Doctor Nicole Peel

Doctor Nicole Peel

DAP - Undergraduate Health Sciences,
Undergraduate Health Science

Lecturer - Therapeutic Recreation,
Undergraduate Health Science


Nicole Peel is a Lecturer in Recreational Therapy in the School of Health Sciences at Western Sydney University. Nicole completed a Ph.D. from Western Sydney University and has completed a B. Leisure Studies, M. Health Science, and M. Business Administration.

Nicole is an established clinical recreational therapist, and health educator with over 30 years of experience working with people with intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, older people, children and adolescents, and marginalised individuals. Foremost she is a scientist curious to look for innovation and cracks to disrupt and change.

Her research focuses on the importance of play and leisure as a foundation for trauma-informed care principles to improve the quality of life for marginalised individuals and their families so that resources are available and useful to a wide range of lay practitioners (like foster parents, family carers, or friends or staff).

Nicole has been involved in projects documenting the issues within complex systems.  Of note, Nicole is the chief investigator in the longitudinal study of Foster Carers' health and well-being.

Nicole is a registered HDR supervisor and welcomes inquiries from potential honours, master, and PhD students. 

Nicole is actively engaged in the community with professionals, non-government organisations and private providers across NSW Area Health, disability services, children services and aged care providers. Nicole holds the following positions:

  • Chair of Western Sydney University Children in Out-of-Home care Steering Committee
  • Regional Editor, World Leisure Organisation Journal
  • Australian representative on the International Therapeutic Recreation Coalition
  • Board Member, Myrtle Cottage (not for profit service provider to the elderly and marginalised individuals)
  • Executive Board Member, Cycling Without Age


This information has been contributed by Doctor Peel.


  • PhD Western Sydney University
  • C4TA Competency Training Institute of Australia
  • GradCertResSt University of Western Sydney
  • MBA University of Western Sydney
  • Master of Health Science University of Sydney
  • Blest University of New South Wales

Professional Memberships

  • World Leisure Organisation (2015)
  • Australian Bush Therapy Association (2019)
  • The Australian Sociolological Association (2019)
  • ANZALS (2015)


  • WSU Vice-Chancellor Award for Excellence in University Engagement and Sustainability 2017-12-12
  • School of Health Science Teaching Excellence Award 2020-12-01
  • School of Health Science Engagement Excellence Award 2020-12-01


  • Creativity
  • Leisure

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Undergraduate Health Science
  • Undergraduate Health Science


  • Disability Advisor


Phone: (02) 4620 3232
Location: 24.2.10

PLEASE NOTE: obtaining information from this Directory must be for the legitimate purposes of doing business with and within Western Sydney University, and must not be used for unsolicited bulk e-mailing (spamming) or similar purposes.


Previous Teaching Areas

  • 400252 Workplace Learning 2 (Community Placement), 2019
  • 400254 Therapeutic Recreation Professional Project, 2018
  • 400786 Professional Transition Project, 2018
  • 400789 Leisure Education Programming and Mental Health, 2019



  • Maxwell, H., Maxwell, H., McGrath, R., Peel, N. and Young, J. (2022), 'Exploring the Leisure: Health Nexus Pushing Global Boundaries', : CABI 9781789248142.

Chapters in Books

  • Peel, N., O'Shea, M., Maxwell, H. and Cheng, J. (2023), 'Challenging color blindness in sport : women deconstructing whiteness', Handbook of Critical Whiteness: Deconstructing Dominant Discourses across Disciplines, Springer 9789811916120.
  • O'Shea, M., Maxwell, H., Peel, N. and Duffy, S. (2023), 'Tackling gender inequality and promoting a healthy lifestyle : the women in sport roadshow', Social Marketing: Principles and Practice for Delivering Global Change, Routledge 9781032059662.
  • Peel, N. and Bowen, H. (2022), 'Intersection between art and health evolution', Exploring the Leisure-Health Nexus: Pushing Global Boundaries, CABI 9781789248142.
  • Peel, N., Gray, T. and Reis, A. (2022), 'Climate change, leisure and health : the double-edged sword of leisure and the environment', Exploring the Leisure-Health Nexus: Pushing Global Boundaries, CABI 9781789248142.
  • Young, J., Peel, N., McGrath, R., Maxwell, H. and Maxwell, H. (2022), 'Conclusion : the pandemic and future directions', Exploring the Leisure-Health Nexus: Pushing Global Boundaries, CABI 9781789248142.
  • McGrath, R., Maxwell, H., Young, J. and Peel, N. (2022), 'Introduction', Exploring the Leisure-Health Nexus: Pushing Global Boundaries, CABI 9781789248142.
  • O'Shea, M., Maxwell, H., Maxwell, H., Duffy, S. and Peel, N. (2020), 'One step forward and two steps back? : pandemic effects and women's sport in Australia', Impacts and Implications for the Sports Industry in the Post-COVID-19 Era, IGI Global 9781799867807.
  • Peel, N. (2015), 'Robotics programming kids for leisure', Innovative Leisure Practices: Cases as Conduits Between Theory and Practice, World Leisure Center of Excellence 9781928172031.

