Research highlights

Red illustration with yellow and orange dots on right hand side

Southern Cross University is helping run a resource centre in New South Wales that supports providers of Intensive Therapeutic Care.

Associate Professor Lynne McPherson and Dr Kathomi Gatwiri formalised a partnership with the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) to work as the research partners in the formation of the new Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care.

The partnership received $2 million in funding from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. Of this, $449,349 was awarded to Southern Cross University to conduct research into the needs of children in care and the evidence base for therapeutic group care.

Dr McPherson and Dr Gatwiri, along with researchers Nadine Cameron and Natalie Parmenter, have since produced a scoping review as well as a number of research briefings, podcasts and publications. These materials provide practitioners and clinicians with summaries of the literature and evidence on a range of approaches and issues in therapeutic care.

The next phase involves developing of a series of focal projects:

  • Experiences of care amongst LGBTI Young Adults
  • Histories of young people referred to therapeutic residential care in NSW
  • Working effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People, their families and communities
  • Long term outcomes: what facilitates and maintains relational stability, connection to employment, education and housing for care leavers in the longer term?

To achieve these projects, the University’s research team has expanded to include other cross-disciplinary members of Southern Cross, including Professor Norm Sheehan from Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples.

Dr McPherson and Dr Gatwiri are now exploring further options for expanding the project. This includes other states and territories, international opportunities, and national funding bodies like the Australian Research Council.

The intersections between politics and culture; and investigating labour histories in Australia and their manifestation in theatre and film

These are the interdisciplinary research interests of Dr Lisa Milner, Senior Lecturer and Course Coordinator of the Bachelor of Digital Media.

It started with her doctoral work on the films produced by the Waterside Workers’ Federation Film Unit (WWFFU) from the 1950s. Dr Milner’s research produced a monograph, a digitised set of the films and an oral history.

Closer to home and the racial tensions that overshadowed the small NSW mid-north coast town of Bowraville last century sparked her interest. Dr Milner was appointed the Bowraville Theatre’s restoration manager in 2000 when a group of residents was determined to re-establish the building as the town’s centrepiece. The residents also wanted to understand how community differences perpetuated by the early segregation practices could be overcome. Being restoration manager gave Dr Milner firsthand access to archives and information that was later published in a research paper.

From 1940 until it closed down in 1965 the Bowraville Theatre operated as a racially divided business. Aboriginal people had to buy their tickets separately, enter the theatre by a separate side entrance, occupy inferior wooden seats below an interior wooden partition, and leave before the program ended.

Charles Perkins and the Freedom Riders visited in 1965 to picket while their plans to stage a stand-in demonstration inside failed. One of the Gumbaynngirr people who joined the Freedom Riders at the theatre’s front door that day was 10-year old Martin Ballangarry, who for all of his young life had been denied front-door access. Uncle Martin is now a leader in the community, a Nambucca Valley Shire councillor and a supporter of the theatre’s restoration.

Dr Milner’s achievements as Bowraville Theatre’s restoration manager and the artistic and theatrical connections she formed have led to many publications and media presentations. A highlight was her appearance and contribution to SBS TV’s Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Indigenous singer Casey Donovan. It turns out one of Casey’s relatives is Uncle Martin.

Dr Milner and Uncle Martin worked with the SBS producers to present Casey with the story of her Granny Flo, another prominent elder in the Bowraville community. During the episode, Casey joins Uncle Martin and Dr Milner in the Bowraville Theatre to learn about its Indigenous segregation policy.

Dr Milner said raising awareness of Bowraville’s dark history with new national and international audiences through Who Do You Think You Are? was crucial. “It’s important for us to raise questions about the past, to unearth what’s happened to our families and our communities. Australia has many hidden histories just waiting to be uncovered.”