Dr Bernadette Saunders

Senior Lecturer & Master of Social Work (Qualifying) On Campus Co-ordinator

+61 3 9903 4784


Dr Saunders, PhD (Monash) MSW (H1Equiv.) (Monash) Dip Ed (Monash) BSW (Melb) BA (Social Science) (LaTrobe) was invited to join the Department of Social Work in 1996 as a sessional tutor/lecturer and as a researcher in the Child Abuse and Family Violence Research Centre, later known as Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia (CAPRA) where she was on secondment as a Senior Research Fellow from 2007 until 2010. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in social work and is the Coordinator of the Master of Social Work (Qualifying) (On-Campus). She also coordinates and teaches SWM5101 Human Rights, Law and Ethics at the Masters level, SWK4030 Human Rights, Legal and Ethical Social Work Practice at the undergraduate level, and SWM5160 Masters elective unit - The Child in Society: Promoting Child Wellbeing and Responding to Child Maltreatment.

Dr Saunders previously worked in the field of Medical Social Work, particularly in the area of cancer and terminal illness. As part of her MSW at Monash, she conducted a program evaluation of a specialised home-based care foster agency program, and she co-authored a non-commercial book critiquing structured risk assessment in child protection – available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228788444_A_critique_of_risk_assessment_procedures_instruments_of_abuse

The initial Australian Research Council (ARC) funded research project in which she participated explored risk assessment in child protection practice and the response of community professionals to mandatory reporting legislation. As part of a Queensland Crime Commission inquiry: Project Axis, she co-authored a chapter on child sexual abuse and the media.

In 2005, Dr Saunders completed a PhD which involved interviews with children, parents, grand-parents and professionals, and focused on legally sanctioned physical punishment of children, children’s rights, and the intergenerational transmission of family violence. Her research was funded by the ARC and the Australian Childhood Foundation as part of an Australian Post-Graduate Award (Industry). Later research projects include:

Dr Saunders has presented at many national and international conferences, and the media regularly consult her in relation to the ‘smacking’ debate – a children’s rights issue about which she is particularly passionate (see for example: https://theconversation.com/yes-physically-disciplining-kids-is-an-act-of-violence-31425 https://theconversation.com/a-wake-up-call-for-parents-who-smack-their-children-16461http://theconversation.com/parents-its-never-okay-to-hit-your-kids-8049http://theconversation.com/time-for-an-end-to-parental-tough-love-8688 http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10393

Dr. Saunders has all been employed to conduct planning, evaluation and research consultancies.

PhD supervision interests include:

All topics related to children, their status and childhood; child well-being; child maltreatment; the physical punishment of children, the intersection of law and disadvantaged groups of people.

Selected publications include:

Saunders, B. J. (2017) “Words matter: Textual Abuse of Childhood in the English-Speaking World, and the Role of Language in the Continuing Denial of Children's Rights, International Journal of Children's Rights. 25, 2, p. 519-536.

Saunders, B. J. (2017) “Progress toward worldwide recognition of the child's human right to dignity, physical integrity and protection from harm” in Ruck, M., Peterson-Badali, M. & Freeman, M. (eds.) Handbook of Children's Rights: Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Abdingdon Oxon UK: Routledge, p. 239-258.

Baidawi, S.Mendes, P.Saunders, B. J. (2017) “The complexities of cultural support planning for Indigenous children in and leaving out-of-home care: The views of service providers in Victoria, Australia”, Child and Family Social Work. 22, 2, p. 731-740.

Baidawi, S.Saunders, B.Mendes, P. (2017) “Indigenous young people leaving care: Questioning the gaps in official statistics”, Indigenous Law Bulletin. 8, 28, p. 12-15.

Saunders, B. J. Goddard, C. (2017) “Some Australian children's perceptions of physical punishment in childhood” in Kilkelly, U. & Lundy, L. (eds.) Children's Rights (The Library of Essays on Family Rights), New York NY USA: Routledge, p. 603-615.

Mendes, P.Baidawi, S.Saunders, B. (2016) “Indigenous young people transitioning from out-of-home care (OOHC) in Victoria, Australia: The perspectives of workers in Indigenous-specific and non-Indigenous non-government services”, The International Indigenous Policy Journal. 7, 3, 2.

Mendes, P.Saunders, B.Baidawi, S. (2016) “Indigenous care leavers in Victoria”, Children and Families in Focus. 2, p. 62-66.

