Learning Difficulties Australia



LDA COUNCIL 2007 - 2008


President and Journal Associate Editor

Dr Ruth Fielding-Barnsley

Teach BEd (SpecEd), PhD (UNE)


Ruth has had an interest in learning difficulties since embarking on an ARC funded research project into the acquisition of reading with Professor Brain Byrne at the University of New England in 1985. During the following years Ruth gained her Batchelor of Education in Special Education and in 1998 was awarded her Ph D for a thesis entitled A model of beginning reading instruction: Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, alphabet knowledge and encoding/decoding within a framework of shared book reading. During this period Ruth also worked for The New England Diagnostic Centre in the far north west of NSW with Aboriginal students and taught in primary schools in Armidale.  Currently Ruth is lecturing in special education at the Queensland University of Technology and is still adding to her research output of over 30 journal articles and book chapters.  She is a member of the ARC Network on Developmental Disorders of Language headed by Professor Max Coltheart at Macquarie University and was one of the signatories of the letter to the Minister of Education that led to the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy.

Immediate Past President, Executive Editor, Journal Editor and Convenor of the Publications Committee
Professor Kevin Wheldall

BA, PhD, CPsychol, FBPsS, FCollP, MAPS, FASSA.


Since 1990, Kevin Wheldall has been Professor of Education and Director of Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC). (He was also Principal of MUSEC School for Children with Special Learning Needs, 1990-2007).  Prior to this he was Director of the Centre for Child Study at the University of Birmingham in the UK.  A registered psychologist, he is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the College of Preceptors, and is a member of the Australian Psychological Society and of its College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists.  Kevin has researched and written extensively in the area of learning and behaviour difficulties with particular emphasis on classroom behaviour management and helping older low-progress readers. He is the author of over one hundred and fifty books, chapters and journal articles in the field of Special Education and educational and child psychology.  He has edited the international journal Educational Psychology since 1980.  Kevin has acted as an adviser to both state and federal government education bodies and ministers on matters relating to Special Education generally and on behaviour and reading in particular.  Kevin is also Director of the MULTILIT (Making Up Lost Time In Literacy) Research Unit and Chairman of MULTILIT Pty Ltd. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 2006 and a Fellow of the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities in 2007. He is currently working on a major federally funded roll out of MULTILIT in indigenous communities in Cape York to improve the reading and related skills of aboriginal students.


Professor Max Coltheart
Professor Max Coltheart is the Director of the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science.  He is a cognitive scientist with interests in cognitive neuropsychology and cognitive neuropsychiatry, and is a researcher of international renown in the field of reading and reading difficulties.  In addition to his role as Professor of Psychology and Director of the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, he also holds the James Packer Chair of Educational Research and is Academic Director of the Children’s Hospital Education Research Institute (CHERI) at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney.  He has served as President of both SPELD in NSW and of the national organization, and is one of only two Australians to have been elected a Fellow of both the Academy of Sciences in Australia and the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.  He was awarded the CSIRO Eureka Prize for leadership in Australian science in 2007.  He is the author of 13 books and of over 240 journal articles and book chapters, and was the co-author, with Margot Prior, of the paper Learning to Read in Australia, commissioned and published by the Academy of Social Sciences as the sixth in a series of policy papers designed to encourage public debate on issues of national concern.  He has been active in promoting the interests of students with dyslexia and related reading difficulties and has been a long time critic of ineffective teaching methods that fail to take account of the research evidence relating to how children learn to read.  He was one of the 26 academics whose open letter to the then Minister of Education, Dr Brendon Nelson, led to the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy.  Max Coltheart is the recipient of the LDA Mona Tobias Award for 2007.


Hugh McCusker

BAppSci (Speech Pathology), Grad DipEd Studies (Literacy)


Hugh McCusker is an experienced Speech Pathologist having held a number of Stream Leader positions in the Victorian Department of Education & Training from 1981 to 1994.  During this time, Hugh provided support to a range of Specialist and Special Schools, a Special Assistance Unit (Language) as well as an Early Intervention Program.  From 1994 to 2005, Hugh worked with the Catholic Education Office in Melbourne, initially holding the position of Senior Speech Pathologist (Western Region) and was subsequently appointed to the position of Manager (Student Services).  In recent years, Hugh has been involved in federally funded research projects on both literacy intervention and the diagnosis of Severe Language Disorder.  Hugh is currently the Manager (Education Support) with Lewis & Lewis Psychological Consultancy Services and is undertaking a PhD (University of Melbourne) researching early reading intervention.

