When Natalie was in high school in the late 1990s, her mother was called to her school because her teacher thought she was spending too much time ‘on the internet’ at lunch.
Back in the days when going online was about winsocks and choosing between the phone or the computer being connected, Natalie found herself hooked on the possibilities of ‘cyberspace’, chatting with people who shared her musical tastes, and trying to develop a savvy looking website on geocities (complete with flashing gifs!).
Almost two decades later, Natalie is an educator, consultant and researcher, and is still fascinated by the internet.
She is curious about how young people use social media in their everyday lives, especially when it comes to ‘sticky’ topics like mental illness, sex and sexuality, developing and managing relationships, and dealing with stress.
Her work supports teachers, practitioners and services to understand social media as something young people do, in order to better support young people to feel good about who they are and address the challenges they face.
She holds a Masters in Youth Health and Education, Bachelor Degrees in Arts (First Class Honours) and Science, a Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary), and is currently completing her PhD thesis in Media and Communication at RMIT University.
Her doctoral project explores how young people under 18 years engage with visual social media in the context of mental ill-health.
Her academic interests include young people’s media cultures and practices, youth and education policy, research as practice, interdisciplinary approaches to mental and sexual health education, cultural studies, and methods and ethics for creative research with young people.
She has published and presented her academic research, and has experience teaching at tertiary level.
This year Natalie has embarked on a new role with Deakin University, joining the School of Education as a Lecturer in Student Wellbeing and Health.
Natalie supports pre-service teachers to make sense of the complexity of their students' lives and plan for student wellbeing and engagement. She is interested in how teachers develop critical health education curricula that attends to the changing notions of health and wellbeing in Australian society.
From 2013 until the start of 2016, she worked as a research officer on the Young Adults and STIs project at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University.
Prior to this she worked as a teacher in community, mainstream and special education settings, most notably as a teacher and consultant in the Adolescent Inpatient Program with the Austin Hospital School in Heidelberg.
Natalie is a current member of the RMIT Human Ethics Research Committee, and serves on a number of boards and committees including the Make A Change Foundation and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre.
Natalie is available for talks, training seminars and media commentary on youth media culture, mental illness and recovery in practice, sex and social media, and thinking “beyond risk” about technology.
When she’s not enthusiastically researching social media and how it works in our world, she may be found savouring some time at the sewing machine, listening to records or writing postcards to unsuspecting friends.