I have conducted research throughout my career, using it as a tool for consultation with stakeholders, needs analyses, service review and evaluation and policy formation to ensure advocacy is based on solid evidence.

From laboratory experiments in my studies for a BSc, through analysing ABS statistics on trends in women’s workforce participation for the federal government to surveying past students for a school-to-work transition program in a Melbourne high school – research was embedded in my practice from the beginning. And this research was and continues to be grounded in practice and informed by the available literature.

My work with the Youth Homelessness Taskforce in the western suburbs of Melbourne was an action research project to trial solutions to the persistent problem of youth homelessness.

I expanded my research skills through my Masters studies and produced a research paper based on my thesis, which was published as an influential advocacy tool Powerless in a Privatised State (see the link below).

While working in the consumer advocacy sector I had the opportunity to oversee ground breaking research into the impact on women of the explosion of gambling venues in the suburbs and regional towns across Victoria.

After moving into the children’s services sector I am proud to have been part of the management of the first national survey of non-profit community children’s services, which is now repeated periodically to challenge misconceptions about the feasibility of delivering good quality early childhood education and care.

And recently, I have evaluated two new community services hubs in Melbourne.

I am now pursuing independent research, using the skills developed through study and practice-based enquiry. My research is now focussed on distilling the learnings from the Australian experience of community service hubs. I hope to establish a dialogue with others involved in design, delivery, research and policy development in this exciting area of innovation in the delivery of community services.

PUBLICATIONS

‘Multi-Agency Community Services Hubs: Selecting A Model To Meet Expectations’
This paper proposes that the first step in planning a multi-agency community services hub is to clarify its goals and then to identify the model of hub that best supports their achievement. It warns against overloading hub models that are best suited to practical outcomes with unrealistic expectations.

‘Are We There Yet? Why It’s Crucial To Agree On The Destination Before You Start The Journey’
A light hearted look at the traps of setting out to establish a community services hub without clearly defining your destination.

‘The Health Benefits of Community Participation in Child Care’
This 2003 paper was published in the proceedings of the ANU forum ‘Health for Life! A forum on work, health and families’. It spells out how academic research into health benefits of high quality child care for children and families can contribute to economic policy as well as to health and child care policy. In particular, it links the benefits of good child care to the model of parental control inherent in community owned models.

Powerless in a Privatised State
This paper examines the negative impact of privatisation on vulnerable Victorians by tracing trends in electricity disconnections due to inability to pay. It demonstrates clear links between the process of privatisation and a decrease in provisions to keep households in hardship connected to this vital utility.
Unfortunately an electronic version of this paper is no longer available; the linked pdf document is scanned from a hard copy and so is a large document (approximately 50MB) and may take several few minutes to download.
While this research was carried out some time ago, immediately following the privatisation of electricity in Victoria, it remains relevant in 2015, with inadequate hardship provisions continuing to show who are the losers from privatisation of essential services.

‘Cut off: the losers in utility privatisation’
This article summarises the findings of my academic research into the punitive impacts of electricity privatisation on vulnerable people. Published before the full report (see Powerless) above, it sets the findings in the context of the work of financial counsellors, who were the early detectors of this worrying trend and who continue to advocate decades later for hardship provisions for households who can’t afford access to this vital service.