La Trobe federal election experts

The following La Trobe University academics are available to comment on aspects of the forthcoming federal election.

Politics/Politics and media

  • Dr Kevin Brianton, Head of Department, Communication and Media

Topics: Political messaging and campaigning tactics and strategies

Dr Brianton has more than 30 years' experience in market research, journalism and public relations. He worked as both a consultant and as a manager in government and private industry. The majority of his career has focused on government and political issues.

Contact details:, mobile: 0407 830 163

  • Ms Natalie McKenna, lecturer in strategic communications, Department of Communication and Media

Topics: social media and politics; personal branding of politicians; online identity

Dr McKenna’s research focus areas include how politicians use social media; self-marketing, impression management and online identity; personal branding for executives; and celebrity and social media

Contact details:, 9479 2501, mobile: 0420 378 026

  • Dr Mark Civitella, lecturer in political communication, Department of Communication and Media

Topics: polling; media and communication strategy impact on elections; difficulties of communicating with and targeting different publics; mindsets of different voters

Dr Civitella has worked in political polling, communication and strategy. Mark researches the difficulties of voter impact in political campaigns.

Contact details: mobile: 0414 937 734

  • Dr Nasya Bahfen, senior lecturer in journalism, Department of Communication and Media, and part of La Trobe’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact

Topics: diversity, sport and media; racism and media coverage of race-based policies; candidates running on divisive or controversial platforms

Dr Bahfen conducts research on where diversity, sport and the media meet.

Contact details:, Skype: nasya.bahfen, mobile: 0450 141 049

  • Honorary Associate Ian Tulloch, Honorary Associate (Politics), Bendigo-based

Topics: Australian federal and state politics; regional politics; electoral politics; environmental and water politics; industrial relations/unions and politics

Honorary Associate Ian Tulloch’s areas of research expertise are federal and state politics, electoral politics, environmental and water politics and industrial relations/unions and politics.

Contact details:, mobile: 0438 418581

  • Adjunct Professor Tony Walker, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and Adjunct Professor, Communication and Media

Topics: Australian federal and state politics; foreign policy; democracy

Adjunct Professor Tony Walker is a former political editor of The Australian Financial Review, dual Walkley award-winning journalist and a published author including a biography of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat (Arafat: The Biography)

Contact details:, mobile: 0416 258 776

  • Dr Nicholas Barry, lecturer in politics, Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy

Topics: Election campaigns; Australian political parties and institutions; long-term trends in voter behaviour; income inequality

Dr Nicholas Barry’s research and teaching interests are primarily in the areas of Australian politics and normative political theory.

Contact details:, +61 3 9479 3664, mobile: 0418 940 259

  • Associate Professor Gwenda Tavan, lecturer and researchers in politics, Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy

Topics: Leadership, citizenship, immigration and population issues

Associate Professor Gwenda Tavan lectures and researches in Australian politics, political communication and the politics of international immigration.

Contact details:, +61 3 9479 1287, mobile: 0411 525 327

Disability/Disability policy

  • Professor Christine Bigby, Director, La Trobe’s Living with Disability Research Centre

Topics: disability policy; social inclusion; abuse of people with disabilities

Professor Bigby’s research focusses on social inclusion of adults with disability, and disability policy and practice which is currently dominated by the implementation of the NDIS. In particular her area of expertise is the design and effectiveness of disability services for people with intellectual disabilities and the interfaces between mainstream and specialist services.

Contact details:, mobile: 0438 602 264

Education policy

  • Associate Professor Joanna Barbousas, Head of Department of Education and President of the Victorian Council of Deans of Education (VCDE)

Topics: Teacher education reform and other education reform policy proposals

Associate Professor Barbousas’ research focuses on different approaches that lead to a change agenda in education - by applying knowledge and not just tactics.

Contact details:, mobile: 0416 289 040

Media contacts:

Claire Bowers – - 9479 2315 / 0437 279 903

Kate O’Connor – k.o’ - 5444 7154 / 0436 189 629

Dragana Mrkaja - - 9479 5353 / 0447 508 171