2018 ASEPA National Conference
WEDNESDAY 16TH – FRIDAY 18TH May, 2018 | STAMFORD GRAND ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
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Keynote Speakers

Professor Barry Carpenter CBE, OBE, PhD

As of January 1st Professor Barry Carpenter will be the Professor of Mental Health in Education at Oxford Brookes University - this will be the first post of its kind in the UK.

Barry Carpenter is also an Honorary Professor at universities in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Australia. He has been a Fellow of the University of Oxford.

Barry has been awarded Fellowships of the Royal Societies of Arts and Medicine. He has been awarded an OBE and CBE by the Queen for services to children with Special Needs. In 2017, he was entered into ‘Who’s Who’, in acknowledgement of his national and international contribution to the field of Special Education.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Barry has held the leadership positions of Academic Director, Chief Executive, Principal, Inspector of Schools and Director of the Centre for Special Education at Westminster College, Oxford. In 2009, he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education as Director of the Children with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project. Since completing that research, Barry has overseen the development of a national project developing online ‘Training materials for teachers of children with severe, profound and complex learning disabilities’.

He is the author of over 150 articles and many texts on a range of learning disability/special needs topics. In the last 12 months, his work has been translated into German, French, Dutch and Russian. His most recent book publications (with Carolyn Blackburn and Jo Egerton) focus upon Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). In 2015 he co authored a book on Children with Complex Needs.

Barry lectures nationally and internationally. In recent years this has included China, Japan, Abu Dhabi, Norway, Australia and New Zealand. He is the co founder of the National Forum for Neuroscience in Special Education. For the Mental Health Foundation he Chaired the National Inquiry into the Mental Health of Young People with Learning Disabilities. He is currently Chairing a working group looking at the needs of Girls on the Autism Spectrum, which will be the focus of his next book.

Barry has 3 children – one a Vice Principal, one a Senior Occupational Therapist, and a daughter with Down’s syndrome, who now has a home of her own and is a qualified Waitress.

Steve Munby

Steve began his career as a secondary school teacher in Birmingham, UK, later moving to the North East of England where he worked as a teacher and then as a senior lecturer.He spent many years as a school improvement and student assessment expert working in local authorities in the North of England before spending five years as Director of Education and Lifelong Learning in Knowsley, Merseyside –one of the most deprived borough’s in England.


Steve was Chief Executive of England’s National College for School Leadership from March 2005 until November 2012. As CEO, he had overall responsibility for the training and development of school principals in 21,000 state maintained schools in England and also for the training and development of Directors of Children’s Services in 150 Local Authorities. Whilst at the National College, Steve led the work on the identification and development of National Leaders of Education and the development of Teaching Schools.


From November 2012 until August 2017, Steve was CEO of Education Development Trust (formerly CfBT Education Trust). Education Development Trust is a charity that operates in diverse environments around the world working with governments at national and regional level to improve education systems and with school clusters to improve outcomes for children.

Dr Julia Pitcher

Dr Julia Pitcher is Lloyd Cox Senior Research Fellow and co-director of the Neuromotor Plasticity and Development research group at the Robinson Research Institute, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide. A neurophysiologist, Julia’s researches how an adverse environment for the fetus during pregnancy influences brain development, and longer-term neurodevelopmental outcomes for the child. She has concentrated on common conditions in pregnancy that promote inflammation in the mother and/or fetus, including infection (the principal cause of preterm birth), maternal obesity, and gestational diabetes. She is internationally-recognised for her use and development of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques to assess cortical development in children and adolescents. Rather than catastrophic brain injuries, such as the cerebral palsies, and neurosensory disorders, such as vision and hearing loss, she has concentrated on the more subtle disturbances to brain development that nonetheless significantly impact child development. For example, around 10% of births in Australia annually are preterm (i.e. birth after less than 37 completed weeks of gestation). While fewer than 1% of these babies will experience a perinatal brain injury, up to 50% will experience some degree of motor, cognitive and/or behavioural dysfunction by school age. Julia’s team’s work has not only described some of the physiological changes to cortical development associated with preterm birth, they also showed that the preterm child’s neurodevelopmental outcome is strongly dependent on the degree of social disadvantage they go home to at birth, accentuating the importance of the early environment in determining outcomes. Her team are currently investigating how subtly abnormal cortical development affects learning and memory abilities in affected children, and testing interventions to improve these outcomes.


In 2003, Julia was awarded The Elizabeth Penfold Simpson Prize, by the Australian Brain Foundation for the most outstanding body of published clinical or basic neuroscience research. In 2009, her research was named in the National Health and Medical Research Council’s “Ten of the Best” funded projects. Her only other claims to pseudo-fame include winning Sale of the Century in 1994, and her now-departed cat, Milo, starring as “Frank the Feral Cat” in the SA Film Corp’s “Napoleon” (1995).



Chris Varney

Chris Varney is Founder and Chief Enabling Officer of I CAN Network. I CAN Network is driving a rethink of Autism, from ‘I Can’t’ to ‘I CAN’. Chris based the network on the mentors who supported him to get the best out of his Asperger’s.

Chris has a strong background in advocating for children’s rights. With World Vision, Chris has held roles including Youth Ambassador, VGen Co-Director and Manager of Youth Supporters. With the Australian Government, Chris served as the 2009 Australian Youth Ambassador to the UN. For his advocacy Chris has received awards including the National Award for Youth in Advancing the Legal Rights and Interests of Children and the Autism Spectrum Australia Inspiration Award.


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