AFDSRC TEAM

Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn

Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn

PhD, MEd, BA, Grad Dip ContEd, Dip OT

Professor of Family and Disability Studies
Director, Australian Family and Disability Studies Research Collaboration
Director, Centre for Disability Research and Policy
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney

Professor Llewellyn’s research areas are in family and disability studies, disability and development and disability and disadvantage. Her work is funded by the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council and by state and federal government departments. She has published widely in international and national journals and contributed book chapters in the field of parental disability and families with children with disabilities. She supervises research candidates from many disciplines in these areas. She co-edited – Parents with Intellectual Disabilities. Past, Present and Futures – published by Wiley Blackwell 2010 which is the first international publication to bring together the latest research on the lives of parents with intellectual disabilities and their children. She is currently Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities and Consulting Editor for the Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research and is an editorial board member of several international journals. Gwynnyth is leading the development of the Centre for Disability Research and Policy at the University of Sydney. This Centre aims to actively contribute to the challenge presented by the World Report on Disability (World Health Organization and the World Bank, 2011) to strengthen and support research on disability for evidence informed policy and practice development.


Gwynnyth can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Rebecca Barton

Rebecca Barton

BAppSc (OT) Hons

PhD candidate

Rebecca graduated from the University of Sydney with a B.App.Sc (Occupational Therapy) (Hons I) in 2007. Her honours thesis explored the interplay between culture, mental illness, and the daily occupations of people living with a mental illness in Bangladesh. Rebecca was also employed as a support worker for people with disabilities during her undergraduate studies. Following this she worked as a research associate on the Family Well-being project for 18 months and has developed a particular interest in the area of culture and disability. She was awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award in 2008 and is currently enrolled as a PhD student. Her research aims to explore the experiences of migrant families raising a child with a disability in Australia.

Rebecca can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Professor Susan Balandin

Professor Susan Balandin

PhD, MA, Dip RCSLT

Associate Researcher

Susan is a professor in the Department of Health and Social Sciences at University College Molde, Norway. She has many years clinical experience in the field of lifelong disability and people with complex communication needs. Her research program includes ageing with a life long disability and complex communication needs, health care interactions, including those of refugees, vocabulary selection, and student learning. She has research links with several universities in Europe and ongoing involvement with the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy. She supervises postgraduate students with research interests in lifelong disability, complex communication needs and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in Australia, Norway and the UK. From 2009 she will be the joint editor of the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, she is an associate editor for The International Journal of Speech Language Pathology, Evidence Based Communication Assessment and Intervention and a consulting editor on several international journals. She is a past president of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication and a past chairperson of the Australian Group on Severe Communication Impairment. She has published extensively in the area of lifelong disability and complex communication needs.

Sue can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Professor Anita Bundy

Professor Anita Bundy

ScD (Boston), MS (Boston), BS (WMich), FAOTA

Associate Researcher

Professor Bundy is Chair of Occupational Therapy. Her research and scholarly activity has been in three areas: play and leisure; the development of assessments to measure function and interventions to promote participation in everyday life. Professor Bundy is the author of two assessments related to children's play, widely used by occupational therapists throughout the world: the Test of Playfulness (ToP) and the Test of Environmental Supportiveness (TOES). She also has contributed to assessments in a wide range of areas. Some examples include driving performance, sustainability of family routines, time use, and quality of everyday life. She has published widely in international journals, and is the lead editor and author of several chapters in Sensory Integration: Theory and Practice (2nd ed.). Together with a North American colleague, she has just completed a new textbook entitled: Kids Can Be Kids: An Occupations Based Approach. She has lectured on 5 continents and supervised more than 80 postgraduate students from all over the world

Anita can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Susan Collings

Susan Collings

MPH, BA (Hons)

PhD Candidate

Susan graduated from Macquarie University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts with Class 1 honours, in English literature and behavioural science. She worked in the field of community care for people with disabilities and the frail aged as a case manager, client service manager and executive manager. Susan developed innovative service models, including an independent living skills program for young adults with intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injury and a transition program for ageing adults with intellectual disabilities retiring from supported employment. In 2007 Susan completed a Master of Public Health at UNSW. Susan took up a research position in a large non-government organisation and undertook several program evaluations including one examining the effectiveness of a program to support parents with intellectual disabilities and their children. Susan has recently started a doctorate focused on children of parents with intellectual disabilities. She aims to extend current knowledge about these children, explore how they experience their family and what community factors can help build their resilience.