Saunders, B. J. 2015 “Ending corporal punishment in childhood: Advancing children's rights to dignity and respectful treatment” in Diduck, A., Peleg, N. & Reece, H. (eds.) Law in Society: Reflections on children, family, culture and philosophy: Essays in Honour of Michael Freeman. . Leiden The Netherlands: Brill, p. 243-270.

Saunders, B. J. 2015 “Physical punishment of children“, International Journal of Children's Rights. 23, 3, p. 661-666.

Brown, G. A.Petrakis, M.Flynn, C. A.Saunders, B. J.Mendes, P.Dragic, M. (2015) “Social Justice, Respect and Professional Integrity: The Social Work Discipline and Profession as a Place of Congruence for Working Class Academics”, in Mitchell, D., Wilson, J. Z. & Archer, V. (eds.) Bread and Roses: Voices of Australian Academics from the Working Class. Rotterdam The Netherlands: Sense Publishers, p. 147 - 161.

Freeman, M. D. F. & Saunders, B. J. (2014) “Can we conquer child abuse if we don't outlaw physical chastisement of children?“, International Journal of Children's Rights. 22, p. 681 - 709.

Saunders, B. J.Lansdell, G. T.Eriksson, A. M.Brown, M. (2014) “The impact of the Victorian infringements system on disadvantaged groups: findings from a qualitative study”, Australian Journal of Social Issues. 49, 1, p. 45 – 66.

Brown, M.Lansdell, G. T.Saunders, B. J.Eriksson, A. M. (2013) “I'm sorry but you're just not that special ...' reflecting on the 'special circumstances' provisions of the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic)” Current Issues in Criminal Justice. 24, 3, p. 375 - 393.

Lansdell, G. T.Saunders, B. J.Eriksson, A. M.Brown, S. M.(2013) “Exploring the injustice of imprisonment for fine default: the Taha case and achieving social justice“, Alternative Law Journal, 38, 3, p. 160 - 164.

Saunders, B.J. (2013) ‘Ending the Physical Punishment of Children by Parents in the English-speaking World: The Impact of Language, Tradition and Law’ International Journal of Children’s Rights 21, 2, p. 278 - 304

Brown, M., Lansdell, G., Saunders B and Eriksson, A (2013) ‘I’m sorry but you’re just not that special …’ Reflecting on the ‘Special Circumstances’ Provisions of the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic), Currrent Issues in Criminal Justice, 24, 3, 375-393.

Lansdell, G., Eriksson, A., Saunders, B., Brown, M. (2012) ‘Infringement Notice Systems in Australia: a precarious blurring and civil and criminal sanctions', 37(1) Alternative Law Journal, 41-45

Naylor, B., & Saunders, B. (2011). Parental Discipline, Criminal Laws and Responsive Regulation. In M. Freeman (Ed.), Law & Childhood Studies (pp. 506-530). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Saunders, B., & Cashmore, C. (2011), ‘Australia: The Ongoing Debate about Ending Physical Punishment’ in Anne Smith and Joan Durrant (eds), Realizing the Rights of Children: Global Progress towards Ending Physical Punishment. Dr Saunders’ publications include:

Saunders, B.J. & Goddard, C. (2010), ‘Physical punishment in childhood: The rights of the child’, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell.

Naylor, B & Saunders, B.J. (2009), ‘Whose Rights? Children, Parents and Discipline’, Alternative Law Journal, 34, 2, 80-85.

Saunders, B.J. & Goddard, C. (2008) ‘Some Australian Children's Perceptions of Physical Punishment in Childhood’, Children & Society, 22, 405-417.

Saunders, B.J. & Goddard, C. (2007) ‘The importance of listening to children: A qualitative study on the use of parental physical punishment in childhood in Australia’, Social Development Issues – Special Issue – Child Protection Challenges Worldwide, 29(3):33-46.

Saunders, B.J. and Goddard. C. (2005) ‘The objectification of the child through language and physical discipline: The debate on children’s rights continues’, in J. Mason and T. Fattore (2005) (eds), Children Taken Seriously: In Policy and Practice, Jessica Kingsley, Birmingham.

Saunders, B.J. and Goddard, C.R. (2001) ‘The textual abuse of childhood in the English-speaking world – The contribution of language to the denial of children’s rights’, Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, 8 (4): 443-462.