Improving social services and health systems

Research priorities

  • the involvement and engagement of stakeholders in research into improving the delivery of health and social services;
  • the design and use of technology to improve health and social services systems; and
  • evaluating and measuring the impact of, and outcomes from, research into improving health and social services.


Internal impacts: enhance the reputation of the school; tangible and measurable outputs for the school; and building of research profiles for individuals, teams and the school.

External impacts: benefits for end users and positive impact on people’s lives.

Answering the question: Does it make a difference?

Staff overview

Staff: Philip Gillingham, Amy Johnston, Helen McCutcheonAnthony TuckettJemma Venables, Jill Wilson

Post docs: Cari Dawn, Susan Nunan, Paul Hickey, Muslimin Wallang, Helen Holloway, Toni Hains, Adam Burston, Grazia Catalano, Suzanne Harris, Bronwyn Herbert, Su-Fen Kwa, Liong-ing Ling

Honorary staff: Gai Harrison, Deb Parker, Margaret Shapiro, Lee Poole, Anne-Louise McCawley, Chez Leggatt-Cook, Sharon Hetherington, Kevin Rouse.

Research projects

Enhancing community knowledge and engagement with law at the end of life

Funding body: ARC Linkage Grant with Cancer Councils in Queensland, NSW and Victoria

Investigators: Professor Ben White, Professor Lindy Wilmott, Associate Professor Cheryl Tilse, Professor Jill Wilson


Transforming information systems design and use in social welfare agencies

Funding body: Australian Research Council Future Fellowship

Investigators: Dr Phillip Gillingham


Lost in Transition: Supporting Young People with Complex Support Needs

Funding body: ARC Linkage


  • Professor Leanne Dowse - Chair Intellectual Disability Behaviour Support, UNSW.
  • Associate Professor Philip Mendes – Associate Professor in Social Work and Director Social Inclusion and Social Policy Research Unit, Monash University.
  • Associate Professor Iva Strnadova - Associate Professor in Special Education, UNSW.
  • Dr Jung-Sook Lee - Senior Lecturer in Social Work, UNSW.
  • Dr Therese Cumming - Senior Lecturer in Special Education, UNSW.
  • Professor Pamela Snow – Professor and Head of the Rural Health School, La Trobe University.
  • Dr Louisa Smith – Lecturer in Intellectual Disability Behaviour Support, UNSW.
  • Dr Kathy Ellem – Senior Lecturer, NMSW, UQ


The effectiveness of digital story telling as a tool for change: Learning about inclusive policies and practices from people with disabilities

Funding body: Griffith University

Investigators: Harris Paul; Allen Connie; Sunderland Naomi; Burgess Ashley; Gallagher Hilary; Griffith University, Dr Kathy Ellem, UQ; Jen Barrkman, QDN


Elder abuse screening in the ED

Funding body: in progress

Investigators: Lee Poole, Anne-Louise McCawley, Chez Leggatt-Cook, Helen McCutcheon, Jill Wilson


Citizen Science in the Food Pantry

Funding body: in progress

Investigators: Sharon Hetherington, Kevin Rouse, Anthony Tuckett, Helen McCutcheon


Inter-agency responses to child protection concerns following domestic & family violence: The perspective of domestic & family violence practitioners

Funding body: School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, The University of Queensland

Investigators: Dr Jemma Venables 


Evaluation of ReNew: A program for boys and mothers affected by domestic violence

Funding body: Department of Communities

Investigators: CI O’Leary, CI Boddy, CI Venables, Young (RA)


Emergency response and outreach for young people under child protection orders: The perspective of service users and practitioners regarding service delivery

Funding body: Community Living Association

Investigators: Dr Jemma Venables


Building resilience and supporting foster-care placements: Using a group-work informed camp model to strengthen the young person’s care team

Funding body: Kyabra

Investigators: CI Venables, CI Wilson

HDR students




Project Title/Description

Bronwyn Herbert


Associate Professor Cameron Parsell, Professor Jill Wilson

Understanding the life course events and trajectories of people who have experienced homelessness with their family as children

Suzanne Harris


Professor Jill Wilson, Dr Deborah Lynch

Defining advocacy in the context of family centred care for children who are diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing

Paul Hickey


Professor Jill Wilson, Dr John Drayton, Professor Robert Bland

Social inclusion as a clinical concept in mental health social work

Su-Fen (Karen) Kwa


Professor Jill Wilson. Professor Michele Foster.