Journal Articles

  • Tang, C., Thyer, L., Bye, R., Kenny, B., Tulliani, N., Peel, N., Gordon, R., Penkala, S., Tannous, C., Sun, Y. and Dark, L. (2023), 'Impact of online learning on sense of belonging among first year clinical health students during COVID-19 : student and academic perspectives', BMC Medical Education, vol 23, no 1 .
  • Peel, N., Nguyen, K. and Tannous, C. (2023), 'The impact of campus-based therapy dogs on the mood and affect of university students', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol 20, no 6 .
  • Tulliani, N., Mills, C., Collison, L., Peel, N., Fahey, P. and Liu, K. (2023), 'Protocol : The effectiveness of sensory interventions targeted at improving occupational outcomes, quality of life, well-being and behavioural and psychological symptoms for older adults living with dementia : a systematic review and meta-analysis', Campbell Systematic Reviews, vol 19, no 2 .
  • Gowan, M., Peel, N., Elcombe, E. and Blythe, S. (2023), 'An exploration of the self-care practices of foster carers in Australia', Adoption and Fostering, vol 47, no 2 , pp 192 - 210.
  • Yang, G., Li, X., Peel, N., Klupp, N., Liu, J., Bensoussan, A., Kiat, H. and Chang, D. (2022), 'Perceptions of participants on trial participation and adherence to Tai Chi : a qualitative study', Patient Preference and Adherence, vol 16 , pp 2695 - 2707.
  • Peel, N. and Davison, G. (2022), '[In Press] Using leisure in foster care to generate advantage', Journal of Public Child Welfare, .
  • Peel, N., Maxwell, H., Maxwell, H. and McGrath, R. (2021), 'Leisure and health: conjoined and contested concepts', Annals of Leisure Research, vol 24, no 3 , pp 295 - 309.
  • Young, J., Maxwell, H., Maxwell, H. and Peel, N. (2021), 'Book review : Leisure, health and well-being: a holistic approach', Annals of Leisure Research, vol 24, no 3 , pp 445 - 447.
  • Young, J., Maxwell, H., Maxwell, H. and Peel, N. (2021), 'Leisure meets health : important intersections and alternative discourses', Annals of Leisure, vol 24, no 3 , pp 275 - 282.
  • Peel, N. and Robinson, D. (2019), 'Therapeutic recreation in Australia', Therapeutic Recreation Journal, vol 53, no 3 , pp 264 - 267.
  • Tower, J., McGrath, R., Sibson, R., Adair, D., Bevan, N., Brown, G., Foley, G., Fullagar, S., Gray, L., Hawkins, C., Jeanes, R., Kerr, R., Martin, K., Maxwell, H., Maxwell, H., McDonald, K., Peel, N., Reis, A., Xing, T., Yerbury, R. and Zimmerman, J. (2018), 'State of leisure studies in Australia and New Zealand', World Leisure Journal, vol 60, no 1 , pp 58 - 66.
  • Peel, N. (2016), 'Navigating opportunities for young people in care', Developing Practice, vol 46 , pp 20 - 28.
  • Peel, N. and Beckley, A. (2015), 'Children in out of home care : should we give them a fair go?', Children Australia, vol 40, no Special Issue 4 , pp 372 - 378.

