Dr Jane Williams

Name:     Dr Jane Williams
                 Research & Education General Manager
                 Toddler Kindy GymbaROO & KindyROO Australia
                 Adjunct Senior Lecturer,
                 Discipline of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition
                 James Cook University. Townsville, QLD


Ph D., BMgt, Cert. Tertiary Teaching, R.N. (Paeds). 

  • 2007 iLS Sound Therapy practitioner training
  • 2003 -2006 James Cook University (JCU) PhD
  • 2002  JCU Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching  
  • 2000 JCU Bachelor of Management (GPA  6.89)
  • 1994 INPP Certified Practitioner training, Chester, UK.
  • 1979 Registered General Nurse (Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne)


Board membership

2015-2017.Johnson & Johnson Baby Care Advisory Board. Invited Board member. This Board has been established to ensure Best-Practise Baby Care in relation to Sensory Development and long term health and well-being of babies.

Invited Reviewer

2015 Research Review Educational Series. Invited reviewer.Research Review, is published by an Australasian medical publishing company. The publications aim to review the relevant international published literature in a therapeutic area and condense it to a short, readable format with independent commentary from a local specialist.


Current Research


  1. “Unlocking Potential”: A sensory – motor-perceptual movement program for primary schools


Being involved in the emotional and cognitive health of school aged children is an important part of my work. I am currently undertaking research into a recently completed school-based program.  First results show excellent outcomes. Research collection continues as schools implement the program and gather data. We are currently trialling the program in its new format in 4 schools in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, Australia. Pre and Post testing is being conducted and children’s literacy and numeracy scores will be utilised to determine improvement in comparison to previous groups that have not undertaken the movement program. Results are being published late in 2015 (see publications below)


Note: The GymbaROO/KindyROO schools program was initiated by GymbaROO/KindyROO founder, Margaret Sasse, and GymbaROO/KindyROO neuro-developmental consultant and ex primary school principal, Marianne Schriever. Since Margaret’s passing I have been involved in getting the publication completed. In its raw form, the program was successfully trialled in lower SES school district - with statistically significant educational outcomes for reading and comprehension. The program has been continually modified – based on feedback from teachers. All schools implementing the program gather research data and will provide access to National Assessment Literacy and Numeracy scores for comparative data use. Teachers report enormous improvements in behaviour and classroom cooperation as well as literacy and numeracy skill development.


Research currently underway (2015 - 2019) will focus on the long term benefits of the KindyROO pre-birth program for pregnant mothers and babies.


The effect of maternal stress during pregnancy on the development of babies.A collaborative research project (PhD) being undertaken by James Cook University, School of Medicine. I have written a program for pregnant mothers based on movement and music that will form part of the intervention program.


Invited Speaker Roles


I have been an invited speaker by many professional organisations working with babies, pre-school aged and school aged children in many countries, including Australia, the USA, Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland and Turkey. In 2011 I undertook an invited 4 week lecture tour of China with highly renowned Early Childhood and parenting specialist, researcher and writer, Professor Frances Page Glascoe (Vanderbilt University, USA). The lecture tour included 8 major cities and lectures were attended by thousands of parents and professionals. I have also lectured extensively in Bulgaria. Additional invited speaker roles include:  



May 2016                    Institute of Neurophysiological Psychology (INPP) biannual conference, Verona Italy. Invited keynote speaker. “Movement: wiring babies brains for learning success”


Dec 2015                     Russian State Social University for the Humanities (RSSU), Ministry for Education Conference day. Invited speaker. ‘There is no mind without the body’. (Skype conference call).


Oct 2015                      Pharmacy Assistants Guild Biannual Conference. Invited keynote speaker. Gold Coast QLD,Oct 17- 18. Baby development – the science of the senses.


Sept 2015                     Neuro-developmental Occupational Therapists Association, Ireland. Annual professional development week-end, Ashburton. Invited speaker and workshop convenor. How early motor development affects learning. Not all Play is equal.


Sept 2015                     Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Guest speaker, Parent information evening: Optimising baby development: current research.


