Fiona Smith
Dr Helen van Vliet
Dr Cathie Harrison
Dr Natalie Rimlinger
Dr Anna Westbrook

Dr Helen van Vliet  

"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves."

Carl Jung

  

Helen's interests are in the areas of child development; child mental health, wellbeing and resilience; gifted education; and, learning motivation. Helen has lectured in child and adolescent development; early childhood pedagogy and curriculum; and, student wellbeing and resilience.   

Helen’s PhD research focused on effective ways to support the mental health and wellbeing of students in the school setting. She designed, developed and trialled an internet course to teach adolescents about healthy ways to cope with stress. She has worked on a project to design curriculum for adolescents to support self-directed learning and goal-directed motivation. Helen has also worked at GERRIC where she completed research concerning academic acceleration in gifted individuals and ran workshops for gifted young children.   

Helen has been involved in a number of research projects. One project aimed to develop a course to enable communities (including parents, teachers and other carers of young children) to learn about effective ways to support the development of children in the early years. Another project concerned the study of phonics-based approaches to teaching early literacy. Helen was also involved in a project aimed at providing teachers of gifted children with school-friendly information concerning psychological assessments and profiling. It is hoped that this will be an effective way to enable gifted children to learn more effectively in the school setting. Helen welcomes opportunities to work within schools to improve teaching and learning for students and teachers.  

Helen completed a Bachelor of Medicine/Surgery degree with Honours and worked as a resident medical officer for four years. She completed two terms in paediatrics and spent time at Tumbatin Developmental Clinic, Prince of Wales Hospital learning how to diagnose and effectively address the needs of children with special learning requirements. This experience has led to an interest in teaching and research concerning provisions for children with special needs, including auditory processing disorder, attentional disorders and behavioural problems.  

After completing a Master of Teaching degree with honours and a Certificate in Gifted Education with high distinction, Helen worked for a number of years in state and independent schools as a teacher; Coordinator of Science, Maths, Personal Development, Health and Peer Support programs; Stage Convenor; and, Learning Support Coordinator. Helen then took up lecturing and tutoring roles at the UNSW and the University of Sydney. She completed her PhD studies at the UNSW in 2008. Since then she has been on the staff at Australian Catholic University, tutored at Notre Dame University and been employed as a Gifted Consultant at Clovelly Public School.

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