Dr. Melinda Smith OAM
Living with Cerebral Palsy and Embracing Technology to Participate in the Community, in Every Which Way, to Achieve the Best Possible Journey for Life
Dr. Melinda Smith comes from a professional background of mentoring and consultancy in the disability and education sectors. In 2008, Melinda began to develop a series of journal articles, conference presentations and workshops promoting the health and wellbeing outcomes of dance and movement for people who have physical disabilities, in particular those with complex communication needs. Her work has been presented at national and international conferences, including the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. In 2019 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Deakin University for ‘her outstanding contribution to the arts and her tireless work in breaking down barriers to inclusion for people with disability both in Australia and internationally.’
Melinda has always had a passion for visual and performing arts, and sees participation in this field as essential for the wellbeing of individuals. She believes that the creative process is intuitive and vital, regardless of age or disability. She continues to develop her work as a trainer and mentor for people with diverse physical needs, and is currently working at Melbourne’s Cerebral Palsy Education Centre in their Physical Education and Movement programme.
In 2016 Melinda received grants from the Australia Council for the Arts and Creative Victoria to collaborate with Dr Dianne Reid on their duet practice and performance Dance Interrogations and, in 2017, for the creative development of her solo work, Spasmotive. Their work features in Dr Reid’s documentary “Nothing But Bones In The Way.” The next phase of Melinda’s work sees her collaborating with Melbourne’s Women’s Circus.
Melinda lives with cerebral palsy, which has necessitated the use of powered wheelchairs and speech generating devices.