Our research

The Social Change Research Group is a newly formed Research Group building upon many years of ongoing research undertaken in the School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy at the University of South Australia. The Research Groups strengths are in the fields of social work, sociology, gender studies, social policy, politics and social psychology. The Research Group researchers use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to examine social issues occurring in South Australia, Australia and globally. Our central aims are to critically examine social issues and understand processes of social change working in collaboration with communities to use our research to transform social inequalities and work towards socially just societies.

Social change is what drives our research, teaching and practice.  For us social change is about collaboration with communities to inform social policies, institutions, organisations, social relations and cultural and political value systems through quality research and social activism.

Click here to view the launch of the Social Change Research Group.

Our Mission

Social concerns cannot be solved without good research, exceptional collaborations and knowledge that is co-created and acted upon with grass roots organisations and policy makers. Our goals are to:

  • Engage with communities
  • Educate undergraduates and post-graduates to think critically about social issues and questions of social justice whilst working alongside communities to create social change
  • Engage with professionals to increase practice based research and knowledges
  • Carry out research that is driven by values of social justice
  • Provide an evidence base in which to advocate for social change

Our 4 key thematic areas of research

Selected research projects

ARC Discovery Grants

Gendered violence and citizenship: the complex effects of intimate partner violence on mental health, housing and employment.
Franzway, S., Wendt, S., Moulding, N., Zufferey, C., Chung, D. 

ARC Linkage Grants

An exploration of the frequency, outcomes, enablers and constraints of bystander anti-racism.
Paradies, Y., Dunn, K., Guerin, B., Peterson, A., Sharpe, S. and Hynes, M.

Preventing the financial abuse of older people by a family member: Designing and evalu-ating older-person-centred models of family mediation
Bagshaw, D., Zannettino, L., Wendt, S. 

People, Pumps and Pipes.
Bryant, L, Rofe, M., Robinson, G.

Indigenous mental health in remote communities.
Guerin, B., Tedmanson, D., Guerin, P.B. and Clark, Y.

ARC Office for Learning and Teaching Innovation and Development:

Evidenced-based approach to the design and redevelopment of inclusive technology-enhanced learning environments.
Wood, D., Snowden, C., Glenny, L., Tedmanson, D., Underwood, B., Johnson, T., Du, T., Scutter, S., Partridge, H., Lindsay, N., Faulkner, K., Vivian, R., Harrison, J.

For introducing work-integrated learning and enhancing student experiences and professional development into psychology undergraduate degrees through nationally-recognised curriculum renewal. 
Bryan, J., Tuckey, M., Ranzijn, R., Balfour, C., Hayward, R., Pearson, E., Lushington, K.

Farmer Suicide Prevention Program

UniSA Researchers:

Associate Professor Lia Bryant, Group Leader, Social Change
Dr Bridget Garnham, Research Fellow, Social Change

Industry Partners:

Office of the Chief Psychiatrist
Department for Heath & Ageing
Country Health SA
Riverland Winegrape Growers’ Association
Riverland Citrus Growers’ Association
Renmark Irrigation Trust
Social Inclusion Unit, Department of Premier and Cabinet
Primary Industries and Resources South Australia

This program of research has been developed from research with farmers and in farming communities. The first project occurred in 2006 during the drought. At this time, many of the farmers interviewed were experiencing extreme financial stress and hardship, emotional distress and rural communities were being impacted by increasing levels of anxiety and depression and a number of farmer suicides. In-depth, long lasting interviews with male and female farmers provided a better understanding of the farming contexts that were underpinning this distress including the political economy and delimited agency (Bryant & Garnham, 2013), cultures of farming masculinity in relation to pride and shame (Bryant & Garnham, 2015) and unethical conduct within the moral economy of agribusiness (Bryant & Garnham, 2014).  Further research in 2015 funded by the Department for Health and Ageing, explored the perspectives of rural mental health professionals, rural financial counsellors, stakeholders in rural suicide prevention, agribusiness bankers and stock agents. This research (Bryant & Garnham, 2015) shed further light on the rural contexts and conditions that underpin distress and suicide for farmers suggesting that farmer distress and suicide are connected to the social conditions of living within rural communities. The National Farmer Suicide Prevention Program emerging from this program of research facilitates community empowerment and social change through knowledge transfer and community engagement to enable self-sustaining community-led suicide prevention initiatives. The program design uses action-oriented research and multiple collaborative techniques to provide a platform for ongoing communication and support networks among organisations and communities. A national network of university and industry partners is currently being developed to progress this program on a national scale. 

Ageing, disability and rurality research program

UniSA Researchers:

Associate Professor Lia Bryant, Group Leader, Social Change
Dr Bridget Garnham, Research Fellow, Social Change

Industry Partners:

Uniting Communities
Helping Hand Aged Care

This program of research explores ‘care’ through complex intersections between ageing, disability and rurality in rural communities.  Internationally, the increased longevity and ageing of people with intellectual disabilities is posing a significant multi-faceted challenge to families, social research, government policy and organisational policy and practice in the aged care and disability service sectors (Bigby, 2010; C. M. Doody, K. Markey, & O. Doody, 2013; Wark, 2014). Uncharted intersections between disability and ageing are requiring new knowledge to inform health and social care practice and are challenging existing models of disability support (C. Doody, M., K. Markey, & O. Doody, 2013; C. M. Doody et al., 2013; Wark, 2014). In addition, since the majority of people with an intellectual disability live in the family home and are primarily cared for by a parent, concurrent issues of ageing intertwine, as care-giver and care-recipient grow older together, to complicate the caring relationship (Pruchno, 2003; Walker & Ward, 2013). Whilst much of the Australian literature, like that of other neoliberal welfare states, is urban-centric, a small body of rural research on social care issues at the interface of ageing and intellectual disability is emerging (Eley, Boyes, Young, & Hegney, 2009; Wark, Hussain, & Edwards, 2013, 2014). This is an important focus since ‘care is structured and practiced in spacial ways’ through ‘interrelationships between people, places and care’ (Miligan, 2014: 1). The expectation of a transition from normative arrangements of primary parental care for people with intellectual disability illuminates and problematizes possible configurations of informal and formal care. However, geographical location significantly influences the availability, range and specialisation of formal disability services and supports. This suggests that the challenges posed by ageing and intellectual disability for families and service providers in rural communities will be amplified (Wark et al., 2014).  A national network of university and industry partners is currently being developed to progress this program on a national scale. 


Furthermore, we have a range ongoing projects funded by government, non-government and community organisations.

Areas of study and research

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