Sept 2015                     Red Cross Bulgaria. Early Childhood Development Workshop, Sophia, Sept 7th. Invited keynote speaker. Optimising baby development: current research.


May 2015                    Singapore Osteopathic Centre. Invited Speaker. How early motor development affects learning. May 28.


April 2015                   Maternal, Child and Family Health Nurses Association Australia Bi annual conference.Invited 90 minute workshop presentation. Active Play: Creating neurological foundations for social, emotional and cognitive health. Perth, April 9-11.


 Nov 2014                    China Next Generation Committee. The Inaugural International Parent and Child Forum: Parent-child culture and human development. Invited Keynote speaker. Developing multiple Intelligences naturally. Shangri La Hotel, Singapore, Nov 27-29.


June 2014                    Maternal Child & Family Health Nurses, Springwood, QLD. Invited speaker ‘Movement is not an optional extra: how and why movement provides essential experiences for later learning’.


April 2014                   Children’s Services St Kilda Area, Melbourne, VIC. Invited 3 hour workshop for day-care centre teachers (120 attendees). “Babies brains: the what, how and why” and “Active Learners: toddlers and pre-schoolers”.


Oct 2013                      Maternal Child & Family Health Nurses, Springwood, QLD. Invited speaker. ‘How early motor development affects later school learning’.


Oct 2013                      Caroline Chisolm Primary School, ACT:‘Reflex-Sensory motor integration and how it helps the school-aged child to think and learn’, an introduction to ‘Unlocking Potential’ Schools movement program. 6 hour teacher work-shop.


May 2013                     Lecture tour: Albury, NSW: Canberra, ACT, Seaforth, NSW: Invited speaker by parent group. ‘Not all Play is equal: why what you do in the early years matters’.


Oct 2012                      Australian Breastfeeding Association Southern NSW Chapter, Annual Conference, Wagga Wagga. Invited Speaker. Paper presentations: Brain development in children – what parents need to know; Advocating for your children as a parent and expressing your concerns. Workshop: Early childhood development: activity ideas for babies.


Sept 2012                     Orange, NSW. Public seminar: Not all play is equal.


Sept 2012                     Perth Seminar series (Nedlands & Northern Perth suburbs):  How early brain development affects when, what, and how we learn.


Jan 2012                      St George Christian School, Cronulla, Sydney. Full day teacher training/workshop: Unlocking Potential: a sensory motor perceptual movement program for school aged children. Parent presentation:How the ‘Unlocking Potential’ movement program will assist your children to learn.


Feb 2012                      Bega Valley Child Health 4 day program.  Invited speaker and work-shop program. Six presentations to professionals and workshops for mothers and babies in Bega, Pambula & Eden.


Dec 2011                     Mareeba mothers and babies. Mareeba Hospital. Invited speaker.

Not all play is equal.


Nov 2011                     St George Christian School, Cronulla, Sydney. Full day teacher training/workshop: Sensory Integration: what it is and how it affects learning.


June 2011                    China. Invited teacher training & lecture tour (1 month).

Conferences in Beijing & Shanghai, presentations included:

How early development affects later learning; Why movement is important to later learning; Not all play is equal.


Aug 2010                     Denver, USA.  ‘A Child Song’ training day. Invited speaker.


May 2010                    Western Australia: Dianella, Nedlands, Mandurah, & Bunbury, Seminar series: Not all play is equal.


April 2010                     Auckland, Wellington & Christchurch, N.Z. Seminar series: Not all play is equal.


March 2010                  Cairns, QLD. Not all play is equal seminar presentation.


Oct 2009                      Canberra GymbaROO centre parent presentation: How early development affects later learning.


Aug – Sept 2009           Mareeba, Brisbane, Maitland, Newcastle, Sydney, Gosford, Bathurst, Canberra & Geelong. Seminar series: Not all play is equal.


Aug 2009                     Townsville General Practice Association. Invited speaker: Assessing development of the four year old: The child development check and how to apply it in your practice.


April 2009                   Istanbul, Turkey. Invited seminar presentation: How early brain development affects when, what, and how we learn: the role of sensory & motor experiences.