Susan can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Angela Dew

Angela Dew


PhD, MA(Hons), BA (Sociology)

Associate Researcher

Angela has worked in the field of disability for the past 29 years in the government and non-government sectors in direct service provision, management, teaching and research. Angela's particular area of interest is the relationship between family members where one has a life long disability. Her PhD research examined the transition of care from ageing parents to siblings for people with cerebral palsy who are 40 years and over. Angela's other areas of research interest have included: the de-institutionalisation of people with disabilities and their subsequent integration and participation in their local communities; the ageing of people with disabilities, particularly women. Currently, Angela is the Project Manager on the ‘Wobbly Hub and Double Spokes’ project, jointly funded by NHMRC and Ageing, Disability and Home Care (Western Region) to develop a flexible and responsive model of therapy service delivery to people with a disability living in the Western Region of NSW.

Angela can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Professor Eric Emerson

Professor Eric Emerson

Visiting Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney Professor of Disability and Health Research, University of Lancaster

Eric is a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney for nine weeks each year. Much of his research involves the use of data from large scale longitudinal and cross-sectional surveys to explore the social and health inequalities faced by people with disabilities. His current projects focus on: the well-being of young Australians with long-term health conditions, impairments of disabilities; measuring the well-being of disabled children; the interaction between child disability, poverty and the well-being of children and families; and understanding risk and resilience factors impacting on the emotional and behavioural health of disabled children.

Eric can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Vikki Fraser

Dr Vikki Fraser

PhD, BA (Hons)

Associate Researcher

Vikki graduated from the University of Western Sydney in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts with Class 1 Honours. She has completed her PhD in the School of Education, also at the University of Western Sydney. Her doctoral research explored the role of the internet in the lives of sexually diverse young people. Vikki’s research areas include new media analysis, with a particular focus on cyber space and cyber cultures. In early 2008, Vikki joined the AFSRC team and is a Research Associate for projects in the Parents with Intellectual Disability and the Young Adults with Chronic Illness or Disability streams.

Vikki can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Rebekah Grace

Dr Rebekah Grace

PhD, BA Hons (Psychology)

Associate Researcher

Rebekah has worked with the Family Support and Services team on a number of different projects from 1995 on. She has been involved in our research on the family variables influential in choosing out of home placement for a child with special needs, our research on the issues facing the parent carers of adults with disabilities, our research on supporting parents with intellectual disability and school age children, and our research looking at the ways in which families with special needs engage with early childhood services. Rebekah's PhD is from the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Sydney. Her thesis took a qualitative semi-longitudinal case-study approach, and examined the interaction between the ecocultural variables of a family and the manifestation of Tourette's symptoms in a child. Rebekah is currently a Senior Research Fellow and Manager of Early Childhood Research in the Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation within the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity at the University of NSW.

Rebekah can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Marie Gustavsson Holmström

Dr Marie Gustavsson Holmström

PhD (Disability Research), MA (Sociology)

Associate Researcher

Marie has a special interest in parenting and disability issues. Her doctoral thesis, (published in 2002) was written on parenthood and family life for parents with physical disabilities. This was produced at a cross-disciplinary graduate program at the Swedish Institute for Disability Research at Linköping University, Sweden.

Marie worked with the Family Support and Services Team as a visiting scholar on a scholarship from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (2002 - 2003). The project is a qualitative study on parents with intellectual disability and their involvement and connections in the community from their own perspective. To Marie, doing research on intellectual disabilities was a new and interesting experience.

Marie can be contacted on following e-mail address:


Dr Anne Honey

Dr Anne Honey

PhD, BAppSc (OT) Hons, B.Ec

Associate Researcher

Anne's research focuses on young people with long-term conditions, especially mental illness, within families and communities. Anne's project, "Parental Support for Young People with Mental Illness", uses qualitative methods to understand how parents support young people with mental illness, how they develop these support strategies and their impact on young people. This will contribute to the development of guidelines for optimizing support and mental health care in diverse family situations. Anne is also chief investigator on the ARC funded project "Improving Life Chances for Young Disabled Australians" which uses a large, nationally representative data set to illuminate the interactions between social inclusion/exclusion and mental health and wellbeing for young Australians with disabling conditions. Anne is also working on two projects aimed at developing indicators of health and well-being for children and young people with disabilities. These are funded by the Schizophrenia Fellowship and the World Universities Network. Anne completed her PhD with AFDSRC in 2002 then, after several years working at the University of Western Sydney, Anne returned to AFDSRC in 2007 for a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She has now taken up an academic position with the Discipline of Occupational Therapy and continues to work with AFDSRC. Anne has published widely in the fields of adolescent eating disorders, mental health and vulnerable families.

