Waves in Time 2019 Conference Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Louise CoakleyLouise Coakley

Louise Coakley has been researching family history for more than 20 years and using DNA since 2011. Louise started her career working with big business data in a multi-national blue-chip company, and now works with DNA data and family trees to solve genealogical relationship puzzles. DNA testing is now extremely popular, but beginners sometimes find it confusing. Louise has a passion for educating others in genetic genealogy, and makes difficult topics seem manageable. Louise convenes a DNA Interest Group, a Drop-In DNA Clinic, guides others to help them explore, interpret and apply their DNA results to their unique family situations, assists in searches for biological relatives, and maintains a website and blog to guide beginners. She created and leads the popular Facebook support groups Using DNA for Genealogy – Australia & NZ and DNA for Genealogy – UK and administers several other DNA groups and projects. Learn more

Keynote Topic: The Almighty DNA Wave

Topic: The Next DNA Wave – Testing Family Relics

Website | DNA Facebook Group AU & NZ | DNA Facebook Group UK

Dr Jon PrangnellDr Jon Prangnell

Associate Professor Jonathan Prangnell is a Reader in Historical Archaeology and Cultural Heritage in the School of Social Science, The University of Queensland. His research interests include the development of capitalism in the late 19th and early 20th century Queensland.

He has also published widely on the taphonomic and social transformations that result in the archaeological record of historic period burials. Jon is the past-president of the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology, is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Historical Archaeology, on the Brisbane City Council Heritage Advisory Committee and is an Honorary Research Fellow of the Queensland Museum.

Keynote Topic: North Brisbane Burial Ground – Solving a Mystery

Dr Richard ReidDr Richard Reid

Irish born and educated Dr Richard Reid, Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists and of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies, worked for more than 40 years as a high school teacher, museum educator, historian and museum curator.

Thirty of those years were spent in Canberra working for institutions such as the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the Senate and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In 1993 Richard was the Australian War Memorial’s Executive Officer on the project which returned the remains of an Unknown Australian soldier from France to Canberra for reburial in the Memorial’s Hall of Memory.

Between 2008 and 2011 he was the Senior Curator for the National Museum’s exhibition on the Irish in Australia – ‘Not just Ned’. Richard has written widely on the subject of Australia at war and the Irish in Australia, and in relation to both those subjects has led tours to Ireland, the old Western Front in France and Belgium, and to Gallipoli.

Now retired from the Australian Public service he was, until 2015, involved in a major archaeological and historical survey of the Anzac area on the Gallipoli peninsula and is currently on various projects on the emigration of the Irish to Australia and their presence here since 1788.

Among Richard’s publications are ‘a decent set of girls – The Irish Famine orphans of the Thomas Arbuthnot, 1849-1850’ (with Cheryl Mongan); Farewell my Children: Irish Assisted Emigration to Australia, 1848-1870; Bomber Command – Australians in World War II; Gallipoli 1915; Sinners, Saints and Settlers – a journey through Irish-Australia (with Brendon Kelson); and Anzac: A Gallipoli Landscape of War and Memory (one of four editors and a contributor).

Currently Richard is working with two colleagues in Sydney on the history of the Irish National Association of Australasia, 1915 to 2015.

Keynote Topic: Sure a man can find his way home: Signposts and Treasures in the Family Papers

Topic: When Charles 1 came to Bowning Public School and Mrs Thompson was Queen for a day in Yass – finding personal stories in local history collections


Cara DownesCara Downes

Cara Downes is an archivist who has worked for the National Archives of Australia for fifteen years with the majority of time working in the Queensland Office of the National Archives. Cara has had extensive archives experience both in Australia and the United Kingdom where she worked for the Oxford University Archives.

Cara currently works in the area of public access which means making the archival collection available and discoverable to the public. Cara is also the Senior Copyright Officer, providing permissions and advice on copyright for the use of material held in the National Archives to the public, organisations and Government Departments. An important aspect of Cara’s work with the public is the presentation of seminars that showcase the Archives collection through a wide range of topics.

Topic: Chinese – Making Queensland Home

Niles ElveryNiles Elvery

Niles Elvery is a Senior Archivist at Queensland State Archives. Niles has worked in the heritage sector for about 35 years in various roles at both State Library of Queensland and Queensland State Archives. Most recently he was seconded to State Library’s Q ANZAC 100 project as Regional Coordinator, traveling First World War workshops throughout Queensland – a very satisfying and stimulating role. Niles spoke about some of this work at the previous conference at the Gold Coast. Having returned to Queensland State Archives, he is now working on a number of service improvement projects and assisting with managing Reading Room services.

Niles has successfully implemented the Ambasqsador program at the archives which is a cross organisational initiative to make researchers feel more welcome when arriving at QSA. Please make yourself known to the Ambasqsador on duty when next visiting Queensland State Archives.

