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Adjunct Professor of Education and Social Development, University of South Australia

Barbara began her working life as a primary school teacher, returning to study to undertake a PhD in girls' bullying behaviours and their peer relationships in the 1990s. She works in the field of educational and developmental psychology with pre-service teachers and is a leading researcher of wellbeing, bullying and cyberbullying nationally and internationally. She has led the Safe and Well Online project for the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, exploring how technology can be used to support young people's mental health. She led the review of the National Safe Schools Framework (now the Australian Student Wellbeing Framework) and has published widely. She led the Wellbeing Research Group (UniSA School of Education for many years and is a current member of Centre for Research on Educational and Social Inclusion (CRESI).

She is a member of:
The Child Development Council of South Australia
The South Australian Bullying Prevention Coalition
The Australian Universities' Anti-bullying Research Alliance (AUARA)
The SA Attorney General's Roundtable on Bullying
The National Technology and Wellbeing Roundtable and
The Cooperation of Science and Technology (COST) Action on Cyberbullying (an international research cooperative involving 28 European countries)

Co-editor of:
A series of commissioned reports on:
'Youth exposure to cyberbullying and its management in Australia' Commonwealth Department of Communication (2014)

Books: (Co-Authored)
'The Impact of technology on relationships in educational settings', Routledge (2012).
'Child Adolescent and Family Development' Routledge (2012)
Bullying, cyberbullying and pupil well-being in schools: Comparing European, Australian and Indian Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2018)


  • 2021–present
    Adjunct professor, University of South Australia
  • 2009–2017
    Director: Wellbeing Research Group, Centre for Research in Education School of Education, University of South Australia


  • 2005 
    PhD (Education), Flinders University
  • 1998 
    M. Ed. Stds, Flinders University
  • 1994 
    B. Ed (In-service), University of South Australia
  • 1974 
    Dip T (Primary), MPCAE

Grants and Contracts

  • 2011
    Campbell, M. Spears, B.A., (UniSA); Slee, P.T. (Flinders), Cross (ECU) A legally-informed intervention for schools to prevent and intervene in cases of cyberbullying
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Australian Research Council Linkage (LP110200330):
  • 2011
    Spears, B.A (UniSA); Taddeo, C;(UniSA); Barnes, A. (UniSA), Yates, G.(UniSA), Daly, T.(UniSA), Scrimgeour, M.,(UniSA) Kavanagh, P.,(UniSA) Webb-Williams, J., (UniSA) + Drennan, J. (QUT), Swirski,T.(Western Sydney), Collin, P (Western Sydney); Zeederberg, M., Borbone, V., Brewer, B (ZUNI: Industry Partners) Safe and Well Online: Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre
    Lead Investogator
    Funding Source:
    Cooperative Research Centres, Australian Government Department of Industry
  • 2008
    Campbell, M. Spears, B.A. (UniSA), Slee, P.T (Flinders) Cyber bullying: an evidence-based approach to the application and reform of law, policy and practice in schools
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Australian Research Council Linkage (LP882087)
  • 2007
    Spears, B. (UniSA), Slee, P. (Flinders) Owen. L. (FIinders) & Johnson, B (UniSA) Behind the Scenes: Insights into the Human Dimensions of Covert Bullying. Covert Bullying: Its Nature and Prevalence in Australian Schools
    Lead Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations


May Mills Scholarship for Women, 1994