Secretary and Convenor of the Administration Committee

Dr Molly de Lemos

BSc (Hons), MSc (Natal), PhD, ANU, MAPsS, Honorary Fellow, ACER


Molly was a Senior Research Fellow at ACER prior to her retirement in 2001.  Her initial training is in psychology, but since joining ACER in 1967 worked on a number of projects relating to assessment of educational achievement, with a focus on children from different language and cultural backgrounds and the early years of schooling.  She has also worked on projects relating to educational provisions for students with disabilities and the educational needs of children in care.  She has had an ongoing interest in issues relating to pre-school education, early intervention, and the assessment and identification of children with learning difficulties, and has also worked in the area of psychological assessment, including the adaptation and norming of measures of intelligence, aptitudes and adaptive behaviour.  Her publications include the 1994 report Schooling for Students with Disabilities, and the 2002 ACER review paper Closing the Gap between Research and Practice:  Foundations for the Acquisition of Literacy.  She has served on a number of committees and advisory groups relating to assessment and early childhood education, and is currently a member of the Developmental Disorders of Language and Literacy Network Group.

Council Member

Norina Buchanan

TPTC (Leeds, UK), Grad.Dip. Spec. Ed. (Monash)


Norina completed her teacher training in England and taught in a variety of primary schools for eight years before emigrating to Australia and settling in Melbourne in the late 1960s.  She was employed by the Victorian Education Department and taught in primary schools for 15 years, working with children from Prep to Grade 6.  In 1982 she studied for her Graduate Diploma in Special Education, majoring in Visual Impairments.  After graduating she worked in many different special education settings including Visually Impaired, Physically Handicapped, and a Special Assistance Unit (S.A.U.), teaching severely learning disabled children.  She also ran a Special Education Unit for dysphasic children.  In 1966 she opened her own private practice as a registered LDA consultant, and has built up a very busy consultancy teaching children with specific learning difficulties ranging from Prep to Year 9, as well as some adult clients.

Council Member

Margaret Cameron

BA (NZ), Dip. Teach (Deaf), Dip. Ed. (Excep Children) (Qld).
Margaret is currently Senior Lecturer in Education at Tabor Adelaide, with responsibility for courses in Literacy and Special Needs.  She is also a SPELD tutor and Instructor in LEM Phonics, and is currently completing an M.Ed at the University of South Australia.  Margaret’s initial teaching experience was as a teacher of hearing impaired children and then as a support teacher for students with learning difficulties in Queensland, before moving into teacher education at Tabor Adelaide.  Her current interests are in teacher education, and particularly in providing in-service to a large number of teachers who felt the need to be equipped to teach phonics.  This has led her into a greater interest in literacy in the broad sense, and a recognition of the value of whole language approaches once skill in decoding and encoding is established.  Margaret has a continuing interest in the learning needs of children with a range of ‘diverse abilities’, and has developed a broad knowledge of systems and approaches to educating children with such needs.

Council Member and Convenor of the Consultants Committee
Rosemary Carter

Trained Teachers Certificate (WA), Dip.Sp.Ed.(Melbourne), B.Sp.Ed.(Monash)., Life Member (AREA/LDA)


Following her initial teacher training in Western Australia, Rosemary taught in primary grades and in Special Classes (mixed disabilities) for 12 years, and subsequently taught in a Special Class (mild/moderate ID) in Tasmania. She has also taught English, French and Remedial English at secondary level in NSW. Moving to Victoria, she was in charge of a Remedial Centre, then a Special Assistance Unit, before accepting the role of Chief Clinician at the Reading Treatment and Research Centre in Carlton. When this was closed, she spent four years as integration teacher at a large primary school in the Northern suburbs before retiring. Currently in Private Practice, Rosemary's main professional interest is investigating why young children fail to learn the skills of reading.  Rosemary has been a member of LDA for more than thirty years, from the time that it was initially established as the Diagnostic and Remedial Teachers of Victoria Association, and then through its various name changes (the Australian Remedial Teachers Association, the Australian Research Educators Association and Learning Difficulties Australia).  Rosemary has been an LDA council member for 16 years, from 1983 to 1989, and then again from 1997 to the present time.  She was the Referral Officer for the Victorian Referral Service from 1991 to 2002, and has been Convenor of the Consultants' Committee since 1998.

Council Member

Professor Ian Hay
Dip T (NBCAE); BA (Psy Qld); MEdSt (Qld); PhD (Qld); MAPsyS.


Ian Hay has recently taken up the position of Professor of Special Education/Educational Psychology at the School of Education at the University of New England.  Prior to this he was Associate Professor at the University of Queensland.  He has published more than 80 book chapters, refereed journal articles, reports, and other articles in a range of international and national peer review publications. As a chief investigator he has been awarded competitive research funds in excess of a million dollars, and has supervised some 20 higher degree research students. His main research interests are in the domain of students with literacy and academic difficulties, the role of motivation in learning, and students' cognitive development.