Topic: The Girl in the Photograph

John GrahamJohn Graham

John has been actively involved in genealogy since starting to research his own family in 1975. His interests subsequently expanded to embrace local history, in particular the area of the South Coast of NSW centred on the town of Gerringong. He has written five books on aspects of local history of the area, and co-authored a sixth with his wife Joanne.

From 1998 until 2005 John was head of the Sydney Dead Persons Society, during which time the DPS founded the Ryerson Index. He is currently President of Ryerson Index Inc.

John is a life member of Gerringong HS, and a member of Shoalhaven FHS and Richmond-Tweed FHS.

Topic: The Ryerson Index

Ryerson Website | Facebook

Dr Madonna GrehanDr Madonna Grehan

Madonna Grehan is an independent historian, a registered nurse and midwife, Honorary Fellow in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne and member of an ethics committee. She is President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine and a volunteer social-history tour guide at Melbourne’s Abbotsford Convent.

Madonna’s historical research centres on the history of nursing and midwifery in Australia since white settlement. She has a manuscript underway on nineteenth-century women, family life and maternity care, expressed through the biography of a midwife who migrated to Australia in 1836. Another of Madonna’s current research areas is the history of Queensland’s Centaur Memorial Fund for Nurses, established in 1948.

Topic: A Mixed Bag: Midwives, Nurses and Other Female Attendants in Queensland to 1915

Dr Jennifer HarrisonDr Jennifer Harrison

Dr Jennifer Harrison has been researching family and local history for well over a generation. For 22 years she was the Queensland researcher for the Australian Dictionary of Biography for the Australian National University and is a research adviser with the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at The University of Queensland.

Her Queensland research interests have concentrated on nineteenth-century migration to Queensland starting with our initial settlers at the penal settlement established at Moreton Bay in 1824. Over the years Jennifer has been awarded Fellowships by the Federation of Australian Historical Societies and the Royal Historical Society of Queensland which also bestowed life membership as did Brisbane History Group. Jennifer is the current patron of the Genealogical Society of Queensland.

She continues to publish and lecture widely, writing a quarterly column for Irish Roots since its inception in 1992, and was consultant historian for the recent Museum of Brisbane 2018 exhibition, Life in Irons.

Topic: In Their Own Words: How 1860s Immigrants Sailed Waves in Time to Queensland

Liesl HarroldLiesl Harrold

Liesl is a third generation family historian and is currently raising the fourth. She is the mother of three young adults. Being introduced to the stories of her ancestors practically from birth, Liesl has been researching her family history unassisted for over thirty years; twenty of those years has also been spent helping others with their research.

She achieved a Bachelor of Regional and Town Planning from the University of Queensland which included a thesis on The Recycling of Public Heritage Buildings: A Treasury Building Case Study. She has worked for Queensland Treasury as a Senior Statistician and for the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships in the work histories team.

Liesl has also completed the Certificate of Genealogical Studies and the Diploma of Family Historical Studies with the Society of Australian Genealogists. Family history is her passion and she loves assisting others find their connections.

Topic: Wait, I Can Map That?

Shauna HicksShauna Hicks

Shauna Hicks has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and worked in government for over 35 years in libraries and archives in Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne. Since retiring, she has written a number of family history guides and is a regular speaker at genealogy cruises, conferences and seminars. She now operates her own part time business at www.shaunahicks.com.au and is the author of the blog, Diary of an Australian Genealogist.

Shauna has a number of tertiary qualifications from Queensland universities including a Master of Arts in Australian Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Library Science and a Diploma in Family Historical Studies from the Society of Australian Genealogists. She is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society; a recipient of the Australian Society of Archivists Distinguished Achievement Award and the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations’ Services to Family History Award.

Topic: Tips & Tricks for Beginners: Avoid some Common Mistakes

Website | Blog | Twitter | Pinterest

Speaker - Dr Lynne HumeDr Lynne Hume

Anthropologist and Associate Professor with The University of Queensland, Lynne Hume is the author of seven published non-fiction books as well as many journal articles and encyclopedia entries in the area of anthropology, religion and spirituality. She has presented her research work at international conferences in Canada, the U.S. and Australia and has been interviewed with ABC’s National Radio, most recently on the God Forbid program in 2018.

A visit to the site of Cascades Female Factory in Hobart in 2014 sparked her interest in convict women in 19th century Australia. After almost two years of research towards writing another non-fiction book, she realised that the best way to convey the feel of what life might be like for these women would be through a fictional account based on historical facts. During this research journey, she became interested in her own family background and looked into researching family history as well.

Topic: Convict Women Ride the Waves

Milli KafcaloudisMilli Kafcaloudis

A Sunshine Coast local, a librarian by profession for 40 plus years and now an avid researcher of all things historical but with a special interest in developing technologies to connect families and research projects.

