Learning Difficulties Australia


LDA COUNCIL 2011-2012



Dr Craig Wright

B Psych (Hons), PhD


Craig Wright is a Psychologist and Clinic Director at Understanding Minds, a multi-disciplinary clinic specialising in the developmental disorders of childhood. He is also a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at Griffith University. 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. 



Dr Lorraine Hammond

B.Ed (ECU), Post Grad Dip SpLD (RSA) London, M. SpLD (Middlesex), PhD (ECU)


Lorraine Hammond is a Senior Lecturer at Edith Cowan University where she co-ordinates post graduate Special Education courses and the Graduate Diploma of Education (Primary).  Since graduating as a secondary English Teacher in 1990 and realizing how ill equipped she was to support her students with literacy based learning difficulties Lorraine undertook further study then began working as a Learning Difficulties Consultant supporting teachers and schools throughout Australia as well as presenting professional learning overseas.  After completing her PhD on the relationship between beginning reading and spelling, Lorraine was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and travelled to Canada, USA and the UK investigating services for individuals with Dyslexia.  A long standing Board Member of the Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation (DSF) of WA, Lorraine is at her happiest working with her university students and the many teachers she meets at conferences and in schools where she conducts research.  Lorraine’s current research interests include the prevention of literacy difficulties, teaching vocabulary and evidence-based instruction.   


Immediate Past-President

Dr. K. Louise Mercer

BA (U of QLD), BEd (U of Alberta), MA (U of British Columbia), PhD (U of British Columbia)


Louise Mercer is a Lecturer in the School of Learning and Professional Studies at the Queensland University of Technology with responsibilities for courses in learning and literacy difficulties as well as inclusive education. Prior to returning to Australia to take up this position in July 2007, she lived in Canada for over 30 years where she was a regular classroom teacher, compensatory language teacher, learning assistance teacher, school psychologist, and sessional lecturer. Louise completed her MA degree in Language Education (reading difficulties) in 1985 and her PhD in School Psychology (learning disabilities) on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded fellowship in 2004 at the University of British Columbia. Louise’s research interests are in the areas of learning disabilities/difficulties especially with regard to the development of literacy skills, evidence-based inclusive classroom practices that support diverse and struggling learners, the impact of social-emotional factors on learning, as well service learning and values education within preservice teacher education.



Dr Pye Twaddell

BA (Brown University – education and American Civilization), MA (University of New Hampshire – reading and counselling), PhD (University of Sydney – education)


Before immigrating to Australia in 1980, Pye taught in the American Title 1 Program for 10 years assessing school entry function and reading achievement, programming and individualising K-8 instruction, and writing yearly grant submissions. Her American teaching certifications are Reading Supervisor and Teacher of Perceptually Handicapped and Early Childhood. Her NSW certifications are Teacher Infants, Primary Special Education and Support Teacher Learning Difficulties and Reading. Pye has taught at and assisted with research projects for The Autistic Association NSW and supervised students at the Children’s Centre University of Sydney. She has also worked in schools on the identification of and intervention for children with learning difficulties. For over 25 years Pye has worked in the LD sector primarily in the areas of advocacy, disseminating information (written articles, presentations at conferences, and workshops), and writing Federal and State grant submissions and responses to inquiries. She has worked with The Learning Difficulties Coalition NSW, SPELD NSW, and AUSPELD - including running a national speaking tour – and has represented these organisations at the NSW Department of Education (DET). Her PhD research included a three year longitudinal validation of The Kindergarten Screening Instrument, with combined samples totalling 776 children screened early in the year and 833 children screened late in the year from 15 city, suburban or rural NSW schools; with a full scale Alpha reliability coefficient of .91. 


Secretary and Convenor of the Administration Committee

Dr Molly de Lemos

BSc (Hons), MSc (Natal), PhD (ANU), MAPsS


Molly de Lemos 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 and Website Editor

Margaret Cameron

BA (NZ), Dip. Teach (Deaf), Dip. Ed. (Excep Children) (Qld). M Ed. (Uni SA)


Margaret Cameron is currently Senior Lecturer in Education at Tabor Adelaide, with responsibility for courses in literacy and special needs. 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 to Adelaide. She worked as a SPELD tutor, Literacy Co-ordinator and teacher in SA before moving into teacher education at Tabor Adelaide. Her teaching areas include special needs and literacy teaching, as well as academic support for pre-service teachers. Margaret has served on LDA Council for three years, for the last two years working on the website committee. In Adelaide, the two LDA council members liaise closely with SPELD for some projects. She has written several articles and book reviews for the Bulletin.


Council Member

Professor Anne Castles

PhD (Macquarie), BSc (ANU)


Anne Castles is Research Professor of Psychology at Macquarie University and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD). She completed her PhD on varieties of developmental dyslexia at Macquarie University in 1993 and was a teaching and research academic in the Psychology Department at the University of Melbourne from 1994-2006. She has a strong research interest in variability within the reading-impaired population, and in the causes of different types of dyslexia, including genetic, perceptual and language factors. She is also interested in the process of normal reading development and in particular in the mechanism by which whole-word recognition skills are acquired by children learning to read. She is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Research in Reading and serves on the Editorial Boards of Scientific Studies of Reading and Cognitive Neuropsychology. She is also committed to translating her research into good educational and clinical practice, and has recently developed the Macquarie Online Test Interface (MOTIf; www.motif.org.au) to provide teachers and clinicians with access to theoretically-based online tests of reading and spelling.


