Invited Speakers


Carol Barnes

Carol holds part-time honorary appointments as a Visiting Fellow (gifted education) at the UNSW School of Education, and as an invited sessional lecturer at Griffith University in Queensland. She is national coordinator and Sydney meeting convenor for GLD Australia, a not-for-profit online learning community/support group focussing on gifted children with learning disability (GLD). A resident of Queensland, Carol is also vice-president and parent support group convenor of the Queensland gifted association’s Gold Coast Branch.

Since 2009, Carol has made over 100 presentations on gifted and GLD, almost half at gifted, disability, medical, and legal conferences on five continents. She has also provided GLD training for a wide variety of gifted, disabilities, autism and legal associations, and has held PD sessions for teachers at numerous primary and secondary schools in NSW and Queensland.

Before beginning her volunteer work as a parent advocate in GLD, Carol completed a Grad LLB/JD at UNSW and worked as a finance lawyer with a large international firm in Sydney. Prior to moving to Australia in 1981, she completed an MA in Linguistics and administered education research funding programs in the Canadian Secretary of State Department, and international teacher and student exchange programs in England. She also lectured for a decade in English, Applied Linguistics and TESOL at the University of Ottawa.

Most importantly in this context, Carol is the mother of two gifted university students, each with multiple disabilities.



Dr Manoj Chandra Handa

A passionate advocate of divergent thinking, Dr. Manoj Chandra Handa currently serves as Relieving Principal Education Officer in the NSW Department of Education. Manoj has formerly served as Chief Education Officer, School Development Officer, and Professional Learning and Leadership Coordinator in the NSW Department of Education. Prior to this, he worked as Head Teacher, Gifted and Talented Education, at James Ruse Agricultural High School in Sydney. He has published papers and presented internationally on differentiated learning, leadership, innovation, and the education of the gifted. He is an academic partner of a three-year 21st century competencies project at the International School of Geneva’s La Grande Boissière Campus, Switzerland where he is leading workshops on design thinking, entrepreneurship and innovation education. In 2012, Manoj was recognised as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People” in Sydney by “the (Sydney) magazine” published by The Sydney Morning Herald. He completed his PhD thesis, “Leading Differentiated Learning for the Gifted”, at Macquarie University in August 2016. He was recognised for “Excellence in Higher Degree Research” by the Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University. He was recently selected for the “Smart Teachers’ Research Award 2016” by The Teachers’ Guild of New South Wales for his doctoral research.


Dr Leonie Kronborg

Dr. Leonie Kronborg, is a Senior Lecturer and Co-ordinator of Postgraduate Studies in Gifted Education in the Faculty of Education, Monash University. Leonie also teaches a gifted education elective to pre-service teachers across campuses. Her research interests have focused on education of gifted students, teacher education, and talent development and gender. She supervises Higher Degree Research students with related interests. Additionally, she coordinates a Gifted Educational Advisory Service for parents and teachers of gifted children at the Krongold Centre, Monash University. She is a past president of the Victorian Association for Gifted and Talented Children and Australian Association for the Education of Gifted Children. She is the elected Australian Representative Executive Member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, 2015-2017. She gained the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2012 and the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013. Leonie is an Editor of the journal, Gifted and Talented International and on the Editorial Board of the Australasian Journal of Gifted Education.  

Professor Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin, BA (Hons), MEd (Hons), PhD, is Professor of Educational Psychology in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales specializing in motivation, engagement, achievement, and quantitative research methods. He is also Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford, Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, and President of the International Association of Applied Psychology’s Division 5 Educational, Instructional, and School Psychology.



Dr Susan Nikakis

Dr Susan Nikakis is the Gifted Education Officer of the Catholic Education Melbourne. She embraced her current role in 2009 and is responsible for leading gifted and talented education programs for Catholic school teachers throughout the State of Victoria. She is also a Sessional Lecturer in the Master of Education Courses at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education with the University of Melbourne.

Susan is the editor and contributing author of Let the Tall Poppies Flourish, an Australian collection of papers on topics relating to justice in the education of gifted students. She also published Expert Educators and her third book Giftedness illuminated by Creativity was launched at the Victorian Association For Gifted and talented Children( VAGTC) conference in 2015. Dr Nikakis is also the Chair of the Gifted Think Tank for Catholic Education Melbourne. She is a member of the Victorian Government Gifted education Expert Reference Panel which focuses on policy and content development for Victorian gifted children.



