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13th Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect

Keynote Speakers

Listed in alphabetical order by surname

Gill Callister

Secretary, Victorian Department of Human Services

Gill Callister

Gill Callister commenced as Secretary of Victoria’s Department of Human Services in August 2009.

Gill has had a long career in human services in both the public and community sectors. She began her career with a ten-year stint in the community sector, working with children, young people and families.

Gill commenced with the Department of Human Services in the early 1990s and has held responsibilities across the child protection, community services and mental health programs.

As Executive Director for the related portfolios, Gill has lead major policy, legislative and service delivery reforms for the child protection, family services and mental health systems in Victoria. She was Deputy Secretary at Skills Victoria prior to her current appointment as Secretary.

Gill holds Bachelor degrees in Arts and Social Work with Honours. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria) and a Board Member of Swinburne University Council.

Gill is passionate about social justice and improving public policy and service delivery and she is a frequent public speaker on these issues. She is steadfast in her commitment to the St Kilda Football Club, adores her family and enjoys cooking, camping and fashion.

Associate Professor Eileen Cummings

Eileen Cummings

Eileen Cummings is a Rembarrnga Ngalakan woman born in Central Arnhem Land and is a member of the ‘Stolen Generation’ having been taken from her mother as a young girl to live on Croker Island. The first Indigenous person to qualify as a pre-school teacher in the Northern Territory, Eileen later worked in policy development and program management, adult education and research and evaluation. She has a long history in engaging community members in Indigenous family violence programs and has done substantial work in Alice Springs and surrounding communities. Widely known for her humanitarian work and respected by Indigenous women and communities across the Territory, she has received an NT award for her contribution to women’s issues. A mother of three, grandmother of ten and great-grandmother of three, she is still active in research and advocacy, although her focus has been shifting to supporting development of a new generation of Indigenous researchers and evaluators. In 2013 she ran as a candidate for the House of Representatives in the Federal Seat of Solomon for the Australian First Nation’s Political Party. She is a Board Director of the Northern Territory Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation and is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at The Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University.

Justice Peter McClellan AM

Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Peter McClellan

Justice Peter McClellan AM is a Judge of Appeal in New South Wales. Prior to this, Justice McClellan was the Chief Judge at Common Law of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, having been appointed to that position in 2005. Before that appointment, he held judicial and other appointments including Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, Chairman of the Sydney Water Inquiry and Assistant Commissioner at the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Justice McClellan was admitted to practice law in 1974 and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1985. Justice McClellan became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2011 for services to the judiciary through the Supreme Court of NSW, to environmental law, and to legal education.

Professor Louise Newman

Professor of Developmental Psychiatry and Director, Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology

Louise Newman is the Professor of Developmental Psychiatry and Director of the Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology. Prior to this appointment she was the Chair of Perinatal and Infant Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle and the previous Director of the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry. In January 2011 she was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Louise Newman

She is a practising infant psychiatrist with expertise in the area of disorders of early parenting and attachment difficulties in infants. She has undertaken research into the issues confronting parents with histories of early trauma and neglect. Her current research is focussing on the evaluation of infant-parent interventions in high-risk populations, the concept of parental reflective functioning in mothers with borderline personality disorder and the neurobiology of parenting disturbance

She has published in the areas of infant mental health, attachment disorders trauma, and prevention of child abuse. She is co-author of the textbooks Clinical Skills in Infant Mental Health and Contemporary Approaches in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

She is the Convenor of the Alliance of Health Professions for Asylum Seekers and an advocate for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. She is a member of the Immigration Health Advisory Group an independent body providing advice to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on the health needs of asylum seekers. She has been involved in research into the impact of immigration detention on child asylum seekers.


Developmental Implications of Early Trauma – trauma informed care

Trauma during critical periods of development impacts both neurological and psychological development. Brain development and organisation and genetic expression, are directly impacted by stress-related hormones and these processes set up vulnerability to stress-related mental disorder. Trauma impacts the functioning of emerging stress regulatory systems creating ongoing vulnerability to later stresses. A developmental framework is important in understanding the impact of early trauma and adversity on a range of core neuropsychological processes.

Children experiencing trauma in the context of attachment relationships are at risk of developing difficulties in their understanding of mental states and the functioning of relationships. Early relational trauma establishes core difficulties with the regulation of feelings, coping with anxiety and interpersonal understanding. Deficits in reflective functioning – the ability to understand self and other in terms of mental states – underlies the significant difficulties in relationships and self-regulation seen in some traumatised individuals Lack of recognition and understanding of trauma issues can result in inappropriate ‘diagnosis’ of mental disorders and failure to address underlying trauma-related issues. Trauma-informed interventions focus on rebuilding sense of security, narrative and emotional regulation and are based on an integrated biological and psychological approach.

Paul Nixon

Chief Social Worker, Child, Youth and Family, New Zealand

Paul Nixon

Paul Nixon is Chief Social Worker for Child, Youth and Family, in the Ministry of Social Development in New Zealand. Paul is originally from the UK and has worked for more than 23 years in Child Welfare and protection, always in a statutory setting.

