Research Projects - 2017

A Centre for Research Excellence in Adolescent Heatlh: Making Health Services Work for Adolescents in a Digital Age

Participation is one of eight standards listed by the World Health Organisation for quality healthcare service for adolescents. Despite these global guidelines and decades of evidence, youth participation in health research is not the standard approach. Moreover, while technology has become increasingly central to how young people search for information on, communicate with and access mental health services, other health services have yet to embrace the full potential of digital communications technology. Through active creation and promotion of innovative practices, Stream 1 of this CRE (led by Dr Philippa Collin and Professor Angus Dawson, University of Sydney) will develop a new ethics of engagement for adolescent health research in a digital age. In collaboration with the Intergener8 Living Lab, this research brings together diverse young people, families, health consumers, researchers, policy makers and other community members to investigate the conditions, ethics and modalities of youth-engaged health research. Our aim is to directly inform priorities and practices in health research and address the challenges of embedding young people’s experiences in health research, policy and service design in the digital society.

Researchers: Dr Philippa Collin (ICS), Dr Teresa Swist (ICS), Associate Professor Amanda Third (ICS), Professor Katharine Steinbeck (University of Sydney), Professor Rachel Skinner (University of Sydney), Professor Lena Sanci (University of Melbourne), Professor Deborah Schofield (University of Sydney), Professor Fiona Brooks (University of Technology Sydney), Professor Angus Dawson (University of Sydney), Professor Rebecca Ivers (University of Sydney), Professor Lin Perry (University of Technology Sydney), Associate Professor Bette Liu (University of New South Wales), Associate Professor Melissa Kang (University of Technology Sydney), Dr Julie Mooney-Somers (University of Sydney), Professor Leon Straker (University of Sydney), Dr Sally Gibson (Youth Health and Wellbeing, NSW Health), Professor Phillip Hazell (University of Sydney), Professor Louise Baur (University of Sydney), Professor Sandra Eades (Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute), Professor Susan Sawyer (University of Melbourne)
Funding: National Health and Medical Research Council (via University of Sydney)
Period: 2017-2022

Assembling and Governing of Habits

This project aims to examine how modern Western disciplines conceived of habits, and how these conceptions informed the techniques of mundane governance which managed habits. As cities face increasing pressures, the challenges of governing everyday habits prompt urgent questions about how habits are understood and managed. This project will study the governance of 'city habits' from the late 19th century to the present. The project will apply and deepen its description of habit through case studies focused on contemporary Sydney. Its findings are expected to benefit city planners and policy makers by informing the organisation and regulation of habits.

Researchers: Professor Tony Bennett, Professor Gay Hawkins, Professor Gregory Noble, Professor Nikolas Rose
Funding: Australian Research Council (opens in a new window), Discovery Project
Period: 2017-2019

Between logistics and migration: Duisburg and the new Silk Road

China is building a new Silk Road. One of its arteries is the Yuxinou freight railway which runs between Chongqing and the German city of Duisburg. Opened in 2011, this railway has driven growth in Duisburg’s logistical sector. But Duisburg is not only a logistical city. It is also a magnet for migration with foreign-born inhabitants averaging approximately twice the rate for Germany as a whole. This project investigates relations between transport logistics and the logistics of migration in Duisburg. Its methods combine digital research with ethnographic fieldwork (interviews, observation, visual documentation) at workplaces surrounding Duisport (the city’s logistical hub) and in the adjacent migrant neighbourhood of Marxloh. The aim is to analyse how logistics produces and connects heterogeneous urban spaces and populations. This allows critical interrogation of traditional approaches to migration (push-pull factors, labour reserve, etc.). It also permits assessment of how logistics industries affect populations beyond their workforces. The project thus explores how the digital generation of data and software orientations in industry alter the material and symbolic coordinates of the city, generating a ‘long tail’ of informal labour and mediating social reproduction as well as practices of daily life.

Researchers: Professor Brett Neilson (ICS), Professor Ned Rossiter (ICS), Tsvetelina Hristova (ICS), Professor Manuela Bojadzijev (Leuphana University Luneburg), Dr Armin Beverungen (Leuphana University Luneburg), Moritz Altenried (Leuphana University Luneburg), Mira Wallis (Leuphana University Luneburg)
Funding: Western Sydney University, as part of an external scheme by Universities Australia and German Academic Exchange Service
Period: 2017–2018

Delivering urban wellbeing through transformative community enterprise

This project used qualitative methods to investigate the social, economic and material impacts of a community enterprise in Christchurch, focusing attention on Cultivate, a community enterprise that uses the common spaces of two urban farms transform green waste from restaurants into rich soil and high-quality fresh produce. The produce is then sold back to local restaurants, supported by the labour of at-risk youth interns. A main goal of the project was to be able to represent the impact that this organisation had on the wellbeing of young people, project staff, volunteers, and the broader community of Christchurch including other area enterprises and the municipal government. In-depth interviews with project participants were an entry point into a focused group process to explore both the inputs into Cultivate that serve as its conditions of possibility as well as a way of getting at the multidimensional returns on investment. The project provided an opportunity to further elaborate a previously developed assessment tool: Community Economy Return on Investment (CEROI). Project outputs will include a visual representation of CEROI assessment along with a video for popular audiences that will talk about the role of social enterprise in post-quake reconstruction.

