I was always interested in the humanities and social sciences rather than straight sciences, and in high school I also developed an interest in Australian history and Indigenous issues. The other direction I was encouraged to follow in school was more creative – art and languages. In terms of a career path, I felt there was more to contribute through psychology, initially as a clinician, and later through developing resources to train and support other professionals. However, I’m lucky to have found a way of working on the creative side as well – through publication design, and the development of engaging resources for parents and professionals. This can mean working with graphic designers on books (practitioner manuals and parent workbooks), camera crews and post-production editors on television and DVD resources, and web developers and e-learning specialists for online programs.
I think you need to have a true interest in people, why they are in the situation they are in, where they would like to be, and what can be done to support them and help them change life for the better.
Over the past 20 years my research has spanned projects relating to the prevention and treatment of a variety of childhood behavioural and emotional problems, including feeding disorders, pain syndromes and conduct problems. My PhD research focused on the development and evaluation of brief primary care interventions for the prevention of behaviour disorders in children, and the subsequent dissemination of these interventions to the professional community. Another focus of my work is the evaluation of the adaptation and dissemination of Triple P for Indigenous communities. This has most recently included national consultation with Indigenous professionals and government representatives about their experience of using Triple P with Indigenous families.
Along with the development of effective and accessible parenting programs delivered through professional service settings, an ongoing theme has been the evaluation of innovative methods of improving parents’ access to quality evidence-based parenting information and support. This has led to the recent development of a 10-episode commercial quality television series and an 8-module interactive online program, both of which are being evaluated through randomised controlled trials in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
I am currently working on resources for another delivery format – primary care discussion groups addressing common issues faced by parents. Many primary care professionals have given feedback about the demand from parents for group programs based around the Triple P tip sheet information. Trials have already been conducted on two pilot discussion groups – Hassle-free Shopping and Dealing with Disobedience – and two more topics are under development.
My husband and I have two beautiful Ethiopian daughters and one ageing Burmese cat. I’m not sure who is the more demanding, but each of them brings us joy every day.