Learning Difficulties Australia


LDA COUNCIL 2013-2014

President: Dr Molly de Lemos
Vice-President: Dr Lorraine Hammond
Vice-President: Jan Roberts
Treasurer: Dr Pye Twaddell
Secretary: Alison McMurtrie

Dr Molly de Lemos
BSc (Hons), MSc (Natal), PhD (ANU), MAPsS
President and Convenor of the Administration Committee
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. She has been a member of LDA since 2004, and was also Secretary of LDA from 2004 to 2012. Molly was the recipient of the 2012 Mona Tobias Award.

Dr Lorraine Hammond
B.Ed (ECU), Post Grad Dip SpLD (RSA) London, M. SpLD (Middlesex), PhD (ECU)
Vice-President and Convenor of the Professional Development Committee
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.

 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.

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.

Alison McMurtrie
BPrim Ed, PGDip SPLD, MSpecEd
Alison McMurtrie is currently working for MultiLit as Product Development Manager and Senior Trainer.  She has a wealth of teaching and training experience in the area of literacy and literacy difficulties. After obtaining her teaching degree from the University of Cape Town, she studied for a postgraduate diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties at Kingston University and Dyslexia Action, London, UK (formerly Dyslexia Institute). She completed her Masters Degree in Special Education at Macquarie University in 2012 where she was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Academic Excellence as well as the 2012 Special Education Prize for Academic Excellence. During her career she has worked in a variety of settings, including the not-for-profit sector in London where she was involved in the setting up of dedicated literacy units in inner-city schools.  

Diane Barwood*
Professor Anne Castles
Alison Clarke*
Mary Delahunty
Pam Judge*
Dr Alison Madelaine
Dr Nicole Todd
Jo Whithear*
Dr Wendy Moore*
*New members of Council, 2013-2014

Diane Barwood
MEd (Spec Ed) Monash, Post Grad Cert Gifted, BEd (SpecEd), TSpTC, CFTE, CTE
Council Member and Convener of the Consultants Committee
Diane Barwood was President of LDA (then AREA) in 1998/99, and served on LDA Council from 1993 to 2000, serving as the Co-ordinator of PD and Convenor of the 1998 National AREA Conference, as well as co-editor (with Dr Daryl Greaves and Peter Jeffery) of several books of papers emanating from AREA/LDA conferences.  Currently an Educational Consultant, Diane is Convenor of LDA Consultants, a member of the LDA Consultants Support Group, and the Canterbury Consultants Network Group. As part of the TTR4L Group she participates in the presentation team demonstrating state of the art technology, and other resources, to support evidence-based methods to teachers and parents.  With vast experience across all systems, and levels, of Victorian education as teacher, principal, leader of staff development, individual differences co-ordinator and special education consultant, Diane has a rich background in learning, and the development of a love of life-long learning in her students.

Professor Anne Castles
PhD (Macquarie), BSc (ANU)
Council Member and Convener of Awards Committee
Anne Castles is Research Professor and Head of the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders. She completed her PhD on varieties of developmental dyslexia 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 serves on the Editorial Boards of Cortex, Scientific Studies of Reading, and the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. She is also committed to translating her research into good educational and clinical practice, and has 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.
Alison Clarke
B.App.Sci. (Sp. Path.), M.A. (App. Ling.), CTEFLA
Council Member
Alison has been a Speech Pathologist since 1988, and has worked in schools here and in the UK, the disability sector (Yooralla and SCOPE), the Royal Children's Hospital Autism Assessment Team, early intervention and private practice. In the last dozen years one of her areas of focus has been the literacy skills of students with Specific Language Impairment as well as children with spoken language in the average range but literacy difficulties, some of whom have been instructional casualties and others who have had more persistent difficulties with phonemic awareness, spelling pattern knowledge, word retrieval and/or phonological/working memory.  Alison has developed some teaching resources as well as information for parents, teachers and others about synthetic phonics on a website (spelfabet.com.au), which she hopes helps people find the large range of quality teaching resources available for low-progress readers, as well as setting absolute beginners up for literacy success. She is part of the DDOLL network as well as the Speech Pathologists in Education special interest group, and is keen that her profession actively advocates for evidence-based teaching and a Response to Intervention type approach to school children with literacy difficulties.

