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Welcome by Head of Discipline

We are at an exciting time in the discipline’s history and have much to celebrate in this newsletter. Our innovative new courses roll out in 2018. They will build graduate capacity for excellence and leadership in traditional employment settings and expand the career opportunities for Master’s students into new domestic and international opportunities.

Graduates who have already excelled in their professional roles continue to be recognized by the Faculty for their outstanding achievements as alumni; we share their successes with you here. Our leading academics represent the discipline and profession in a variety of forums locally, nationally and internationally.

They continue to grow the evidence base of rehabilitation counselling practice through funded collaborative research with industry and with our valued research students. We hope you enjoy hearing about the achievements of our discipline and its alumni and welcome your contact.

Exceptional Achievements of Rehabilitation Counselling Alumni


For the third year running, an alumnus from Rehabilitation Counselling has been presented with a prestigious Alumni Award. Louise Bilato (Masters in Rehabilitation Counselling, 2005) received the 2018 Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, an award that recognises outstanding achievements of alumni in their professional field.

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Without exception, Louise has made an extraordinary contribution to the health and safety of people, organisations, and communities in both urban and regional/remote areas of the Northern Territory and East Kimberly. She has worked determinedly to improve social outcomes by reducing the burden of occupational injuries and promoting safer work environments.

Louise works on many levels. She has designed and delivered innovative post‐injury rehabilitation services, led inclusive community development initiatives, and tailored psychosocial interventions for people with complex health conditions. She continues to deliver therapeutic services. Louise has also designed, developed and implemented large‐scale safety management systems, lobbied for policy reforms and infrastructure developments and industry‐driven initiatives to enhance the safety of the road transport industry.

She has an extensive record of working collaboratively across industry sectors and has forged and maintained partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, including marginalised people and communities. Louise is a prominent leader, both in the profession and in business. The leadership roles she has undertaken span both rehabilitation and road safety arenas. Louise is highly influential in all tiers of government and has held several Ministerial appointments.

Louise brings energy, integrity, and commitment to her work, and is generous with her time educating and mentoring professionals as future leaders. Louise has a very impressive and sustained record of professional activity and achievement. She is a person of great vision, creativity, commitment and compassion. Congratulations Louise!

Congratulations also extend to Rehabilitation Counselling’s 2018 Dean’s Scholars: Lucina Kylie Cheng and Michael Melvyn O’Laco who have achieved outstanding results in their rehabilitation counselling studies.


New Rehabilitation Counselling Curriculum Roll Out Semester 1, 2018


The new Rehabilitation Counselling curriculum begins its roll out this semester with enhanced skill components, flipped class room features, and individualised self-instruction built into the new Canvas platform. This is the product of 2 1/2 years of planning and development.

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We couldn't be more excited to see it finally implemented. Initial feedback from our new students has been quite positive. Students will be active partners in course development via the new RC community page (Canvas), formative feedback sessions built into each of the units of study, and through an enhanced role on the External Advisory Committee. Staff will soon be looking ahead to the innovations planned for semester 2. It's going to be the first of two years of steady innovation in our continuing pursuit of excellence.


New Academic Staff Join The Team


We are very happy to introduce the new academic staff joining us this year - Associate Lecturer Erin Fearn Smith and Senior Lecturer, Dr Roxanne Pebdani.

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Erin Fearn Smith joins us as an associate lecturer for the year, she brings a wealth of experience from the NGO sector, specifically in mental health, homelessness, counselling and case management. Her research is in brain injury and cognitive impairment in homeless populations.

Dr Roxanne Pebdani joins us in July for 3 years as a senior lecturer. She’s coming from California State University and has extensive experience in multicultural and group counselling, assessment, program evaluation, and research principles. Her research focus is primarily women’s issues in disability.

We also welcome a great teaching team of RC alumni /PhD students – James Hill, Danielle Resiak, Irene Mok, and Kelly Yorke. What a win for our students.


The First Student Research Collaboration Established With Taiwanese Student


The RC partnership with the Rehabilitation Counselling Institute at the National Changhua University of Education continues to develop with a series of scheduled webinars and the establishing of the first student research collaboration.

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The webinars will be attended by RC faculty and students nationally across Australia, and Internationally with guests from Japan and the United States. The research project has identified a student in Taiwan who will be studying the cross-cultural profile of RC education in the Asia Pacific. We are now looking for a partner student in our program to join in the adventure.


The Latest Research Updates


Associate Professor Lynda Matthews is one of 10 academics from seven universities in Australia, the US and Canada to be awarded C$216,318 by WorkSafe BC for two projects identifying prevalence and work outcomes for occupational traumatic exposure, and level of evidence for existing preventions and interventions. The project is being led by Dr Shannon Wagner of Northern British Columbia University.

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Associate Professor Lynda Matthews is working with Ms Jacky Gerald from Acacia Connection in an industry partnership project funded by Acacia Connection. The project, the first of its kind for EAP services, is looking at ways to increase the help-seeking behaviours of men, specifically their use of freely available and confidential Employee Assistance Program services. The research is timely given the rate of men’s suicide has not declined over the past decade and for every suicide death as many as 25 men will attempt suicide. We are listening to what men have to say about their help-seeking behaviours, identifying what works and what doesn’t work in regards to available services.


New Course Design Expands Student Career Opportunities


The Discipline of Rehabilitation Counselling concludes two years of research and development (R&D) with the introduction of a unique, value-driven and evidence-based curriculum. The new design was aligned with the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, informed by Community-based Rehabilitation practice, and inspired by best pedagogical practice.

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The new program features include:

Focus on active and collaborative learning strategies.

The emphasis is on critical thinking skills and applied learning in the community. Students will engage in case studies and simulations in tutorials that bridge all units of study from week 1.

Enriched vocational rehabilitation content in year 1.

Coursework has intensified focus on applied counselling, assessment, and case management skills; increased content in the world of work/careers, medical/rehabilitation terminology; and expanded industry partnerships.

Enhanced Field Placements.

Developed partnership with WIL has resulted in: learning objectives, in-service orientation, barrier tasks, and protocol to prepare and insure “placement-ready” students; streamlined and participative student tracking on placement; and expanded length of first year placement in workers comp settings.

Expanded opportunity for specialized learning in year 2.

The Masters coursework enhances student choice through: “tracks” of electives (psychiatric disabilities, developmental disabilities, at-risk populations, and disability management); capstone projects and placements aligned with elective track; and expanded length of both second year placements.

The new curriculum will be integrated with the University wide migration to a new, improved LMS system that will integrate accessible distance education technologies and social media platforms. Year one rolls out in 2018.