News from the School of Social Sciences and Psychology

New ACFID Affiliate Member: Western Sydney University - School of Social Sciences and Psychology

Western Sydney University - School of Social Sciences and Psychology was awarded Affiliate Membership by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Council at the ACFID AGM on 26 October 2016.

As an ACFID Affiliate Member the School of Social Sciences and Psychology is able to access a wide range of ACFID member benefits, including discounted training rates, participation in ACFID member activities and Communities of Practice.

More specifically, the school can access services and events below:

  • Participate in ACFID's Communities of Practice – more information on ACFID's CoPs can be found on the ACFID website.
  • Join us at our next Member Information Forum in February/March 2017 (date TBC), a fantastic free opportunity to learn the latest news from the sector and network with other ACFID members;
  • Access the ACFID Member Bulletin and CEO updates with essential information on sector issues and development – you have been added to our mailing list and will receive information on a monthly basis, or when significant issues arise.
  • Participate on the Research for Development Impact Network- more information is available on our website at Join the RDI Network (opens in a new window)

If you would like any further information about how to access any of these benefits, please contact our Membership & Stakeholder Coordinator Sophie Green on or 02 6281 9235.

Alumni in the media

Fusing their backgrounds in VR and psychology, Corrie Ackland and Pieter Rossouw, the two brains behind Sydney Phobia Clinic, are revolutionising phobia and exposure therapies and the place technology holds in mental health treatment. "I have a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours and a Master of Clinical Psychology from Western Sydney University," says Corrie. "Since then I've been working as a clinical psychologist in severe anxiety for half a decade." (The Big Smoke) (opens in a new window)

Students in the media

Forum8 Design Festival

Dea Kandasamy and Jacob Cross (SSAP Planning Students) won the "Excellence Award' at the recent Award Ceremony held in Tokyo during the Forum8 Design Festival. Dea and Jacob went to Tokyo as finalists of the Virtual Design Competition in Melbourne. They developed a concept based on 'Urban farming' for the Melbourne re-development area of Lorimer, and implemented it in a 3D virtual model in Forum8 software.

Psychology student releases first album

Australian Hip Hop artist Phize MC, who grew up in Bankstown, is realising his first album 'Angst' this month. Working in music since 2009, Phize, who is close to completing a degree in psychology at Western Sydney University Bankstown campus, travelled to Dhaka, Bangladesh, last year to a attend a friend's wedding and produce a music video for his song, 'Perspective', which features on the album. "The video layers both Sydney and Dhaka cityscapes," Phize told the Bankstown Torch. (Bankstown Torch) (opens in a new window)

Student campaigns for special needs trolleys in Australia

Castle Hill resident Brittany Hawke is campaigning for trolleys for the disabled to be available at all major shopping centres in Australia. "Able-bodied people do not understand how difficult simple tasks can be for both people living with disabilities and their parents and careers," she said. The second year social work student from Western Sydney University hopes to raise awareness of the difficulties families face in light of her own family's experience. (Hills News) (opens in a new window)

Staff in the media

Emma Waterton and Hayley Saul

  • Emma Waterton and Hayley Saul were in Langtang last year researching its archaeology, heritage and development when the April 25 earthquake set off a massive avalanche that buried the village. Dr Waterton and Dr Saul were helping write Langtang's history when they narrowly escaped the disaster. Recently they visited the village for the first time since the tragic event. Research objectives have shifted since the earthquake, with plans to use the data collected to make a commemorative Sacred Valley of Langtang Museum. With funding from Western, an exhibition will extend outside to various locations attached to stories and histories of the people in the village. Locals are reviewing and finalising museum plans presented to them by Western vice-chancellor Barney Glover. "It's a debt we have as a university to the people of the valley of Langtang," said School of Social Sciences and Psychology Dean, Professor Kevin Dunn. It is hoped the museum will be completed by April. (Daily Telegraph online)
  • Australian researchers caught up in avalanche last year are building a cultural museum to boost tourism, reports the Nepali Times. Drs Emma Waterton and Hayley Saul from Western Sydney University were in Langtang last year researching its archaeology, heritage and development when the 25 April earthquake set off a massive avalanche that buried the village. "We had just finished our research in the village and were half way through our trek. There were so many reasons why we should have died," Saul said, recalling the horror of watching the cliff face opposite them peel away and fall into the river below. With funding from Western Sydney University, an exhibition will extend outside to various locations attached to stories and histories of the people in the village. (Nepali Times) (opens in a new window)

Peter Jonason

Research conducted by Dr Peter Jonason into the traits of the psychopath is reported by international news sites, Taringa (Argentina), and Noticia hoy en Mexico.

