I firstly wish to acknowledge the guidance and support provided by my primary supervisor, Associate Professor Marj Kibby from the University of Newcastle. I very much appreciate everything she has done in the course of the supervision of this thesis. Associate Professor Kibby provided a safe space for me to explore the new world of being a doctoral candidate, provided insightful feedback whenever it was required (often within short timeframes), and was a great support throughout. I thank her for her kindness and for the incredible encouragement to pursue this research.
I also wish to thank my two co-supervisors. Professor Patricia Gillard initially supported me on this path, introducing me to Associate Professor Kibby, and providing me with the “roadmaps” so I could navigate what was then a very new world of academia. After Professor Gillard’s retirement from the University of Newcastle, Associate Professor Christine Daymon, Murdoch University, agreed to co-supervise my doctoral work. I am most appreciative of her offer of supervision at a crucial time in the project. I am most grateful for the time she spent providing insightful critique and guidance when it was most necessary.
I must acknowledge the generous support of the University of Newcastle throughout this project. Through the support offered by internal grants I have been able to spend extended periods of time working on my research and have been afforded opportunities to travel to undertake field work and also to present my research in progress to my peers at conferences – a vital part of my ability to move through this project. I must particularly thank Professor Patricia Michie, Professor Bill Hogarth, Dr Brian Regan, Dr Anne Llewellyn and Professor Tim Roberts for providing guidance and support.
The generous support of my colleagues and fellow research students in the School of Design, Communication and IT throughout my doctoral project has been very much appreciated. I also wish to thank my undergraduate students, and particularly my honours students, who have challenged me and spurred me on to engage with new techniques and ideas.
Thank you to my husband, Stephen, and to my children, Alexandra and Patrick, for their understanding and support on this wonderful journey.
I must acknowledge the work of Kim Edmonds who provided professional editorial services in the latter stages of my thesis preparation. These services were limited to editing for consistency (Standard E, Completeness and Consistency of the Australian Standards for Editing Practice) and complied with the University of Newcastle’s Policy for Editing of Research Theses by Professional Editors.
This thesis is dedicated to my parents, Frank and Joan Skillen.