FSSI Fellows and Friends

FSSI Fellows and Friends Network brings together researchers, educators, policy advisors and practitioners to share their insights and ideas to support the growth, quality and adaptation of the social service sector. The FSSI Fellows and Friends Network provides a mechanism and opportunity for members to share their knowledge and connect with experts with similar interests.

Sara Charlesworth

Professor of Gender, Work & Regulation. School of Management; Director Centre for People Organisation & Work & Work
RMIT University

Sara Charlesworth is Professor of Gender, Work & Regulation in the School of Management and an RMIT Distinguished Professor. She is Director of the Centre for People, Organisation & Work in the College of Business. Sara’s research interests centre on gender inequality in employment at the labour market, industry and organisational levels investigating sexual harassment, sex discrimination, job quality and low-paid women’s work. Much of Sara’s recent research has focused on paid care work. Recent projects have focused on migrant frontline workers in aged care and childcare and on the linkages between decent work and good care in the aged care systems In Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Scotland. Sara has published and presented widely in a wide range of academic, policy and community fora and has been involved in a number of key gender equality policy reviews and debates. She is currently a member of the Victorian Government’s Equal Workplaces Advisory Council and co-convenor of the Work+Family Policy Roundtable.

Renata Kokanovic

RMIT University

Renata is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersection of critical social theory, critical mental health studies, and health humanities. A strength of her work is its foundation in interdisciplinary research and innovative yet rigorous qualitative methodologies to produce sophisticated accounts of lived experience that are readily accessible to people experiencing various health & mental health conditions and the broader community. Her research is inclusive; the methods of data collection and dissemination she utilises and promotes are based on the principles of community involvement and participation.

A commitment to effective dissemination of outputs for non-academic research audiences is also an important feature of her work. In particular, Renata’s establishment of Healthtalk Australia, an online depository of digital resources based on health and illness experience research, ensures that the research outputs reach people with experiences of complex health & mental health conditions and their families and other supporters, and are used in health advocacy programs, practitioner education, policy development, and and research training. Renata has built international, interdisciplinary collaborative networks spanning the university, government and NGO sectors. Renata published widely, mostly focussing on experiences of psychological distress, trauma and complex health conditions, including in Social Sciences& Medicine, Sociology of Health & Illness, and Journal of Medical Humanities.

Larissa Hjorth

Distinguished Professor
RMIT University

Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth is a digital ethnographer, socially-engaged artist, and director of the Design & Creative Practice (DCP) research platform at RMIT University (see http://dcp-ecp.com). Hjorth has two decades experience leading interdisciplinary and collaborative digital and mobile media projects that innovative methods to understand intergenerational relationships. She has lead 20 national and international research projects in locations such as Japan, South Korea, China and Australia.

Hjorth has also worked extensively how mobile media is used for grief, loss and recovery including the Fukushima disaster of 2011. Hjorth has published over 100 publications on the topic—recent publications include ‘Haunting Hands’ (with Cumiskey, Oxford Uni Press), ‘Understanding Social Media’ (with Hinton, 2nd Edition, Sage), ‘Creative Practice Ethnographies’ (with Harris, Jungnickel and Coombs, Rowman & Littlefield) and ‘Ambient Play’ (with Richardson, MIT Press).

Renee Costa

Manager – Industry Solutions
RMIT University

Experienced Industry Solutions manager and dedicated community educator committed to supporting inclusive, industry connected high quality learning. Renee has demonstrated strong leadership and a commitment to quality education across the sector. Renee’s strength lies with building and maintaining strong relationships with Industry partners across the Social Services Sector in particular. Renee’s passion and commitment is to ensure Vocational Education is connected to Industry, building deep sustainable relationships to ensure students have the best learning experience and high employability outcomes.

Cath Davis

Senior Government Relations Advisor
RMIT Policy and Impact Team

Catherine is the Government Relations advisor to the Vice Chancellor, within RMIT’s Policy and Impact Team. Previously, Catherine was the Senior Advisor to the Minister for Disability from 2015-2018.Prior to that Catherine was the Federal Women’s officer at the Australian Education Union for 11 years. Catherine has always been passionate about progressing gender equity and social justice both through government policy and political activism more broadly.

Victor Gekara

Associate Professor
RMIT University

Victor Gekara is an Associate Professor in the College of Business and Law at RMIT University. He is also the Director of the Global Transport and Logistics Research Group (GTL) and the Founding Leader of the Skills, Training and Industry Research Network (STIR). His research interests and expertise are broadly located at the intersection between workplace technology change and the future of work, and workforce skills transformation. In this space he has developed and led several major research projects examining the implications of technological and digital transformations on work and industry skills demand, across several sectors (e.g., Transport and Logistics, Manufacturing and Disability services) and the role and capacity of VET for meet these changes. His extensive research track record is supported by strong and extensive industry networks which facilitate effective and impactful research creation and translation.    