Anne can be contacted at the following email address:


Gabrielle Hindmarsh

Gabrielle Hindmarsh

BA (Hons)

Project Manager

Gabrielle is a psychologist who for over 10 years in Queensland was a member of a multi disciplinary team which followed up high risk infants throughout childhood. In 2002 she joined the University of Sydney and assisted with the development and evaluation of a system that classifies the support needs of adults with disabilities, a collaborative project between the University of Sydney, Centre for Disability Studies and the Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney (www.i-can.org.au). Gabrielle joined the AFDSRC in 2005 as the Project Manager for the Healthy Start project – a national strategy for professionals in the health, welfare and education sectors who have a common interest in enhancing the lives of children and their parents with learning difficulties (www.healthystart.net.au). Gabrielle is currently the Project Manager for the 'Transition to Adulthood' project which is exploring how young people with impairments experience the transition to adulthood.

Gabrielle can be contacted at the following email address:


Dr Carmen Jarrett

Dr Carmen Jarrett

PhD, MPH, MPsychol, BA(Hons)

Associate Researcher

Trained as a clinical psychologist, Dr Carmen Jarrett has extensive professional experience in the areas of developmental disability, child and family therapy and health promotion. Before joining the AFDSRC in 2005 as an APAI postgraduate scholar on the Family Wellbeing Project, Carmen was Parenting Project Officer for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team of Wentworth Area Health Service. In this capacity, she helped services to implement evidence based parenting programs and supported early childhood care and education services to develop their mental health promotion capacity. In addition to her professional involvement in health promotion work, Carmen holds a Masters in Public Health from the University of Sydney.

As part of the Family Wellbeing Project, Carmen undertook a qualitative investigation of the ways in which families develop strategies to cope with the extra care needs of a child with a disability and so create meaningful, satisfying and sustainable family routines.

Carmen can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Maina Kariuki

Dr Maina Kariuki

PhD, MSc, BSc (For)

Research Associate

Maina joined the Faculty of Health Sciences as a Research Associate with AFDSRC, in 2009, on our “Improving life chances for young disabled Australians” project. Maina has a background in forestry, completing his PhD in Southern Cross in 2004. His research involved complex modelling of the dynamics, growth and yield in logged and unlogged uneven aged mixed species rainforests. Here he gained experience in using large multivariate longitudinal datasets to develop predictive models. Like trees, people with disabilities are influenced by a multitude of internal and environmental factors, and Maina will be using his multivariate statistical modelling skills to develop a model of the psychological, social and economic impact of disability on young Australians and the way this is influenced by contextual factors over time. He will be analysing a large, representative dataset, the survey of Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia.

Maina can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Professor David McConnell

Professor David McConnell

PhD, BAppSc (OT) Hons

Associate Researcher Professor Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta

David can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Rachel Mayes

Dr Rachel Mayes

PhD, BAppSc (OT) Hons

Postdoctoral Fellow

Rachel graduated in 1997 from the University of Sydney with a B.App.Sc (Occupational Therapy) and Class 1 Honours. Rachel spent two years working as a parent educator with the NSW Parent-Child Health and Wellbeing Project before heading overseas in 2000. Rachel worked as an OT in the UK and Africa, in diverse areas from wheelchairs and seating, to teaching occupational therapy students in the newly established OT school in Tanzania. Her final position was setting up an OT service for people with intellectual disabilities in northwest London. With her desire to work and study in the area of intellectual disabilities firmly established, Rachel has returned to the AFDSRC to undertake a PhD. Her research focused on women with intellectual disability, their experiences of pregnancy and antenatal care services. Rachel is currently a Faculty of Health Sciences Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with the AFDSRC.

Rachel can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Louella McCarthy

Dr Louella McCarthy

PhD, MA (Women’s Studies), BA (Hons)

Associate Researcher

Louella is Manager, Community Participation at the School of Medicine University of Western Sydney and an Associate Researcher with the AFDSRC. Her disciplinary background is in history, and she has taught Australian history at the University of NSW and Public History at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her PhD thesis, undertaken at the University of NSW, investigated the role of gender in the development of western medicine. Components of the thesis have appeared in a variety of scholarly journals and she is currently reworking the thesis as a monograph.

Louella's main area of scholarship is focused on women, gender and health, and the role of historical method in public policy processes. Louella is also active in the broader areas of the history of gender and medicine. She is currently President of the NSW Society for the History of Medicine, and an Executive Member of the Australian & New Zealand Association for the History of Medicine. She is Co-Editor of the Gender and History series published by Palgrave Macmillan and is on the Editorial Advisory Committee for Public History Review.

Louella can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Ann Poulos

Dr Ann Poulos

PhD, BA (Hons), Dip Radiography ( UK)

Associate Researcher

Dr Ann Poulos is a Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Medical Radiation Sciences, University of Sydney and has been involved in radiography research and education since 1984. Her radiography experience, an Honours degree in Psychology and Sociology, a Diploma of Education and a PhD have provided an excellent background for her vision to develop and enhance the research profile of radiography generally and mammographic practice specifically. She has developed a long association with the State Coordination Unit of BreastScreen NSW and is currently a member of the State Accreditation and Quality Assurance Committee.