Council Member and Convenor of the Consultants Committee

Sue de Araugo

Dip.Teaching (Toorak TC), Grad. Dip. Teaching (I.T), (Deakin),  M.Ed (Special Education,  Melb.)

Sue de Araugo has been a consultant member of LDA since 1998, and became a member of the Consultant Policy Committee in 2011.  She qualified as a teacher in 1972, and completed an M.Ed. in Special Education at Melbourne University in 1996.  She has taught for many years in both country and metropolitan schools.  After teaching at the early primary level at Canterbury Primary School, Sue moved into Reading Recovery and Special Education.  She is also a qualified MultiLit tutor.  Sue will be taking on the role of Convenor of the Consultants Committee in the 2011/2012 Council.


Council Member

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 Bachelor of Education in Special Education and in 1998 was awarded her PhD 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.  She was a Senior Lecturer in Special Education at the Queensland University of Technology before taking up the position of Associate Professor in Literacy Education and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Education at the University of Tasmania, in Launceston, in January 2010.  She continues to add 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.  


Council Member, Convenor of the Publications Committee, Executive Editor of LDA and Joint Editor of the Journal

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, curriculum-based measurement of reading, effective reading instruction and preschool literacy. Several years ago, Alison participated in the Visiting International Faculty Program, and taught disadvantaged students with learning disabilities in South Carolina, USA. At present, she also works as a senior consultant to the MULTILIT Cape York Project, a project involving increasing the literacy levels of indigenous students.


Council Member

Professor Lyndsey Nickels

BA (Reading), PhD (London)


Lyndsey Nickels moved to academia after several years working as a speech therapist in various London hospitals. Her research career started at Birkbeck College, University of London, where she obtained her PhD in 1992. She moved to Macquarie University in 1996, initially as a visiting Research Fellow on a Wellcome Trust Fellowship, and in 1999 took up an Australian Research Council QEII Fellowship, followed by an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship in 2006. Her research interests are in the area of the cognitive neuropsychology of language, where she investigates language impairments (both developmental and acquired as a result of brain damage) and uses these to test the adequacy of cognitive models of language comprehension and production. These models are used to inform our understanding of language impairments and how best to remediate them. Her interests also encompass the assessment and treatment of acquired language impairment (aphasia) and impaired literacy (dyslexia) in children and adults. Her research has covered the study of acquired sentence processing disorders and their remediation, impairments and remediation of word production disorders, treatment of developmental reading and spelling problems (dyslexia and dysgraphia), as well the experimental investigation of word production in non-impaired speakers. Lyndsey is committed to ensuring that research into the remediation of disorders of language is translated into more effective practice by clinicians and teachers and benefits for children and adults with impairments of language and literacy.


Council Member

Dr Barbara Nielsen

DipT, BEd, MEdSt, PhD


Barbara Nielsen is currently a lecturer in the School of Education at Flinders University in Adelaide. She has 20 years of classroom teaching and school administration experience and this underpins her research interests and informs her current teaching in the undergraduate programs for junior primary and primary teachers. Her areas of expertise include: literacy, English, inclusive teaching methodologies, the expressive arts and assessment, recording and reporting. She began her research projects with case studies of children who, although clever, were struggling with reading and writing. Her PhD thesis is entitled Researching Learning Difficulties in Literacy and addresses issues about researching learning difficulties as well as establishing possible causes of learning difficulties in literacy and the subsequent implications for teaching from the perspective of the classroom teacher. She has developed an epidemiological perspective for understanding and researching learning difficulties and a case study methodology for teachers to use with individual children. Barbara is interested in all aspects of literacy learning and teaching, including the use of a literacy framework for the teaching of second languages.


Council Member

Janet Roberts

BA (English), GradDip (SpEd), Cert. A, TITC


Jan Roberts is the Director of Learning Pathways. She is a specialist in primary and secondary students and adults with learning difficulties, teaching them how improve their skills in literacy and maths. She has presented many seminars on applying current literacy research to the classroom and helped teachers plan whole-school literacy programs. Jan is the author of various resources, including Spelling Recovery (ACER Press and David Fulton, UK); also a research-based, structured spelling program for primary and secondary levels and books on inferential comprehension and text analysis; and she co-edited, with Dr Edward de Bono, the Six Thinking Hats Manual for Education. She convened the LDA Melbourne conference in 2000 and strongly supports continuing PD for classroom teachers and consultants.


Council Member

Dr Nicole Todd

PhD (QUT), MA Special Education (Macquarie Uni), B.Ed. Special Education (UWA), BA Education/Psychology (UQ)


Nicole Todd is currently an education lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) at the Springfield Campus in Brisbane, and has been in this position for five years. Previously she was a special education lecturer for seven years at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).  Her focus is on inclusive education and, specifically, quality education for students with learning difficulties. She has taught in regular schools and special education settings involving students from 3 to 18 years of age across Australia and also in England. Her varied career in education includes being a consultant in learning assistance for the New South Wales Department of Education and Training as well as director of an education support centre assisting the local school community with students requiring additional assistance with learning. She recently completed her doctorate at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) on the influence of school culture on the role of the Learning Difficulties Support Teacher.  She also has an MA in Special Education from Macquarie University, a BEd in Special Education from the University of Western Australia, and a BA in Education/Psychology from the University of Queensland.  Nicole served for many years in the 1990s and early 2000s on the Committee of the Australian Association of Special Education (AASE).

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