Researcher, educator and change agent, Dr Carmela Bastian is committed to challenging current thinking around child protection in Australia.
With 20 years of practical experience in child protection, Dr Carmela Bastian (PhD (SS) ’17) was concerned with the visibility and voice of children and young people within statutory services. At Flinders University she undertook her PhD research focusing on the moral status and moral importance of children in the context of child protection.
Through this research she was able to act as an agent of change beyond organisational and professional boundaries and disrupt thinking towards more effective and ethical practice responses for children who are involved in child protection in Australia.
“I am committed to social work practice and research informed by the imperative for social change, social justice, and humane practice. This is why I chose to undertake my PhD at Flinders, an internationally renowned University where there is also a close alignment with my philosophical approach to working with people,” she says.
Now working as a lecturer, topic coordinator and researcher at Flinders, Dr Bastian says she is in her “dream role”.
“It enables me to do what I love best as a social worker – I enjoy research because it is about change and generating knowledge to improve outcomes for children and their families; I am dedicated to teaching emerging social workers, and importantly I am still immersed in practice because I am involved in research that is collaborative and conducted in partnership with practitioners, children, young people and their families.”
Dr Bastian says she loves working with the students at Flinders – sharing knowledge, practice experience, discussing research, and being part of the lives of students as they grow as emerging social workers.
She believes teaching can be mode of social change. If her students are well prepared then they will use the knowledge and learnings in their work with children, young people and families.
Dr Bastian is also engaged in a number of research projects with Flinders’ Social Work Innovation Research Living Space (SWIRLS) including: domestic violence and child protection, working with Aboriginal practitioners to develop culturally responsive practice, and understanding practice with perpetrators of domestic and family violence that ensures women and children are safe.
What’s next for Dr Bastian? Her future plans include writing a book about working with children and establishing a Child Protection Interest Group which recognises that effective and ethical child protection requires a multi-protection response.