How this blog came about…

How this blog came about…

Welcome to the New Voices in Social Work Research blog. The New Voices in Social Work Research blog is an initiative of  the Australian and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Research (ANZSWWER) organisation. The aims of the blog are to promote and support Higher Degree Research (HDR) students, (includes PhD, Masters and Honours) and Early Career Researchers (ECR) in the area of social work and human services in Australia and New Zealand. The inaugural curators are Dr Lynelle Watts and Dr David Hodgson, currently members of ANZSWWER and also Senior Lecturers in Social Work at Edith Cowan University. Lynelle and David are also early career researchers (ECRs) with a passion for social work research and education.

This blog was inspired by Lynelle’s attendance at the 2015 Melbourne ANZSWWER Symposium held at RMIT. Three sessions were particularly important. The first was the Keynote address by Professor Donna Baines, which made a case – amongst other aspects –  for how research needs to include processes of knowledge transfer and engagement, as this can lead to new research relationships that might contribute to changing social conditions.

The second important catalyst was Associate Professor Liz Beddoe’s Keynote address (pictured above – photo by Sophie Goldingay). Liz is something of a social media star in social work. Liz  discussed “how social media has a powerful potential to grow a stronger space for social work activism in important debates”  and for disseminating ideas from research. This is neatly demonstrated by Associate Professor Beddoe’s blog Social Work Research in New Zealand. Liz also talked about the RSW Collective, and their use of a blog called Re-imagining Social Work in Aotearoa New Zealand . This blog is an example of important activism aimed at “the development of modern, progressive, inclusive, democratic, and culturally responsive social work services in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

The third session, important to the New Voices in Social Work Research blog initiative, was given by Professor Charlotte Williams entitled TISSA O’Z new collaborations – A Phd Network for Social Work. Charlotte outlined the need for more support for doctoral researchers in Australia and New Zealand. Here it was suggested that there was a “need for a step change in the breadth, depth and quality of research evidence for social work in Australia”, which would require a “systematic investment in building capacity”. According to Professor Williams, we need to find ways to address the isolation of social work researchers, the relative weaknesses in doctoral education in social work, and begin investing in the new generation of social work researchers. The audience was enthusiastic and some members including Professor Williams thought that ANZSWWER was well placed to take up some of these challenges. It was suggested too that a doctoral symposia, modelled on the same process as that of The international ‘Social Work & Society’ Academy (TiSSA), could be attached to each annual ANZSWWER conference. ANZSWWER Executive members who attended Professor Williams session promised to take the ideas back to the committee to see what could be done.

Lynelle was already a committed Twitter user and blog consumer, having received so much support and encouragement in the final phases of her PhD through the large supportive PhD twitter community.. Using social media was an important way of connecting with others undertaking higher degree research, often doing quite different topics. At the 2015 ANZSWWER Symposium, Lynelle met so many Doctoral students, many of whom, like myself, were already working in Universities but who also felt a little isolated with their research. Lynelle also met a lot of people who had just completed their doctorates and were now looking at what to do next as early career researchers. When she returned from the 2015 ANZSWWER Symposium she discussed the idea of starting a Blog with her colleague and long-term collaborator David Hodgson. He got excited by the idea too and they worked together on setting up the parameters and thinking about how it could work. Both were, by this stage, members of the ANZSWWER executive and so they pitched the idea to the rest of the committee – What about starting a blog for higher degree and early career researchers?  The thinking was that it had the potential to connect social work and welfare education researchers across Australia and New Zealand, gives a space for researchers to showcase their research, and could support the establishment of doctoral symposia attached to the annual ANZSWWER conference. Members of the ANZSWWER committee got excited too and agreed to support the initiative…

And so here we are…



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