Professor Wilma Vialle

Prof. Wilma Vialle's area of expertise is in educational psychology with a particular interest in the education of gifted students. She is interested in how giftedness is understood within different cultural contexts and how it is identified and nurtured in educational settings. Much of her work focuses on issues of social justice. Originally a high school teacher of English and Speech and Drama in Tasmania, she completed her doctorate at the University of South Florida in 1991. Her dissertation involved the application of Multiple Intelligences Theory in a study of economically disadvantaged preschoolers. She previously worked at the University of Tasmania and has been at the University of Wollongong since 1993. 




Dr Melinda Webber

Dr Melinda Webber (Ngati Whakaue, Ngapuhi) is a senior lecturer in the School of Teaching, Learning and Professional Practice and an Associate Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland. Melinda is an experienced researcher, post-graduate supervisor and writer.  Melinda has recently spent four years working as a researcher on The Starpath Project identifying and addressing the barriers that prevent participation and success in degree-level education especially for Maori, Pacific, and other students from low socio-economic communities. She has also spent the last six years on the Ka Awatea Project examining the nature of teaching, learning and home socialisation patterns that support Maori student success in New Zealand. Melinda's research interests relate to racial-ethnic identity development, Maori concepts of giftedness and Maori student success. Melinda had a book published in 2008 by New Zealand Council of Educational Research titled 'Walking the space between: Maori/Pakeha identity' and  recently co-edited a book titled 'Sociocultural realities: Exploring new horizons' in 2015. 


Jake Widjaya 

 Jake Widjaya is 17 years of age and currently studying at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Jake joined Mensa when he was 6 years, and was accelerated & grade-skipped through school. He is featured in Professor M. Gross’s book “A Lifetime in Gifted Education”. Jake was born without a left hand. He has been collaborating with the Sydney Children’s Hospital (SCH) since 2008 to build awareness and help other kids with limb differences by mentoring other kids, through his DVD “My Helping Hand” (which he made when he was 9 years), appearing in the SCH Fundraising Gold Telethon, speaking with expectant & new parents, and writing articles for the Mensa journal & the Limbs4Kids website. Jake has been a guest lecturer for gifted education courses at UNSW for many years (alongside Dr Lannie Kanevsky & Dr Susan Assouline). He is also an avid Fencer, commencing at 9 years, and now coaches in the sport. Jake has spoken at many conferences, including the National Australia Mensa and the International Society for Prosthetics & Orthotics (Opening Speaker) Conferences. Jake and his parents were helped with how to deal with his twice-exceptionality extensively throughout the years by Prof Miraca Gross, whom he attributes a large part of his inspiration to help others. Jake hopes to share his experiences both within, and more importantly, those defining experiences beyond the education system to help others. 




Dr Catherine Wormald

Dr Catherine Wormald is currently a lecturer at the University of Wollongong.  She began her career as a secondary mathematics teacher and has taught extensively in various roles such as classroom teacher, special needs and as a gifted coordinator in secondary schools across all education systems. She has taught and is currently lecturing in the education programs at both undergraduate and post graduate level. As a parent of three gifted children Catherine has an understanding of both the teaching and parenting aspects of gifted education.

Catherine worked for the Selective Schools Unit for a number of years and was also a consultant in gifted education for the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET). During this time she played an integral part in the writing of the current DET Gifted and Talented Policy. She has provided advice and professional development to teachers and academic personnel in the areas of gifted education and mathematics education. Catherine recently worked with the ACT Department of Education on the development and implementation of a revised gifted education policy.  Dr Wormald is a past president of the NSW Association for Gifted and Talented Children (NSWAGTC) and the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented (AAEGT).

In 2009 Catherine Wormald completed a PhD thesis titled “An Enigma: The barriers to the identification of gifted students with learning disabilities”. She received the AAEGT John Geake Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award for her research.  Her areas of interest include gifted education, students who are identified as having learning disabilities who are also gifted, underachievement and mathematics.