Jan 2009                      St Georges Christian Primary School, Cronulla, NSW.

Invited professional training day for teachers in-service: Sensory Integration and the link to learning.


Sept 2008                     Maitland & Newcastle NSW. Seminar presentations: How early brain development affects when, what, and how we learn: the role of sensory & motor experiences. (To MCFH Nurses and Allied Health Professionals. Repeated for parents).


Aug 2008                     Townsville General Practice Association. Invited speaker: Assessing development of the four year old. The child development check and how to apply it in your practice.


April 2006                   Molde University, School of Nursing, Molde, Norway.

                                    Invited lecturer: Learning from mothers: how myths policies and                                     practices affect the early detection of subtle developmental problems                               in children.


Conference presentations



April 2015        Maternal, Child and Family Health Nurses Association Australia                                    Biannual conference.30 minute research presentation. Unlocking                          Potential and enhancing learning abilities. Perth, April 9-11.


Nov 2013        IECSEWC. Infant and Early Childhood Social and Emotional Wellbeing Conference, Canberra.Paper presentation:  ‘School success: a physical route to social and emotional readiness’.


May2013         Australian Association of Maternal, Child and Family Health Nurses 5th Biennial Conference, Canberra. Paper presentation:Working with families to improve movement opportunities in infancy’.


Oct 2012          Australian Breastfeeding Assoc. ACT/SNSWSE Chapter conference, ‘Beating the Drum’: Invited speaker and workshop convenor.‘Brain development in children – what parents need to know’, ‘Advocating for your children as a parent and expressing your concerns (PhD research), Activity workshop.


Aug 2012         NSW Tresillian Nurses Conference ‘Moving Forward’.

Paper presentation: ‘Tummy time: moving forward in learning’.


Oct 2011          Playgroup National Conference, Melbourne, VIC. Paper presentation. The importance of tummy time in infancy.

Jul 2011           NiFtY National conference, Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW. Paper presentation: Motoring along or stalled at the kerb? Is today’s world making it harder to gain important movement experiences of infancy?

Oct 2009           The Power of Play. Playgroup Australia National Conference. Gold Coast, QLD. Paper presentation: Not all Play is equal. Panel discussion: The Power of Play.


July 2008         Birth to Three Matters: Foundations for Research, Policy and Practice. Brisbane, Australia. Paper presentation: Freedom to move. Freedom to play. Freedom to learn.


May 2007        Australian Association of Maternal, Child & Family Health Nurses Conference, Sydney, Australia. Paper presentation:How social myths adversely affect the early detection of subtle developmental problems in children.


July 2006         19th Biennial Meeting, International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, Melbourne, Australia. Poster presentation: Learning from mothers: how myths policies and practices affect the early detection of subtle developmental problems in children.


March 2006      Institute of Neurophysiology Psychology Annual Conference, Chester. United Kingdom. Paper presentation: Early prevention programmes for children.


July 2005         Association of Australian Qualitative Research 4th Biennial International Conference, Melbourne, Australia. Paper presentation: Literary Folkloristics: Using literary theories to read life stories.


April 2005       Fifth Australian Women’s Health Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

Paper presentation: Mothers’ perceptions of their conversations with health professionals. Poster display: Listening to mothers. What do you hear?


April 2005       National Maternal, Child & Family Health Conference, Melbourne, Australia

   Paper presentation: Listening to mothers. What do you hear?


Nov 2004         The First Research Festival of Life Science, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland. Poster display: Listening to mothers. What do you hear?


Oct 2004          Queen Elizabeth Centre Conference, Melbourne, Australia

Paper presentation: Listening to mothers: viewing mothers’ stories through the lens of literary theory.


Research Publications

My research focusses on the important role that parents play in the development of children in the early years, as well as what kinds of experiences have an impacts on child development and later learning. My PhD investigated the reasons why many children are not detected with subtle developmental and learning problems until they reach school.


  • Williams J. (in press, Dec). Does a neurodevelopmental movement program affect Australian Children’s academic performance? Unlocking Potential: a report. Australian Journal of Child and Family Health Nursing.


