Our Team

This project  continues the collaboration of an experienced team who bring considerable expertise in complementary fields.

Website_Pics - McGinty_cropProf. Sue McGinty is a Professor in the School of Indigenous Australian Studies at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia. Her research centers on school community relations and community capacity building in that context. Her current project examines the value of flexible learning for young people and the Australian community. Past projects include science education for disengaged young people; a digital history of the Gugu Badhun Aboriginal people, An evaluation of young Indigenous parent programs. Other past projects include an investigation into retention to year twelve or equivalent for Indigenous students, and teacher education preparation and professional development for teaching Indigenous students. In the last five years she has obtained six nationally competitive grants to examine ways of reengaging young people who have disengaged from schooling, and to create digital repositories for Indigenous histories. She has published many papers in her field of research. She has been a successful supervisor of graduate students winning an Australian Learning and Teaching Program Award for Postgraduate Teaching and Supervision in 2009, and the JCU Excellence in supervision Award 2010.

Dr. Riccardo WeltersA/Prof. Riccardo Welters is a senior lecturer in Economics and Marketing at James Cook University. He obtained his Masters degree at the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands in August 1997. After completing his Masters degree, Riccardo was engaged as a Research Fellow at the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), which is based at the University of Maastricht. He subsequently received scholarship support to pursue a PhD study at the University of Maastricht, titled “Efficiency of Employment Subsidies & Firms’ Recruitment Strategies”. Riccardo completed his doctoral dissertation in May 2005.

He then accepted a Fellowship at the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), which is located at the University of Newcastle in Australia. Subsequently he accepted a position at JCU early 2008. While at JCU, he has furthered his research agenda in areas relating to socio-economic disadvantage.

He also lead consultancy projects for Advance Cairns (FIFO workforce in Cairns: Perspectives from FIFO workers and potential FIFO workers – 2012); for Townsville Enterprise Limited (Has Townsville ‘come of age? – 2011 and North East Minerals Province Economic Potential – 2010) and for the Australian Defence Organisation (A holistic analysis of the socio-economic impact of the Australian Defence Organisation and its interaction with the city of Townsville – 2009).

Associate Professor Brian LewthwaiteProf. Brian Lewthwaite is a Professor and Director of Research Education in the College of Arts, Society and Education at James Cook University. His educational career started at as a mathematics, chemistry and biology teacher in northern Canada followed by twelve years of science and mathematics teaching and administration in New Zealand. He started his work in teacher education in 1993 as a Senior Lecturer and adminstrator at Palmerston North College of Education followed by Massey University College of Education. From 2002-2012 he worked as an Associate Professor and Professor at the University of Manitoba where he also served as the Co-Director for the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Research, Youth, Science Teaching and Learning.

Brian’s primary research focus has been in the area of science education with specific focus on pre-service and in-service teacher development. Of particular concern for Brian has been the attention given to ensuring the educational experience provided for Indigenous students is located consistent with local community and self-determining priorities for education rather than being mandated by nationalistic goals.

He has written in excess of 70 refereed scholarly papers, 15 book chapters, secured, with collaborators, in excess of $6,000,000 in research funding and, in the past five years worked in collaboration with teachers for a total of 90 professional development days.

Website_Pics - te Riele_cropProf. Kitty te Riele is Principal Research Fellow and Professor in the Victoria Institute at Victoria University Melbourne.  Kitty’s research is focused on ways in which schooling can better engage the most disadvantaged young people in our community, with a special interest in flexible learning options (FLOs). In particular, Kitty’s research, publications and community service contribute to a knowledge base about educational initiatives aimed at empowering marginalised young people to achieve school-based qualifications.

These interests began with Kitty’s PhD research, an ethnographic study of two year 10-12 ‘second chance’ schools in NSW. After graduating with this PhD from the University of Sydney, Kitty has conducted several research projects with other FLOs, especially in New South Wales and Victoria. From 2012-2014 Kitty conducted a national research project aimed at mapping FLO provision nationally as well as exploring what works and how they work. Various results from that project are available through Dusseldorp Forum. Kitty has given many presentations to practitioner audiences, for example the national conference of the Australians Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) and a local conference of the Central Coast (NSW) alternative education forum.

Valda WallaceValda Wallace is a Gugu Badhun woman; her father’s people come from the Valley of Lagoons cattle station north of Greenvale and her mother’s people are South Sea Islanders. She grew up on the Atherton Tablelands and moved to Darwin in 1979 with her family where she spent twelve years working at the Royal Darwin Hospital, prior to transferring to the Northern Territory Police Service in the first squad of Police Auxiliaries. During the ten years Val worked for the Police Service, she spent four years working in the Domestic Violence Unit and three years in the Indigenous Policing Development Unit. Val returned to Cairns in 2002 where she worked for the Department of Families for six months before acquiring her current position with the School of Indigenous Australian Studies at James Cook University, Cairns Campus. Val’s academic qualifications include an Associate Diploma of Education (Adult/Vocational), Bachelor of Teaching (Adult/Vocational) and a Master of Indigenous Studies. Val is also a Facilitator of the Family Wellbeing Program and her interests include Indigenous Education, Indigenous Road Safety and Domestic/Family Violence.

