Staff research projects

Academics from the School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS) are actively engaged in forming research partnerships with local industries and community organisations across the region and across an array of disciplines.

This page displays information on research projects in which SASS staff are involved. For journal articles, book abstracts, reports and conference publications please click on Personal Researcher Page links below, or search our staff directory.

List of Staff Research Projects

Reducing Health Disparities for Older LGBTI Australians - ARC Linkage Grant 2016- 2019

This project brings together researchers and key organisations in the health, aged care, and LGBTI sectors to build a much-needed evidence base to optimise health and aged care services throughout Australia. It will utilise quantitative and qualitative methods to provide detailed data on the health and support- related challenges and needs of older LGBTI Australians, as well as the educational and support needs of service providers, and will develop essential resources to support policymakers and service providers in reducing the health disparities faced by older LGBTI Australians. Research team: A/Prof Anthony Lyons, La Trobe University; Dr Catherine Barrett, La Trobe University; Prof Victor Minichiello, University of New England; Prof Mark Hughes, Southern Cross University; Prof Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, University of Washington, USA.
SASS staff member: Mark Hughes.
Contact: mark.hughes@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page

Exploring the changing dynamics of Immigrant African families in Australia (2017-18)

The project will explore the process of acculturation and the interrelationship of professional expertise, ethnic and national identity and their role in the psychological well-being and adjustment of African immigrants. The study will also identify the diverse African-origin immigrants to Australia and the different roles that they now play in their various roles as citizens, permanent residents and productive members of society. It will also look at the human capital of Africans that benefits Australia while investigating the subjective experiences of their immigration process.
Researcher: Glory Gatwiri
Contact: glory.gatwiri@scu.edu.au

Relationist Social Welfare and Policy Planning: Displacing ideology for social well- being (2017-2018)

Advances in human evolutionary theory have demonstrated that people are not the individualistic utility maximizers expected by the dominant neoliberal ideology of western societies. A critique of this ideological approach and expansion of the logic of a better informed relational approach to social behaviour assists theorists to understand the motives and strategies of social policy and social welfare practice. The approach develops a new strategic approach for welfare ethics as a motivational force for workers in the field. It is then applicable in cross cultural contexts as a middle ground skirting the dilemmas of absolutist and relativist approaches to culturally safe intervention. Studies in Australia and Melanesia are used to demonstrate its application when dealing with perpetrators of sexual exploitation of children. Reflections are continued upon how we arrived where we are today and what might be done about change. Researchers: Lester Thompson, and Liz Reimer.
SASS staff member: Lester Thompson.
Contact: lester.thompson@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page

Advancing Social Work Research - ARC Discovery Grant 2017-2020

The aim of the Advancing Social Work Research project is to increase the production, utilisation, and impact of social work research in Australia in order to improve the quality and effectiveness of human services. It is designed to enhance conceptual, methodological, and empirical understandings of the distinctive nature of social work research and its contribution to human services policy and practice. Research team: Professor Clare Tilbury, Griffith University; Professor Mark Hughes, Southern Cross University; Professor Christine Bigby, La Trobe University; Professor Mike Fisher, University of Bedfordshire, UK
SASS staff member: Mark Hughes.
Contact: mark.hughes@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page

Implementing an Integrative Model of Supervision to Strengthen Leadership Capabilities in Child Protection 2016-2017

Working with vulnerable children who have experienced abuse and neglect is recognised as a complex, psycho-socially challenging field of social work practice. It has been argued that the morally and emotionally demanding nature of this work poses particular challenges for practitioners and their managers. Statutory child protection practitioners must manage the tensions inherent in their dual role of legally mandated intervener and ‘helper’ within what has become an increasingly accountable and externally scrutinised field of practice.

