Coffs Harbour’s Dr Louisa Salmon writes doctorate thesis on the bullying experience for children with disabilities

Dr Louisa Salmon (left) with her supervisor Associate Professor Gail Moloney at the Coffs Harbour campus graduation ceremony.


DR LOUISA Salmon, a Coffs Harbour local with cerebral palsy and a wheelchair user, has recently completed her second degree, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), focusing on bullying experiences for children with disabilities.

Louisa’s PhD thesis at Southern Cross University looked into the ‘Social experiences of children with disabilities: resilience, social identity and bullying’.

“I was fascinated with the idea that research should be inclusive of all kinds of people, irrespective of their physical disability and I was hoping to make it more inclusive,” Dr Salmon told News Of The Area.

“Having a disability allowed me to bring a unique perspective.

“While I have some difficulty communicating, I am lucky that I can be understood.

“I knew other people who were eager to tell their own stories but were not able to express it themselves.

“It was exciting to go to conferences, where the parents of such people really wanted to know the outcomes of the research I proposed to them.

“To me, this suggested I was heading in the right direction with my thinking.

“It is nice to know I enabled people to tell their story about issues that possibly might not have been specifically addressed before.”

Louisa investigated whether children with severe disabilities were less able to deal with stressful situations if, as previous research suggested, they do not experience as many stressors growing up as children with milder disabilities.

“The results suggest children with disabilities felt excluded by others,” Dr Salmon said.

“Further, my research indicates that children without disabilities might have little experience of interacting with peers with disabilities, and even less experience with those who are perceived as having a severe disability.

“Given that having good social support is an effective way for children to cope with bullying, this might explain why children with disabilities are less able to cope when bullying occurs.”

Dr Salmon is now looking for research assistant jobs in academia or government.

She is also keen to set up her own business as an advocate/mentor.




Dr Louisa Salmon receives her Doctor of Philosophy from the Vice Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Carlin
Photos: Seen Australia.

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