Postgraduate Hub

Postgraduate Network

John van Kooy, ‘Active inclusion of humanitarian migrants in urban centres’

John’s research project will develop a framework for understanding ‘inclusion’ factors for humanitarian migrants in urban settings. Countries like Australia typically prefer to manage immigration according to demographic and labour market needs, with entry granted on the basis of migrants’ productive and integrative potential. Refugees and people seeking asylum are often treated by governments as surplus to these requirements, with institutional barriers to permanent residence or citizenship rights. However, at the local level, stakeholders make choices and take actions–such as through employment or service provision—which shape the extent to which humanitarian migrants are meaningfully included in the community, in spite of visa restrictions. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, this project will examine the factors shaping local inclusion of humanitarian migrants, the findings of which will provide insights for the design of refugee integration schemes.


Sara Maher, ‘The Post-Settlement Lives of South Sudanese Australian Women; Surviving and Belonging’ 

While working in the refugee settlement sector in Melbourne, Australia Sara developed a strong connection to the South Sudanese diaspora. After visiting Sudan in 2010 and 2011 she organised an oral history project that recorded the life histories of women elders in the Melbourne diaspora. Their stories of war and survival led her to undertake a PhD at Monash University that addresses their lives in post-settlement – a majority of women arrived in Australia in the early 2000s. 

Sara’s other research interests include women’s oral histories of conflict and forced migration, how diaspora women’s feelings of belonging in Australia contribute to recovery from pre-migration trauma and the relationship between low literacy, poverty and social inclusion .


Kien Nguyen, ‘Social capital as a resource in facilitating community resilience to natural disaster: a case study of Vietnam rural area’

Kien Nguyen’s PhD project aims to explore the role of social capital in helping Vietnam’s rural communities facilitate their resilience to natural disasters. The project will employ a qualitative case study methodology to explore how a rural village in Mekong River Delta situated in Southern Vietnam utilise their social capital to cope with the impacts of recent floods. Based on a sociological perspective, the project is expected to further develop the concept of disaster resilience and offer insights into rural communities’ behaviours and patterns in responding to disasters.

Lucy Richardson, Personal and contextual factors predicting collective action addressing climate change in Australia’

Bringing together a strong background in the environmental sector and recent studies in social psychology, Lucy’s PhD research (Monash University) aims to help improve Australia’s growing population’s adoption of behaviours that address climate change. Her research will integrate previous research from across the world to identify critical factors influencing adoption, and will use this: to improve our understanding of the Australian population’s adoption, and to identify approaches for improving Australia’s behaviour change campaigns.

Gianluigi Rotondo, ‘Intercultural practices and support services relating to migrants and refugees in Australia and Italy’

Providing support services for the settlement of refugees and asylum seekers is an increasing concern that is intensively debated at international level. Nonetheless, the effective provision of these support services is rarely investigated. This topic will be explored from an intercultural perspective, considered by scholars as an appropriate approach to create and maintain constructive relationships between different levels of the framework. The concept of interculturality will be examined within the context of support services provided by organisations directly involved in supporting the resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers. Drawing on a comparison between issues concerning refugees in Italy and Australia, the role of intercultural communication will be explored through an in-depth analysis of intercultural practices and their efficiency in the resettlement process of humanitarian immigrants.

Lyubka Lazarova ‘Personal identity and volunteering in Australia and Bulgaria’

The qualitative study explores the volunteering as a meeting point of social and individual necessities. Volunteer’s role appears to be self-organized sensitive response to these necessities, sorting out behaviours and resources, guided by their relevance to the underlying needs. The study focuses on the rate and type of volunteering as determined by history, political and economic development, stability and culture of two nations (Australia and Bulgaria).  It takes a step toward examining the cultural system in the both countries for their impact on volunteering itself. It investigates the role of present-day volunteering, different as it is, in creating, transforming and sustaining identities and uses individual narratives as a source. 

