Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Resilience Across the Lifespan

Research Area Leader

Professor Suzanne McLaren

Professor Suzanne McLaren

  • Overview
  • Members
  • Projects
  • PhD Projects
  • Recent Publications


To enhance the ability of individuals, groups, and communities to thrive despite experiencing adversity

Our research investigates how individuals, groups, and communities achieve positive adjustment and outcomes in the context of past and present adversities, including trauma, poor physical and/or mental health, loneliness, marginalisation and social exclusion, disability, inequalities, prejudice, discrimination, contact with the legal system, and out-of-home care.

Working from this broad perspective, our research focuses on:

  • developing an understanding of risk and protective factors across the lifespan;
  • developing an understanding of the circumstances, processes, or operations of these factors;
  • developing, evaluating, and refining resilience-based intervention strategies and models to promote resilience and positive outcomes at the individual, group, and community levels and identifying their culture-specific dimensions; and
  • developing, evaluating, and testing appropriate measures and models for the study and assessment of resilience.





Research Interests


Suzanne McLaren

Prof Suzanne McLaren

Professor Suzanne McLaren's research focuses on resilience among sexual and gender minority adults and older adults, with a focus on understanding the role that psychological variables play as protective factors.  Sense of belonging has featured prominently in her research.  Current projects investigate the protective role of hope among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, and self-compassion as a protective factor among LGBTIQ+ adults.

Link to research output

Port Macquarie

Robyn Brunton

Dr Robyn Brunton

Dr Robyn Brunton completed her post-graduate studies and doctorate at Charles Sturt University.  Her PhD dissertation was on pregnancy-related anxiety.  Since then Robyn has continued to research this distinct anxiety and is currently co-editor of a book on the topic and published numerous papers.  More broadly speaking, Robyn's research interest extends to all types of anxiety and other areas of women's psychosocial health (e.g. body image, sexual abuse and pregnancy).

Link to research output


Mir Rabiul Islam

Dr Mir Rabiul Islam

Dr Mir Rabiul Islam's research interest centres around issues related to environmental social psychology.  In particular, his research focuses on environmental factors and health impacts relating to climate change; coping, adaptation, resilience and recovery in natural disasters; climate justice, human rights and displaced population.

Link to research output


Donnah Anderson

Dr Donnah Anderson

Dr Donnah Anderson's research focuses on children and young people's rights, voice and wellbeing, and the adults who card for or work with them.  Donnah is currently a Chief Investigator in an Australian Research Council Discovery Project investigating the role of ethical practice in improving child safety and wellbeing in three institutional contexts - schools, residential care and disability services.  Expected outcomes include better-targeted, child-informed policy and practice for organisations involved with children.

Link to research output

Port Macquarie

Karl Wiener 

Dr Karl Wiener

Dr Karl Wiener's broad research interests are within psychopathology and behaviour.  Current projects are focused on what drives racial animus and the influence of racial animus on punitive behaviours; exploring precursory factors that make the development of PTSD following trauma more likely; and the influence of patient aggression and family aggression on carers of older adults.

Link to research output

Wagga Wagga


PhD Projects


Topic/Area Research


Eleina Littlejohns

Social capital and psychological capital as predictors of burnout among teachers: A longitudinal study

Professor Suzanne McLaren
Dr Donnah Anderson

Catherine Strods

The influence of past experience on evacuation behaviour of university staff and students

Dr V. Ingham
Dr M.R. Islam

John Moy

Sustainable models for volunteer emergency services in Australia

Dr V. Ingham
Dr M.R. Islam

Andrew Williams

Emergency responders’ understanding and approaches in addressing Domestic Violence during and after the natural disasters

Dr Philip Birch
Dr M.R. Islam


Older Adults

  • Hodgetts, J., McLaren, S., Bice, B., & Trezise, A. (accepted). The relationship between self-compassion, rumination, and depressive symptoms among older adults: The moderating role of gender. Aging and Mental Health.
  • McLaren, S. (accepted). The relationship between living alone and depressive symptoms among older gay men: The moderating role of age. Journal of Homosexuality.
  • Sadler, P., McLaren, S., Klein, B., & Jenkins, M. (2020). Cognitive behaviour therapy for insomnia and depression: Qualitative reflections from older adults who participated in a randomised control trial. Aging and Mental Health, 24, 932-938.
  • Miller, K, J., Mesagno, C., McLaren, S., Grace, F., Yates, M., & Gomez, R. (2019). Exercise, mood, self-Efficacy, and social support as predictors of depressive symptoms in older adults: Direct and interaction effects. Frontiers in Psychology.

Sexual and Gender Minority Adults

  • Snooks, M. P., & McLaren, S. (accepted). Resilience among trans and gender diverse adults: The protective role of dispositional hope in the perceived burdensomeness-suicide relationship. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.
  • McLaren, S., & Castillo, P. (accepted). What about me? Sense of belonging and depressive symptoms among bisexual women. Journal of Bisexuality.
  • McLaren, S. (2020). The relationship between living alone and depressive symptoms among older men: The moderating role of sexual orientation. Aging and Mental Health, 24, 103-109.
  • Riley, K., & McLaren, S. (2019). Relationship status and suicidal behavior in gay men: The role of thwarted belongingness and hope. Suicide and Life-threatening Behaviour, 49, 1452-1462.