Liquan Liu

Exposure to multiple languages may sharpen infants' music sensitivity in the first year after birth, new research has found. Compared to infants learning one language (monolinguals), those who grow up with more than one language (bilinguals/multilinguals) are more sensitive to the subtle pitch variations in language. Dr Liquan Liu writes for The Conversation (opens in a new window).

Kevin Dunn

Australia's racism has roots in its history of colonisation and migration, and, until recent years, racist policies and practices were embedded within Australian laws and institutions, and the debate has become tied up with national identity. Pro Bono Australia (opens in a new window) has a three part series podcast about the issue. Interviewed for the series is Professor Kevin Dunn, the Dean of the School of Social Science and Psychology at Western Sydney University.

Emma Power

  • Having a no "pets policy" in residential leases causes a "serious obstacle" to housing security, according to new research, though the topic has divided Illawarra Mercury readers. A ten year study from Western Sydney University found pet owners struggle with rental insecurity despite the popularity of pet ownership (63 per cent of Australian households include a pet). The paper, by senior research fellow Emma Power , "advocates for inclusion of pet ownership as a variable impacting secure occupancy". (Illawarra Mercury)
  • A Conversation article about pet ownership and rental insecurity written by Dr Emma Power from the School of Social Sciences and Psychology is republished by City Metric (opens in a new window) in the UK.

Jane Mears

Single women over 45 with limited savings who have lost a job have almost no chance of finding affordable housing in the Penrith region, frontline workers have found. "Once you lose your job at 45, your chances of getting another one are very slight," said Jane Mears, associate professor in social policy at Western Sydney University. Mission Australia is urging the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to facilitate funding of at least 200,000 new social homes by 2025. (Penrith Press)

Dallas Rogers

  • Dr Dallas Rogers, Urban Studies Researcher with the Institute for Culture and Society and School of Social Sciences and Psychology writes about the changes to foreign real estate investment regulations. The piece is published by the Illawarra Mercury, after it was first published by The Conversation.
  • Dr Dallas Rogers writes about how the changes for off-the-plan foreign buyers rely on a broken supply argument, in a piece published by The Conversation.(opens in a new window)
  • Sydney's great urban sprawl will soon come to an end, with new data showing the Sydney basin is nearing capacity. There are 340,000 potential housing lots left throughout the Greater Sydney basin, less than half the number needed to house the city's bulging population over the next two decades. Increasing the density of the city will also require shifting focus from housing to jobs, services and transport, Western Sydney University urban studies lecturer Dallas Rogers provides expert comment. He said: "Philosophically there's no limit to how many people are housed in a city. But there are practical limitations and we're already feeling these," Dr Rogers said. Signs of these limitations include schools with no room for more students and congestion on the roads. "The dilemma with cities is that you're not starting from a clean slate, they come with a whole set of characteristics you have to work with. [Sydney] was built over 200 years and it's hard to retrofit it with a modern metropolis," he said. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Michael Salter