Sophie ChandraCritical race debates in contemporary Singapore: Perspectives of non-migrant Singaporeans

Sophie Chandra is a third-year PhD candidate at Monash University. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the policies of multiracialism in Singapore, and investigates how race has extended beyond its role as a form of identity and become involved with the way society is organised and ruled. Through semi-structured interviews, she explores the increasing issues of racism in Singaporean society by examining how the politicisation of race has impacted the internalised views of Singaporeans and who they are as “racial beings.” By recognising the boundaries that underlie the dimensions of racism in these interviews, Sophie aims to conceptualise a bridge between the macro system of race-based policies and the micro inequalities that perpetuate the system and thus, uncover the complex social effects that the politicisation of race has had on Singaporean society.

Allegra Schermuly ‘Community satisfaction with police in the Monash LGA’

Allegra Schermuly is a research fellow in the School of Social Sciences, Monash University. Before joining Monash, Allegra worked as a perioperative nurse in Australia and the UK. She is currently completing her PhD (Monash University) on the topic of police legitimacy. In her research, Allegra explores perceptions of Victoria Police and their implications for legitimacy, community satisfaction and willingness to cooperate with police. Using qualitative interviews with community representatives in the Monash Local Government Area, Allegra’s doctoral thesis analyses the factors that impact police legitimacy with a view to informing police practices and culture, especially in contemporary multicultural societies. Allegra’s other research interests include the challenge for public institutions, such as law enforcement and healthcare, to remain fit for purpose in multicultural societies and the social inequalities that persist despite advances in new digital technologies. She is currently working on an ARC funded project in the School of Social Sciences at Monash which explores citizens’ use of digital media in disease activism and advocacy.

Harry Tan, Homelessness in Singapore

Harry’s PhD research is an ethnographic study of how older people in Singapore become, experience and exit homelessness. In Singapore, it is illegal to sleep rough and homelessness tends to be attributed to personal problems for which the government is not held responsible or to broader structural problems resulting from government policies and bureaucracy. The stories of older people in Harry’s study challenge such one-sided causal explanations and highlight homelessness as a process involving personal decisions as well as structural factors. 

Jennifer Martin, National and Cultural Identity in Australia and the Chinese-Australian Experience‘.

Jennifer is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Monash University and is a librarian in the higher education sector. She has previously completed a BA and MA from the University of NSW, a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Management from the University of Canberra and a Graduate Diploma in Educational Psychology from Monash University. She is currently undertaking her research on ethnic identity construction amongst multi-generation Australian-born Chinese. Jennifer has extensive experience in the education and community sectors including working as an interlocutor for the Occupational English Test, as an Executive Officer for a Council of Deans, as an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Project Officer and as a Research Worker. She has presented at several national conferences organised by The Australian Sociological Association (TASA). She has published a paper on tenancy issues confronted by people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Olha Shmihelska,  ‘The economic rights of Ukrainian migrants: National identity and belonging in Germany and Australia‘.

Olha holds a Masters Degree in Law from the University of Lviv, Ukraine. She also graduated from the Wroclaw University in Poland, Postgraduate program in Economic and Trade Law. While volunteering and working as an administrator in the IT sector in Germany, Olha developed a strong connection to the recent Ukrainian immigrants in Berlin. Their stories of migration and labour integration inspired her to undertake a PhD at Monash University. The focus of Olha’s dissertation is to explore Ukrainian immigrants’ experiences of exercising their employment-related rights that are granted by German and Australian immigration laws and its connection to the social capital in Ukrainian diaspora. At the same time, Olha pays special attention to the influence of the recent socio-political and military events in Ukraine since late 2013 designated as the Euromaidan. She studies how it interplays with the migration outflow from Ukraine and the shifts in perception of Ukrainian national identity in the immigrant community. Olha’s research interests include immigration law, economic and social rights, social capital, national identity, human geography, and Ukrainian studies that encompass linguistic, literary and cultural studies.