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Dear LDA Members,

Thank you to all those who attended the LDA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday (September 18, 2021).  It was so good to see so many people there on the Zoom screen even though this is not our preferred way of getting together. Having said that, having a virtual event is a means by which more members are able to be present if they are not able to travel to Melbourne for the AGM. We will keep this in mind for the future – perhaps a hybrid event? 

Award Recipients 

Apart from conducting the normal business of the AGM, we were able to celebrate, albeit virtually, with our LDA Award recipients. This is always a joyous thing to do.  Emeritus Professor Tom Nicholson was the recipient of the Mona Tobias Award and entertained us all with his presentation. Tom was acknowledged and thanked for all that he has done to advance knowledge in the international community about literacy education, especially for children with learning difficulties. Alison McMurtrie received this year’s Bruce Wicking Award. Alison was recognised for her work with disadvantaged students with learning difficulties and for her role in producing quality materials for systematic literacy instruction for students of all abilities. These have been of immense help to both students and teachers. Reid Smith received the Tertiary Student Award and was acknowledged for his current research and ongoing success in helping schools to provide effective reading instruction. We are confident that we will continue to see and hear great things from Reid. Diane Barwood was this year’s recipient of the Rosemary Carter Award and was recognised for her long career devoted to supporting students with a range of learning difficulties, their parents and their teachers.  Diane, also a past LDA President, has provided extraordinary and ongoing support to LDA consultants. She was also the Convenor of the Consultant Committee for several years. Diane is described as “the go-to person” for advice on consultant matters. 

The Taylor and Francis awards for the Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties (AJLD) were also announced at the AGM. Professor Genevieve McArthur is the 2021 recipient of the Eminent Researcher Award. She delivered a thought-provoking presentation following the announcement of her award. Genevieve was recognised for her exemplary research in the area of literacy, and her work in translating research into practice. Dr Sally Robinson-Kooi, an outgoing LDA Council member, was the recipient of this year’s Early Career Researcher Award.  Sally has a keen interest in best teaching practice for mainstream and EAL/D students. Her research involves systematic literacy instruction and teacher professional development.

Warmest congratulations to all our LDA and AJLD Award recipients for 2021. Thank you for all you do for students with learning difficulties and in the progress of effective education.  

Changes in LDA Council 

For those new to LDA, the AGM marks the end of the Council year and is the final responsibility of the outgoing Council. The new Council comes into effect immediately after the AGM. Sometimes there are only minimal changes but this year has seen quite big changes in the composition of your LDA Council. Most significantly, President Associate Professor Lorraine Hammond AM has stepped down from her important role in LDA. We would like to express our sincere appreciation for all that Lorraine has done for LDA over many, many years and to wish her well in the future. Vice-President, Dr Nicole Todd, another long-standing member of Council, also retired as did the Treasurer, Renae Watkins and Secretary, Sarah Asome. We would like to thank these Honorary Officers of LDA for their dedication to their roles and the association. Renae Watkins, in addition to her role as Treasurer, undertook an enormous amount of work on the new LDA website development for which we are all very grateful. 

Dr Bartek Rajkowski, having served LDA for many years and contributing particularly in the website area, stepped down from Council. Olivia Connelly, the Consultant Committee Convenor, also retired from Council, as did Troy Verey, Jo Hirst and Dr Sally Robinson-Kooi. Lyn Stone, David Morkunas and Priscilla Carlisle had resigned prior to the end of the Council term.  We would like to thank all these Council members for their service to the association, hope that they will stay active in LDA, and we also wish them well in their future endeavours.

We are fortunate that Dr Molly de Lemos AM continues on Council as Vice-President, as does Dr Roslyn Neilson. Ros will now take on the role of Secretary in the 2021-22 LDA Council, in addition to her busy role of Editor of the fantastic LDA Bulletin. The latest issue of the Bulletin is available on the LDA website and will be in your mail-boxes very soon. We are very fortunate that Molly and Ros have continued on Council as this will provide important continuity for the efficient running of the association. Other members of the new 2021 LDA Council include Elaine McLeish who is the second Vice-President and Ann Ryan who is now Treasurer. Ann and Elaine have a great deal of experience in LDA and in previous Councils and their expertise will be very much appreciated. Other members of the new Council are Kristin Anthian, Dr Alison Madelaine (both former Council members), Eleanor McMillan (her first time on Council), and Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall AM, a former President of LDA and convenor of the Publications Committee for many years. Kevin and Alison were also Editor and Joint Editor respectively of the AJLD. Finally, I am honoured to serve as your President for the 2021-22 council year. Please click here if you would like to read my address at the AGM which outlines the approach of your new council.

