PO Box 659, Wembley, Western Australia 6913
email: admin@spera.asn.au

Executive Team

Contact details for SPERA 2014-2015 Executive and Portfolio(s)

Brian O’Neill

President, AREA

Brian has been a teacher for thirty-three years and all of his experiences have been in rural schools, from as far north as Normanton in Queensland’s Gulf Country to Childers in the south. For the past fifteen years he has been the principal of the Calen District State College, a small rural P-12 school between Mackay and Proserpine.

Having completed a Bachelor of Education from James Cook University and a Master of Learning Management from CQUniversity Australia, he is currently researching for his Doctor of Education with CQUniversity. The focus of his phenomenographic study is the principals’ conceptions of success in rural P-12 schools.He has researched and written A Unique School in the Gulf, Taming the Isis and Education on the Baffle as well as Pathways to Effective Leadership, a training manual for the Australian Junior Chamber, and “Grace Hodge – Distinguished Scholar and Teacher” which is published in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. 

Brian is a past president and life member of the Queensland State P-10/P-12 School Administrators’ Association and is a member of Education Queensland’s Rural and Remote Education Reference Group. Brian is the President of SPERA.

    Sue Ledger

    Vice President, Journal Board

    Sue Ledger, Murdoch University. (Dip Ed –Primary/ECE, B.Ed, Grad Dip, M.Ed, PhD candidate) B.Ed Academic Course Advisor, Lecturer and Coordinator of School Experience at Murdoch University. Sue’s current teaching and research interests include: International Education, Rural and Remote Education, Literacy, Special Needs and Educational Policy. Sue previously co-authored 9 books in the ‘Snapshots of Asia’ series published by Curriculum Corporation. Sue has worked as a trainer for First Steps Literacy throughout Australia and overseas.

    She was awarded a Vice Chancellors Excellence in Teaching Award 2002 and has spent the last 6 years abroad working as in as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program Coordinator, Art teacher and multiage settings. Sue has recently returned to W.A to complete her PhD A glonacal approach to policy analysis – International Policy(IBPYP) enactment in remote Indonesian schools. She represents Murdoch University on a range of committees associated with Rural and Remote practicum’s and is chair of the combined universities’ W.A School experience committee. Sue has taught and held administrative positions in a wide range of rural and remote schools throughout WA and overseas.


      Don Boyd

      Strategic Direction

      Don Boyd left school at the end of Year 10 and completed a certificate courses at TAFE in Sheep and Wool and Wool Classing. He worked in the wool industry as a shed hand, shearer and wool classer. Don returned to study as a mature age student completing teacher qualifications and a BA (Social Science) while studying concurrently at the Western Australian Secondary Teachers College and the Western Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University of Technology). On graduating in 1975 Don taught in two Perth metropolitan schools and also did a stint in the Education Department’s Curriculum Branch. In 1983 he took up the position of Head of Department, Social Studies, at Eastern Goldfields Senior High School and has been involved in rural and remote education ever since. Don has been principal of Meekatharra and Wyalkatchem District High Schools, Newman and Gosnells Senior High Schools and WA’s post compulsory distance education school. In 1990 he was the Superintendent of the Moora Education District and in 1998 was appointed Director, Isolated and Distance Education. A desire to get back to the “grass roots” of rural and remote education saw Don return to the Pilbara in 2003 as Area Director.

      In 2006 Don was selected to work with the Fiji Education Sector supporting the Fiji Ministry of Education with their work in developing a process for school monitoring. On returning to Western Australia, Don was appointed Director, Rural and Remote Education with the Department of Education Services. Don currently manages his own consultancy specialising in rural, regional and remote education. In 1991 Don completed a Masters degree in educational management. He has had two short local histories published: Meekatharra, a glimpse of the past and The Iron Ore School; the History of Newman Primary School.

        Chris Reading


        Dr Chris Reading is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of New England (UNE). She has taught mathematics, statistics, mathematics education and ICT education at tertiary level, and mathematics and computing studies at secondary level. Chris was as founding member of the SiMERR National Research Centre at UNE and her research interests include statistics education and ICT education, especially in a rural setting. Chris has published widely in journals, served in editorial roles for both journals and conference proceedings, contributed to the organisation of a number of conferences, and led a number of research projects including the Teaching Teachers for the Future Project (TTF) at UNE.

          Rebecca McKenzie

          Executive Officer

          Rebecca is an experienced administrator currently working with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE). Since Graduating with a Bachelor in Agribusiness Rebecca has obtained more than 10 years operational and project management experience working in WA’s Agricultural and Biosecurity public sector’s.


            Phil Roberts


            Phil is an Assistant Professor in Curriculum Studies at the University of Canberra. Before joining UC, Philip was a classroom teacher and Head Teacher for 14 years in rural NSW Public High schools. He has also held various positions in the teachers’ union, curriculum board and teacher registration authority. Philip is chief investigator for the Towards Place Based Education in the Murray-Darling Basin project. In 2013 he was a recipient of the Vice-Chancellors award for Teaching Excellence.

            Philip has completed major national research projects in the staffing of rural and remote schools and managed large-scale school based research projects. His major ongoing research interest is how teachers situate the curriculum and how spatial theories are incorporated into educational thinking. From this, Philip has developed three interconnected areas of research, rural education, curriculum hierarchies and historical thinking, that are connected through a focus on place and the interests of the least powerful in our society. Philip has an ongoing concern about quality and equity in education and works to disrupt the meta-narratives that have dominated, and hijacked, these import fields through the application of critical theory and spatial justice.

              Sue Trinidad

              Student Equity in Higher Education

              Sue is the Director of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin University. Sue was previously Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin during 2007-2012. In these roles she provided academic leadership for all educational programs for the Schools of Education, Media, Communications, Creative Arts, Architecture, Social Sciences and Asian Languages and Art and Design. Her role included overseeing the academic programs and leading the Higher Education Equity Participation Program for a large faculty which had many LSES, Indigenous and regional students.

                Charles Bradley

                Public Officer

                Charles is a long-time SPERA supporter and contributor of non-refereed papers to the Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, having written more recently on the topics of political processes and distance learning.

                  Natalie Downes

                  Pre-Service Portfolio, AREA

                  Natalie is currently a research assistant at the University of Canberra. The projects she has worked on mainly focus on rurality and schooling, and include the project Towards Place Based education in the Murray-Darling Basin. In 2014 she completed her Honours thesis focusing on the experiences of parent supervisors of distance education primary school students and graduated with first class honours.  This work has a particular focus upon the cultural politics of schooling for rural students. Her research interests include rural distance education, rural-regional sustainability, parents in education, and curriculum inquiry.

                  She is also currently employed as the University of Canberra Faculty of ESTEM research officer and has previously worked in peer-assisted tutoring and in the assessment of student work in both the undergraduate and post graduate teacher education courses. In addition to this she organises an international post-graduate study group for students interested in rural education. Natalie will soon commence further post-graduate studies in the field of rural distance education.

                      Dorothy Donovan


                      Dorothy has been a staff member of Calen District College for sixteen years, first twelve years of which she was a teacher aide while she began her journey to becoming a teacher. Dorothy graduated from the University of New England with a Bachelor Arts/ Bachelor Education and became a permanent teacher at Calen. She has continued her professional learning by adding a Postgraduate degree in Specialist Education which she will finished this year.

                      Dorothy takes on a number of roles, firstly as Head of Specialist Education at Calen District State College and Bloomsbury State School where she works with the diverse learners in achieving equitable education. Secondly, as Dorothy is indigenous who is well-respected and accepted as an elder in the community. She embeds indigenous themes throughout the school. For example students in the art department design indigenous works for NAIDOC, DILLI SABI and cultural events. Mondays are the day where Indigenous and non-indigenous students experience Aboriginal tucker, queuing up for their free lunch. Traditional Indigenous dance also provides a cultural experience for all students who wish to participate. Dorothy also liaises with the media and history department to produce Aboriginal music, videos, and other digital productions.

                        Melyssa Fuqua

                        AAAE Representative, Pre-Service Portfolio, AREA

                        Melyssa Fuqua is currently a PhD candidate at Monash University, exploring how rural context impacts on careers educators’ professional identity and practice.  Originally from western Massachusetts, USA, Melyssa moved to Australia after completing her Bachelor of Arts in the Classics at Trinity College to earn her Diploma of Education (Secondary) at the University of Melbourne.  She has also completed a Master in School Leadership at Monash University.


                        Melyssa has been a teacher in a rural Victorian P-12 school for 10 years, where her interests and passion for rural education grew.  Melyssa taught across many disciplines and year levels, but was mainly a Humanities, English, and Psychology teacher in the senior school.  She also held a number of leadership positions within her school and was an active participant in the regional careers education association.  Her role as Pathways Coordinator, where she oversaw the delivery of the Victorian Certificate of Education and managed careers education, sparked her doctoral research. 

                            Louise Martin

                            ICPA Representative

                            Louise lives on a sheep and cattle property, 30kms from Tambo. Born and raised in the Augathella district, Louise studied via correspondence through Charleville School of the Air during primary school before going on to board at Stuartholme for years 8-12 and heading to Longreach Pastoral College.

                            After years of “jillarooing” and travelling overseas, Louise moved to Tambo seventee years ago to take on a position as the bookkeeper/cattle manager at Lansdowne, a position she held for ten years. Louise has always played an active role in the community, serving on the Tambo Stock Show Executive for ten years, and was Treasurer of the Tambo Polocrosse Club for five years. She is currently the President of the Tambo Arts Council, member of the local RADF committee, Convenor of the local book club, ICPA Queensland branch Treasurer, SPERA Executive member, and Vice President of the ICPA Queensland State Council, for which she manages the Financial Assistance portfolio.