Department of Social Work

In September 2019 we focused on MARC members in the Department of Social Work.

Social Work is headed by Professor Aron Shlonsky who is internationally renowned for his work in risk assessment for child maltreatment and domestic violence, child welfare practice and policy, data analytics and the use of evidence to inform practice and policy. Prior to his academic career, he spent a number of years as a child protective services worker and substance abuse counsellor in Los Angeles.

Associate Professor Philip Mendes is the director of The Social Inclusion and Social Policy Research Unit (SISPRU). He has published widely on a range of social policy and community development debates including young people transitioning out-of-home care, globalisation and the welfare state, compulsory income management, illicit drug policies, Indigenous social policy, and social workers and policy practice.


Dr Melissa Petrakis is the director of the Social Work Innovation Transformation and Collaboration in Health (SWITCH) Research Group. Dr Petrakis’s research focuses on implementing evidence-based practice, conducting practice-based research, fostering interdisciplinary practitioner-researcher opportunities and co-producing research with service users and family members.

Senior Research Fellow Dr Susan Baidawi’s research studies lie at the nexus of the child welfare and criminal justice fields. She has a current DECRA Fellowship for the project “Dual child protection and youth justice clients: expanding the evidence base”.

In addition to their research program, the department of social work run the largest Masters of Social Work program in the country, proving the enormous clinical capacity to respond to people who use alcohol and other drugs.