Emotional Experiences of early parenthood project

A new online resource supporting Australian families in early parenthood produced by The Health in Society Research Network (HiSNet)

The Health in Society Research Network (HiSNet) is a unique, interdisciplinary research network based at the School of Social Sciences dedicated to understanding health and illness experiences in the social context. Under Associate Professor Renata Kokanovic’s leadership, the network is creating a unique database of a range of personal health and illness experiences elicited through narrative research. These are used to produce online resources to support people experiencing health challenges, contribute to health and social care service improvement, and influence health policy directions.

Based on narrative research conducted by Lead Investigator A/Prof Renata Kokanovic and her team (Kate Johnston-Ataata, Caroline Hart and Nicholas Hill) and funded by Healthdirect Australia, the Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood in Australian Families website was launched in October 2014. This is the second online resource produced by Associate Professor Kokanovic’s research team, following the Experiences of Depression and Recovery in Australia website funded by ARC LP0990229.

The Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood website features the analysis of narrative interviews illustrated with excerpts from video and audio recorded interviews with 45 parents (36 women and 9 men) from a wide range of backgrounds and family arrangements, speaking about their experiences of becoming a parent. People’s stories included their first thoughts about having children, experiences of conception and pregnancy (including surrogacy and IVF), difficult experiences such as miscarriage, premature birth or loss of a baby, labour and birth, and impact of becoming a parent on people’s relationships and their identity.

The research, the first of its kind in Australia, contributes to broadening the terms of the debates around emotions and distress in the perinatal period, and is unique in capturing in one study the diversity of family life in contemporary Australian society. To date, the website has had over 3,500 visits, is being used as a resource in the NSW Year 11 and 12 subject ‘Community and Family Studies’, and features as an important resource on the Post and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA) website supporting women experiencing perinatal distress. The researchers were also invited by the Childbirth and Antenatal Educators Association (CAPEA) of NSW to participate in an educational webinar to discuss findings from the study and showcase the website.


SoSS academics draft working paper on ‘Women in Politics’

Monash Academics from the School of Social Sciences, Professor Jacqui True, Dr Swati Parashar and Dr Sara Niner, alongside Dr Nicole George from the University of Queensland, recently drafted a working paper addressing regional issues relating to increasing women’s participation in politics.

The paper, which focuses on the Asia Pacific region, is part of the ‘Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum working papers on Women in Politics by the Social Science Research Council.

The Asia-Pacific paper discusses the various forms of resistance that women’s participation in public life faces, including cultural and religious obstacles, as well as violence faced by women seeking public life or office.

The paper also offers ten key recommendations for increasing women’s political participation that target macro and micro efforts including state machineries, electoral mechanisms, political parties, international organisations, local civil society and international governance structures.

About the CPPF Working Papers:

One of the central tools for achieving gender parity is to increase women’s presence in spaces of political representation. Even when greater representation is achieved, however, a central question remains: will having more women in decision-making positions result in more gender-sensitive policies?

The CPPF Working Papers on Women in Politics series looks at how four different regions—the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa—have encouraged women’s political participation, and it evaluates the success of these efforts, examining the correlation between wider participation and changes in the political agenda, and noting specific policy measures that have been implemented and that may be needed to overcome barriers to gender parity.

Access the papers in this series on the Social Science Research Council website.


Honours Prizes

SoSS awards a number of prizes at the end of each year for the highest thesis mark in percentage terms, including:

Sally White Anthropology Honours Prize
Awarded to the author of the highest scoring Honours thesis in Anthropology

The Human Geography Honours Dissertation Prize
Awarded to the author of the highest scoring Honours thesis in Human Geography

Criminology Dissertation Prize
Awarded to the author of the highest scoring Honours thesis in Criminology

The Rufus Davis Memorial Prize
Awarded to the author of the highest scoring Honours thesis in Politics & international Relations

The Anne Edwards Sociology Honours Dissertation Award
Awarded to the author of the highest scoring Honours thesis in Sociology

We also have one award for the student with the highest overall Honours mark in the School of Social Sciences, the SoSS Honours Prize.