Hurriyet BabacanProf. Hurriyet Babacan is a recognised international scholar. She is currently Senior Academic Advisor to Strategic Projects Unit and Professor of Social Work and Development at the University of New England, Australia. Prior to that, she was the Foundation Director of the Cairns Institute, at James Cook University a research and development institute across 20 academic discipline areas. Professor Babacan has a distinguished career over the last 30 years in senior executive and leadership roles in higher education, public administration, and research and training. She is a visiting scholar and adjunct professor at a number of universities in Australia and overseas.

Hurriyet has published widely in national and international publications on a range of issues key social and economic issues including governance and management, cultural diversity, gender, health, economic and community development. She has authored numerous books and articles including two publications for UNESCO. She has delivered keynote presentation at numerous national and international conferences. She has served on numerous ministerial and expert advisory committees. She has been a member of two working parties for the Council of Europe/OECD on measuring well being and social progress. Professor Babacan has led numerous national and international leadership, research and development projects, particularly in the Asia -Pacific.

Hurriyet has been recognised for her work through a number of awards including the Member of Order of Australia (MA) in 2014, Bi-Centenary Medal awarded by the Prime Minister, 2002 and the Multicultural Services Award by the Premier of Queensland. Hurriyet was the Queensland State Finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Award in the for Government and Public Service category in 2003.

Dr. George Myconos

Dr. George Myconos joined the Brotherhood of St Laurence in 2009. Previously, he researched theories of globalization, labour history, and changing forms of global governance. George has also researched values education, faith-based schools, and the role of intercultural dialogue in secondary schools. He is currently exploring the extent to which Victoria’s education system, and emerging alternative education programs, assist disengaged young people to gain education and training. Of particular interest is how alternative education programs and the VET system interact and how well they accommodate the needs of disadvantaged students. He is overseeing the BSL’s contribution to an Australia-wide ARC Linkage project seeking to determine the effectiveness of alternative education programs for young people who have left mainstream education.

Current research projects Youth disengagement Applied/adult learning approaches as a response to disengagement Young learners in the VET system Evaluations of alternative education programs such as ‘Community VCAL’ Effectiveness of alternative education programs

Previous research areas of expertise include: Education and intercultural relations Values Education Schools-community partnerships Social inclusion Theories of international relations Theories of globalization Labour relations Ideology.

Dr. Kimberley Wilson holds a Bachelor in Education degree with postgraduate qualifications in Community Development. She has recently completed her doctoral studies at James Cook University, Townsville. Her work with charitable and not-for-profit organisations including The Smith Family has involved working very closely with families experiencing disadvantage and has required the development of an understanding of how to support and encourage the education of children and youth from diverse backgrounds. Kimberley has been supporting the curriculum projects of the Youth+ Edmund Rice Education Australia Flexible Learning Centres since 2008. She has published a number of articles, co-authored a book chapter and presented at national and international education conferences around the topic of more effectively engaging youth in education through a responsive and flexible curriculum approach.

Mark Thomas

Joseph (Mark) Thomas After completing his BA in Business Administration from the University of Colorado in 2001, Mark relocated to the Middle East in order to pursue a better understanding of the enduring Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Throughout the last decade, he has coordinated an innovative educational collaboration to connect students in the United States and Canada with their counterparts in the Middle East, including the occupied Palestinian territory, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria and Israel. in 2014, Mark relocated to Townsville with his wife, Naama, and son, Liam. He is currently undertaking his PhD with support from supervisors Dr. Riccardo Welters and Associate Professor Brian Lewthwaite.

Mark’s PhD research queries the policies and praxis of neoliberalization in Australia’s flexible learning sector. Amidst the rapid neoliberalization of Australian education, there is mounting demand to substantiate FLOs’ ability to improve students’ long-term economic outcomes. This study considers the influence of the neoliberal valuation paradigm upon FLO goal setting, program design, beneficiary selection, and program cycle management. Propensity score matching is proposed to enhance economic valuations of flexible learning and strengthen the empirical basis for educational policymaking in Australia.

Luke SwainLuke Swain completed his Masters of Social Policy in 2013 at the University of Melbourne. During that time he completed an internship at the BSL where he wrote an impressive working paper on how volunteering affected future employment outcomes for young people. Since completing his Masters, he has been working (with Kitty) on two projects at the Victoria Institute at Victoria University. One is funded for the Ian Potter Foundation and explores options for marginalised young people for completing secondary schooling through flexible and/or alternative learning programs. The second project is an evaluation of the Melbourne Citymission flexible learning centres.

Dr. Jyotirmoy PodderDr. Jyotirmoy Podder, Lecturer at Torrens University Australia, completed his PhD in Accounting and Finance from Monash University Australia. He also holds a Bachelor of Accounting (Honours) and Master of Accounting, University of Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand). He has published articles and presented at national and international conferences in the area of Accounting and Finance. Recently, he has worked on research projects on the rule of law and education in emerging economies.