In 1974 after the Brisbane Floods, was seconded to the Queensland State Archives for a few months and developed an interest in family and local history.

Milli has volunteered as time permits for 45 years working with family and local history collections and groups and is currently involved with Genealogy Sunshine Coast in Petrie Park Road, Nambour in a number of roles:

  • Providing research assistance,
  • developing digital collections of local history and photographs,
  • teaching workshops on all aspects of digital technology and family and local history research
  • and developing an in house publishing programme for local and family history books and DVDs
  • and working on Cloud Storage for our genealogy collections locally.

Topic: Using Google For Family and Local History

Genealogy Sunshine Coast Website | GSC Facebook

Dan KellyDan Kelly

Boolarong Press, established in 1976, is a traditional trade publisher and a member of the Australia Publishers Association and the Small Press Network. Boolarong has published over 1,300 titles and currently has over 400 books in print. Boolarong has focused in history, biography and Australiana children’s books. Boolarong’s authors have been traditionally from Queensland and outback Australia. Following the demise of CQU Press, Boolarong has signed many of their authors to ensure these great outback stories continue to be told.

General Manager, Dan Kelly, has presented over 100 seminars and workshops on book publishing and biography writing. As an author, he appreciates the difficulties and frustrations authors experience with publishing and selling books.

Topic: Writing and Publishing Memoirs and Biographies Seminar

Boolarong Press | Facebook | Twitter

Jacqui KirkmanJacqui Kirkman

Jacqui has been interested in family history since she was a child when every visit to her grandmother’s house included pulling out an old hatbox full of family photos. Since beginning her research, Jacqui has discovered stories of grit and courage along with stories of crime, fraud and bigamy.

Her heritage is almost equal English, Scottish and Irish, she is proud to claim nine convict ancestors, many ag labs, textile workers, miners and farmers and a member of parliament.

Jacqui has had some of her genealogical writing published in magazines and has a somewhat neglected blog called Leaves on my Family Tree. She is a mother of four, wife, teacher and business owner who lives in Brisbane.

Topic: The Paisley Emigration Society and How It Shaped Queensland’s History


Dr Marion MackDr Marion Mackenzieenzie

Dr Marion Mackenzie is the Secretary of the Oxley-Chelmer History Group. She completed PhD studies in History at Queensland University in 2007, researching aspects of Queensland education. Her interests cover family, organisation and local government history.

She has authored and contributed to journals and publications, arranged exhibitions, tours and seminars. Some of these projects have been completed in collaboration with neighbouring historical associations.

Topic: After the War

Paul PartonPaul Parton

Paul Parton is a volunteer presenter with FamilySearch in their Outreach program. He also gives technical support to 145 FamilySearch Centres Australia-wide. He has had an interest in family history for more than 40 years.

At the time of his retirement he was Pacific Area Director of Information Technology Services with FamilySearch’s parent organisation. During that time he was instrumental in establishing fibre backbone computer labs in high schools in eight Pacific islands.

He was also involved in the early development of data acquisition systems at Australia’s nuclear research facility. He has a BA from the University of New England specialising in computers in education.

Topic: FamilySearch

FamilySearch Website | FamilySearch Wiki | Facebook |Twitter

Michelle PatientMichelle Patient

Known as The Patient Genie, Michelle Patient is a genealogist with qualifications in Chemistry and Geology, who has spoken Australia, New Zealand and England.  With ancestry ranging from early Australian military, convicts, and free settlers, as well as early New Zealand settlers through to post WWII Royal Naval Support, her personal research covers a wide range of British Isles diasporas and early Down Under research, including stories of will disputes, adoptions, children being given away, bankruptcies, and murder-suicides.

She has uncovered facts from fiction as part of her delving into these areas. Michelle belongs to many genealogy societies, has a keen interest in education, surname research, adoptions, methodology, and technology and was voted Gold medallist in the RockStar Down Under awards in 2017. With her interest in science, DNA has become an additional essential tool in her research and her work.

Topic: Reviewing Your Research – Or How to Get Past that Roadblock in Your Tree

Jason ReeveJason Reeve

Jason Reeve joined Ancestry in August 2016 as the Content Manager for Australia and New Zealand. A passionate advocate for all things history, Jason works closely with a range of archives, registries, historical & genealogical societies to uncover new record collections and share them with the Ancestry community.

Topic: Using Ancestry.com for Family History & an Introduction to AncestryDNA + Q&A
Ancestry AUS Website | Facebook AUS |Twitter AUS

Jonathan RichardsDr Jonathan Richards

Jonathan Richards is a professional historian specialising in archival research into colonialism, race and violence, and currently employed at the University of Queensland, who spends much of his time at the Queensland State Archives.

He is the author of ‘The Secret War’ (2005), the first comprehensive study of Queensland’s notorious Native Police force and numerous other publications.