It is within the discretion of the discipline and the School to decide whether or not there are suitable candidates for the award. In the event that there are no outstanding theses results, the prize for that discipline may not be awarded.


Congratulations to our SoSS Honours Award Recipients

On Monday 8 December, the SoSS team held a morning tea to recognise the recipients of the 2014 Honours Dissertation Awards.


(L-R: Dr Asher Flynn, Dr Danielle Tyson, Duncan Wallace, Natasha Abrahams, Dr Paul Muldoon, Maddy Ulbrick, Amy Pfiefer, Allegra Schermuly, Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett & Associate Professor JaneMaree Maher)

The morning tea was attended by our five outstanding award winners and their very supportive and proud friends and family, alongside their supervisors, SoSS staff and HDR students. The discipline awards are presented to the students who attain the highest thesis result in their discipline. The SoSS honours award is presented to the student who attains the highest thesis result across the entire School. More information on the awards can be found here.

This year’s recipients included:

Anne Edwards Sociology Dissertation Award 2014

Natasha Abrahams (supervised by JaneMaree Maher) and Allegra Schermuly (supervised by Helen Forbes-Mewett)

Behavioural Studies Dissertation Prize 2014

Amy Pfeifer (supervised by Kerry O’Brien)

Criminology Dissertation Prize 2014

Madeleine Ulbrick (supervised by Danielle Tyson and Asher Flynn)

Rufus Davis Memorial Prize 2014

Duncan Wallace (supervised by Paul Muldoon and Michael Janover)

The SoSS Honours Dissertation Prize 2014

Duncan Wallace (supervised by Paul Muldoon and Michael Janover)

A big congratulation to Natasha, Allegra, Amy, Maddy and Duncan. We are incredibly proud of your achievements and success, and wish you all the very best for your future endeavours. Congratulations also to the staff involved in supervising these outstanding honours candidates.


From intern to “in government”: Premier-elect a former Monash Politics student

Premier-Elect Daniel Andrews
Premier-Elect Daniel Andrews

Victoria’s Premier-elect, Daniel Andrews, is yet another graduate of the Monash Politics program to be elected to a leadership role. Andrews completed a Politics major as part of the Bachelor of Arts at Monash, during which time he also benefited from our partnership with the Victorian Parliamentary Internship Scheme, undertaking an internship at the Victorian parliament as part of his studies.

The Victorian Parliamentary Internship Program offers students the unique opportunity to undertake an internship with a member of the Parliament of Victoria during their third year of studies. It provides students with real life experience of public policy research and writing, as well as first-hand exposure to the operation of the parliamentary system.

The Premier-elect undertook his Victorian parliamentary internship in 1994 while studying at Monash, completing his internship report on local government reform. He was elected to the legislative assembly in 2002.

Daniel Andrews’ involvement with the internship program has been ongoing, speaking with more recent intern intakes on induction days.

The internship program is marking its 25th anniversary next year and the Parliament of Victoria will be celebrating this with an event held in the second half of next year.

Organisers are looking forward to the prospect of involving Daniel Andrews in this event as we again recognise the success of Monash Politics graduates and the outcomes of the Victorian Parliamentary Internship Program.

With more updates on the election results, comes the news that two other former Monash Victorian Parliamentary interns are entering the Parliament of Victoria. They are; Nick Staikos, the newly elected MLA for Bentleigh, who did the internship in 2007 and Philip Dalidakis, newly elected MLC in the Southern Metropolitan region, who did the internship in 1997. 

Find out more


A space for feminist international relations: Professor Ann Tickner visits Monash

This month, Monash is hosting distinguished International Relations academic, Professor Ann Tickner. Professor Tickner said she has been greatly impressed by the conversation and academic rigour of colleagues here at Monash, the inclusion of feminism, gender perspectives and post-colonialism in the body of research Monash academics are undertaking.

Professor Ann Tickner is a pioneer in bringing gender and feminism into the international relations discipline. She was instrumental in providing a new a space for her students and others interested in critical theories of international relations to work, publish and discuss their research in the area of gender relations.

