Dr Anne Stephens


Senior Researcher

Anne's background spans across education, project management and research. Anne's passion for teaching extends across the spectrum from middle primary to tertiary students. She has worked in State and Independent schools teaching Senior Economics, Business Studies, English and Social Science. She now advises PhD and Masters research students at JCU.

Anne was writing professionally for Outback Magazine from the age of 16 and have always been involved in communicating science and ideas to various audiences. She has managed conferences and events, film-making competitions, hosted public forums, public rallies and gala dinner fundraising events.  She was a senior communications officer with the Queensland Department of Education and the Arts and consultant to Network Ten’s Children’s Television Production Unit. 

Anne has an enduring interest in grassroots social movements.  She was a foundation board member of Food Connect Inc, a community supported agriculture social enterprise based in Brisbane; media and events manager for the Save the Mary River campaign, and the State Coordinator of Conservation Volunteers Australia from 1992-96.  She is presently a Director of Foodswell Ltd., and member of the Remote Indigenous Gardens Network.

Research Interests

As a sociologist Anne found herself wondering about our social organisation and responses to life's challenges. Her field of interest is community development and as a systems thinker, she is interested in holistic and integrated approaches to improve the social outcomes of interventions. This necessitates an interdisciplinary approach and she has the privilege of working with people with backgrounds in medicine and health sciences, geosciences, ecology, urban planning, law, management, social work, anthropology, education and psychology. Anne is ideally situated to take on projects with such broad scope as a post-doctoral Senior Researcher in the Cairns Institute.

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Research Projects

Current Projects

  • Training for impact: Building an understanding of community development training and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community development outcomes.
  • Monitoring and evaluating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community development training for community and personal empowerment outcomes.
  • Evaluation of the Far North Queensland Therapeutic Community – Indigenous specific alcohol and drug treatment facility.
  • Social and economic evaluation using participative research methodologies.

Publications & Resources


Petray, T., & Stephens, A. (Eds.). (2015). Refereed proceedings of TASA 2015 conference: Neoliberalism and contemporary challenges for the Asia-Pacific. Cairns: James Cook University.

Stephens, A. (2013). Ecofeminism and systems thinking. New York: Routledge.

Book Chapters

Brewer, T.D., Oppermann E., Stephens, A., Turnour, J., Dale, A., O’Brien, C., & Matthew, S. (2015). Tropics of possibility: Towards northern Australia governance as a cognitively converged complex system? In R. Wallace (Ed.), A monologue of the Northern Institute. Canberra: e-ANU Press.

Stephens, A. (2015). Ecofeminism and systems thinking: Shared ethics of care for action research. In H. Bradbury (Ed.), The Sage handbook of action research (3rd ed., pp. 564-572). London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Stephens, A. (in press). The stymieing of public discourse on climate change and what a systemic new-ecofeminist curiosity can do about it. In D. Vakoch (Ed.), Ecofeminist intersections. London: Lexington Books.

Stephens, A., Oppermann, E., Dale, A., & Potts, R. (in press). Exploring critical systems thinking as a framework for governance systems analysis. In A. Dale (Ed.), northern perspective. Canberra: e-ANU Press.

Journal Articles

Snijder, M., Shakeshaft, A., Wagemakers, A., Stephens, A., & Calabria, B. (2015). A systematic review of studies evaluating Australian indigenous community development projects: The extent of community participation, their methodological quality and their outcomes. BMC Public Health, 15(1154), 1-16. doi: 10.1186/s12889- 015-2514-7.

Liley, W., Stephens, A., Kaltner, M., Larkins, S., Franklin, R. C., Tsey, K., et al. (2012).Infant abusive head trauma: Incidence, outcomes and awareness. Australian Family Physician, 41, 823-826.

Stephens, A. (2012). Feminist systems theory: Learning by praxis. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 25(1), 1-14. doi: 10.1007/s11213-011-9212-x2010.

Stephens, A. (2013). Principled success: Eco-feminism and systems thinking come together for better project outcomes. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 6, 199-209.

Stephens, A. (2014). Systemic intervention practice at an Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drugs treatment centre. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 27(4), 309-323. doi: 10.1007/s11213-013-9291-y.

Stephens, A., Baird, L., & Tsey, K. (2013). Australian indigenous community development: Making the link between community development training and community development practice. Community Development, 44(3), 277-291. doi: 10.1080/15575330.2013.792291.

Stephens, A., Baird, L., Turpin, E., & Tsey, K. (2012).Community organisation and development training at Wontulp Bi-Buya College: assessing the impact of indigenous community development training. Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, 15(3), 39-56.

Stephens, A., & Bohanna, I. (2013). Why indigenous Australians need a properly funded NDIS. The Conversation (18 December 2013).

Stephens, A., Bohanna, I., Graham, D., & Clough, A. R. (2013). Screening and assessment instruments for use in indigenous-specific alcohol and drug treatment rehabilitation. Journal of Tropical Psychology, 3, 1-11. doi: 10.1017/jtp.2013.2.

Stephens, A., Bohanna, I., Massey, L., & Cullen, J. (2014). Will the National Disability Insurance Scheme improve the lives of those most in need? Effective service delivery for people with Acquired Brain Injury and other disabilities in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 73(2), 260-270. doi: 10.1111/1467-8500.12073.

Stephens, A., Jacobson, C., & King, C. (2010). Describing a feminist-systems theory. Systems Research and Behavioural Science, 27, 553-566. doi: 10.1002/sres.1061.

Stephens, A., Jacobson, C., & King, C. (2010). Exploring FST principles in community development: The ‘Carrot on a Stick’ Early Health Intervention Programme. International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations, 10(2), 257-276.

Conference Proceedings & Papers

Liley, W., & Stephens, A. (2012). Scoping the purple program for rural and remote settings in Australia. Paper presented at the Twelfth International Conference on Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma, Boston/Cambridge.

Stephens, A. (2012). Generating inhabit-ability: Five principles for policy and project management practice. Paper presented at the EcoSummit 2012. 4th International Ecosummit: Ecological Sustainability. Restoring the planet's ecosystem services, Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Research Reports

Bohanna, I., Stephens, A., Wargent, R., Catherall, J., Timms, C., Graham, D., et al. (2013). Assessment of acquired brain injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: Guidance for DisabilityCare Australia. Cairns, QLD: James Cook University.

Stephens, A. (2014). Training for impact: Healing and recovery from trauma through training. Wontulp Bi-Buya College, 2012 - 2014. The Healing Foundation Commissioned Report. Cairns, QLD: James Cook University. doi: 10.13140/2.1.2989.9208

Stephens, A. (2015). Training for life: Supporting communities to reduce the risk of suicide. The delivery of Certificate IV in Indigenous Mental Health (Suicide Prevention). Wontulp Bi-Buya College, 2014–2015. Cairns, QLD: James Cook University.

Stephens, A., & Tsey, K. (2011). How are we doing? Project evaluation of Community Organisation and Development Certificate III delivered by Wontulp Bi-Buya College 2008 – 201. Cairns, QLD: James Cook University.

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Mr Jim Turnour
  • Ms Meike Sneider
Dr Anne Stephens


T: +61 7 4042 1872
E: anne.stephens@jcu.edu.au

James Cook University
Cairns, QLD