Conference Papers

  • Tang, C., Thyer, E., Bye, R., Tannous, C., Kenny, B., Penkala, S., Tulliani, N., Peel, N., Sun, Y., Zhu, X., Dark, L. and Gordon, R. (2021), 'The impact of COVID online learning on first year clinical health students' sense of belonging : student and academic perspectives', Students Transitions Achievement Retention and Success Conference, online.
  • Grashorn, J., Peel, N. and Alford, S. (2021), 'Recreation therapy in the time of Covid-19, a multi-faceted rapid knowledge synthesis on the implications and opportunities of telehealth for recreation therapy practice', Diversional and Recreation Therapy Australia. Conference, online.
  • O'Shea, M., Maxwell, H., Maxwell, H. and Peel, N. (2020), '"Women in Sport Roadshow" : exploring partnership approaches to creating sport opportunities for girls and emerging women', Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand. Conference, online.
  • Truong, S. and Peel, N. (2019), 'Australian professional identity in therapeutic recreation : exploring perspectives from the field', Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association. Annual Conference, Quebec, Canada.
  • McGrath, R., Maxwell, H., Maxwell, H. and Peel, N. (2019), 'Unravelling linkages between leisure and health discourses', Leisure Studies Association. Annual Conference, Dundee, Scotland.
  • Peel, N. (2019), 'Leisure education within a health framework', Australia and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies. Conference, Queenstown, N.Z..
  • Peel, N. (2019), 'Young people in foster care and their leisure : tools for living independently', Australian and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies. Conference, Queenstown, N.Z..
  • Zimmerman, J., Peel, N. and Thomas, K. (2018), 'Study abroad partnerships : costs and benefits for host universities', World Leisure Congress, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Peel, N., Maxwell, H. and Maxwell, H. (2017), 'Leisure "either biomedical or salutogenic"', Australia and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies. Conference, Hobart, Tas..
  • Peel, N. (2017), 'Navigating to greater opportunity', Australia and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies. Conference, Hobart, Tas..
  • Beckley, A., Peel, N. and Pourau, R. (2015), 'Ensuring equal opportunities for Children in Out of Home Care : what is being done?', National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia. Conference, Western Sydney University, Parramatta Campus.
  • Matheson, I., Fernandez, E., McNamara, P. and Peel, N. (2015), 'Slipping down ladders and climbing up snakes : the experiences of university students who were formerly in OOHC, and research challenges to current policy and practice', , .

Other Publications

  • 2023, 'Co-Design of an Integrated Intergenerational Model: Uniting Generations Through Shared Spaces', Report
  • 2022, 'Everyday Leisure', Published Work
  • 2019, 'Sounding Out: Music for Health and Wellbeing', Report

Nicole's overall research interest is in understanding how health and leisure link to improve the lives of marginalised individuals.

Research interests

Social Prescribing

Leisure and Health Literacy

Trauma Informed Care

Children. Adolescents and Family Health, People with disabilities, Foster care, Ageing, Healthy Ageing

Health and therapy




Exploring the experiences of female consumers of alcohol and other drugs services of an arts-based support program in Western Sydney Health, Reis & Peel


School of Education Partnership Grant: Australian professional identity in Therapeutic Recreation: Exploring Perspectives from the Field, Truong & Peel



This information has been contributed by Doctor Peel.

Previous Projects

Title: CAPACITE - Students with Disabilities Low SES
  • Department of Education and Training (non ACRG)
Western Researchers: Nicole Peel
Years: 2015-01-01 - 2016-12-31
ID: P00024642
Title: Operation Surf Australia - Impacts of a Surf Therapy Program on Young Veterans
  • Keith Payne VC Veterans Benefit Group
Western Researchers: Arianne Reis and Nicole Peel
Years: 2020-09-01 - 2022-03-01
ID: P00026743


Current Supervision

Thesis Title: How do recreational therapists facilitate purposeful living for people with high support needs, in residential aged care facilities
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Impacts of a Surfing Therapy Program on Ex-Serving Veterans
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: A Qualitative Exploration of the Perceived Causes, Impacts and Solutions to Domestic Violence with Aboriginal Women in Australia
Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: Considering The Mental Health Challenges Faced By Artist Facilitators In Delivering Intellectual Disability Arts Programs In Australia
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Parenting Stress, Mindset and Attachment in Out-of-home Carers
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: The Impact of Psychological Safety on Performance Outcomes in Elite Team Sport
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: How Do People with a Disability Living in Residential Care Settings Deal with Skin Conditions?
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Learning the small harp for interactive music-making with future clients: Exploring the student experience
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Loneliness in the Aging Prison Population: Implementation of a Leisure-based Intervention
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Pedestrian Safety Interventions for Children with Autism
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: An exploration of foster parents digital literacy online to improve foster parents wellbeing to aid their role in caring for children in care.
Field of Research:

Western Sydney University

Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751

Tel: +61 2 9852 5222

ABN 53 014 069 881
CRICOS Provider No: 00917k