Higher-degree research being undertaken by Amelia Boyers




Professor Fran Waugh and Dr Susan Heward-Belle

Thesis title:

Mothering in the impossible spaces: the lived experiences of women who are mothering children in the context of sibling sexual harm.



Project description

My thesis is a qualitative, feminist exploration of the experiences of women who are mothering children who have been sexually harmed by a sibling. Involving in-depth interviews with 6 mothers and 14 supporting workers, it explores their experiences as well as their perceptions of helpful and unhelpful social and institutional responses. These experiences and perceptions can/should be used to improve service responses. My research explores the complex, and impossible situations that women in this context are mothering in and the simplistic and impossible social responses that families receive. This research also explores how women actively resist and contend enduring discourses of mother-blame, stigma and family dysfunction.

Prior to undertaking PhD research, Amelia Boyers was a counsellor and social worker for children impacted by sexualised violence and other forms of child abuse and neglect. During this work, Amelia became passionate about engaging with service-users in research to improve institutional and social responses to children, women and families.

Amelia is currently completing her thesis in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. While there, she will also be working with Professor Beth Glover Reed in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan as a research assistant on a project that examines the hybridity of programs and policies addressing intimate partner violence and alcohol and other drugs in North America. Amelia has also worked as a tutor and research assistant within the Sydney School of Education and Social Work.


  • University Postgraduate Award (2016)
  • Dr Helen Marchant-Pritchard Memorial Scholarship (2019)
  • Katharine Ogilvie Memorial Award (2017, 2018)

Conference presentations