2019 Conference Speaker Biographies


9:30am       Assoc. Professor Paul Sowman

Assoc. Professor Paul Sowman from Macquarie University is the Deputy Head of Department Higher Degree Research, Department of Cognitive Science.  He is a leading researcher into brain imagery, and he has especially conducted research into the brains of stutterers.  He is also an author of a major research review of neuroimaging research on developmental stuttering between 1995 and 2016, which looked at what is known about the brain and stuttering through the prism of imagery scanning and neural pathways.  

Paul’s topic today is: “From Brain to Speech: What Causes Stuttering “

10:15am     Keynote Speaker: Professor Ann Packman

Professor Ann Packman is well known in the world of stuttering treatment and research.  She is a pioneering researcher going back to the original intensive treatment programs at the then Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay, Sydney.  She is on the Advisory Board to the Australian Speak Easy Association (ASEA).  She has had a very full career in research into stuttering in relation to children and adults.  Ann is presently with the University of Technology, and associated with the Australian Stuttering Research Centre (ASRC).  She is the author of many works and research papers on stuttering.  She is the co-author of a recent book entitled Theoretical Issues in Stuttering. 

Ann’s topic today is: “Let’s Talk About Cause”.

11:25am     Dr Susan Block

Dr Susan Block is a speech pathologist and academic from Melbourne where she is responsible for the academic and clinical education undergraduate and post-graduate speech pathology students in the area of stuttering at the La Trobe University.  She has been associated with ASEA from its earliest days.  She is a regular attendee at ASEA conferences.  Susan is also a Life Member of the ASEA and has been awarded the ASEA President’s Cup for her contributions to the association.  Susan is also a member of the ASEA Advisory Board.  Susan has had a lifetime of involvement in the treatment and research issues relating to stuttering.  

Susan’s presentation will be: “The Road to Fluency: Navigating the Roadblocks”.

12:10pm     Bruce Rowe

Bruce Rowe has been a member of ASEA since 1980. In that time he has held many positions including NSW President and National Councillor.  Bruce was Founder and Leader of the NSW Youth Speak Easy and Youth Camps. 

Bruce’s topic today is “There is Hope”.

1:35pm       Keynote Speaker: Professor Ashley Craig

Professor Ashley Craig is currently involved with rehabilitation studies at the Sydney University.  He is also a well-known and highly respected scientist and clinical psychologist.  He was one of the founders of the highly successful and pioneering intensive Smooth Speech stuttering treatment program at the Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney.  Ashley has been a long-time supporter and adviser to NSW ASEA since its formation in 1979, and continues in this role.  As a clinician, Ashley has treated many hundreds of adolescent and adult persons who stutter over a great many years.  In addition to his work as a clinician, he is also a long-standing researcher into stuttering issues.  He was instrumental in moving the debate and science forward with his ground-breaking work on the association between stuttering and anxiety disorders.  

Ashley’s presentation is: “Developing Resilience: What Protects Me from the Adversity of Chronic Stuttering”.

2:20pm       Paul West

Paul West is the President of the Western Australia branch of ASEA, and has been a keen and active member of the National Council of ASEA for three years.  Paul has worked in the Health field for many years and is an adviser on a number of Boards.  

Paul’s topic today is: “A Road to Fluency One Stutterer’s Perspective”.

3:30pm       Peter Dhu

Peter Dhu, has been a stalwart of Speak Easy both in his home state of Western Australia and nationally as a National Councillor for many years.  He has been an attendee of a great many ASEA national conferences during that time.  Peter works for himself and is a highly sought after public and motivational speaker. 

Peter’s presentation today is: “What Lies Beyond the Road to Fluency? – The Road to Ruin or the Road to Riches”

4:15pm       Carolynn Murtagh

Carolynn is a life-long member of the NSW ASEA and has been a member of the NSW ASEA sub-committee lobbying government for more resources for chronic adolescent and adult persons who stutter.  Until recently, she also held the position of NSW maintenance co-ordinator.  Carolynn had a severe stutter from early childhood and was the victim of bullying throughout her school years.  Her wish was to be an art teacher, but was told because of her stutter she could not be an art teacher and instead became a typist.  In 1986 she underwent an intensive Smooth Speech treatment program for her stutter at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney with remarkable results.  Carolynn will present on: “I Used to Stutter”.


9.00am       Lauren McDonnell

Lauren is a Yoga teacher and holistic healer who made it her mission to create GrowPlusFlow-a service that inspires transformative wellbeing through yoga, mindfulness and NLP.  Lauren has had personal experience of anxiety issues and supporting loved ones who stutter, and believes that confidence comes from awareness and perspective complimented by an authentic approach.

Lauren will present on: “Through Impediment Comes Empowerment.”

9:30am       Assoc. Professor Janet Beilby

Assoc. Professor Janet Beilby from Curtin University in Western Australia is also well known to many in ASEA.  She is a regular attendee at ASEA and other conferences relating to stuttering issues.  She is a Curtin Academy Fellow (2017), and holder of the Outstanding Clinician Award (2015) from the International Fluency Association World Congress.  She is a lecturer and research supervisor to Undergraduate and Masters students in stuttering disorders.  She has had a life long interest in the stuttering disorder sand its treatment.  Janet has had a long association with the ASEA and is a member of the Advisory Board.

Janet will present on: “FACTS: Fluency + Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Stuttering”.

