Organising committee

Dr. Judith Howard
Associate Professor, School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice, Queensland University of Technology

Judith comes from an extensive career with state schooling in Queensland. She has worked as a teacher, guidance officer and behaviour support specialist and has held both regional and state positions with the education department. Judith’s work has a keen focus on addressing the concerns faced by young learners living with the outcomes of complex trauma and the people working hard to educate them.  She promotes a neuroscience-informed approach – to which she believes every educator in every school needs access. Judith oversees pre-service/post-graduate teacher education in trauma-aware education at QUT (including the popular, “Graduate Certificate in Trauma-Aware Education”) and has developed online courses that are reaching thousands nationally and internationally. She is the author of the popular book: “Distressed or Deliberately Defiant: Managing Challenging Student Behaviour due to Trauma and Disorganised Attachment and she continues to research, write, speak and train on this topic.

Dr. Lyra L’Estrange
School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice, Queensland University of Technology

Dr Lyra L’Estrange’s research and teaching in trauma aware education at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) contributes to redefining support systems for children and adolescents living with the outcomes of complex trauma. Lyra uses her experience in public health to translate research into Adverse Childhood Experiences into the education space, supporting educators in their understanding of how learning and development is affected by complex trauma. Lyra has worked with parents, schools and community groups since 2014 in delivering trauma-informed parent education. At QUT, she teaches undergraduate and post-graduate units in trauma aware education and child and adolescent development.

Dr. Meegan Brown
School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice, Queensland University of Technology

Meegan is a lecturer and the Study Area Co-ordinator of the Master of Education School Guidance and Counselling at the Queensland University of Technology. She worked for over 20 years in remote schools as a teacher, Principal, Guidance Officer and Senior Guidance Officer. Her research and teaching interests include trauma aware education, rural and remote education, and educator’s experiences of working with students living with the effects of trauma. Meegan also provides professional development and consultancy to schools in trauma aware education.

Beverley Turner
Manager, Metropolitan Region Behaviour Support Service, Department of Education, Queensland

With a background in psychology and over 20 years of experience in the field of education, I have worked with some of the most vulnerable and traumatised children and young people in the US, the UK and now Queensland. Previous professional roles include: Principal; Deputy Principal; Head of Department; SWPBS Regional Coordinator; and Behaviour Consultant. The ‘on the ground’ experience I have gained, has enabled me to work with evidence based approaches which provide positive and sustained outcomes for students from complex trauma backgrounds. My philosophical beliefs are underpinned by Positive Behaviour Support, Restorative Practice and Trauma Informed Practices and my current role focuses upon providing systemic and intensive support to school communities within the Metropolitan Region. The Metropolian Behaviour Support Service has developed the ASSIST Trauma Framework, which is used to support schools in implementing an integrated multi-tiered approach to working with students who benefit from Trauma Sensitive Approaches.

Tania Plueckhahn
Trauma Aware Schools Initiative, Department for Education, South Australia

Tania Plueckhahn is part of the Child protection and trauma-informed practice team within the Engagement and Wellbeing directorate in the Department for Education (SA). She is the project and evaluation lead for the trauma-informed practice in education approach and leads the delivery of the Trauma Aware Schools initiative. Tania’s background is teaching, technology, psychology and research in learning and behaviour. Her current role provides coordination and support for building capacity in schools and for individuals in the area of trauma-informed practice in education and evaluation support.

Ben Sacco
National Lead – Program Development & Implementation, The MacKillop Institute

Ben is a strategic thinker with 15+ years in Education and Business Management. He has been a teacher, Assistant Principal, Senior Officer (Department of Education) and General Manager, working across staff and student wellbeing, curriculum design, policy development and implementation. His leadership experience spans government, corporate and not-for-profit sector organisations. Currently, Ben oversees the ReLATE model for MacKillop Family Services and The MacKillop Institute, which is a whole school and system approach to improving teaching, learning and wellbeing through understanding adverse childhood experiences.