Social Inclusion and Social Policy Research Unit (SISPRU)

The Social Inclusion and Social Policy Research Unit (SISPRU) is a long-standing research group within the Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. The Group Director is Associate Professor Philip Mendes in the Department of Social Work, School of Primary and Allied Health Care (SPAHC), at Caulfield Campus.

SISPRU undertakes high quality social research from a social work/social welfare perspective. The Unit has a depth of experience and interest across a range of social policy concerns including particularly young people transitioning from out-of-home care, compulsory income management/cashless debit card, and Jewish community responses to institutional child sexual abuse (CSA). Additional areas identified for future research projects include illicit drugs policy such as the supervised injecting facilities debate, welfare chauvinism on the far right in Australia, the future of income support payments (i.e. Job Seeker Allowance) for the unemployed, and the contention around proposals for the Registration of the Social Work profession in Australia

SISPRU builds on its solid record of evidence-based research to participate in education and community debate. It promotes knowledge and understanding in ways that enrich and improve public policy and related practice. With a strong academic foundation, it undertakes both independent and collaborative social policy research. Key research objectives include the development of fairer and more effective policies and programs for responding to social disadvantage, and an examination of the relative influence of structural and individual factors on social exclusion.

SISPRU provides meaningful opportunities for post-graduate training in inter-disciplinary policy research and partnerships with government and non-government community service providers and other policy bodies and advocates. It also offers effective and impartial program evaluations, facilitation, education and training as well as media comment, conference, keynote and panel contributions.

Current and Planned Activities

SISPRU brings together multiple research studies in which Philip Mendes plays a major role. They currently include:

  • Young people transitioning from out-of-home care: this area includes an ARC Linkage Grant, a Sidney Myer Fund grant, an Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute grant, and a What Works for Children’s Social Care grant. A new ARC Discovery application is pending, and a further philanthropic application is being planned in partnership with Anglicare Victoria. Additionally, 3 PhD students are currently enrolled, and one more about to commence. Discrete research areas covered include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander care leavers, the role of social capital, early parenting, residential care, access to education and housing, and the impact of extending out-of-home care till 21 years.
  • Compulsory income management including the Cashless Debit Card: this area includes an ARC Discovery Grant.
  • Jewish community responses to Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (CSA): a major funded project examining Child Safety processes within the Victorian Jewish community is being planned in partnership with Tzedek SECASA, the support group for Jewish survivors of CSA. Active collaboration has also been established with the Social Work Department at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PhD student is enrolled in this area.

Enquiries about the work of the group, individual studies, and interest from prospective Masters and PhD students, in the first instance please contact