Paul and his family, Nici, Carys, Haydn and Rhianna and Murphy their dog live in Wellington. Paul always been interested and inspired by practice and innovations from New Zealand, particularly Family Group Conferences, Restorative Justice, and Whanau / Kinship Care. Previously Paul was Head of Social Work services in North Yorkshire, England.Paul has written a number of books on Social Work and numerous articles and chapters. He has provided training and consultancy on Social Work around the world. He and his family are enjoying being in New Zealand.


Child Protection in Aotearoa New Zealand: Change and innovation with children, family / whanau, community and government

This presentation will describe and analyse changes and innovations in policy and practice in Aotearoa New Zealand which are shifting the dynamic between family, community, iwi and the state in the care and protection of children. New accountabilities across government agencies are being mandated to improve holistic and interconnected outcomes for children at risk; while practice development is creating new local partnerships with Maori hapu and iwi. A community level development is engaging a range of stakeholders in partnerships around children and revitalising indigenous practice models - in particular hui-a-whanau and Family Group Conferences. This paper will describe this work and analyse its potential effects.

Professor Stephen Smallbone

Director, Griffith Youth Forensic Service, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University

 Stephen Smallbone

Stephen Smallbone is a psychologist and Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University, Director of Griffith Youth Forensic Service, and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. His recent publications include the books Situational Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse (Wortley & Smallbone, 2006, Criminal Justice Press), Child Pornography on the Internet (Wortley & Smallbone, 2006, U.S. Dept of Justice), Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: Evidence, Policy and Practice (Smallbone, Marshall, & Wortley, 2008, Willan), and Internet Child Pornography: Causes, Investigation, and Prevention (Wortley & Smallbone, 2012, Praeger). His current projects include empirical investigations of the development, onset and progression of youth and adult sexual offending, developing and testing an ecological field-based intervention model for adjudicated youth sexual offenders, and the implementation and evaluation of place-based strategies for preventing sexual violence and abuse. He is the incoming editor (from 2014) of The Journal of Sexual Aggression.


Situational prevention of sexual abuse

In this presentation I consider how situational crime prevention concepts and methods can be applied to the prevention of sexual abuse. Essentially, situational prevention aims to shift the motivational balance for would-be abusers by making sexual abuse more risky, more effortful, less permissible, and less rewarding. Whereas conventional person-centred approaches aim to reduce risk in a limited number of known (or potential) offenders or victims, situational prevention aims to make specific environments safer for everyone. I argue that situational prevention can be applied both to prevent abuse before it would otherwise occur (primary and secondary prevention) and to prevent recidivism and re-victimisation for known offenders and victims (tertiary prevention).

Dr Adam Tomison

Director, Australian Institute of Criminology

Adam Tomison

Dr Tomison was appointed Director of the AIC in July 2009. He is internationally recognised as an expert in the field of child abuse, the prevention of child abuse and other family violence, and the development and operation of child protection and family support systems. An experienced public service executive, he has worked over the past two decades with a range of government, non-government organisations and advocacy groups focused on child protection and child abuse prevention in Australia and overseas. Prior to his appointment with the AIC he was Head of the Child Protection Program at the Menzies School of Health Research. From 2004 to 2008 he held various senior executive positions within the Northern Territory Department of Health and Families, including as Director of the Northern Territory’s Family and Children’s Services, and as the Department’s inaugural Principal Child Protection Adviser in 2004. In 2006-07 Dr Tomison acted as the expert advisor (and Director of Policy and Research) for the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ NT Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse. He became well-known for his work as a senior researcher with the Australian Institute of Family Studies, managing the National Child Protection Clearinghouse. Under his leadership, the Clearinghouse became a centre for excellence with a national and international reputation in the field of child abuse prevention and child protection. He subsequently developed a number of other national research and information units for the Institute, notably the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault. Dr Tomison has made significant academic contributions to scholarly and applied research in the areas of child protection and violence prevention, and was appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the Australian Catholic University in 2010. He is a frequent presenter at conferences and has regularly run educational and training seminars for professionals and the wider community.

Hon. Mary Wooldridge MP

State Member for Doncaster, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Disability Services and Reform

Mary Wooldridge

Mary Wooldridge was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 2006 representing the electorate of Doncaster. With her appointment as a Minister following the election of the Coalition

Government in November 2010, Mary immediately set an ambitious agenda of reform and improvement across her portfolios.

Mary has been at the forefront of the Coalition Government’s major overhaul of the state child protection system, securing a full roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Victoria, whole-of-government action plans in alcohol and drugs and family violence and reform of community mental health and alcohol and drug treatment systems.

Mary continues to work hard to ensure services are effectively meeting the varied needs of Victoria’s vulnerable families and individuals.

Prior to being elected to Parliament, Mary was CEO of The Foundation for Young Australians, a Senior Adviser to the Federal Minister for Industry, worked in New York with McKinsey & Company and with Consolidated Press Holdings in Sydney.

Mary has a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from the University of Melbourne. Mary lives in her Doncaster electorate with her husband, Andrew Barling, and their young son.

Related links

Watch presentations from this event on CriminologyTV, the AIC's official youtube channel