An exploration of patient participation in long-term mechanical ventilation initiation decision-making in Singapore

Fiona Jarrett


Professor Jill Wilson, Dr Maree Petersen

Action Research Supported Accommodation

Madonna Nicoll PhD

Dr Judith Burton, Dr Jennifer Mays, Dr Marie Knox, Dr Kathy Ellem

A life lived with support: A narrative exploration with people with intellectual disability of their constructions of paid support relationships
Lisa Hamilton PhD

Dr Mark Brough, Dr Marie Knox, Dr Kathy Ellem

Within these walls: An ethnography of home at Lake House
Sarah MacDonald PhD

Professor Jill Wilson, Dr Kathy Ellem

Experiences of Young People with Intellectual Disability Making the Transition to Adult Life from Out-of-Home Care

Helen Holloway PhD Professor Helen McCutcheon, Associate Professor Deborah Parker The Sustainability of Evidenced Based Pain Management Practices in Aged Care
Susan Nunan PhD Professor Helen McCutcheon, Dr Nancye Peel, Dr Timothy Henwood Evaluating the validity, reliability and feasibility of a falls risk assessment tool recommended for use in Australian residential aged care facilities. A mixed methods study.
Toni Hains PhD

Dr Haakan Strand, Prof Catherine Turner, Dr Yu Gao

The Role of the Non-Medical Surgical Assistant in Australia
Cienwen Town PhD

Dr Haakan Strand, Dr James Johnson, Professor Adrien Van Zundert

Ultrasound-Guilded Regional anaesthesia in Patients receiving Split SkinGrafting for Upper Limb Burn Injuries: A Prospective Randomized Study
Karen O’Maley PhD

Professor Helen McCutcheon, Dr Haakan Strand

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson and Motor Neurone Disease
Natalie Bailey MPhil Dr Anthony Tuckett, Dr Robert Eley A mixed method single case study exploration of the flexible ward practice environment and its impact on Registered Nurses
Hui (Grace) Xu PhD Dr Anthony Tuckett, Associate Professor Peter Newcombe, Dr Robert Eley Staff stress management strategies in emergency department

Related publications

Name of publication


Crafting and retelling everyday lives - Disabled people's contribution to bioethical concerns. Narrative inquiry in bioethics: A journal of qualitative research3 3: 235-240. (2013)

Matthews, Nicole, Ellem, Kathy and Chenoweth, Lesley

Collaborating with families in differential responses: practitioners' viewsChild and Family Social Work21 3: 1-11. (2014)

Healy, Karen, Harrison, Gai, Venables, Jemma and Bosly, Fiona

A constructivist grounded theory study of mental health clinicians' boundary maintenance. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal23 6: 30-33. (2015)

Gardner, Andrew and McCutcheon, Helen

Effectiveness of nurse-performed endoscopy in colorectal cancer screening: a systematic reviewGastrointestinal Nursing13 4: 26-33. (2015)

Joseph, Jomon, Vaughan, Rhys and Strand, Haakan

From investigation to collaboration: Practitioner perspectives on the transition phase of parental agreements. Child & Youth Services Review, 52, 9-16. (2015)

Venables, Jemma, Healy , Karen and Harrison, Gai

When Families Relinquish Care of a Child with a Disability: Perceptions from BirthmothersAustralian Social Work69 1: 39-50. (2015)

Ellem, Kathleen, Wilson, Jill and Chenoweth, Lesley

An exploration of the feasibility of a national database to protect children in Australia. Developing Practice46 56-68. (2016)

Gillingham, Philip

Challenge-related stress and felt challenge: Predictors of turnover and psychological health in aged care nursesCollegian, 24(4), 361-369. (2016)

Gao, Fengsong, Newcombe, Peter, Tilse, Cheryl, Wilson, Jill and Tuckett, Anthony

Disability and transition from state education to community life: Next steps for parentsInternational Journal of Inclusive Education20 5: 552-567. (2016)

Wills, Rod, Chenoweth, Lesley and Ellem, Kathy

Making and changing wills: prevalence, predictors, and triggersSage Open6 1: 215824401663102. (2016)

Tilse, Cheryl, Wilson, Jill, White, Ben, Rosenman, Linda, Feeney, Rachel and Tanya Strub

Qualitative interviewing of Malay caregivers: Stigma and mental health problems of older adultsInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health, 10(2), 127-135. (2016)

Ramli, Fatimah Zailly Ahmad, Tilse, Cheryl F. and Wilson, Jill E.

(Trauma-informed care) Psychosocial care by hospital staff: knowledge, confidence, use and barriers, and associations with staff wellbeing. Psychological Services Oct 2017.

Kenardy J, Moss K, Ziviani J, Newcombe P, Cobham V, McCutcheon H & Montague G.