Researchers: Dr Stephen Healy (ICS), Dr Kelly Dombroski (University of Canterbury), Dr Gradon Diprose (Massey University), Associate Professor David Conradson (University of Canterbury)
Funding: National Science Challenge 11: Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities NZ
Period: 2017–2018

Mapping the educational experiences of refugee students (MEERS)

Various community, government and non-government organisations have provided considerable assistance to schools with enrolments of refugee students. Recent studies, however, suggest that not only far more is needed, but that further research is required to gauge refugee students’ experiences of schooling and whether current practice is addressing their needs and those of teachers. This is the aim of the proposed project. Through a detailed qualitative enquiry, it will provide a comprehensive snapshot of the experiences of refugee students in NSW schools together with accumulating accounts of good practice in the area regarding curriculum, pedagogy and wider school programs. This research will be used to inform professional learning materials for NSW teachers building their capacity to support refugee students and their families.

Researchers: Associate Professor Megan Watkins (ICS), Professor Greg Noble (ICS), Dr Alex Wong (ICS)
Funding: New South Wales Teachers’ Federation
Period: 2017–2019

News and young Australians

Researchers: Dr Tanya Notley (ICS), Dr Flora Hua Zhong (ICS), Associate Professor Michael Dezuanni (Queensland University of Technology)
Funding: Crinkling News
Period: 2017

This project was motivated by public concern regarding the circulation and potential impact of fake news or ‘disinformation’. The project responded to these concerns by designing and implementing the first nationally representative survey to examine young Australians news practices and experiences. The survey analysis finds that young Australians aged 8-16 years consume a lot of news both directly and through their social relations (family, friends and teachers). While social media sites are often used for news consumption, young people are not confident about spotting fake news online and many rarely or never check the source of online news stories. Despite this, only one in five young Australians reported receiving any lessons to support their ability to critique news in the 12 months before the survey. The findings raise important questions about the need for news media literacy education – both in schools and in the home. The project report was launched at a major event, MediaMe, at The Museum of Contemporary Art. This event brought together 40 young Australians with news media organisations, social media platform companies and educators to develop proposals and recommendations that can advance young people’s news media literacy.

Photos of the Past: The Negotiation of Identity and Belonging at Australian Tourism Sites

Afternoon shot of the famous Uluru rock in Northern Territory, Australia.This project aims to provide a comparative analysis of the way Australia's past is constructed and remembered at heritage tourism sites. Over the course of three years, the project will examine how messages presented at six different heritage tourism sites are used to underpin present day constructions of national belonging. For this, the researcher, Associate Professor Emma Waterton, will focus upon understanding how such messages affect memory and notions of identity by focusing upon visitor responses to atmosphere, mood and meaning. Methodologically, the project will involve the ubiquitous touristic practice of photography, which will allow the research to move beyond notions of representation and consider how processes of 'taking photos' can be used to access sensory experiences, recover memories and imbue touristic sites with meaning.

Researcher: Associate Professor Emma Waterton
Funding: Australian Research Council (opens in a new window), Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
Period: 2012-2016
» Fact sheet (opens in a new window)(PDF, 183KB)

Planning Cultural Creation and Production in Sydney

Thumbnail image of a photographer's studioBuilding on the findings of the Mapping Culture report, the second phase of the study, Planning Cultural Creation and Production in Sydney: A Venues and Infrastructure Needs Analysis, will examine the nature and extent of future needs for cultural space in the City, especially spaces for cultural creation and production. The research involves a combination of quantitative and qualitative method, and focuses on the people, activities and spaces with the potential for developing Sydney's cultural capacity. It is envisaged that the research report produced by this project will make a timely contribution to the development of the planning framework of metropolitan Sydney for the coming decades.

Researchers: Professor Ien Ang, Professor David Rowe, Professor Deborah Stevenson, Dr Liam Magee, Dr Alexandra Wong, Dr Teresa Swist, Mr Andrea Pollio
Funding: City of Sydney
Period: 2017 
Project webpage: Planning Cultural Creation and Production in Sydney

Photograph: City of Sydney

Smart, Skilled, Hired and Diverse: Co-Designing Youth Employment Programs to Work for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Young People

In partnership with Navitas English and migrant, recently arrived and refugee young people in Greater Western Sydney, this project will research and co-design the Smart, Skilled, Hired Youth Employment program so as to maximize the engagement of diverse young people and dramatically improve their employment outcomes. The project adopts an engaged research, co-design and strengths-based approach which builds on the knowledge and expertise that already exists within the young people, organisations and communities who benefit from this program. The project will roll-out over three distinct phases involving co-design, pilot, delivery and evaluation of the engagement model for the program.

