Education & Work: Equity, Participation & Opportunity

The Education & Work Research Theme brings together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. Together, we strive to understand, evaluate and create support for individuals and communities to achieve their economic, social, and cultural aspirations through education and work. Our goal is to achieve equitable access to and participation in education and work. These challenges are tackled on a local, national, and international stage through an interdisciplinary approach to research.

Education needs to be responsive and inclusive, especially in times of increasing influences from rapid social, economic, and technological change. As western economies become knowledge industries, educational attainment and economic success must be combined to ensure prosperity and stable societies. The importance of learning applies to both, the individual and the nation. There is a need for effective, comprehensive, and inclusive education at all levels.

The University’s backyard is a microcosm of this global challenge. With a changing industry mix and manufacturing as a diminishing source of employment, understanding and addressing issues affecting access to education and new ways of work are crucial for the prosperity of Western Sydney and the nation.

Theme Champions

Theme Fellow

Research Excellence in Education & Work

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development has a focus on the promotion of improved early childhood learning, focusing on the building blocks of speech and language learning.

Centre for Educational Research

The Centre for Educational Research is a hub for researchers with a long history of engagement with educational institutions and schools across Western Sydney and beyond. Improving STEM literacy is a critical priority under this Research Theme, as is the pivotal role of the humanities and arts in optimising educational frameworks and outcomes in a digitally disrupted era.

BabyLab Infant Research Centre

Western Sydney University supports groundbreaking research in early infancy. BabyLab was established to research how speech and hearing, amongst other factors can influence a child's development and understanding.

Impact Snapshot

Futuro Infantil Hoy: Our Children’s Future, Today

It might be a truism that it takes a village to raise a child, but most of the time families and communities are left outside the school gates with no way to participate in the education of their children. Futuro Infantil Hoy (FIH), a project led by Associate Professor Christine Woodrow from the Centre for Educational Research, addressed the absence of family and community engagement in schools in Chile and Western Sydney.

FIH built peer support for early childhood learning through local, networked communities of practice. Parents were invited to meet with teachers to inform curriculum and pedagogy – not just when their children were in trouble! Through careful and consistent engagement, a new pedagogical model was established that could be owned, adapted and managed by the community. Early childhood centres provided the ‘hub’ for integration and capacity building among parents, engaging them to be active partners in their child’s learning.

The impact of FIH has spread from 35 early education centres and schools in Chile to 18 pre-schools in Western Sydney, with over 5,000 children and their families – alongside 500 educators – experiencing the benefits of family and community engagement in education, including dramatic increases in language and maths performance. Similarly, children and educators in Western Sydney have benefited.

Read more about this research:


Research Capacity Map

The Research Capacity Map (PDF, 241.93 KB) (opens in a new window) highlights key areas of research strength related to the Research Theme. If you would like to know more about a specific precinct or key capacity, please contact the Champions of this Research Theme.

Education & Work Report 2020-2021

Education and Work Research Theme 2020-2021 Report cover imageThe Education & Work Research Theme is proud to present a summary of some of the activities and achievements within the theme throughout 2020–2021. During this period, researchers and the community alike faced immense challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters. Within this context, Western researchers continued to produce cross-disciplinary, collaborative and innovative research. Most notably, this report showcases our partnership with industry and community and our collective impact on lives and communities in the field of education and work. You are invited to connect with our Research Theme Champions to find out more.

Download the Report (PDF, 11523.15 KB) (opens in a new window)

White Papers

What's the Bloody Big Deal? How Australian Workplaces and Educational Institutions Can Help Break the Menstrual Taboo

What's the Bloody Big Deal?

The What's the Bloody Big Deal? White Paper details the disadvantage faced by people who menstruate in both educational and workplace settings. Research evidence is presented that highlights the stark outcomes of being educated, and working, in an environment where menstruation is taboo. The authors champion that giving voice to women and girls and the natural experience of menstruation is needed to address this widespread problem. Without appropriate support, they argue, women and girls’ wellbeing and success in education and work will continue to be limited. To address this challenge, the authors present a vision for future policy, practice and research that is needed within educational and workplace settings. Exemplar practices in a number of workplace settings are provided to demonstrate what is possible when organisations set out to address this problem and support women and girls. Finally, the research team extend an invitation to organisations to join them to address this problem within their local context and lay out a plan for how this collaboration might be realised.

Download the White Paper (PDF, 5027.73 KB) (opens in a new window)

Gender Equity in the Workplace: Intersectional and Gender & Sexuality Diverse Approaches

Gender Equity in the Workplace Cover Image

The Gender Equity in the Workplace White Paper details the need for workplace gender diversity initiatives to embed intersectional and gender and sexuality diverse approaches. The authors argue that, if intersectionality and gender and sexuality diversity are not addressed from the beginning of gender equity initiatives, they run the risk of privileging certain women. Through stakeholder consultation, key challenges faced by workplaces in addressing this aspect of equity are identified. To address these, the authors present exemplary work, evidence, and data on this across a range of workplaces (medicine, paramedicine, corporate environments, schools, and universities). The authors outline their leading-edge majority / privilege focused approach, which means they are interested in those who currently set workplace cultures and have the power to change them, such as men, white / Anglo people, and cisgender people. It is the authors’ position that future work should aim to develop informed resources, guidelines and best-practice examples to foster cultural change in organisations and businesses.

Download the White Paper (PDF, 1098.77 KB) (opens in a new window)

Leading Disability Research and Workforce Development: A Western Sydney Collaboration

Leading Disability Research

In this White Paper we draw attention to the potential of excellence in research and workforce development as a means, in part, to foster greater inclusion and participation for people with disability. We present a critique of the current limitations in research and workforce development and highlight the urgency to address such shortcomings to realise inclusion within our communities. We demonstrate that Western Sydney University is well positioned as a leading institution to address many of these concerns. This White Paper showcases the innovative work of our team and calls for seven key actions to advance inclusion and participation for people and communities in Greater Western Sydney and beyond.

Download the White Paper (opens in a new window)