Robyn Martin

Associate Dean SWHS
RMIT University

Robyn Martin commenced Social Work practice in 1990. Since that time, she has practised, taught and researched in trauma, violence, abuse, homelessness and critical mental health. Robyn is particularly interested in creating the conditions for the meaningful involvement of service users and their supporters in service delivery, research and teaching. She has co-led university-based projects which bring lived experience educators into the academy and in turn, influencing future health and human service graduates to value lived experience. Robyn is a critical social work academic and her research and teaching is informed by post-structuralist, feminist and intersectional theories and concepts.

Cameron Duff

Associate Professor
RMIT University

Cameron Duff is an Associate Professor at the Centre for People, Organisation and Work in the School of Management at RMIT University in Melbourne. Duff’s major areas of research interest explore the role of social innovation in driving social change in the community and not-for-profit sectors, with a focus on mental health care and social housing. He is particularly interested in organisational strategies including the role of workforce development and program design and leadership in the design of innovative health and social programs.

Duff regularly collaborates with national and international research partners, and he publishes the results of this research in the top international journals in organisational studies, health and social care, sociology, geography and planning, public health and medical anthropology.

Pavla Miller

Professor Emerita
RMIT University

Pavla Miller is Emeritus Professor of Historical Sociology at RMIT University in Melbourne. An interdisciplinary scholar, she received her PhD in politics at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. Her publications include Long Division: State Schooling in South Australian Society, Transformations of Patriarchy in the West, 1500-1900 (Indiana 1998), and Patriarchy (Routledge 2017). She has also published on demographic explanations of low fertility, masters and servants’ legislation, conceptualisations of children’s work and, with David Hayward, on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. In the last two years, she has been completing her late partner’s book on “Mining gold and manufacturing ignorance: Occupational lung disease and the buying and selling of labor in southern Africa”.

Ronnie Egan

RMIT University

Dr Ronnie Egan is Associate Professor of Field Education in Social Work at RMIT University. She has specialised in research about supervision and practice for social workers and students, published widely in these areas and has extensive and active networks in the human service sector. Her relationships with the field span her career as a practitioner and academic and this has enabled the development of innovative ways of understanding and facilitating the nexus between universities and the community.

Fiona Macdonald

Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow
School of Management, RMIT

Dr Fiona Macdonald is a Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow in the School of Management and the Centre for People, Organisation and Work at RMIT University in Melbourne. Fiona’s research expertise is in the organisation of work and regulation of employment and she has published extensively in relation to these. Her knowledge of social services and of community sector workforce development and management has been developed through various leadership as well as research roles in industry over many years prior to gaining her PhD from the University of Queensland in 2012.

Dr Macdonald’s research into the workforce implications of the NDIS commenced in 2014 and, in 2016, she was awarded a prestigious three-year Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award to investigate the workforce challenges of cash-for-care schemes through a study of the NDIS.

Peter Kelly

Professor of Education, Head of UNEVOC @ RMIT
RMIT University

Peter is the Head of UNESCO UNEVOC @ RMIT. UNEVOC is UNESCO’s global network for promoting learning for the world of work. Peter and his colleagues and collaborators in the UNEVOC Centre critically engage with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda in the context of conducting a number of projects under the broad umbrella of Young People, Technological Transformations and the Future of Work: Challenges for Sustainable Futures.

Peter’s current research interests include a critical engagement with young people, their well-being, resilience and enterprise, and the challenges associated with the emergence of the Anthropocene. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, these interests are framing the development of a research agenda titled: COVID-19 and Young People’s Well-being, Education, Training and Employment Pathways: Scenarios for Young People’s Sustainable Futures. Peter is also currently the lead investigator on an ARC Discovery Project (DP 170100547) Art Based Social Enterprises and Marginalised Young People’s Transitions.

From 2011-2014 he led an ARC Linkage Project in collaboration with the third sector organisation Mission Australia. That project, Capacity Building and Social Enterprise: Individual and Organisational Transformation in Transitional Labour Market Programs, conducted research in Mission Australia’s social enterprise Transitional Labour Market Program.

Peter has a significant international publishing and research profile. He has published 13 books and more than 75 book chapters and journal articles on young people, marginalisation, education, training and work pathways, and well-being.