Early in her career, she helped organise a conference focussing on ‘gendered states’ and this year, Professor Tickner joined other academics from Monash and Australia more generally to revisit this concept, and feminist international relations theories more widely, 25 years on.

Assoc. Professor Phillip Darby, Professor Ann Tickner, Professor Jacqui True and Dr Swati Parashar at the public discussion held at Monash's Law Chambers
Professor Phillip Darby, Professor Ann Tickner, Professor Jacqui True and Dr Swati Parashar at the public discussion held at Monash’s Law Chambers

Professor Tickner’s work has also had a significant inter-disciplinary focus. Her work has taken on a post-colonial focus, and she has interest in building networks with academics based at the Monash Indigenous Centre during her time in Melbourne. Post-colonialism appears in Professor Tickner’s latest paper, for which she cites support from Monash Indigenous Centre academics.

When asked of her views on Monash’s research agenda and the way gendered international relations conversations were going, Professor Tickner said that she was impressed by the breadth of topics, research agendas and themes that critical international relations scholarship is able to cover, discuss, and focus on today.

Participants in the 'Gender, Identity and the Postmodern State' workshop
Participants in the ‘Gender, Identity and the Postmodern State’ workshop

Professor Tickner also spoke of how the open and accepting nature of academia in Australia, and at Monash specifically, is important for critical and structural analysis, cross-disciplinary work, and the encouragement of inclusive conversations of various perspectives within international relations and other disciplines. She also praised the role that feminist theory and gender has played in the politics and international relations departments.

Professor Tickner is visiting Monash for about a  month and will take part in a number of events, workshops and public lectures aimed at increasing dialogue among academics, scholars and students in the international relations field here in Melbourne.


The workshop which Ann Tickner took part in was organised by the School of Social Sciences and featured papers by other Monash academics, including Professor Jacqui True, Dr Swati Parashar, Dr Samanthi Gunawardana, Dr Paddy Rawlinson and Dr Sara Meger.

The two day workshop, ‘Gender, Identity and the Postmodern State’, was a chance for academics based in Melbourne to present some of their work, and hear from Professor Tickner on how her work has progressed since the inception of feminist IR as a theory.

In conversation:

The workshop also featured a public discussion entitled ‘The Twain Shall Meet: Feminism and Postcolonialsm in IR’. On the 24th of November, Professor Tickner joined Monash’s Dr Swati Parashar and Phillip Darby, Director of the Institute of Postcolonial Studies, addressed a crowd on the relationship between their respective disciplines, which again highlighted the themes and discussions that arose during the two day workshop hosted by Monash.

The conversation and workshop were both opportunities for lively debate and discussion between participants, online and offline, and comments can be found on twitter (#MonashIPCSWorkshop). A podcast of the ‘conversation’ event will be made available soon.

Professor Tickner has also made time for other talks, and student and reading groups, allowing students in the school to take advantage of her expertise during her time at Monash.

Study International Relations at Monash:

Find out more about our academics:


Greg Barton: Challenges Posed by the Islamic State Movement at Home and Abroad

Greg Barton, Professor of Indonesian Studies and Director of the Centre for Islam and the Modern World, deliver an address at Monash University. He sets out the historical context for the rise and rapid expansion of the Islamic State and articulates some coherent optional answers to some of these questions.

Listen to or watch this talk on the ABC website:

Watch Greg Barton’s talk on ABC’s Big Ideas program


Policy Impact: Jo Lindsay contributes to work and care policy

lindsay-macklinThe honourable Jenny Macklin MP invited Jo Lindsay to participate in a policy development Roundtable in Brisbane with leaders from academia, the not for profit sector, and business to discuss current and emerging social policy issues in Australia.

The roundtable assisted in developing and prioritising a set of policies that will help Australians better manage their paid work and caring responsibilities.


What Can New Zealand Do on the United Nations Security Council to Advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda?

This post first appeared on the Women, Peace and Security Academic Collective blog.

