Creating a better future for children and parents of abuse

Esteemed sociologist Associate Professor Elspeth McInnes AM (BA(Hons) ’91, PhD(SS) ’01) is delving deep into the painful areas of violence and abuse on children to help chart improved pathways towards a better future for affected children and parents.

Associate Professor McInnes is a sociologist whose research has focused on gender, social policy and family violence. Her current focus is on the impact of violence and abuse on children and identifying the ways in which domestic violence impacts on parenting.

It’s a tough, traumatic area for a researcher to investigate, but Associate Professor McInnes says she has steeled herself through two decades of work, to provide necessary outcomes for people who desperately need help.

“I couldn’t help them if I disintegrated,” she says. “If I am to be truly helpful, I have to validate their experiences by not being too reactive. I have to help pave the way forward.”

Passion has long driven the work ethic of Associate Professor McInnes, who was awarded the Flinders University Medal in Social Sciences as she completed her undergraduate degree in 1989, honours (1991) and PhD (2001) at Flinders University.

As Associate Professor in the School of Education Futures at the University of South Australia and Chair of the University Human Research Ethics Committee, she is investigating ways that educators can support young children’s wellbeing and learning, and social policy impacts on vulnerable families.

This research has provided the basis for wellbeing programs in more than 50 early childhood and primary classrooms in South Australia.

“It’s crucial to provide education for the early childhood educators who are at the front line of helping to support affected children and their parents, so we are working to develop a school culture built on kindness and gratitude.”

Beyond advising governments on issues of gender, social policy and family violence, Associate Professor McInnes has a long history of engagement with organisations including Australian Council of Social Services, National Council of Single Mothers and their Children, National Child Protection Alliance, Bravehearts, Parents Families Carers and South Australian Council of Social Services.

Through her scope and energy with this incredibly impactful work, Associate Professor McInnes was made a Member of the Order of Australia (2006) for her volunteer advocacy on behalf of sole parents and was also awarded the Centenary Medal (2001) for her work in the community sector as the Executive Officer, then volunteer Convenor of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children (1996-2007).

Associate Professor Elspeth McInnes AM received a 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for her distinguished contribution to research, teaching and advocacy on the impact of violence and abuse on children and parenting. Read more on the Flinders University Alumni Awards

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