Topic: Lost Records Hurt Historians

Stephanie RyanStephanie Ryan

Stephanie Ryan has been the Senior and Research Librarian in Family History at the State Library of Queensland for over 23 years. Previously she was a high school teacher and teacher-librarian.

She has participated in radio and television programs and been interviewed for newspaper and magazine articles in this capacity. She contributes to the State Library of Queensland’s blogs and writes articles on family history from time to time.

Together with other family history staff, she runs presentations for societies, libraries and the general public and manages several dozen information guides available on the web as well as a collection of Useful websites for family historians, and specialist indexes available on the family history home page. To assist researchers there is a free enquiry service of up to 1 hour per enquiry for Queenslanders backed by the extensive collections of the State’s main library and its increasingly digitised resources made freely available.

Topic: “Lost” Lists of the 1860s’ Immigrants to Queensland

Dr Anna ShnukalDr Anna Shnukal

Dr Anna Shnukal was awarded a Post-doctoral Scholarship in Sociolinguistics from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 1981 to record and codify the regional “lingua franca”, Torres Strait Creole (now called Yumplatok).

Since then she has lived and worked with Indigenous families on all the inhabited Torres Strait islands except Boigu, collecting stories about people and places. Subsequent genealogical work was facilitated by a grant from the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

A former Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Queensland and ARC Australian Research Council Fellow, she has written extensively on aspects of Torres Strait/Cape York language, culture and society. She is currently Honorary Associate at the Queensland Museum.

Topic: Some Practicalities and Pitfalls in Compiling Torres Strait Islander Genealogies

Helen V. SmithHelen V. Smith

Helen V. Smith has been researching since 1986. Being half English much of her research has been in England Ireland and Wales with the rest in Australia mainly Queensland. She has spoken to a wide variety of audiences nationally (every state/territory in Australia) and internationally at Who Do You Think You Are? Live London, New Zealand Family History Fair, on thirteen Unlock the Past Cruises, “Harvest Your Family Tree” Conference, Kelowna, BC, Canada, Rootstech USA and FGS USA.

She is the author of Death Certificates and Archaic Medical Terms, Google the Genealogist’s Friend and contributing author to Brisbane Diseased: Contagions, Cures and Controversy. She has also written for a number of magazines and family history journals. She is active on social media with her blogs, Facebook and Twitter. She is a lifetime Genealogical Society of Queensland member and is convenor of their DNA SIG now in its third year. Currently Helen is a part-time professional with lecturing, writing, and client research in Queensland and England. She is a member of Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild and International Society of Family History Writers and Editors.

Topic: DNA: What it can do for your Genealogical Research

Dragon Genealogy Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Shannon SuttonShannon Sutton

Shannon Sutton has been a Newspapers and Family History Librarian at the National Library of Australia for the past five years and he often gives presentations about the newspaper resources available at the National Library of Australia.

He writes for the NLA blog and with a personal interest in genealogy also uses the library for progressing his own family history.

Topic: Trove & Other National Library Newspaper Treasures

Trove Website | NLA Website | Trove Facebook | NLA Facebook

Barbara TooheyBarbara Toohey

Barb is a member of HAGSOC (Heraldry & Genealogical Society of Canberra) and is an experienced trainer and presenter with a background in teaching and data analysis. She regularly gives presentations at HAGSOC’s New Member Education Sessions, HAGSOC’s Course for Beginners and various local Education Events.

Barb has a long-standing commitment to preserving her family history and created her first family tree and family photo album in her early 20’s. After a break, she has been actively researching her family history for the last 25 years, with a strong emphasis on early Australian records as well as interests in English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch and German branches of her family. She has focused on publishing her family history using family tree charts, photographs and stories.

Her current time is divided between genealogy, teaching and playing bridge, Paddlesteamer deckhand commitments and travel. Occasionally she gets to visit her daughter in Queensland!

Topic: Who Wants My Work?

Sharn WhiteSharn White

Sharn White has a background in teaching and has studied history, local history and family history at a number of universities. She has been researching her family history for twenty-five years and writes four family history blogs, three of which have been archived by Trove’s Pandora website for their contribution to Australian historical research.

Sharn appeared on the television documentary, Coast Australia, after researching the convict history of Norfolk Island and presents regularly about a number of topics, including Convict History, German Immigration to Australia, House Histories, Blogging Family History and Telling Family History Stories.

In 2012, Sharn branched into researching house histories in and heritage reports and works both independently and for David White Architects, a Heritage Architectural Practice.

Sharn has been a Rootstech Ambassador each year since 2015 and will be attending the large conference as an Australian Ambassador in Salt Lake City again in 2019.

Topic: Telling Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Stories

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You can find out more about the speakers from the Meet the Speakers interviews on Blog Posts by the conference ambassadors.

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