Meet the team

We work with experts in social work, youth work, anthropology, psychology, public health and related fields. They're well versed in using participatory approaches to engage with ad promote the views of children.

Professor Daryl Higgins, Director
DarylHiggins_Headshot1Professor Daryl Higgins commenced as the Director of the Institute of Child Protections Studies in February 2017. His research focuses on public health approaches to protecting children, and child-safe organisational strategies. A registered psychologist, Prof Higgins has been researching child abuse impacts and prevention, family violence and family functioning for over 20 years.

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Associate Prof Stephanie Taplin, Associate Director
Stephanie_Taplin_2015_09_25ACU-HiRez-035Associate Professor Stephanie Taplin is the Associate Director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies. Stephanie has qualifications in psychology, criminology and public health. Stephanie has spent much of her recent years focused on the intersections between AOD and child protection. Stephanie undertook a large study with mothers in opioid pharmacological treatment about their children and involvement with the child protection system, and has been recently looking at the issue of prenatal reporting and child protection interventions.

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Dr Aino Suomi, Project Manager (kContact)
SuomiAino_StaffPic2015Aino is a clinically trained psychologist and has been working in research on vulnerable populations with a specific family focus since 2006. She graduated from the University of Melbourne 2012 having completed her PhD (psychology) at the Children’s Court of Victoria. Her thesis examined clinical family assessments at the Children’s Court Clinic of Victoria with a focus on parents’ mental health problems, violence and addictions.

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Jacqui Stewart, Project Manager
Jacqui joined the ICPS in 2018 to manage a capacity building project designed to support workers to develop their knowledge and skills in supporting children who have experienced family and domestic violence. Over the last 10 years, Jacqui has worked as a researcher and managed research projects for government and non-government organisations. Much of her research has been with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
Douglas Russel, Senior Research Officer
Douglas_Russell
Douglas started at ICPS in 2017, and is supporting research regarding the participation of children and young people in child safe organisations. He qualified as a primary school teacher 15 years ago and has worked across Australia, the UK and in Dubai, teaching students from a range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

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Sebastian Trew, Research Officer

Sebastian began working at ICPS in 2018, and is supporting a range of research projects. He has a Masters in Human Rights from Curtin University and has worked within the out-of-home care sector including residential care, intensive family support, youth housing and homelessness, disability support, academic mentoring, and executive program support. Sebastian is a PhD candidate at ACU who's research is exploring families lived experience of autism.

Ms Alex Cahill, Research Officer

Alex has over 20 years of experience working in the child protection and out of home care sectors. She has worked in both government and non-government sectors, including homelessness, strategic policy and planning, child and youth engagement and residential care management. Since completing a Masters in Youth Studies with the ACU, Alex’s area of interests is in the connection between youth policy and practice and how best to translate this directly for workers on the ground and the children and young people they work with. She commenced work with the ICPS in September 2017 as a research officer.

Nina Lucas

Nina started working at ICPS in 2018 and is involved with data analysis for the kContact study. She has a Masters in Public Health from LaTrobe University. Her previous research has focused on problem gambling, as well as a child physical and mental health. Her Masters thesis examined child wellbeing after parental separation.

Tania McKenna, Professional Development Coordinator (Kid's Central Project)

Since completing a post-graduate diploma in Criminology in 2007, Tania McKenna has worked across a range of projects aimed at preventing and responding to violence perpetrated against women and children. During this time she has developed significant expertise in the areas of family violence education, training, policy, legislative reform and sector development. Previous roles have included leading training initiatives to improve hospital responses to patients experiencing family violence, coordinating policy and education initiatives in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of family violence, and providing specialist family violence training to community organisations across Victoria.

Paola Tretow-Loof, Finance Officer

Paola supports the effective delivery of both financial management and communications services within the ICPS. Prior to commencing at ICPS in 2017, Paola worked in the Commonwealth public service as a Senior Accountant and Team Leader. Previously, she worked within a range of departments in the Victorian Public Service as a budget analyst and finance officer. Paola has experience in budget management, performance reporting, asset management and financial accounting.

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Adjunct and associate members

Professor Morag McArthur
Morag_McArthur_2015_09_25ACU000Morag is the foundation director of ICPS. As a social work academic with over 25 years of teaching and research experience, Morag has worked with Commonwealth, State and Territory Government departments, non-government and community organisations on a wide range of research and evaluation projects.She has taught both undergraduate and post-graduate students research methods, public policy and social theory. She had a key role in designing and implementing the first specialised postgraduate courses in child welfare in Australia.

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Dr Gail Winkworth
Gail_Winkworth_SmallDr Gail Winkworth was Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Child Protection Studies between 2005 and 2011, and was the founding editor of the peer-reviewed journal Communities, Children and Families Australia.With her combination of practice, policy, administrative and academic experience, Gail is an adjunct professor of the ACU, with a continuing role in research, publishing and teaching.

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Dr Giovanna Richmond
Giovanna_Richmond_SmallDr Giovanna Richmond has been a lecturer at the ACU School of Social Work since 2004. Prior to this she held senior management and senior professional positions in ACT Government in the fields of community health, child and family support services, child welfare and disability services. From 1997-2003 she was Director of the Child, Youth & Women's Health Program in ACT Health.

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Students

Rhys Thorpe
2015_09_25ACU014Rhys is a social worker and counsellor who has been working with children, young people and families for more than ten years. He has experience working in supervised contact and foster care sectors. Most recently Rhys has provided counselling and therapeutic group programs to children and parents from separated families. In 2012 Rhys completed a research project in the UK, exploring the responses to participation initiatives from children in out of home care.

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Patricia Mackey
Patricia_MackeyPatricia is currently undertaking her PhD researching the question, 'How would you ethically conduct research with children on domestic violence?' having received a scholarship under the ARC Grant related to Managing Ethical Studies on Sensitive Issues: Involving children in social research. Patricia brings to her PhD research a career in juvenile justice, child protection, community services and in public advocacy.

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Vicky Saunders
VickySaunders_2015_09_25ACU010Vicky Saunders is an experienced human services researcher and social worker, who worked at ICPS as a Research Fellow for eleven years, before concluding her employment in 2016. She remains as a PhD Candidate with ACU. Prior to commencing at ICPS, Vicky worked with foster carers and children and young people in out-of-home care services.

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