Researchers: Dr Philippa Collin (ICS), Dr Teresa Swist (ICS), Dr Michelle Catanzaro (School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University)
Funding: Navitas English
Period: 2017-2020

The China-Australia Heritage Corridor

Thumbnail image of heritage building in China.This project aims to show how buildings and places created by Chinese migrants in Australia and home places in China testify, beyond the narrative of arrival and settlement, to Australian connections with China and the Chinese diaspora. Using the 'heritage corridor' concept, it aims to develop a transnational approach to migration heritage and will provide tools and concepts for broadly documenting, analysing and interpreting Australia's migration heritage. The project aims to help a more cosmopolitan 21st century Australia capitalise on its legacy of regional linkages through Chinese migration.

Researchers: Dr Denis Byrne, Professor Ien AngDr Michael Williams, Dr Alexandra Wong
Funding: Australian Research Council (opens in a new window), Discovery Project
Period: 2017-2019
Project webpage: The China-Australia Heritage Corridor

Urban food economies - rethinking value for 'More-Than-Capitalist' futures

Researchers: Professor Katherine Gibson (ICS), Associate Professor Karin Bradley (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)
Funding: Seed funding for the Environmental Humanities, A Mistra-Formas Environmental Humanities Collaboratory
Period: 2017–2018

At present, no model of urban development recognizes the value (both non-monetised and monetarised) circulating in and around urban food production sites that have been created by community action. Citizens thus have few means to push back against mainstream ‘growth as good’ visions of urban futures. The project aimed to organise a workshop in June 2017, bringing together a trans-disciplinary group of community and scholar-activists to:

  • rethink values associated with community-based food production
  • devise alternative indicators of value
  • model diverse value flows in ‘more than capitalist’ urban food economies
  • develop a larger collaborative research grant proposal to a major funding body.

Work is continuing to develop the Community Economies Return on Investment Tool as a way of capturing the value (broadly defined) created in a variety of urban food production sites. A research submission to the UK ESRC is under development.

Understanding the effects of transnational mobility on youth transitions

Young people increasingly migrate abroad for work and education, and Australia is a significant hub for sending and receiving. Migration and education policies encourage this mobility, which is expected to provide youth with enhanced competitive skills. This project aims to examine transnational mobility amongst young people and to understand its effects on their economic opportunities, social and familial ties, capacity for citizenship and transitions to adulthood. The project involves a five-year longitudinal study of 2000 young people aged 18-30 of Indian, Chinese, Italian and British ancestry, including both Australian citizens/permanent residents who have left Australia, and overseas citizens/permanent residents who have entered Australia. Outcomes of this project include a significant quantitative and qualitative dataset on how youth from various cultural backgrounds manage mobility and develop economic, social and civic benefits for themselves and the broader community.

Researchers: Dr Shanthi Robertson (ICS), Professor Anita Harris (Deakin University) and Associate Professor Loretta Baldassar (University of Western Australia)
Funding: Australian Research Council, Discovery Project (via Deakin University)
Period: 2017–2022

Volumetric Urbanism

Thumbnail image of city at night with streaming lights of a bus in movement.This project aims to explain how global built environment and development firms 'push the envelope' of urban space. In cities worldwide, governments are faced with the problem and possibilities of 'volume': stacking and moving people within booming central business districts, especially around mass public transport nodes. This project will examine the prototypes, calculative devices and mediating technologies that are used to redefine cities and maximise development values. It will analyse the justifications for high volume urban development projects, and assess how transnational business and design models shape city redevelopment. This project expects to provide insights into interpreting complex urban megaprojects in Australia and internationally.

Researchers: Professor Donald McNeill, Professor Simon Marvin
Funding: Australian Research Council (opens in a new window), Discovery Project
Period: 2017-2019

Photograph: Robert Montgomery (opens in a new window)

Young and Online: International Children's Consultation for UNICEF'S 2017 State of the World's Children Report

Western Sydney University’s team, in partnership with UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children team and UNICEF Country Offices and National Committees internationally, designed and delivered participatory research workshops with 500 children in 26 countries to gather children’s insights about their access and use of digital media. The results were included in UNICEF’s annual flagship report, the State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World. The team also authored a companion report – Young and Online: Children’s perspectives on life in the digital age - and a data snapshot for each of the 26 countries.

RErights is an online platform developed by Western Sydney University, in partnership with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Digitally Connected, and UNICEF’s Voices of Youth, where young people can share their insights and experiences about their rights in the digital age.

Researchers: Associate Professor Amanda Third
Funding: UNICEF New York
Period: April – December 2017

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