School of Population and Global Health

Social Work and Social Policy 50th Anniversary

50 years

Celebrating 50 years of SWSP at UWA

    Legacy and promise SW book now available
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In 1965, UWA established a Social Work postgraduate course – the first in WA and only the second of its kind in Australia. The School of Population Health is currently the home of the Social Work and Social Policy discipline at UWA.

In acknowledgement of this significant milestone, the School of Population Health, UWA Social Work Alumni, and the UWA Development and Alumni Relationship Office brought UWA Social Work alumni, students and staff together to celebrate, re-connect with old friends, and to reflect on the enormous progress made in social work education in WA over the past 50 years.

Panel discussion - "Rebuilding Life with Mental Health Challenges"
Richmond Fellowship/Richmond Wellbeing logo
Brought to you by the UWA School of Population Health and the Richmond Fellowship WA, now Richmond Wellbeing, to celebrate both the 50th anniversary of Social Work at UWA and the 40th anniversary of Richmond Fellowship, this was the first in the series of UWA Social Work 50th Anniversary events.

An exciting panel discussion, including two of the foremost experts in mental health in the UK, debated “Rebuilding Life with Mental Health Challenges: From therapy to education”.

Rachel Perkins OBE has a background in clinical psychology, has worked in the NHS Mental Health Services for over 30 years and is currently Chair or member on a number of mental health and equity groups. In 2010 she was voted Mind Champion of the Year and awarded an OBE for services to mental health. Ron Coleman is an internationally recognised speaker, consultant, author and trainer in innovative recovery-based practice. The discussion was facilitated by Associate Professor Maria Harries AM, Senior Honorary Research Fellow at UWA. Her 45-year professional career has been dedicated to assisting children and families, particularly in relation to mental health and trauma associated with their experiences of abuse and violence. This impressive combination of talented, dedicated people was always bound to result in lively and invigorating discussion.
Public talk - "Child Protection and Violence Against Children"
Andy Bilson
Renowned social worker and researcher Professor Andy Bilson visited in September, giving a thought-provoking and exciting talk at the University Club on "Child protection and violence against children: Learning from international responses to social policy and practice."

In his presentation, Andy examined how creative social policy changes have been used to address child protection issues. Andy has undertaken research and consultancy in children’s services in over 30 countries providing advice on policy, legislation, child rights, child protection, strategic plans and the development of new services.

An independent consultant and Emeritus Professor of social work at the University of Central Lancashire, Andy has been Director of the Council of Europe’s and UNICEF’s observatory on European children’s rights and of the Asia Europe Meeting’s child welfare observatory; vice chair of the British Association of Social Workers; chair of the National Intermediate Treatment Federation; and founder of the Association for Juvenile Justice. He is currently associate director of the Centre for Children’s Participation at UCLan, international consultant at the Know How Centre on Alternatives to Care in Bulgaria and a UWA Adjunct Professor. He is currently working with colleagues in SWSP here at UWA researching Child Protection in Australia; carrying out a national study of child protection in England; and working with teams across 8 countries training Roma and Gypsy young people to carry out action research around the issue of social inclusion within their communities.
Social Work Garden
Frangipani tree in garden
A new garden was developed at the behest of the new discipline head of Social Work, Assoc/Professor Judy Esmond. The same frangipani tree that graced the gardens in the Social Science garden where Social Work were located on the UWA Crawley campus has now been relocated to it's new home here on the Nedlands campus.

The tree's relocation was in commemoration of the 50th anniversary and to celebrate the new home of Social Work and Social Policy within the School of Population Health.
50th Anniversary Reunion event
SW students in SPH garden
The reunion, held at the University Club Banquet Hall on 20 November, was the culmination of events held this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary - a significant milestone not only for UWA, but also for social work in WA.

The evening began with the Welcome to Country provided by current Social Work lecturer Ms Glenda Kickett. Social Work alumnae Libby Lloyd and Louise Durack provided entertaining speeches about their time as students in the past as well as what impact Social Work graduates can have in the community, while current student Olivia Kendell gave a moving talk about what her studies have meant to her.

Professor Colleen Fisher, Head of School of Population Health where Social Work is based, said a broad spectrum of Social Work graduates attended the reunion. “We had graduates attending who spanned most of the 50 years of the discipline, and some had travelled interstate to be there on the night. The buzz in the room was remarkable and it is always a pleasure to see former students catching up with fellow graduates and staff.”

The leader of the Social Work group, Assoc/Professor Judy Esmond, summed up the evening with “The reunion was a celebration of why social workers matter in the community, and the sense of friendship was evident in the amount of laughter during the night.”
"Legacy & Promise" book launch
cover art for book Legacy and Promise
The book "Legacy & Promise" was commissioned to celebrate the history of the 50 years of the Social Work discipline at UWA. 

The book was released at the 50th Anniversary Reunion - guests, who included Social Work graduates and current staff and students, received a copy. The book also provides a glimpse into the future of Social Work and Social Policy at the University. "Legacy & Promise" is dedicated to all the Social Work Graduates and Staff who have gone before and all those who will join us in the future.

At the reunion, Assoc/Professor Maria Harries, the driving force behind the book, spoke about the outstanding contribution of Emeritus Professor Laksiri Jayasuriya to the discipline over many years. Professor Harries also acknowledged the support of Social Work administrative staff over the 50 years, all of whom were present.

If you wish to purchase a copy of the book, you can do so via our online shopping cart - or email us for more information.
Launch of the Social Policy Practice and Research Consortium at SPH UWA
SW students together
The establishment of the Consortium is an exciting and significant development in the School in conjunction with the Discipline of Social Work and Social Policy with its intent of linking social policy analysis and recommendations, project implementation and research in WA through partnerships with industry, other academics and students.

The Consortium was launched by Sue Ash AO, CEO of UnitingCare West, on 26 November at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery. At the launch, Sue presented an inspiring speech, "Policy Drivers: Practice Responses", in which she gave an analysis of key policy drivers that are impacting human services and outlined a range of practice responses with particular emphasis on people who are most in need.

E/Professor Laksiri Jayasuriya was announced as the Patron for the newly established Social Policy Practice and Research Consortium.

The Social Policy Practice and Research Consortium has been established in the School to:

  • encourage inter-disciplinary and comparative approaches and promote scholarly cooperation and collaborative research between the University and external agencies;

  • advance research, scholarly debate and policy and practice action in relation to the issues facing families, children and vulnerable populations, capacity building and the promotion of resilience; and

  • consolidate relevant cognate teaching units in the Social Work and Social Policy discipline’s teaching programmes by continued integration of teaching and research.

We'll keep you informed about future events through the UWA Social Work Alumni, the UWA Development and Alumni Relationship Office or facebook. Keep in touch.

Thank you and we hope you enjoyed our celebrations of the 50th Year of Social Work and Social Policy at UWA.


50 years
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Last updated:
Tuesday, 12 April, 2016 5:16 PM