Ann's research focus is mammography within the context of breast screening programs. Her PhD awarded in 2001 is regarded as the first in Australia to be concerned with radiographic practice rather than radiography education. The outcomes of her PhD have been built on and extended by international researchers and gained externally funded government research grants. Her research in mammography has ranged from investigation of the application of breast compression, discomfort experienced during the procedure and image quality and image evaluation criteria. She is currently developing mammography research in two new areas: image interpretation and disability.

Women with a disability have been found to underutilise breast screening services. She is currently involved in two grants which aim to determine the barriers to breast screening by mammography for disabled women. Of particular interest are the barriers experienced during the mammogram. It is anticipated that understanding the barriers will result in adaptations to procedures and equipment as well as dissemination of information to disabled women. These grants are funded by the University of Sydney Research and Development Scheme and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Ann can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Margaret Spencer

Dr Margaret Spencer

PhD, BSW, BTh, RN (Cert Nursing)

Honorary Research Fellow

Margaret was awarded a doctorate from the University of Sydney in 2007. Her doctoral study involved developing an innovative assessment approach that frontline human service practitioners could use to assess the support needs of parents with intellectual disability. Margaret also holds qualifications in nursing, theology and social work. She has 25 years clinical experience working with individuals and families with complex care needs and during this time has been a vocal advocate for parents with an intellectual disability and their children. In 1999 Margaret was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research supported parenting initiatives in the USA, UK and Denmark. Currently Margaret is heading up a project to enable justice for parent with intellectual disability involved in care and protection matters (see: McConnell, Llewellyn & Ferronato, 2000). The project is funded by the NSW Law Society and auspiced by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (see: www.idrs.org.au). A key component of this project is the development, pilot and evaluation of a support model for parents involved in care proceedings. The model proposed is based on Circle of Support model.

Margaret can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Catherine Wade

Dr Catherine Wade

PhD, M Psych, Grad Dip App Ch Psych, BBSc

Associate Researcher

Catherine has completed a PhD with the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney. Her research investigated a model of contextual factors associated with parenting and child well-being among at-risk families. Specifically, the relationship between parent, child, family and contextual variables and intervention outcomes in a large Australian sample of at-risk families headed by parents with intellectual disability was examined using structured equation modelling. The aim of the study was to understand child, parent, family characteristics and contextual factors influencing parenting, child well-being and the ‘response’ to interventions for parents with intellectual disability. Findings from the study indicated that parenting practices had a direct effect on child well-being, that socio-economic disadvantage, parent health and social support were associated with child well-being via the mediator of parenting practices, and that parent mental health and access to social support had a direct influence on parenting practices. Furthermore, partner support was found to be associated with program completion.

Catherine’s research was supported by a scholarship through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Her supervisors were Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn (University of Sydney) and Associate Professor Jan Matthews (Parenting Research Centre).

Catherine also works as a Research Fellow with the Parenting Research Centre (www.parentingrc.org.au). Her current work is primarily related to the Healthy Start Project (www.healthystart.net.au), although she has been involved with a number of other projects in a variety of roles, including project coordination, research, consultancy, grant and paper writing, data analysis, and the delivery of interventions to families.

Prior to her current study and employment, Catherine worked as a psychologist in a range of settings including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, State Government Departments and in hospitals.

Catherine can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Dr Nikki Wedgwood

Dr Nikki Wedgwood

PhD, BA(Hons)

Research Fellow

Nikki Wedgwood, sociologist, is a lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, teaching in qualitative research methods. Her past research includes the gendered embodiment of schoolgirls, schoolboys and adult women who play Australian Rules football and the role of sports participation in the adolescent development, embodiment and social inclusion of young people with physical impairments. Her current research focuses on how young people with physical impairments meet the developmental challenges of adolescence and emerging adulthood, including consolidation of identity, peer acceptance and increasing autonomy from family. Her research interests include gender, embodiment, sport, disability and life history research.

Nikki can be contacted at the following e-mail address:


Louisa Smith

Louisa Smith

BA Hons, Dip Ed

Louisa Smith graduated in 2001 from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts (English and Australian Literature) and Class 1 Honours. Completing a Diploma of Education, Louisa spent four years teaching high school English, when her interest in gender and sexuality in educational institutions lead her to pursue sociological research in this area. Louisa’s PhD explored the embodiment and gender contradictions of women working in the male dominated areas of manual trades and IT. Louisa’s research interests include gender, sexuality, embodiment, gender and work and the life history method. Louisa joins the AFDSRC Transition to Adulthood project. In this project Louisa will focus on conducting and analysing the life histories of young people with impairments and how they experience the life phase of emerging adulthood.

Louisa can be contacted at the following e-mail address:

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