  • Sept 2015. Invited reviewer. Research Review Educational Series: Multi-sensory stimulation and infant development, p. 1-6. Available online: www.researchreview.com.au


  • Williams, J.  & Holley. P.A.  (2013). Linking motor development in infancy and early childhood to later school learning. Australian Journal of Child and Family Health Nursing, 10(1), 15 – 21.


  • Schriever, M., Sasse, M.K.K. & Williams, J. (2010, revised 2011, 2013).Unlocking Potential: a sensory-motor-perceptual program for primary schools. Melbourne: Toddler Kindy GymbaROO. Volume 1: Prep – Year 2, Volume 2: Years 3 – 4, Volume 3: Years 5-6.


  • Williams, J. (2007). Helping parents help their children: an innovative Australian program. American Academy of Pediatrics: Development and Behavior Newsletter 16(1), 18-19.


  • Williams, J (2007). Learning from mothers: how myths policies and practices affect the early detection of subtle developmental problems in children. Child: Care, Health & Development 33(3)282-290.


  • Williams, J. (2006/2007). How social myths about childhood, motherhood and medicine affect the detection of subtle developmental problems in children. Contemporary Nurse 23(2), 274-287.


  • Williams, J. (2006). Learning from mothers: how myths, policies and practices affect the early detection of subtle developmental problems in children. Unpublished PhD, James Cook University, Townsville.


  • Williams, J., & Holmes, C. A. (2005). Literary folkloristics: using literary theories to read life stories. Australian Qualitative Research 5(2), 151-167


  • Williams, J., & Holmes, C. A. (2004/2005). Children of the 21st century: slipping through the net. Contemporary Nurse, 18(1-2), 57-66.


  • Williams, J. & Holmes, C. A.(2004). Improving the early detection of children with subtle developmental problems.  Journal of Child Health Care, 8 (1), 34-46.


Recent parenting magazine publications


I have written many articles on early child development (1995-1998, 2004 - current) for publication in First Steps, aparent educationmagazine published by GymbaROO Australia. I was the editor for 10 years, only recently passing the job on. An example of topics covered include: 'Fidgety Babies', ‘Neurophysiological treatment of dyslexia, 'Your two year old', 'Your three year old', 'Encouraging your child's language development, 'Sensory play’, 'Attention deficit disorder: A developmental approach’, 'The business of child rearing', 'Helping your child to be unselfish’. I have also been invited to write articles for many parent-orientated child development publications, magazines and websites. For example:



·         Williams, J. (2015) Does it matter which hand your child uses to write? http://www.kidspot.com.au/does-it-matter-which-hand-your-child-uses-to-write/

  • Williams, J. (2012). Why tummy time matters. Safe Sleep Space. Nov newsletter: http://www.safesleepspace.com.au/
  • Williams, J. (2011). Indoor games for summer fun. Get Ahead Kids. Issue 12, Jan/Feb. Available:www.getaheadkids.com.au
  • Williams, J. (2010).Moving and learning for 0-5 year olds. Get Ahead Kids. Issue 8, Mar/April. Available:www.getaheadkids.com.au
  • Williams, J. (2010). Is your child ready to learn? Get Ahead Kids. Issue 7, Jan/Feb Available:www.getaheadkids.com.au
  • Williams, J. (2010). Brain development and play. Child on line. Available: www.childonline.com.au
  • Williams, J. (2010). Encouraging little movers. Child Parenting Journal. Available: www.childonline.com.au
  • Williams, J. (2009). Tummy time for terrific babies. Child Parenting Journal (Autumn).


Professional links


I have close ties and work closely with:


Dr Michael Lazarev, Paediatrician. Paediatric Community Centre, Moscow. Dr Lazarev is developer of “MamaBaby” (also called “Sonatal”) movement and music program for pregnant women. Dr Lazarev has spent the past 30 years developing this program.


