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Forum engages research partners to underscore commitment to social good

8 November 2016

The National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, Sydney Theatre Company and Barnardos Australia were among the contributors to a forward-looking forum on research collaboration. 

Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work, Professor Diane Mayer, Parenting Research Director, Annette Michaux, and Barnardos Australia CEO, Deirdre Cheers at our recent Engaging Research forum. Image: University of Sydney

Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work, Professor Diane Mayer, Parenting Research Director, Annette Michaux, and Barnardos Australia CEO, Deirdre Cheers, at our recent Engaging Research forum. Image: University of Sydney

A new paradigm to Close the Gap in education, examples of the power of drama in our schools, and details of a major new institute with a mission to improve children’s lives were discussed at The Engaging Research forum organised by the Faculty of Education and Social Work.

Opening the forum, Professor Diane Mayer, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work, detailed the faculty’s strong record of research collaboration with community, agency and industry partners.

“Real-world issues and problems are addressed best through multiple disciplines and multiple ways of thinking,” said Professor Mayer.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

New paradigm to Close the Gap

“The social determinants of educational achievement must be recognized and addressed,” said Dr Huggins AM FAHA.

“No matter who they are, people subjected to inter-generational poverty, over-crowded housing, lack of employment opportunities, cultural dispossession, discrimination, poor health, social deprivation and the correlates of these conditions are less likely to participate and succeed in the education system. We need to acknowledge and address these issues.” 

Drama as a force for change

Patrick McIntyre, Executive Director of Sydney Theatre Company, discussed over a decade’s worth of collaboration with the faculty on the transformative power of the arts – chiefly, drama – in education.

“The question of why we undertake research is a fundamental one,” said McIntyre.

“Essentially, knowledge provides confidence to think and plan big. Through research we can confirm hunches with evidence, we can test new ideas, and sometimes research itself will throw up something that no-one ever thought of before.”

An evidence base in adoption policy

Barnardos Australia CEO Deirdre Cheers (BSocStud 1980, MSW 2006, M.P.Admin 2011) detailed a major new research institute for the study of open adoption, launched by NSW Premier Mike Baird (BA 1989) at the University of Sydney in March 2016.

“Partnering with the University of Sydney in this way will bring the level of academic rigour and transparency to future research that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to deliver on our own,” said Cheers.

Engaging Research: Partnerships in Educational and Social Change also heard from:

  • Annette Michaux (BSW 1994), Director, Parenting Research Centre
  • Dr Nash Davis (BTeach 1999, MTeach2000) and Linda Sheldon, Senior Psychologists, NSW Department of Education
  • Claudia Vera, Organiser, NSW Teachers Federation
  • Patrick Barrett, Manager of Special Purpose Programs, Catholic Education Office.

“This forum brought together the agencies and industry partners we have collaborated with to address major national questions. It’s our hope that together we can rise to new challenges and deliver an evidence base to guide better policy and practice for the future,” said Professor Janette Bobis (BEd 1992), Pro Dean Research in Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney.

The faculty recently appointed Dr Patrick Brownlee (PhD Research 2015) as Director of a newly established Research Office for Partnerships and Engagement (ROPE). 

Luke O'Neill

Media and PR Adviser (Humanities and Social Sciences)

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