Miss Jade Ward

Grad. Dip Psych (Sydney)
PhD candidate

Telephone +61 2 9351 6225

Curriculum vitae Curriculum vitae


Biographical details

Jade completed her Bachelor of Education (Secoondary: Human movement and health) (Hons 1) in 2010 at the University of Sydney. During her time here, Jade was given the opportunity to pursue her interests in sport, psychology and mental health. This led her to undertake honours in her final year. Her honours thesis, titled 'Identity in Australia: A case study on the role of sport in the ego identity formation process', explored how the Australian sporting environment contributes to and informs an individuals identity and sense of self. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, Jade completed a Graduate Diploma in Psychology with the University of Sydney in 2012 before spending two years as a working student on an Australian horse property where she gained valuable knowledge, skills and experience in horsemanship and horse behaviour. In 2015, Jade enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy (Education) at the University of Sydney. Her multi-disciplainary study enables her to work across multiple research fields that she is passionate about including Human-animal studies, inclusive education and psychology. Jade is intrigued by the ability of animals (especially horses) to help vulnerable and 'at risk' youth and young people suffering from behavioural, emotional and mental health issues reach their full potential. She hopes to complete her PhD in 2018!

Teaching and supervision

EDUF3023: Sport: Contemporary Educational Issues

Elite Athlete Program (EAP) tutor

Thesis work

Thesis title: Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) and 'at risk' youth: Australian case studies.

Supervisors: Steve GEORGAKIS , Rachel WILSON

Thesis abstract:

Ray Hunt, arguably one of histories greatest horsemen said in regards to working with horses “You’ll be working on yourself…not your horse” (Hamilton, 2011, p. 9). This is the essence of Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAA&T). EAA&T’s are animal-assisted learning and treatment programs that utilize horses to address the needs of individuals experiencing a variety of emotional, mental, social, physical and behavioural problems. Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is a specific modality of EAA&T that, via experiential education and learning, promotes the development and growth of participants. The horse is considered to be a critical partner in the educational and developmental process (EAGALA, 2010; PATH Intl, 2015b). EAL is one of various EAA&T modalities practiced within Australia.
Research into EAA&T is only recently emerging. Nelson, Signal, and Wilson (2015) highlighted the variation between EAA&T programs in Australia, while Anestis, Anestis, Zawilinski, Hopkins, and Lilienfield (2014) and Bachi (2012) question the singular conceptualization of EAA&T’s that has led to a gap between knowledge and practice. Despite this gap, EAA&T’s are continually marketed as effective therapy and intervention programs for vulnerable individuals (Anestis et al., 2014; Bachi, 2012). With the treatment market for EAA&T in Australia growing rapidly and implications for the mental health profession, governments and the wider community, there is a practical, financial and ethical need for more empirically valid studies that clearly conceptualize key concepts and offer theoretical explanations for the effects of EAA&T’s. This comes at a time when the prevalence of mental health issues among Australian youth is increasing with calls for the development of more preventative programs for those ‘at risk’ of future negative life outcomes, poor psychosocial functioning and an inability to successfully function in society are being made (Department of Health, 2015).

Following a review of the relevant literature and preliminary scoping of EAL programs in Australia, the proposed study will investigate a neglected area of educational scholarship; this is the link between therapeutic learning and at risk youth. Using a mixed methodological design this study seeks to quantitatively investigate the extent to which one Australian EAL program can have on the psychosocial functioning of ‘at risk’ youth between the ages of 12-18 years. Further, this study also aims to qualitatively explore and understand the theoretical foundations and explanations behind such an impact. The study aims to address the research gap via the implementation of quantitative self-administered questionnaires to measure the extent of change in psychosocial functioning. The proposed study will implement a mixed methodological design that investigates 6-8 individuals participating in a 6 week EAL program. Questionnaires will be used to quantitatively measure the extent of change in psychosocial functioning at pre, post and 3 month follow up while qualitative pre, post and 3 month follow up, semi-structured interviews and researcher observations of each EAL session will be employed to explore and explain the theoretical mechanisms responsible for this change. Data will then be triangulated and analysed on an individual basis so that effective clinical and educational interventions for those ‘at risk’ youth can be established


  • Sydney School of Education and Social Work (SSESW) Staff Wellbeing Group (SWBG) (2017 to present)
  • Australian Animal Studies Association (AASA) (2017 to present)
  • Animal Rights in Sydney Reading Group (ARiS) (2017 to present)
  • Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) (2016 to present)
  • The University of Sydney's Human Animals Research Network (HARN) (2016 to present)
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Divisional Conference Organising Committee (2016)

Awards and honours

2015: Australian Postgraduate Award (APA)

2010: The University of Sydney Academic Merit Prize

In the media

Georgakis, S. & Ward, J. (2017, February 15). The first week in February 2017: A landmark for womens football codes [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://johnmenadue.com.steve-georgakis-and-jade-ward-the-first-week-in-february-2017-a-landmark-for-womens-football-codes/

Conference presentations

Ward, J. (2017). Intersecting Social Lives of Horse and Human: Transforming 'at risk' youth? 7th Australian Animal Studies Association (AASA) Conference, Adelaide.

Ward, J. (2017). Equine Assisted Learning Programs: Transforming 'at risk' youth? The SSESW Research Students Forum 2017, Sydney.

Ward, J. (2016). Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) and Youth 'at risk': An opportunity for inclusion and transformation. Poster session presented at the Australia Association for Research in Education (AARE) Annual Conference, Melbourne.

Selected publications

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  • Ward, J., Georgakis, S. (2016). Identity in Australia: A case study on the role of sport in the ego identity formation process. Journal of Sports Research, 3(2), 56-72. [More Information]


  • Ward, J., Georgakis, S. (2016). Identity in Australia: A case study on the role of sport in the ego identity formation process. Journal of Sports Research, 3(2), 56-72. [More Information]

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