Susan Carter

Acknowledgement of country

In the spirit of reconciliation the authors wish to acknowledge the Giabal and Jarowair peoples of the Toowoomba area, the Jagera, Yuggera and Ugarapul peoples of Ipswich and Springfield, the Kambuwal peoples of Stanthorpe and the Gadigal peoples of the Eora nation, Sydney as the keepers of ancient knowledge where USQ campuses and hubs have been built and whose cultures and customs continue to nurture this land.  As authors, we acknowledge the cultural diversity of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and pay respect to Elders past, present and future. We celebrate the continuous living cultures of First Australians and acknowledge the important contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have and continue to make in Australian society. The authors wrote this textbook on the lands of the Giabal and Jarowair peoples of the Toowoomba area.


We sincerely thank Adrian Stagg, Manager (Open Educational Practice), Program Quality and Enhancement at the University of Southern Queensland who encouraged and guided us to publish our on-line textbook. His support and problem solving skills have been greatly appreciated as he helped bring the project to fruition. We also thank the Media Design and Development (MDD) team at the University of Southern Queensland, who helped us to  create some of the media images used in this text.  The kindness of colleagues has also been greatly appreciated as many people especially Melissa Fanshawe, took the time to provide feedback on images that we were considering for the book. Thank you to everyone who helped us in our journey to embrace the Pressbooks platform so that we could help realise our vision of providing an open, free, easily accessible textbook.

About the Authors

Susan Carter is both an educational leader and an academic. She has been an educator in schools for over 25 years in a variety of roles:  teacher; teaching principal; deputy principal; principal of a P-10 school; and as a principal of a large rural school. She has studied, education and two Master of Education degrees: one in special education, and the other in education theology. Her PhD research was in the area of how school Principals maintain their Subjective Well-Being. Her current research interests include: subjective well-being (SWB) in educational contexts; inclusion; social justice and school leadership.

Susan can be contacted by email:

Cecily Andersen is an experienced educational leader. She has been an educator for over 40 years across a variety of roles: teaching, school leadership and district and regional educational leadership, within primary, secondary, inclusive education and Indigenous community settings across remote, rural and regional areas. Cecily Andersen’s research interests include social justice, wellbeing, leadership in complex contexts, and how school leaders use coaching and mentoring to build capacity in others.

Cecily can be contacted by email:

Wellbeing as an issue

Wellbeing has been identified as a serious issue for principals, teachers and students within educational contexts. The problem of principal health and wellbeing has also been recognised at both national and state levels in Australia for the at least a decade and has been acknowledged as an issue of concern by the state, private, and independent school sectors. The first full scale independent study into the occupational health, safety and wellbeing of Australia’s school principals paints a pretty grim picture about the current work conditions for Australia’s school leadership (Riley, 2014). The survey of 2,049 principals found that along with threats and acts of violence, school principals are also more likely to be bullied, and are dealing with ever-increasing volumes of work and health problems due to stress (Riley, 2014).


Phillips and Sen (2011, cited in Riley, 2014) reported that, “work related stress was higher in education than across all other industries…with work-related mental ill-health…almost double the rate for all industry” (p. 177-8). This trend appears to be continuing, with another report suggesting that that in Queensland over $10 million has been paid in five years to stressed teachers and that teachers are making more mental stress claims than in any other industry (Worksafe Queensland, 2013, as cited in Acton & Glasgow, 2015). Reducing these impacts of work stress in the teaching profession has been the focus of much research in education. Although historically resilience to stress has been the main focus of studies, research in the area has recently shifted towards the school wide promotion of wellbeing (Powell & Graham, 2017).

A hand covered in rainbow paint

Figure  (i)  Photograph of a hand by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.


Within the wellbeing literature, there is a shared view that educational contexts  are best positioned to reach out to everyone and explicitly teach and promote wellbeing, potentially arresting trends of reported declining student and teacher wellbeing (Acton & Glasgow, 2015; Hogan, Thompson, Sellar, & Lingard, 2018), principal wellbeing (Riley, 2014), or of  feeling of not belonging (Allen,  Kern, Vella-Brodrick,  Hattie,  & Waters, 2018; Seligman, Ernst, Gillham, Reivch & Linkins, 2009).  There is, however, a lack of consensus as to the application and delivery of wellbeing programs within educational systems and educational contexts (Powell & Graham, 2017) and it is in this space that we hope to make worthwhile contribution.


Acton, R., & Glasgow, P. (2015). Teacher wellbeing in neoliberal contexts: A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 40 (8), 6.

Allen, K., Kern, M. L., Vella-Brodrick, D., Hattie, J., & Waters, L. (2018). What schools need to know about fostering school belonging: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 30 (1), 1-34.

Hogan, A., Thompson, G., Sellar, S., & Lingard, B. (2018). Teachers’ and school leaders’ perceptions of commercialisation in Australian public schools. The Australian Educational Researcher, 45 (2), 141-160.

Powell, M.A. & Graham, A. (2017). Wellbeing in schools: Examining the policy practice nexus. Australian Educational Researcher, 44 (2), 213-231.

Riley, P. (2014). Australian principal occupational health, safety and wellbeing survey: 2011–2014 data. Melbourne, VIC: ACU.

Seligman, M., Ernst, R., Gillham, J., Reivich, K. & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35 (3), 293-311. doi: 10.1080/03054980902934563

Worksafe Queensland. (2013). Queensland teachers most stressed workers. Retrieved  23 March 2015 from:


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