants. They have had 2 PhD completions and 2 PhD submissions by ECIR members and provide HDR support to 17 students.



Recognises and celebrates individuals and teams who engage regionally and globally to drive positive, bold change to deliver resilient people, sustainable environments and flourishing communities, ensuring the delivery of real and impactful benefits for the wider community.

Names: Suzanne Hopf (Team Lead), Linda Wilson, Cyrena Hunt-Madden, Catherine Easton, Alex Spiller, Laura Hoffman, Lisa Brown, Caitlin Slaney, Marijke Denton, Sharynne McLeod, Chris Plant, Sarah Verdon

Nominees selected for collaborating extensively to support various initiatives, including the development of speech pathology services and university programs in low-middle-income countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Fiji. They have facilitated innovative work-integrated learning solutions for global citizenship skills and local community access to speech pathology services. The team has also contributed to HDR enrolments and Australia Awards scholarships for students from Cambodia, Ghana, and Vietnam. Furthermore, they have published professional association position statements and clinical guidelines for culturally responsive speech pathology practice, and their research impact is evident with over 30 publications and presentations in the last two years.

Australian Pasifika Educators Conference

The Australian Pasifika Educators Conference was held on Friday 1 December 2023 at Western Sydney University, Parramatta South Campus. 

  • Holly McAlister and Dr Suzanne Hopf presented papers: Holly McAlister, Dr Suzanne C Hopf, Professor Sharynne McLeod, Charles Sturt University - Listening to Pasifika children: Applying Pacific research methodologies to child-focused participatory action research 
  • Dr Suzanne C Hopf, Kate Daellenbach, Holly McAlister, Prof. Sharynne McLeod - Charles Sturt University Understanding language socialisation practices of Pacific Island Families in Australia with young children: A preliminary case series. 

They met with my friend Tupou and many other Pasifika educators and their papers were well received. 

They also learned about this company in New Zealand:

December 1, 2023

CSU Summer 2023 Research Retreat

Over the past two days I have attended the Summer 2023 Research Retreat hosted by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) in Orange addressing the following:

1. First Nations Research - Sue Green and Mark Evans

  • First Nations Research Retreat Outcomes
  • Barriers to implementing the First Nations Retreat Outcomes
  • Living Yindyamarra

2. Vice-Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards

3. Proposal for the Establishment of ARC/NHMRC Bid Accelerators - Mark Evans

4. Research Services Retreat Outcomes - Jason White

5. Implementation of the HDR Review - Sarah O’Shea

Accepting Kate Smithers' ECR award

Some key points about First Nations Research

  • "It was agreed that Yindyamarra values could be used to drive First Nations research activity on Wiradjuri, Gundungarra and Ngunnawal/ Ngambri country as the values would not require translation due to clan ties, but the values would need to be translated meaningfully for research on Biripai country."
  • "Charles Sturt’s First Nations engagement framework will follow the AIATSIS National Framework with country specific protocols to be developed by Biripai, Ngunnawal/ Ngambri, and Wiradjuri Gateway Groups. The objective of this framework is to provide a comprehensive guide for research practices that respect the values and cultural beliefs of First Nations communities."
  • "First Nations IP will include authorship in publications, and remuneration for research participation. These expenses will need to be included in project costings. Data Sovereignty principles will be adopted following the Lowitja model."

Four Principles that will underpin the Wiradyuri Research Gateway

  1. Yindyamarra – Respect & Honour - kindness, politeness, gentleness, slowness, and patience
  2. Winnanga-gi-gilanna – People & Country - caring for people & Country
  3. Ngungillanna – People - sharing resources & knowledge with each other
  4. Muldanngilana – Working Together - equality, equity, honesty, and integrity 

Congratulations to my colleagues who won Research Excellence Awards. I was invited to collect the award for Kate Smithers who was awarded the Early Career Researcher Award for the Faculty of Arts and Education.


November 29, 2023

ALS Workshop: Home language maintenance: Connecting children, families, and classrooms

We presented the following workshop at the Australian Linguistic Society on 29 November:

Home language maintenance: Connecting children, families, and classrooms 

Paola Escudero, Western Sydney University

Sharynne McLeod, Charles Sturt University

Presenters: Chloé Diskin-Holdaway3, Kate Margetson2, Gloria Pino Escobar1, Van H. Tran2, Sarah Verdon2, Paola Escudero1, Sharynne McLeod2 1 Little Multilingual Minds, The MARCS Institute, Western Sydney University, Australia 2 VietSpeech, Charles Sturt University, Australia 3Little Multilingual Minds, School of Languages and Linguistics, The University of Melbourne, Australia 

During this practical workshop, participants will have the opportunity to learn from two innovative teams of researchers who have developed fun, evidence-based programs for supporting children’s home language maintenance at home and school. 

