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I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as new Chair and to launch HoDSPA into action for 2024 and beyond.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am the Head of the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Newcastle. I have been here in Newcastle 7 years, and before that I was at the ANU for many years. My discipline background is cognition/perception/neuro/human factors, and I have recently started dabbling a little into business psychology.

Firstly, I would like to thank the outgoing Chair Prof. Lorelle Burton who has provided exceptional leadership over the last 2 years with enormous amounts of energy and kindness. I am infinitely grateful for her legacy and the continuing support of the Executive in general.

So why did I choose to put my hand up to be Chair of HoDSPA? We have somewhere around 42 academics who are leading Psychology Schools or Disciplines across the country. We are frequently the meat-in-the-sandwich between operational requirements vs. university executive demands. Every day these 42 people manage staff, HR, budgets, timetable, class sizes, along with demands for ‘vision’, ‘roadmaps’ and ‘leadership’. All while still juggling their own research and teaching. HoDSPA should – first and foremost – be for you extraordinary people; a refuge and safe-space where members can reach out for support, advice, and help, but also to test-drive great ideas and new initiatives. A space where we all ‘get it’ and where there will always be someone willing to listen and share (sometimes virtually) a coffee or stiff drink.  

However, HoDSPA must also be bigger than this. I have no doubt that Psychology as a profession and discipline is hitting a cross-road. More people are needing different types of Psychological support and we are under increasing pressure to produce larger numbers of well-trained practitioners in less time. Our assumptions about professional training are being challenged and we are likely to have to make some big decisions for all levels of Psychology education. This won’t be easy, but it can also be exciting. This is an opportunity for us to turn to each other, to take a deep breath, examine our assumptions and consider what Schools and Disciplines of Psychology should and could be doing differently to best service the Australian community. HoDSPA will be there every step of the way to support members, staff, students and to work with our stakeholders to navigate this future.

HoDSPA will continue to advocate at all levels and on all platforms for better support and recognition of the science and profession of Psychology. We will become stronger, more outward-focused, and more relevant. Our time is now, and my aim for HoDSPA is to be the strongest and most compelling voice in the room. We will do this together. My leadership philosophy has always been to find the best people for a job and then get out of their way, and we have some of the best leaders in the country in HoDSPA! I am looking forward to great ideas and initiatives and will be relying on the extraordinary talent in the HoDSPA Membership to collectively steer HoDSPA in achieving goals and priorities over the next few years. As Chair, my door will always be open, and I will always be up to sharing a beverage of your choice whilst we discuss the business of Psychology. I am looking forward to the next 2 years, so please do reach out, and I am looking forward to catching up with everyone in Canberra at the AGM May 23/24.

Kind regards,