Faculty of Education and Arts

Dr Christina Sadowski

Research Coordinator, Central Highlands Children and Youth Area Partnership (CHCYAP) Research Collaboration
Senior Lecturer, MSW(Q)
Study area: Social work
Location: Mt Helen Campus, H Building, Room H246
Phone: 5327 6057
Email: c.sadowski@federation.edu.au


Doctor of Philosophy - University of Ballarat - 2013

Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education - University of Ballarat - 2009

Masters in Social Science - Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology - 2004

Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) University of Melbourne -1999

Bachelor of Arts College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts, USA - 1990



Master of Social Work


  • Professional Social Work Practice (MSWPG7102)
  • Social Work Research (MSWPG7211)
  • Social Work Field Education 1 & 2 (MSWPG7106 / MSWPG7208)


Prior to commencing her academic career, Christina worked in a diverse range of social work positions (with disabled young adults, newly arrived refugees and humanitarian entrants, Indigenous communities, homeless individuals and families, young offenders and victims) in metropolitan Melbourne, regional Victoria, Old Mapoon and Cooktown Shire (Cape York, Far North Queensland), Northern Territory and Brooklyn, New York. Christina has extensive teaching experience in VET and higher education at the University of Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Ballarat and Federation University Australia.

Christina has held leadership positions within the Faculty of Education and Arts, including the role of Associate Dean (Student Retention and Success) and her current role as the Research Coordinator for the Central Highlands Children and Youth Area Partnership (CHCYAP) Research Collaboration. This role involves the coordination of the Doctoral Research Initiative. Christina's areas of research interest include children's experiences of family separation, welfare and social work education (particularly models of blended learning and innovative teaching practices), and supporting children and families with complex needs. She is a passionate lecturer who enjoys the challenge of linking complex theory to popular culture and current events.

Areas of expertise

Christina diverse experiences as a social worker in urban, regional, rural and remote settings in urban and regional Victoria, remote regions of Cape York and inner-urban Brooklyn, NY strongly influence her teaching and research. In her current role as Research Coordinator of the Central Highlands Children and Youth Area Partnership (CHCYAP) Research Collaboration, she draws upon this knowledge and skill base to work collaboratively with the range of stakeholders within the Partnership. She is highly committed to contributing to the development of the next generation of social workers, and forging stronger connections between practice, theory, industry, community and research within the regional social work workforce. Christina has presented her research at a range of national and international seminars and conferences. During her appointment as Associate Dean (Student Retention and Success) within the Faculty of Education and Arts, Christina developed in-depth knowledge of the barriers that "non-traditional" students face in their pursuit of higher education, and strategies and policies that can be implemented to address many of these barriers.

Research interests

  • Children's and parents' experiences of family separation
  • Welfare and social work education (particularly models of blended learning and innovative teaching practices)
  • Supports for children and families with complex needs
  • The application of qualitative research methods (including descriptive phenomenology, interpretive phenomenological analysis, thematic analysis, Qualitative Interpretive Meta-Synthesis (QIMS), Most Significant Change (MSC)
  • The use of co-design as a research methodology in the human services


Current supervision

Michelle Hunt – “Using co-design to develop ‘joined-up’ service responses to children in the context of family violence” Doctor of Philosophy. (Principal Supervisor)

Rachel Goff – “Using co-design to develop innovative community-based responses for families in South Western Ballarat experiencing challenges” Doctor of Philosophy. (Principal Supervisor)

Kaye Stevens – “The provision of targeted and specialist services for families living in the Pyrenees Shire: Co-designing a more responsive service system” Doctor of Philosophy (Associate Supervisor)

Woody Boyce – “Barriers and enabling factors in planned and unplanned school transitions for children and young people in Out-of-Home Care in the Victorian Central Highlands” Doctor of Philosophy. (Associate Supervisor)

Lauren Irvin – “Exploring outcomes and experiences of different referral pathways into a regional Men’s Behaviour Change Program” Doctor of Philosophy. (Principal Supervisor)

Carina O’Neill – “Towards an understanding of user journeys: How families navigate through early childhood services in a rural Victorian city” Masters by Research. (Principal Supervisor)

Kim Cooper – “The understanding and application of trauma-informed care by home-based carers in Out-of-Home-Care” