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

Executive Team

Contact details for SPERA  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). Associate Dean of Engagement and School Partnership at Murdoch’s School of Education. Sue’s teaching and research interests include: policy, practices and issues related to teaching and learning to teach diverse contexts: International Education, Rural and Remote Education. She is currently exploring the use of mixed reality learning environments to better prepare preservice and teachers for these contexts. Since her PhD she explores convergence and divergence between rural and international schooling.

    She represents Murdoch University on a range of committees associated with Rural and Remote . Teaching and Learning and International Education. Sue has taught and held administrative positions in a wide range of rural and remote schools throughout WA and overseas.





      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.

        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.

          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.

            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.


                Wilbur (Charlie) Klein


                Having  lived and worked in remote communities for 20 years as a teacher and school leader in WA, Charlie has a demonstrated passion and commitment to Remote Indigenous Education. This has included time in the Kimberley and Desert regions in a range of schools, from establishing  a one teacher school to leading a remote District High School. Charlie presently lives and works in Tjuntjuntjara as the teaching Principal 660km east of Kalgoorlie in Spinifex Country. The core of Charlie’s work and leadership is the engagement of the school community in the ongoing operation and development of the school. The platform for the schools operation is a Community Education Agreement that articulates the expectations the community have of the school and education generally in the community. It is also characterised by innovative collaborations with the local Spinifex Rangers  to establish “Two Way Science”, with the Indigenous literacy Foundation to hold  a Spinifex Writers Camp and a yearly  Notre Dame Service Immersion Camp for training teachers. In 2017 he was  selected as one of the twelve inaugural fellows in the Commonwealth Bank’s National Teaching Awards recognising the leadership and work Charlie has  demonstrated in collaboration within the Tjuntjuntjara School Community in making a positive difference in the lives of Spinifex children and families. In 2018 Charlie was recognised in the top 50 teachers in the Global Teacher Prize, a world-wide prize established by the Varkey Foundation.

                  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.

                      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.

                                Unn-Doris K. Bæck

                                Europe Representative

                                Unn-Doris K. Bæck works as a professor of sociology at UiT Arctic University of Norway, Department of Social Sciences. Bæck’s main research interests lie within the fields of sociology of education and sociology of youth, with a special focus on social and spatial inequalities. One of her main research interests has to do with the spatial dimension in education research and she has conducted a number of studies on educational and occupational preferences, choices and trajectories, especially focusing on youth residing in rural settings.

                                Bæck’s approach to spatial dimensions in educational research is founded in empirical (sociological) studies of educational achievements and trajectories. In addition to the spatial dimension she seeks to untangle the intersections between space, class, gender and ethnicity. As for methodological approaches she has expertise in mixed methods approaches, as she has conducted qualitative interview studies in combination with cross-sectional and longitudinal statistical analyses of survey and register data. Bæck has also conducted comparative studies in a number of different countries.

                                Bæck is currently research group chair of the research group “Space and Time in Education”. She is also managing a research project on the interconnections between social practices of schools and students’ social and cultural resources in different contexts, titled “RUR-ED Spatial Inequalities and Spatial Justice in Education”.

                                Please see Bæck’s web site for further information and an overview of publications and projects.