  • Criminologist Dr Michael Salter discusses peadophilia in an article in The Saturday Paper on criminal artists. "The wrongfulness of child sexual abuse was debated as part of the sex research of the '50s and the sexual liberation of the '60s," he says. "A naive and romanticised view of children's 'sexual rights' that included a 'right' to sexual activity with adults emerged in some corners of sexology and countercultural movements. This reached its apex in the 1970s with the formation of various pro-paedophile movements, some of which were quite influential, particularly Britain's Paedophile Information Exchange, which included senior public servants. (Saturday Paper) (opens in a new window)
  • Triple J interview with David Williams, Melbourne Men's Rights Activist, and Dr Michael Salter, Lecturer in Criminology, about the Australian screening of The Red Pill, a documentary about the men's rights movement. Dr Salter says while the movement does bring up real issues facing men such as men's health and suicidality, they tend to direct this towards girls and women rather than trying to find real solutions. (Triple J)(opens in a new window)
  • An online group boasting more than 40 members, the majority of whom appear to attend Brighton Grammar in Melbourne, have been charged for hosting an Instagram account targeting young girls with sexual harassment. Western Sydney University criminologist Dr Michael Salter says that when it comes to institutional defensiveness, it is not just administrative staff who have a vested interest in protecting and defending a school's reputation. "Parents also have a financial interest in minimising what's happened, especially if they have invested a great deal of money in aligning themselves with the school (and its reputation)," he says. (Daily Telegraph, PerthNow) (opens in a new window)
  • Ahead of White Ribbon Day, The Saturday Paper can reveal significant tensions inside the organisation, with accusations it is more focused on branding than meaningful cultural change. There are also concerns White Ribbon's awareness-raising juggernaut is dominating an underfunded sector, taking resources from front-line services struggling with soaring demand. The organisation's latest annual report noted revenue of $3.6 million, $330,000 of it from government grants. In a sector defined by budget cuts, White Ribbon recorded double-digit growth. "The point of engaging men and boys in preventing violence against women is that engagement sometimes needs to be critical and needs to involve feedback to men in positions of power that says, 'This is not okay,'" said Michael Salter , a criminologist from Western Sydney University who works with victims, perpetrators and front-line services. He provides expert comment on the issue. (The Saturday Paper)

Australian Awards for University Teaching

2016 Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning

Professor Craig Gonsalvez has been rewarded a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning 'for enhancing placement outcomes and experiences for psychology students through competency based supervision, training and assessment' as part of the Australian Awards for University Teaching in 2016.

New Colombo Plan Mobility Grants

Congratulations to Zulfan Tadjoeddin and John Hunter for their successful outcome in the 2017 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grants. The projects awarded are:

Project Leader

Project Name


Funding Amount

Zulfan Tadjoeddin

Understanding the real world of humanitarian and development in Indonesia



John Hunter

Bachelor of Community and Social Development Fijian Placement



Research Success

HADRI consultancy

The Humanitarian and Development Research Initiative (HADRI) established in June this year is pleased to announce that we have been successful in the tender to Wentworth Healthcare Limited (WHL), value $64,706, to undertake research into the health experience and needs of Syrian and Iraqi families settling in the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network (PHN) region.

The full name of the project is: "Preliminary assessment of the (mental) health needs of, and services available for Syrian and Iraqi refugees settling in the Blue Mountains Region". This is important work that articulates closely with HADRI's three research programs, specifically the 'International Migration and Health' program, and with the local community.

100 lives in Western Sydney

A team led by Associate Professor Brian Stout has recently agreed to carry out a $220,000 research project with the Western Sydney Service Delivery Reform (SDR) Group.  This group comprises Family and Community Services (FACS), Health, Education, Juvenile Justice and the Police and SDR is facilitated by the Premier and Cabinet to encourage better working relationships. SDR consists of a number of projects and Western Sydney University will be working as a partner to research the overall programme and individual projects.

All the research will be carried out under the title of '100 lives in Western Sydney', to emphasise the priority of ensuring that the initiatives have a real impact on people's lives. The research team will be using a realist methodology to research:

  • Service Delivery Reform: the process of the agencies working together;
  • Making a Safe Home (MaSH): agencies working together to allow children to stay at home rather than being taken into residential care;
  • Vulnerable Families: agencies working together to support identified families in need;
  • Niland School: inter-agency working to support the children in this school, all of whom have a dual diagnosis of intellectual disability and emotional disability.

The core team initially includes Associate Professor Brian Stout, Dr Susan Evans and Chris Krogh from Social Sciences and Psychology and Dr Ann Dadich from the School of Business. Other Western Sydney researchers, including Dr Kerry Clamp, will also become involved as the programme progresses. The research programme will produce high quality research outputs and support important partners as they make a difference to the lives of people in Western Sydney.