Within this context, this study is focused on leadership and supervision in statutory child protection practice in Victoria, Australia. The overarching aim of this project is to explore the relevance of an integrative model of supervision for the child protection workforce. The study will seek to understand how child protection managers experience development in a contemporary model of supervision and to analyse their capacity to implement the model in the workplace.
Researcher: Dr Lynne McPherson
Contact: lynne.mcpherson@scu.edu.au

Exploring the client-worker relationship in Men's Behaviour Change Programs Project

This research will explore how the client/ worker relationship influences men’s changes in attitude, behaviour, and their overall retention in programs. The study will utilise case study research techniques through in- depth interviews with Men’s Behaviour Change Program (MBCP) participants, their workers, the workers’ supervisor and partners/ex partners in three sites in Northern NSW and southern Queensland. Further information is available via this link https://anrows.org.au/node/1378.
Researcher: Dr Elizabeth Reimer
Contact: liz.reimer@scu.edu.au

Pathways to support for parenting challenges within the 2484 area

Most parents find parenting difficult at times, no matter their socio-economic circumstances. Many reach out for help from trusted people close to them in their social network, such as family, friends, doctors, clergy and teachers. While a good source of general and popular parenting advice and support, these people are not usually knowledgeable about a diverse array of relationship, child development and parenting theories and techniques. Nor is it their primary role to support parents with parenting and family challenges. Relatively few parents seek help beyond these networks even when they continue to experience parenting challenges. They are only likely to seek help from specialist parenting and family work professionals when they have reached crisis point, or are forced to because others have noticed child protection issues. By this time much damage may be done to parents’ relationships with their children. Disengagement from parents is particularly risky for children and places children at greater risk of experiencing a range of personal and social issues that can become very costly for the individual and the society more broadly.
YET

  • very little is known about how parents experience asking for, and receiving help, across their social systems (informal and formal),
  • and of how these systems interact.

The aim of this project is to ask parents from a diverse range of social and demographic circumstances to analyse the networks of support they use to seek help for parenting challenges and to examine, in depth, how they sought help when faced with one significant parenting challenge.
Researcher: Dr Elizabeth Reimer
Contact: liz.reimer@scu.edu.au

It takes a town – Who are you connected to? Study

Much of what has been done to prevent and intervene regarding child maltreatment has been focused on ndividual pathologies of the parents and immediate family, and considered families separate from the community. However, social cohesion has been shown to provide a protective influence against, and to mediate, some child maltreatment factors within communities. There are a few examples of community development projects making use of the research on the links between community disadvantage and dis-empowerment, to try to develop a more caring and cohesive community with collective responsibility for the needs of children and families. The It Takes a Town (ITAT) project in Murwillumbah, Australia, (which is the focus for the study), sits within the type of community development project outlined above. This study proposes to add to the body of knowledge about such ideas, and to empirically test how a focus on building a community-wide attitude and behaviour of generosity and responsiveness to, and support for, the needs of others in the local community, impacts on social cohesion.
Researcher: Dr Elizabeth Reimer
Contact: liz.reimer@scu.edu.au

A co-operative inquiry into teaching and learning about case management at Southern Cross and Charles Sturt Universities.

Case management remains a foundational process in social work and welfare practice despite problems with the term itself and its continuously changing nature as it evolves to meet industry agendas. It’s theory and practice is taught within SCU’s Bachelor of Social Welfare course. We selected a cooperative inquiry method to undertake a peer review of the case management curricula. To date, our critical reflections of the ‘declared’, ‘taught’ and ‘assessed’ curricula have confirmed the curriculum is robust. We have also shared teaching and learning strategies for keeping abreast of the influences and impacts of changing industry demands on the scope of case management practice. Case management is integral to social work and welfare practice and while it might be influenced by developments in industry, we aim to enable our graduates to recognise and critically analyse the tensions that arise when taking an empowerment driven approach while working within organisational systems.
Research partners: Rohena Duncombe and Monica Short, Charles Sturt University; Sue Trembath and Dr. Louise Whitaker, Southern Cross University>br /> Contact: Dr Louise Whitaker

Fostering the capacity of graduates of SCU’s Bachelor of Social Welfare to critically self-reflect.