  •  VietSpeech ( The VietSpeech SuperSpeech program was developed to support families (preschool children, parents, grandparents, etc.) at home. The 8-week online bilingual Vietnamese-English program included: (a) Word Superpower activities addressing target words and sentences; (b) Speech Superpower activities addressing consonants, tones, and syllable structures; and (c) Home Language Maintenance Information for parents. The VietSpeech SuperSpeech program was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant. 
  • Little Multilingual Minds (LMM, LMM is a research-based multilingual education program for children that supports and extends home language (HL) maintenance and foreign language (L2) learning during the early, formative years, using evidence-based principles, structure and guidelines. LMM, within research-partnership collaborations with education providers, delivers education in any Language Other than English by harnessing recent world-wide research and r findings from our own research on early childhood education and primary education. LMM currently delivers in Spanish ,Vietnamese, Mandarin and French. 

The workshop will commence with an overview of home language maintenance throughout life and factors impacting home language maintenance. Next each team (VietSpeech and LMM) will outline their vision, target group, challenges, and solutions, as well as principles and theoretical frameworks. The practical component of the workshop will be preceded by presentation of the structure and weekly session delivery, themes, session plans and example activities to inspire attendants. Then each team will demonstrate an example of how they have targeted the theme of healthy lifestyles/food and how they have used The Very Hungry Caterpillar to support children’s home language maintenance at home and at school. The workshop will conclude with time for participants to work together to consider how these programs can relate to their own experiences and to develop activities for their own situations. The aim is to show that HL maintenance takes a village and that the community of academics within the language and linguistics discipline should feel part of the village. 

Presenters’ biographies: 

• VietSpeech - 

• Little Multilingual Minds – 

Materials available prior to the workshop: 

• VietSpeech - 

• Multilingual Children’s Speech - 


• Diskin-Holdaway, C., & Escudero, P. (2021). Don’t be afraid to pass your first language, and accent, to your kids. It could be their superpower. The Conversation. Retrieved 19 March 2023, from language-and-accent-to-your-kids-it-could-be-their-superpower-143093 

• Escudero, P., Jones Diaz, C., Hajek, J., Wigglesworth, G., & Smit, E. A. (2020). Probability of heritage language use at a supportive early childhood setting in Australia. Frontiers in Education, 5, 93. 

• Escudero, P., Diskin-Holdaway, C., Pino Escobar, G., & Hajek, J. (2023) Needs and demands for heritage language support in Australia: results from a nationwide survey. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 

• Escudero, P., Pino Escobar G, Diskin-Holdaway, C. & Hajek, J. (Forthcoming) Nurturing Australia’s Little Multilingual Minds: Program description and evaluation. 

• McLeod, S., Verdon, S., Tran, V. H., Margetson, K., & Wang, C. (2022). SuperSpeech: Multilingual speech and language maintenance intervention for Vietnamese-Australian children and families via telepractice. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 53(3), 675-697. 

Here is my pre-recorded presentation:

November 27, 2023

RSNSW Fellows and Members Assessment Committee

It has been an honour to serve on the Royal Society of NSW Fellows and Members Assessment Committee this year. In her final letter for the year, the President of the RSNSW has stated This November meeting will be part of the Society’s 1318th Ordinary General Meeting (OGM). One of the agenda items will enable me to announce the names
of the newest members of the Society — four Associate Members, six Members, and 14 Fellows. This brings me to thank Sean Brawley FRSN, Chair, Trevor Danos AM FRSN, Secretary, and all members of the Fellows and Members Assessment Committee for their wonderful contributions to the Society this year.

PhD students are a joy and stand on each others' shoulders

I love working with and being inspired by my PhD students. I also love seeing the intersections between the work of my previous and current PhD students - and how each one builds on the next.

Today, in my meetings with 

  • Holly McAlister (current student) I quoted Sarah Verdon, Helen Blake and Van Tran's work (previous PhD students)  
  • Kate Margetson (current student) I quoted Sarah Masso, Van Tran and Suzanne Hopf's work (previous PhD students)

Suzanne Hopf, Sharynne, Holly McAlister

November 26, 2023

Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Conference

Congratulations to Belinda Downey who presented two papers from her PhD at the Australian Association of Research in Education Conference (AARE), Melbourne, Australia 

1. Downey, B., Letts, W., McLeod, S., & Gibbs, L. (2023, November). Building early childhood educator retention through connections [Oral presentation]. Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE), Melbourne, Australia. 

2. Downey, B., Letts, W., McLeod, S., & Gibbs, L. (2023, November). 2023 HDR Colloquium - Staying in early childhood. [Oral presentation]. Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE), Melbourne, Australia. 