Council Member, Website Editor and Referral Officer (Queensland):
Janet Heffernan

BEd, DipSpEd (Griffith) MEd, DipT (QUT)


Jan is the Curriculum Co-ordinator and Support Teacher at Brisbane Boys' College Junior, Queensland.  During her 32 year teaching career, Jan has worked at the Queensland School for the Deaf as a classroom teacher and teacher librarian, a Visiting Teacher for the Deaf, classroom teacher and support teacher.  Currently she is responsible for developing and co-ordinating the delivery of a differentiated curriculum for boys in the primary setting.  Also she works individually with primary and secondary students with learning difficulties.   Jan has always been interested in supporting students to achieve their goals. This interest led her to become the inaugural Referral Officer for Queensland, in September 2002.

Council Member and co-Editor of the Bulletin

Dr Alison Madelaine

BA, Dip. Ed., Dip. Spec. Ed. PhD


Alison Madelaine is a Lecturer in Special Education at Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC) in Sydney.  Alison teaches postgraduate units in Effective Literacy Instruction and Special Education Research Methods.  In 2003 she was awarded a PhD for her thesis entitled Curriculum-based measurement of reading and teacher judgment of reading performance.  Alison’s current academic interests include literacy in general, reading fluency, book levelling and curriculum-based measurement of reading and writing.  During the 2003/04 school year, Alison participated in the Visiting International Faculty Program, and taught disadvantaged students with learning disabilities in South Carolina, USA.  At present, she works as a consultant to the Schoolwise Program in Sydney, and the MULTILIT Coen Project in Queensland, and also provides professional development in reading and classroom management.

Council Member

Janet Roberts

BA (English); GradDip (SpEd), TITC.


Jan Roberts is the Director of Learning Pathways and a specialist in teaching children and adults how to learn. She was a primary, then secondary English and Special Education teacher, before establishing a training and tutoring consultancy.  She helps teachers, aides and parents increase their skills and strategies through practical professional development and ongoing consultancy in schools. She tutors students with learning difficulties in literacy and maths and trains adults in literacy and study skills. She convened the LDA Melbourne conference in 2000. Jan has been trained as an instructor in all of de Bono thinking tools and has conducted workshops in schools and the corporate sector. She also co-edited, with Dr de Bono, the Six Thinking Hats Manual for Education.  Jan is the author of various resources, including Spelling Recovery (ACER Press and David Fulton, UK); Now I Can Spell and Read Better, Too (Learning Pathways), a research-based, structured program for primary and secondary levels; Comprehension Plus and Advanced Comprehension Plus (Learning Pathways).

Council Member

Dr. Gary Woolley
Teach Cert., Dip.Teach., Grad Dip Teach., M.Sp Ed., PhD.
Gary Woolley is a Lecturer in Education in the Faculty of Education at Griffith University, at their Mt Gravatt Campus in Brisbane.  He took up this position in June this year, having previously been Lecturer in Inclusive Education at the University of Canberra.  Qualifying as a teacher in 1975, Gary has been teaching for over 30 years in public and private schools in NSW and Queensland.  He has taught in mainstream classrooms at various grade levels from lower primary to high school, and during the fifteen years before becoming a University lecturer he worked as a learning support co-ordinator for students from Prep to Year 12.  Over the last four yeas Gary has lectured in literacy and learning difficulties in the inclusive education program at the University of Canberra, and in his present position at Griffith University he is continuing to lecture in this area.  His particular professional interests include reading comprehension difficulties, memory, cognition and learning engagement.  Gary recently completed his PhD thesis, which focused on the design of training programs for volunteer tutors to assist students with reading comprehension difficulties.  Gary has written a number of articles and taken part in several research projects in literacy and inclusive education.  He was part of a team of five lecturers that recently won a Carrick Institute Citation for Teaching and Learning.

Council Member

Dr. Craig Wright
B Psych (Hons), PhD, MAPS
Craig Wright is a Psychologist and Clinic Director at Understanding Minds, a multi-disciplinary clinic specialising in the developmental disorders of childhood. He currently serves as Consultant Special Education Adviser to the Catholic Education Office (Lismore Diocese).  Prior to this he held positions with Disability Services and Queensland Health. Craig’s clinical interests lie in early identification, assessment and intervention for children with learning difficulties; particularly reading. Craig’s current research interests include neurological factors in reading difficulties, reading intervention and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. He has published papers on dyslexia and ADHD and he is involved in developing a reading intervention program.  He has presented a number of papers at conferences, workshops, and seminars on topics relating to dyslexia, reading intervention, and assessment of reading difficulties.

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