Professor Frances Page Glascoe, Professor of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, USA. Developer of the PEDS (Parental Evaluation of Developmental Status) and highly renowned early childhood development and parenting specialist. Professor Glascoe accompanied me on a month long lecture tour in China in 2011. She is currently the (Pro-Bono) Patron for GymbaROO and KindyROO.


Sally Blyth. Director, INPP(Institute of Neuro-Developmental Psychology) Chester, UK. I was invited to contribute a chapter in her book:  “The Genius of Natural Childhood: secrets of thriving children” (2011). I have been an invited speaker at several INPP International conferences (UK, Italy, Spain). http://sallygoddardblythe.co.uk/


Maternal, Child and Family Health Nurses Association Australia (MCaFHNAA). GymbaROO is invited to sponsor the bi-annual MCaFHNAA conference and has done so since its inception. I present our latest research and speak to many nurses about the importance of certain early childhood experiences.  I am invited to speak at many Maternal and Child Health nurses clinics around Australia (see presentations list)


Maureen Hawke, Learning Connections, Brisbane, Australia. Learning Connections is a program designed to assist children who have learning difficulties. It began as “A New Start for the Under Achiever” (ANSUA) by Margaret Sassé, the Founder of GymbaROO (and my mother).  I work very closely with Maureen, an expert in the area of children with learning difficulties. While not an international organisation, it is one that has improved the lives of thousands of children in Australia. Maureen accompanied me as a guest lecturer on the Lecture tour of China in 2012.


I also have a close working relationships with many professionals, including:


Maxwell Fravel, D.O., M.Osteo.Sc.(Paed), Hillside Health, Canberra, ACT. Founding member of the Sutherland Cranial Teaching Foundation of Australia and New Zealand and continue to teach post-graduate programs. In 1993, Maxwell pioneered the first Osteopathic Paediatrics degree in Australia leading to a Master’s degree.

Dr Paul Chamberlain. BChiroSc, BAppSc(Clin), BSc(Hons), MCAA, Melbourne.Dr Chamberlain, has been a chiropractor since 1999. He has practised in a child-only setting since 2003, and completed a Fellowship of Chiropractic Paediatrics in Melbourne. Dr Chamberlain has lectured at undergraduate and post-graduate level in Australia and New Zealand in the field of chiropractic paediatrics for over 10 years. Dr Chamberlain currently supervises the candidates for the Fellowship of Chiropractic Paediatrics in Melbourne.

Mr Andy Dalzeill(Independent Practitioner) Past Director at The Movement and Learning Centre, Glascow, Scotland.  As a Neuro-Developmental Practitioner
he is one of 3 experienced professionals who have developed a new approach to teaching physical education, physical activity and sport known as "Better Movers and Thinkers (BMT)" which is being piloted throughout Scotland starting in April 2013. He is currently studying a PhD at the University of Edinburgh.


Interests and Hobbies

I love to travel and have travelled extensively within Australia as well as visited many countries of the world – USA, Canada, Alaska, Galapagos Islands, Italy, Spain, France, Slovenia, Turkey, Germany, Norway, China, Indonesia, South Korea, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Guinea.


When holidaying at home I love anything to do with the water - surfing, swimming, boating and snorkelling. Australia has wonderful surf beaches. My favourite place is the Sunshine Coast on the southern Queensland coast.


My family is very important to me. I have three children, Hugh (34), Alistair (32) and Meg (27) and my partner, Craig, along with 2 grandchildren. They put up with my hectic schedule and lifestyle, but I try to be home more than I am away… although I am not always successful in this! Craig joins me on my travels when he can and sometimes my children are able to meet up with me as well. My father, Harry Sassé is also very close to my heart. He was the designer and maker of all the KindyROO equipment for 30 years, and at 88 years of age he is still designing and making beautiful wooden toys for the enjoyment of young children.


Of course, my passion is KindyROO and the fantastic, unique program that we have to offer parents and children. In between training teachers, writing programs, researching and keeping up with the International knowledge in this area, I am trying to find time to write a book!  I feel that we have such an important message for parents about just how essential their role is, and how imperative the experiences a child has in the first 5 years of life are to later success – not just learning success, but social and emotional success as well, that everyone should know about it!

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