Casual Vacancy Council Positions 

While we have nine of 14 positions on Council filled, there are an additional five positions currently vacant. As you may already know, when there are unfilled positions on Council these can be filled via a casual vacancy mechanism. This means that an individual can be appointed by Council until the next AGM of the association. If the individual then wants to continue being on Council after that, then they must go through the usual nomination process (see below – A note about how LDA Council is elected.) We are now calling for expressions of interest from members who would like to serve on LDA Council, filling a casual vacancy position. Please see boxed information below. 

The incoming Council currently has members from Victoria (4), New South Wales (4) and the ACT (1). We are keen to have representation from all states and territories if possible, so please consider filling a Council casual vacancy if you are from a state or territory not yet represented. 

Participation in an LDA Committee

We are also keen to hear from members across various states and territories who may be interested in assisting the Professional Development Committee to run or deliver professional development nationally. An individual does not have to be a member of Council to serve on an LDA committee. All LDA Committees are convened by a member of LDA Council. Participating in a Committee gives a good insight into the work of the association should individuals want to get a sense of what is involved before they put their hand up for a position on LDA Council.


We are particularly in need of Council members with expertise in the digital spheres of websites and social media activity. If this is an area that you have skills in and would like to serve LDA in this important way, please send an expression of interest outlining your skills and interests. 

Please be assured that we are not requiring active management of the LDA website and social media platforms on a day-to-day basis, but we do need a Convenor of the Website Committee, as well as members of that Committee (who do not need to be on Council) as a priority. 

We would love to hear from LDA members who have an interest in offering their skills and talents to the association. In addition to the website and social media areas, the current Council would be complemented by having people with skills in marketing organisations or initiatives

Please be in touch with us at enquiries@ldaustralia.org if this is something that you are in interested in pursuing. Please have your expression of interest to us by Wednesday 29th September, 2021.

A note about how LDA Council is elected

Following Saturday’s AGM, we had an enquiry about how people are elected as Council members. In brief, the process is that there is a call for nominations once a year, typically about two months ahead of the AGM. There is an advertised closing date for nominations. To be eligible to nominate as a member of LDA Council, an individual has to be a member of LDA and has to be nominated, with proposer and a seconder to support the nomination. (The exception to this is the case of existing members of Council who are able to renominate without having a proposer and a seconder.) All nominations have to be received 30 days before the date of the AGM. 

Individuals are nominated for specific Honorary positions (President, 2 Vice-Presidents, Treasurer and Secretary) or as an Ordinary Member of Council.  If there are more nominations than there are positions, then a ballot is conducted. If there is only one nomination for an Honorary position and/or there are fewer than nine nominations for Ordinary members, then the nominees are deemed elected. No ballot is held. Those elected to LDA Council are announced at the AGM.  The new Council moves into position following the AGM. 

All Honorary Officers and Ordinary Members of Council are elected for a period of one year. Council members can continue to serve for more than one year provided the processes above are followed. It is possible for current members of LDA Council to self-nominate. The President has to be nominated each year and can serve for a maximum of three (3) successive years. These procedures are documented in the LDA Constitution which is available to members on the LDA website here.

In this year’s (2021) call for nominations, only two members of the existing Council renominated. In addition, there were six new nominations for positions on Council. As there were fewer nominations in total (8) than positions on Council (14), as per the Constitution, no ballot was necessary and the nominees were duly elected. Subsequent to this, one other member agreed to fill a casual vacancy, effective from the Council meeting following the AGM on Saturday. This process has resulted in nine Council positions being filled, hence our current appeal to members for consideration of filling one of the five casual vacancies that remain. We look forward to hearing from you.

In ending, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with us if there is anything that you wish to discuss or if you have suggestions to make LDA an even better association. I have also attached the introductory remarks that I made at the AGM that outlines the vision of the new Council, for those who may be interested. 

With best wishes, and on behalf of your LDA Council for 2021-22,

Dr Robyn Wheldall 

LDA President

September 19, 2021