November 24, 2023

Recent highlights

I have had the most amazing few months with my students and colleagues. Here are just a few recent highlights: 

Considerations of dialect on the identification of speech sound disorder in Vietnamese-speaking children

The following manuscript has been accepted for publication in a special issue regarding terminology for children with speech sound disorder that was initiated by Prof Yvonne Wren as chair of the Child Speech Committee of the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics. 

Phạm, B. & McLeod, S. (2023, accepted November). Considerations of dialect on the identification of speech sound disorder in Vietnamese-speaking children. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

Here is the abstract: 

Background. The dialect spoken by children influences diagnostic decision-making regarding identification and severity of speech sound disorder. 

Aims. The primary objective was to review papers that examined the influence of dialect on the identification of speech sound disorder in Vietnamese-speaking children. 

Methods: Five studies of monolingual and multilingual Vietnamese-speaking children living in Vietnam and Australia were reviewed to examine the influence of dialect on assessment and analysis children’s speech. The main Vietnamese dialects (Standard, Northern, Central, Southern) differ in the production of consonants, vowels, and tones. 

Main Contribution. Most speech assessments define correct production using the standard dialect of a language. Insights from recent studies of Vietnamese provide recommendations for also considering dialect in diagnostic decision-making. Firstly, we recommend adding column(s) to the assessment score sheet that includes the dialectal variants spoken by adults in the child’s family or community. Secondly, calculate accuracy of production twice, based on the standard form and dialectal form. Thirdly, report percentage of consonants correct – standard (PCC-S) and percentage of consonants correct – dialect (PCC-D). 

Conclusions. Diagnostic decision-making is influenced by dialectal variation in children’s speech, so speech and language therapists (SLTs) need to compare standard and dialectal productions when undertaking assessments, analysis, and diagnostic decision-making.

November 23, 2023

ECIR Workshop: Internal Grant Writing

 Today, Dr Emmaline Lear, Manager Research Development, Office of Research Services and Graduate Studies presented a workshop titled "ECIR Internal grant writing" to our Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Research Sturt Scheme team. This complemented the presentations from the ECIR Research Retreat where we also had presentations from the CSU Research Office about External Grant Writing and Research Impact. Thanks Emmaline for your informative session.

CSU News - Radio interview

 CSU News has released the following story titled "Two Charles Sturt research leaders acknowledged among Australia's best"

I was interviewed by 2BS Radio about the news story today. It is a great opportunity to speak publicly about the importance of young children's communication, supporting children to maintain speaking all of their home languages, and also the importance of seeking assistance early if parents are concerned.
The story was to celebrate this announcement by The Australian Newspaper:

Children on campus: ECIR scoping review

Today our Children on campus scoping review team met again - this time to discuss the 953 identified papers (143 included/810 excluded) and the next steps, including importing into COVIDENCE. This work will inform our establishment of The Treehouse.
Dr Carolyn Gregoric, Sharynne, Claudio Dionigi, Dr Suzanne Hopf

November 22, 2023

Reviews of Early childhood voices: Children, families, professionals

We have just received the very positive reviews from Springer about our new edited book that is in the final stages of publication:

Mahony, L., McLeod, S., Salamon, A., Dwyer, J. (Eds.) (2023, in press). Early childhood voices: Children, families, professionals. Springer. 

Some of the comments included: 

  • "Voice has been explored in early childhood before, but the focus of this book from a social justice perspective contextualizes voice work in a powerful way." 
  •  "The interdisciplinary nature of the book is to be commended! This not only means the book is of interest to a larger audience but also allows readers to understand the nuanced perspectives on a common topic across the disciplines." 
  •  "The definition of voice is broad and encompassing" 
  • "The writing is well grounded in key research works. Throughout the chapters, the authors draw on world renowned studies and leading papers in the field. It presents rigor and confidence in the work." 
  • "The images of children and drawings by children bring the book to life and are a wonderful addition." "The UNCRC is threaded throughout the book which is valuable because it reduces the tendency to focus only Article 12 and 13 when considering voice work.". 
  • "The book also tackles head on the diversity of experience and culture. It moves away from a privileged perspective on voice work and includes many chapters on complexity and challenges in life" 

We are excited about finalising the book, so that it can be published and read throughout the world. 

Book editors meeting via Zoom

Visible versus invisible disabilities: Communication rights moderated through hierarchies of disability and childhood

What an exciting moment - to hold a book that includes a chapter that I have co-authored with my daughter. 

McLeod, S., & McLeod, J. (2023). Communication rights moderated through hierarchies of disability and childhood. In S. Meyers, M. McCloskey, G. Petri (Eds.). The Routledge international handbook of disability human rights hierarchies. Routledge.

I enjoyed the collaboration, conversations, and the task of writing together. I am proud of our thinking, particularly our work on identifying challenges living with visible versus invisible disabilities.