Shining a light—and designing solutions

The SARC team standing outside of the Anglicare Tasmania office in Hobart.

The coordinator of Anglicare’s Social Action Research Centre, Ellen Nicholson, sees exciting times ahead for the team in 2021.

“We are really good at shining a light on social justice issues through our advocacy and recommendations,” she explains. “We see the gaps, identify the systems and structures that aren’t working for vulnerable Tasmanians, and advocate for positive change so that they are better supported.

“Our challenge is to reach the next level where we work in partnership to design creative solutions and help ensure they are implemented.”

Although COVID-19 disrupted research project timelines last year, SARC was able to release a key report Rebalancing the Scales into the experiences of parents in the Tasmanian child safety system. The findings of this report received strong support from the Tasmanian legal fraternity and an in-principle commitment from the Departments of Communities and Justice that the recommendations will form part of their re-design of child safety services.

Another release was #StayHome?—the impact of COVID-19 on homeless unaccompanied children in Tasmania.

“Author Dr Catherine Robinson is a pioneer in researching the experiences of homeless children and this project took her work to the next level,” said Ellen. “All year she advocated tirelessly with various government agencies to ensure this incredibly vulnerable group is not forgotten in emergency public health planning. We’re looking forward to continue working with Government on this issue in the months ahead.”

Meanwhile, the Treasured Life Project into hoarding behaviours is in the final stages of interviewing, under the leadership of Lindsey Fidler. This project was the basis for a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and is likely to have influenced the welcome inclusion of a recommendation on funding for hoarding in Counsel Assisting’s final report.

“This research is extremely important as we don’t yet have the right systems or services in place to support Tasmanians with hoarding behaviours, their carers and families,” said Ellen.

Ellen sees potential in developing research partnerships and collaborations to expand SARC’s reach: “We have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable Tasmanians by working together with other like-minded teams,” she says.

The SARC team welcomes two new researchers, Dr Carmel Hobbs and Dr Lisa Stafford in 2021.  To find out more about their background and skill-sets, check the SARC page on Anglicare’s website. This is also where you will find regular updates as we launch new projects and publish interim and final reports.


Photo: Anglicare’s SARC team members (from left) Lindsey Fidler, Dr Carmel Hobbs, Dr Catherine Robinson, Dr Lisa Stafford and Ellen Nicholson.

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