Critical self-reflection refers to the identification of deeply seated assumptions about the social world and the individual’s connection with it. Critical reflection is not only a teaching and learning tool used to educate future social welfare/ workers; it is considered an emancipatory teaching method, engaging learners and hence future practitioners, in the co-creation of understanding and knowledge. This project aims to improve the teaching and learning of critical self-reflection in Southern Cross University’s Bachelor of Social Welfare course. It involves a formative peer review of the critical reflection curricula and the development of the curricula.
Researchers: Dr Louise Whitaker and Dr Elizabeth Reimer
Contact: Dr Louise Whitaker

Edutourism: Enhancing research and teaching in Contemporary Music practice through alignment between higher education, creative arts industries and tourism. (2014 ongoing)

This project makes a comparative study of global tourist destinations, higher education provision, research and industry partnerships to inform curricula and pedagogy in music higher education. The project focuses on careers as musicians and entertainers on cruise ships, the musical training required for these vocations, and the creation of vocational pathways from universities to cruise ship industries. The project aims to create a partnership between Southern Cross University, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Celebrity Cruises. A musical theatre show entitled Over the Southern Seas, Under the Southern Sky, designed for performance on cruise ships will be the creative work outcome.
Lead Researcher: Annie Mitchell.
Contact: annie.mitchell@scu.edu.au

Developing Best Practice Pedagogy in the Provision, Supervision and Assessment of Practice-based Music Higher Degrees (2014 ongoing)

This is a collaborative project between Southern Cross University, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University and the University of Western Sydney. An Expression of Interest in this project has recently been accepted by the Office for Learning and Teaching, so a full-proposal is now being prepared. The project responds to a significant change of emphasis from traditional theses to creative work/exegesis models in music Honours and higher degrees. It aims to develop a national standards framework for provision, supervisory pedagogy and assessment of HDR in music.
Researchers: Annie Mitchell, Scott Harrison (Griffith University) and Diana Blom (University of Western Sydney).
SASS staff member: Annie Mitchell.
Contact: annie.mitchell@scu.edu.au
SCU ePublications

Universal Medicine – a study

Universal Medicine (UM) is an organisation established by Serge Benhayon in 1999 in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, Australia. Its activities centre around two major themes; esoteric teachings and complementary healing therapies. This first independent academic study of the movement involves several stages, beginning with identifying the main structure and activities of the movement and characterising it as a new religious movement. Thereafter the study will look at more nuanced features of the movement including understanding its positioning in the global context of changing religious activities and examining its relationships with the broader society.
SASS staff member: Angela Coco.
Contact: angela.coco@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page

Landed Histories (2012-ongoing)

Landed Histories is a collaboration between Southern Cross University researchers and food producers in the Northern Rivers. It aims to develop a series of case studies of land histories in the region, to explore diverse local responses to the changing economic, social, cultural and ecological dimensions of food production. The aim of this work has been to develop Landed Histories as a methodological approach, which we offer to other researchers, community groups, and individuals beyond the Northern Rivers as a unique lens to consider both the past and the future of agriculture and land-use more generally.
SASS lead investigator: Adele Wessell
Contact: adele.wessell@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page

Assessment in Music (AiM) (2013 ongoing)

Assessment in Music (AiM) is a project undertaken by the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, University of Newcastle and the University of Tasmania. The project, funded by the Office for Learning and Teaching, aims to develop and trial consensus moderation strategies that address the alignment between learning and assessment, and the Australian National Creative and Performing Arts Threshold Learning Outcome statements in tertiary music programs. In July 2013 a national symposium was held at Queensland Conservatorium of Music where Dr Annie Mitchell presented the paper New Wine in Old Bottles: Aligning curricula, pedagogy and assessment through creative practice in classical and contemporary music. This symposium has resulted in the book Assessment in Music: Principles and Practices, which is currently in print. New Wine in Old Bottles forms one chapter.
Contributing researcher and author: Annie Mitchell.
Contact: annie.mitchell@scu.edu.au
SCU ePublications

Radical Theatre Across the World (2014)

Radical or working-class theatre groups were crucial in the development of long- lasting left-wing cultural activist impulses in many industrially developed nations, including UK, Australia and the USA, as well as other nations including India and South Africa. This major research project aims to understand the ways in which people organised, and were organised through, their leisure lives within two radical theatre groups, and to show how these were connected to and contested as part of wider transformations in society.
Researcher: Lisa Milner.
Contact: lisa.milner@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page

Inside Australian Culture: Legacies of Enlightenment Values (2008-2014)