Funding Success

Dr Tamara Watson ARC Discovery Projects grant

$335,500 'Flower Power: Natural Form, Aesthetics and the Human Brain'

Dr Jioji Ravulo – Co-funded HDR stipend

HopePlus is funding a joint stipend with Western Sydney University for a PhD Research Student to support its mission to challenge youth unemployment and disengagement in the City of Fairfield. HopePlus is a whole of community initiative that will use the Collective Impact framework. It will address youth unemployment, identify barriers and implement practical solutions to support young people into meaningful and sustainable work. In addition, the successful candidate will be a member of the HopePlus team within Woodville Alliance in Villawood.

Western THRI Translational Health Research Grant Scheme

Dr Evelyn Smith, Dr Jioji Ravulo and led by Dr Freya MacMillan, School of Science and Health.

Preventing Diabetes and its Complications in the Greater Western Sydney Samoan community.

This project aims to prevent diabetes and its complications in the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Samoan community. It will increase knowledge and translational skills on effective diabetes prevention and management support programs in the Samoan community living in South Western Sydney (SWS); and strengthen relationships with the Samoan community, Local Health District (LHD) and Primary Heath Network (PHN) partners in SWS, Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains (NBM).

External Income $144,000 and Western Sydney University $60,000

Dr Jenna Condie, Dr Phillip Wadds, Dr Cameron McAufliffe, Dr Andrew Gorman-Murray, School of Social Sciences and Psychology Urban Research Program

Collaborative Research Project with Parramatta City Council $40,000 plus $40,000 matched funds from School of Social Sciences and Psychology over 2 years.

This research partnership will provide empirical research and theoretical frameworks to enhance implementation of the Parramatta Safety Plan. The partnership will enable innovation in thinking and the capacity to convert new research findings specific to Parramatta Local Government Area into actions enriching the Parramatta Safety Plan.

Research Grant

Awarded to: Dr John Cass

Scheme: Pilot Competitive Evaluation Research Agreement (CERA) Program 2016

Amount: $34,500

Project Title and Summary: An investigation of whether sound can improve visual performance in radar tracking systems

Radar tracking systems require operators to simultaneously keep track of multiple visual objects. This is notoriously difficult. Recent studies show that presenting sounds in synchrony with visual events can profoundly improve visual search performance in relatively static displays. This project investigates whether adding synchronous audio-visual signals can improve motion tracking performance in these systems.

Higher Degree Research student, Amy McNair, has won a place in the Australian-French Entrepreneurship Challenge Australian Academy of Science

The Australian-French Entrepreneurship Challenge is a unique national competition for participants to design an innovative start-up business venture. Participants receive entrepreneurial training from business experts. They will then work, over a continuous 24 hour period, in cross-disciplinary teams to develop a novel business venture from their scientific expertise. Each team will pitch their start‑up concept to a jury of expert French and Australian businesses, competing for the opportunity to travel to France for a first-hand experience of the country's innovation system.

Amy McNair is supervised by Assoc Prof Emma Waterton.

Farewell Professor Natalie Bolzan

The School of Social Sciences and Psychology celebrated the retirement of Professor Natalie Bolzan on 25 May, 2016 at the Female Orphan School, Parramatta Campus. Professor Bolzan was appointed as the University's Margaret Whitlam Chair in Social Work in 2010, which was established to recognise the energy and commitment Mrs Margaret Whitlam AO had demonstrated throughout her career to work for social justice.

Natalie, as the Inaugural Chair, acknowledged the privilege in having the professorial chair named for Margaret Whitlam. Her shared passion for social justice and egalitarian principles underpinned all her academic achievements over the last 20 years in teaching, research, leadership, curriculum development, advocacy and continuing commitment to producing exceptional graduates.

Please see some images of the evening which was attended by many of Professor Bolzan's close colleagues and friends, including a fitting key note from Professor Margaret Alston OAM from Monash and a musical tribute from two of our Social Work Academics, Dr Neil Hall and Dr Justine O'Sullivan. Thank you, as always to Olga Nebot and Designed Photography for the great images.

Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party
Professor Natalie Bolzan's retirement party