10:15am     Assoc. Professor Sally Hewat

Assoc. Professor Sally Hewat is Head of Speech Pathology at the University of Newcastle.  Professor Hewat is recognised nationally and internationally for her work in the development and evaluation of treatments for people who stutter.  Sally has many peer-reviewed articles and has presented in excess of over 50 national and International conferences.  She has been the recipient of a prestigious award and medal from the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for her support of that country’s speech therapy profession.

Sally will present on: “EducatingFuture Professionals to Support People Who Stutter”.

11.25am     Smooth Speech Toastmasters

Presentation by Laurie O’Donaghue, Daniel Chan and Guy Waugh.

Topic is:”What Smooth Speech Toastmasters can do for You”.

12:05pm     Dr Bernard Glennon

Dr Bernard Glennon is the Vice President of NSW ASEA and is a National Councillor on the ASEA National Council.  Dr Glennon was one of the original founders of the Speak Easy Association in 1979, having been an adviser on the steering committee in 1980 which brought into existence the NSW Speak Easy Association, of which he became the first Vice President.  In 1985 he was also one of the founders of Smooth Speech Toastmasters Club, and a founding director and chairman of the Australian Stuttering Foundation. (ASF).  He currently leads the NSW ASEA sub-committee in lobbying government for more funding and resources for intensive Smooth Speech treatments for chronic adolescent and adult persons who stutter.

Bernard will present today on: “The Road to Fluency – and Lack of Funding”.

1:35pm       Dr Michelle Donaghy

Dr Michelle Donaghy is the national lecturer in charge of fluency disorders, at the Australian Catholic University. Dr Donaghy has a keen interest in the treatment and research into the stuttering disorder, and has presented at conferences locally and overseas.  She has a particular interest in child stuttering.  Michelle has also been very involved in the International Stuttering Awareness Day that is a yearly event that aims to promote a greater general awareness of stuttering in the community.

Michelle will present on: “Stuttering at School: The In-between Years”.

2:35pm       Keynote Speaker: Tom Deblaere

Tom Deblaere is a student at the University of Newcastle where he is studying to be a speech pathologist, and a member of NSW ASEA management committee.  Tom in recent years undertook an intensive Smooth Speech treatment course which not only was a game changing moment for him in the management of his stutter, but it led to him deciding to undergo a total career change and a passion to help other people who stutter.  Tom is the maintenance co-ordinator for NSW ASEA.

Tom will present on: “My Road to Fluency, a Personal Journey”.

3:30pm       Professor Ross Menzies

Professor Ross Menzies is a clinical psychologist associated with the Australian Stuttering Research Centre at the University of Technology, Sydney. He has had a long interest in the research and treatment of stuttering. He has a very strong interest in the area of anxiety generally and anxiety in stuttering. He held the post of founding Director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the University of Sydney for over 20 years. He is a noted speaker at national and international conferences and has published 8 books and over 190 manuscripts in his career.

Ross’s address today is: “Stoicism and Stuttering: Expanding Contemporary Psychological Approaches to Dysfluent Speech”


9:00am Amanda Lyons

Amanda is a Speech Pathologist at Mater Health Services in Brisbane and is a Clinical Educator for Australian Catholic University (Qld.) in the area of stuttering. Her interest in stuttering began in the 1980s at Mater.

After living and working interstate, Amanda returned to the Mater in 2009 and is the Lead Clinician for services to people who stutter.

In recent years, Amanda’s attendance at international conferences and at the Palin Centre in London have influenced her approaches to therapy for People Who Stutter, across the age range.

Amanda will be speaking on “Embracing Change – Knowledge, Treatment and Education”.

9:25am Annette McCaul

Annette McCaul was the senior speech pathologist at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane where she was responsible for the intensive Smooth Speech treatment program for over 20 years.  She gained a vast knowledge of what works for people who stutter and what doesn’t.  Annette is also an active member of the Queensland ASEA and has been involved in both research and treatment of stuttering most of her professional life.

Annette will be speaking on: “Mater Intensive Programs, Paediatric, Teenage and Adult, Adaptations and Outcomes”.

10:05am     Vikesh Anand

Vikesh Anand is the National President of the ASEA and has been an active member of ASEA for a number of years.  Vikesh is also a member of the ASEA National Council.  Vikesh moved to Brisbane from Toronto some six years ago and before that he was in New Jersey, USA.  He has experienced stuttering therefore in a number of different cultures.

Vikesh is a technology manager at a primary school in Brisbane and will present on:“Acceptance: Not the Final Chapter”.

10:55am     Harsha Kulasekaran

Harsha Kulasekaran is a person who stutters and has been an active member of the NSW ASEA for a number of years.  Harsha graduated as a psychologist.  She is now in her final year of the Masters of Psychology degree.  Harsha has a special interest in the intersection between stuttering and psychology.  She is also a member of the NSW ASEA sub-committee on lobbying for State governments to provide intensive treatments for persons who stutter.

Harsha will be presenting: “Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT)”.

11:30am     Denis Wright

Denis Wright is a Computer Engineer and is married with one child. He has also lived in a number of countries including Ukraine, Russia, Cypress, UK, Netherlands and now Australia.

Denis stuttered most of his life and completed the McGuire Program in 2014. He is also the regional director for the McGuire Program for Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia having held that position since 2014.

Denis will be speaking on: “Managing Career, Business, Clubs, Family and Speech”.

12.30pm CLOSE