This collaborative research project offers a critical intervention into the continuing effects of colonization in Australia and the structures it brought, which still inform and dominate its public culture. Through a careful analysis of three disparate but significant moments in Australian history, the researchers investigate the way the British Enlightenment continues to dominate contemporary Australian thinking and values. Employing the lens of Indian cultural theorist Ashis Nandy, the researchers argue for an Australian public culture that is profoundly conscious of its assumptions, history and limitations.
Researchers: Baden Offord, Erika Kerruish, Rob Garbutt, Kirsten Pavlovic and Adele Wessell.
SASS Researchers: Baden Offord, Erika Kerruish, Rob Garbutt and Adele Wessell.
Contact: baden.offord@scu.edu.au
Baden Offord Personal Researcher Page
Erika Kerruish Personal Researcher Page
Rob Garbutt Personal Researcher Page
Adele Wessell Personal Researcher Page

Freda Brown (2014)

One of Lisa Milner's current major projects is the research and writing of a biography of Freda Brown, (1919-2009), Australian feminist, communist, activist. Freda was a long-time member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Australia, leader of the Union of Australian Women and, most significantly, President of the Women’s International Democratic Federation for 30 years. Her work in promoting peace and women’s issues has, up to now, been overlooked.
Researcher: Lisa Milner.
Contact: lisa.milner@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page

Cockatoo Island, Sydney (2014)

A labour history project investigating the work and organisation of the unionised employees of Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour over its use as a dockyard from 1850 to 1992. SASS researcher Lisa Milner is a member of the global research group 'In the Same Boat? Shipbuilding and ship repair workers: a global labour history (1950- 2010)'
Researcher: Lisa Milner.
Contact: lisa.milner@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page

Union-made Films (2014)

This project seeks to understand the motivations for, and effects of, films made by Australian trade unions over the past seventy years, and focuses on the work of the Maritime Union of Australia and the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association in presenting films on cinema screens, televisions and the internet that present alternate views of work and unionism to that of mainstream media.
Researcher: Lisa Milner.
Contact: lisa.milner@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page

Large Group Performance Teaching (2013 ongoing)

This project, based at the University of Western Sydney, has contributing researchers from other tertiary music institutions. The project responds to current pressures in music performance education, particularly where large group teaching is replacing individual tuition. The project aims to identify pedagogical opportunities and challenges arising from teaching practical music through group classes, requirements of studio specialisations, diverse student learning styles, assessment, and professional development for teachers. The book entitled Large Group Performance Teaching is due for publication in 2015. Dr. Annie Mitchell is contributing two chapters; Group Teaching in Music Performance and Teaching and Learning Strategies and Professional Development for Group Performance Teaching.
Contributing researcher and author: Annie Mitchell.
Contact: annie.mitchell@scu.edu.au
SCU ePublications

The Musical History of Paronella Park (2012-2014)

This research explores the musical history of Paronella Park, a Spanish-style resort, castle, theatre and botanical gardens built by Catalan migrants Jose and Margarita, near Innisfail in the early 1930s. Paronella Park became the musical and cultural hub of this area of North Queensland for several decades. The project investigates the cultural and musical entertainment offered at Paronella Park from 1930s to 1990s, identifies the musicians who played at Paronella Park during this time and their repertoire, and evaluates the influence of Paronella Park upon the local community. Paronella Park inspired several creative works, including the musical The Impossible Dream; written and performed in 2010 to commemorate the Park’s 75th anniversary. Research about the musical history of Paronella Park has been presented by Dr. Annie Mitchell to music and tourism conferences at the University of Leeds, Liverpool and James Cook University. Publications include Paronella Park: The Dream Continues, Paronella Park: Music, Migration and the Tropical Exotic, and Paronella Park: A Musical History of the Impossible Dream.
Lead investigator: Annie Mitchell.
Contact: annie.mitchell@scu.edu.au
SCU ePublications

The Home Project (2011-2013)

The Home Project is a three-year collaborative research project, established through a partnership between researchers in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Southern Cross University, and Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA). The Home Project's principal objective is to raise awareness of homelessness in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, through extensive and ongoing creative explorations and community engagement activities.
SASS lead investigator: Grayson Cooke.
Contact: grayson.cooke@scu.edu.au
Personal Researcher Page