Ms Erin Fearn Smith

Associate Lecturer, Discipline of Rehabilitation Counselling
HDR Candidate

Telephone +61 2 9351 9838
Fax +61 2 9351 9128


Biographical details

Erin Fearn-Smith is a Registered Psychologist, Rehabilitation Counsellor and HDR candidate investigating cognitive impairment and brain injury amongst people who are experiencing homelessness. Since graduating from the University of Sydney's undergraduate Rehabilitation Counselling degree in 2000, Erin has completed further post-graduate qualifications in Community Development, Human Nutrition, Child and Adolescent Health, and Psychology.

With a focus on social inclusion and 20+ years in human services leadership roles across Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, Erin has played a central role in the establishment of some key innovative service models to address homelessness in Central Sydney, including Housing First programs, Platform 70 and Common Ground Sydney. Alongside teaching at the University of Sydney, Erin works across Mission Australia's Specialist Homelessness Services, operates a private consultancy practice, supports two charitable not-for-profit organisations through non-executive director roles, and teaches in core first year health science subjects La Trobe University.

Research interests

Homelessness; Social Inclusion; Mental Health; Supportive Housing; Community-Based Rehabilitation

Teaching and supervision

Unit Coordinator:

REHB5911 Rehabilitation Counselling I

REHB5921 Rehabilitation Counselling II

REHB5912 Rehabilitation Resource Management

REHB5943 Rehabilitation Counselling Capstone

Teaching in:

REHB5911 Rehabilitation Counselling I

REHB5921 Rehabilitation Counselling II

REHB5912 Rehabilitation Resource Management

REHB5933 Research and Evidence in Practice

REHB5943 Rehabilitation Counselling Capstone

REHB5069 Rehabilitation of Drug and Alcohol Misuse

REHB5954 Mental Health and Recovery

REHB5068 Public Offenders: Aspects of Rehab

REHB3064 Alcohol and Drug Misuse Rehabilitation

REHB3062 Public Offenders: Criminality and Rehab

Thesis work

Thesis title: Developing a Screening Strategy for Brain Injury and Cognitive Impairment in Sydney´┐Żs Homeless Population

Supervisors: Lynda MATTHEWS , Michael MILLINGTON

Thesis abstract:

The Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) sector in Sydney reports a significant rate of brain injury and cognitive impairment among people accessing their services, yet no mechanisms for identification of brain injury or formal measurements are currently in place. This research will investigate the prevalence of brain injury and cognitive impairment in people who are homeless in Sydney. It will also identify, adapt or design a tool to screen for brain injury and cognitive impairment in people accessing support through Sydney SHS programs. This will be achieved through a literature review, analysis of secondary data, and workshops with provider agencies and field specialists. Once the screening strategy has been developed, a pilot study will test the psychometrics of the identified tool and its ease of implementation within SHS case management practice. The Wechsler Memory Scale IV (WMS-IV) will be used to validate the tool.
A robust screening strategy for identification of cognitive impairment and brain injury in SHS will support homelessness program service delivery by improving case management intake, referral, and planning at the micro level; improving monitoring and evaluation practices at the meso level; and inform policy at the macro level. Ultimately, it will lead to improved service systems and better outcomes for people who are experiencing homelessness.

Current projects

Screening for cognitive impairment and brain injury amongst people experiencing homelessness: A scoping review.

Exploring the relationship between self-reported brain injury and other factors identified in the Vulnerability Index (VI) and Vulnerability Index - Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT), amongst people experiencing homelessness in Australia


  • AHPRA Psychology Board of Australia (Psychologist, General Registration)
  • Australian Psychological Society (Member)
  • Rehabilitation Counselling Association of Australasia (Full Member)
  • Case Management Society of Australia& New Zealand & Affiliates (Ordinary Member)


Disability and Mental Health; Physical Activity, Lifestyle, Ageing and Wellbeing

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