Delegation of New Zealand following election to the Security Council. Photo by Loey Felipe/UN Photo, used under a Creative Commons licence
Delegation of New Zealand following election to the Security Council. Photo by Loey Felipe/UN Photo, used under a Creative Commons licence

The Women, Peace and Security Academic Collective and Women in International Security New Zealand (see note 1) are delighted that New Zealand has won election as non-permanent member on the UN Security Council beginning in January 2015 until December 2016, representing the Western European and other countries group. We see New Zealand as a global advocate for conflict and atrocities prevention, including the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, and also as an advocate for peacebuilding promoting gender-equal participation in peace and security processes.

It has been 21 years since New Zealand served on the Security Council in 1993-4. At the time New Zealand played a leading role in the Security Council resolution condemning the atrocities in Rwandan “as genocide”. As President of the Council in April 1994 New Zealand ambassador Colin Keating sought to persuade the Council to deploy further UN peacekeeping troops to Rwanda (see Conley-Tyler and Pahlow 2014).

Outside of the Council, New Zealand has consistently promoted peacebuilding in the Pacific region, including facilitating local women’s unique roles in ending violence and brokering peace, such as, in the process that culminated in the 2002 Papua New Guinea – Bougainville Peace Agreement. During that process on several occasions official delegations of leaders of women’s organisations were brought to talks in New Zealand to forge a united voice and to enable their greater inclusion in peace processes at home.

These initiatives funded by the New Zealand government successfully supported women’s peacebuilding initiatives in Bougainville over a number of years. More recent interventions in the Pacific, including the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and participation in multiple UN missions in Timor Leste underline the importance of a coherent, context-appropriate and sustained strategy for the inclusion of women in nationbuilding at all levels of governance.

New Zealand’s ten-year campaign for non-permanent membership emphasized the country’s representation of small states in international politics that make up over half of the United Nations membership (109 states). Once on the Council New Zealand has vowed to work for reform to increase the non-permanent membership of the Security Council and lessen the veto power of the P5 to make a positive difference to UN multilateralism, particularly to address concerning situations of conflict and insecurity in the world.

In its Security Council campaign, New Zealand did not mention the country’s efforts to advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda at the United Nations and through its foreign development and security policies even though, as the Bourgainville case illustrates, the country has a significant record on WPS. Moreover, New Zealand’s own anti-nuclear security history and identity was founded on widespread women’s peace activism in local communities and at the national level.

In a letter to WPSAC on 9 September 2014, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Murray McCully, wrote “[New Zealand] has a record of “targeting and mainstreaming assistance and promoting the wellbeing of women and girls through our development program and security operations overseas”. Given these commitments, we encourage the New Zealand government to stand up for less powerful, non-state actors, such as, women’s civil society and non-governmental organisations, that are increasingly playing crucial roles in conflict-prevention and peacebuilding as well as for small member states.

In order to make good on its unique WPS record, New Zealand needs to urgently adopt and implement a Women, Peace and Security National Action Plan based on consultations with civil society organisations and actors as well as with government agencies such as the Women’s Development Steering Group in the New Zealand Defence Force. A NAP is crucial for New Zealand to progress its plans to support the “empowerment of women at all levels of the security agenda including promoting the ability of women to act as mediators and men and women to act as gender advisors in situations of conflict” (Minister letter to WPSAC, 9 September, 2014).

The recent appointment of a High Level Panel to review UN Peace Operations that included only 3 women but 11 men highlights the persistent gender gaps that continue to undermine women’s voices in international peace and security. We need UN SC members like New Zealand to ensure that women have an equal stake in UN processes and decisions because we need to harness all the groups who can bring about the resolution of conflicts and the creation of lasting peace.

by Jacqui True and Anna Powles

Note 1: Women In International Security NZ (WIIS NZ) is the affiliate chapter of the global Women In International Security network which seeks to advance and advocate the role of women in international affairs, defence, and security. WIIS NZ was established on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2014, to address the absence of significant numbers of women in leadership positions within New Zealand’s international affairs, defence and security sectors as well as supporting the inclusion of women in leadership roles, adherence of the security sectors to UNSCR 1325, and peacebuilding throughout the region. A core focus of WIIS globally is advocacy for and monitoring of UNSCR 1325 including the NAPs and WIIS NZ is actively engaging the New Zealand Government to hold them accountable for the development and promotion of the NAP.