A critical analysis of Australian policies and guidelines for water immersion during labour and birthWomen and Birth30 5: 431-441. (2017)

Cooper, Megan, McCutcheon, Helen and Warland, Jane

A selected international appraisal of the role of the non-medical surgical assistant. ACORN30 2: 37-42. (2017)

Hains, Toni, Strand, Haakan and Turner, Catherine

Big data in social welfare: the development of a critical perspective on social work’s latest "electronic turn". Australian Social Work70 2: 135-147. (2017)

Gillingham, Philip and Graham, Timothy 

Book Chapter: Older people. In Kathy Ellem, Wong Hong Chui and Jill Wilson (Ed.), Social work and human services best practice 2nd ed. (pp. 126-146)  (2017)

Wilson, Jill and Tilse, Cheryl

Book Chapter: Youth justice. In Social work and human services best practice (pp. 26-48) (2017)

Chui, Wing Hong and Ellem, Kathy

Community knowledge of law at the end of life: availability and accessibility of web-based resources. Australian Health Review42 3: 266-271. (2017)

White, Ben , Willmott, Lindy , Tilse, Cheryl , Wilson, Jill , Lawson, Deborah , Pearce, Angela , Dunn, Jeffrey , Aitken, Joanne F., Feeney, Rachel and Jowett, Stephanie

Comparing safety climate for nurses working in operating theatres, critical care and ward areas in the UK: A mixed methords study. BMJ (2017)

Tarling, Maggie, Jones, Anne, Murrells, Trevor and McCutcheon, Helen

Decision-making about the adoption of information technology in social welfare agencies: some key considerations. European Journal of Social Work, 1-9. (2017)

Gillingham, Philip

Electronic information systems in human service organisations: using theory to inform future design. International Social Work60 1: 100-110. (2017)

Gillingham, Philip

Predictive risk modelling to prevent child maltreatment: insights and implications from Aotearoa/New Zealand. Journal of Public Child Welfare11 2: 150-165. (2017)

Gillingham, Philip

Rotating shift work and colorectal cancer among nurses and midwives: a cross‐sectional study. The Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing34 4: 6-15. (2017)

Wickremaratne, Kalana, Zhao, Isabella and Strand, Haakan

The non-medical surgical assistant in Australia: Who should contribute to governance?. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing35 2: 51-57. (2017)

Hains, Toni, Turner, Catherine and Strand, Haakan

Valuing the role of the non-medical surgical assistant in Australia. ANZ Journal of Surgery, 87 4: 222-223. (2017)

Hains, Toni, Turner, Catherine, Gao, Yu and Strand, Haakan

Choosing the harder road: naming the challenges for families in person-centred planningJournal of Intellectual Disabilities (2018)

Ellem, Kathy, Chenoweth, Lesley and Edwards, Ruth

Collaborating with parents during intervention with parental agreement: practitioner perspectives on procedural justice. Child & Family Social Work. (2018)

Venables, Jemma and Healy, Karen

Exploring the extent to which simulation-based education addresses contemporary patient safety priorities: a scoping review. Collegian. (2018)

Seaton, Philippa, Levett-Jones, Tracy, Cant, Robyn, Cooper, Simon, Kelly, Michelle, McKenna, Lisa, Ng, Linda and Bogossian, Fiona

Police contact with young people with cognitive disabilities: Perceptions of procedural (in)justice Youth Justice (2018)

Ellem, Kathy and Richards, Kelly

Psychosocial care in practice: Observed use of psychosocial care skills with children and families in a large pediatric hospital. Psychological Services accepted May 2018.

Kenardy J, Moss K, Healy K, Ziviani J, Newcombe P, Cobham V, McCutcheon H & Montague G

The complexity of pain in aged care. Contemporary Nurse54 2: 121-125. (2018)

Holloway, Helen, Parker, Deborah and McCutcheon, Helen

Young people with cognitive disabilities and over-representation in the criminal justice system: Service provider perspectives on policing. Police Practice and Research: An International Journal (2018)

Richards, Kelly and Ellem, Kathy

Book Chapter: Supporting people with intellectual and developmental disability leaving prison.  In The Handbook of What Works for Offenders with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (the “Work”), edited by William R. Lindsay, Leam A. Craig, and Dorothy Griffiths. (2019)

Ellem, K., Denton, M., Davidson, D., (in press)


Kevin Rouse and Sharon Hetherington, Burnie Brae

Anne-Louise McCawley, Metro South Hospital and Health Service

Lee Poole, Queensland Health

Chez Leggat-Cook, Uniting Care Community 

David O'Toole, Kyabra

Chloe Warrell and Morrie O'Connor, Community Living Association


For all general current HDR student queries and enquiries related to applications contact the HDR Liaison Officer: or +61 7 3365 7036

For all enquiries related to research in the School, contact the Senior Administration Officer (Research): or +61 7 3365 3005