Researcher biography

Dr Kathy Ellem is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at The University of Queensland, Australia. She has previously practiced as a social worker in both government and non-government sectors, working with children, young people and their families in disability and child protection services. As a social worker, she has been actively involved in casework; case management; behavioural intervention; group work; community development; and individual, citizen and systems advocacy. She has taken on family leadership roles in the disability sector, including her former role as President of Queensland Parents for People with a Disability. She is a member of the Queensland board of the Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability, and committee member of Queensland Advocacy Incorporated and Community Living Association.

Kathy completed her PhD in social work at the University of Queensland, researching the experiences of people with intellectual disability in the Queensland prison system. Her research expertise includes participatory research methodologies (including narrative, digital and arts-based research) with people with impaired cognitive capacity; the intersectionality of disability and the criminal justice system; disability workforce development; family-centred practice and capacity building of families who have a loved one with a disability; self-advocacy for people with an intellectual disability; and families who have been forced to relinquish care of their child with a disability. Her work focuses on how both teaching and research can influence positive change in social work practice and in the lives of vulnerable people.

Kathy currently leads the Honours research course for the Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) and supervises research higher degree students in the fields of disability, mental health and health.