Mary Delahunty
TPTC, B.Ed, M.Ed, Certificate Ed planning for Special Needs (Monash)
Council Member
Mary Delahunty has worked in the field of Learning Difficulties/disabilities for many years as a Special Education Teacher and as a Student Services Officer in Schools.  She began her working life as a classroom teacher before moving to specialist areas in the 1990s. She is a member of the Student Services Southern Network team, and has spent the past 10 years as a professional volunteer at SPELD Victoria, serving as a Board member and Chairperson of the Professional Development Committee for most of that time, and also as a serving member of the Professional Computer and Technology Team. She has presented at many conferences, particularly in the area of Technology for students with Learning Difficulties, and has pioneered the use of voice recognition reading technology as part of the Soliloquy Reading Assistant program developed under the guidance of Marilyn Jager Adams. She has consistently pursued the use of multisensory pathways for children who are failing in the mainstream classroom.

Pam Judge
BA (Education) BEd, M (Spec) Ed, TESOL (Hong Kong)
Council Member
Pam has been a teacher for over 25 years, many of those years she has spent in roles that required her to work with students with Learning Difficulties. In 1996 Pam became a Deputy Principal in a Perth School and combined this with a school restructure to better cater for the high level of students with LD. This led to completion of a Masters Degree in Special Education. In 2002 she commenced a leadership position at an International School in Hong Kong as the Learning Support Co-ordinator and was instrumental in setting up a program at the Korean International School of Hong Kong to cater for a number of students in Hong Kong with LD’s who were unable to be catered for within the Chinese community.  Over a period of 10 years she worked in several schools in Hong Kong, including local Chinese schools, to inservice teachers on how to better cater for students and to offer alternative research informed methods of teaching students to read English.  In 2010 she completed a TESOL qualification at the Hong Kong Institute of Education with a Distinction for her Action Research into using Graphic Novels  to motivate low language  learners. Since returning to WA in 2011, she has worked as the Deputy Principal in a number of schools including hard to staff regional schools holding the portfolios of curriculum and students at educational risk. She has been instrumental in introducing explicit direct instruction, including SRA Direct Instruction programs such as Spelling Mastery and Corrective Reading. Pam has provided mentoring, modelling and instructional support to teachers to assist them to implement effective classroom strategies to support these students, the majority of whom also experience difficulties with literacy, numeracy, attention, and problem solving.

Dr Alison Madelaine
BA, Dip. Ed., Dip. Spec. Ed., PhD
Council Member, Convenor of the Publications Committee and Executive Editor of LDA Publications
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. She is also part of the MultiLit Research Unit.

Dr Wendy Moore
BA; Grad Dip Ed; Grad. Cert. Learn. Diff.; Grad. Dip. Psych; M.Ed., PhD
Council Member
Wendy’s professional and research interests lie at the nexus of learning difficulties, oral language development, and literacy acquisition. She has been teaching for 18 years in early childhood, primary and secondary settings. She is currently the literacy/language coordinator at a school which provides specialist programs for students with specific language impairments, and is also part of the Outreach team providing consultation support and professional development to teachers in mainstream schools. Over the last 10 years, she has pursued postgraduate studies and independent research in this area. She has recently completed her PhD thesis, which has investigated the use of explicit instructional techniques to support vocabulary acquisition for students in low SES schools.

Dr Nicole Todd
PhD (QUT), MA Special Education (Macquarie Uni), B.Ed. Special Education (UWA), BA Education/Psychology (UQ)
Council Member
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).

Jo Whithear
MA Special Education (Newcastle)
Council Member
Jo lives in Canberra and has been a consultant member of LDA for a number of years. She began teaching 25 years ago initially with primary and then secondary students. She completed her Masters of Special Education from Newcastle University in 2008 and has completed a postgraduate certificate in Research Methods (Special Ed) from Macquarie University. Her intention is to pursue doctoral research in the areas of spelling difficulties, adolescent literacy and/or reading fluency. Jo is currently Director of the Canberra Reading Clinic. She administers reading assessments and her teachers/tutors deliver evidence-based reading programs, primarily for students with dyslexia. In 2012/3 she was a member of the ACT Minister’s Taskforce on Children with Learning Difficulties. She has been establishing a charitable organisation DSA (Dyslexia SPELD ACT) with a colleague for the past 18 months and is the Clinical Director. She is excited to work with both LDA and DSA to ensure that those who struggle with learning for whatever reason have equal access to support and services in the ACT.


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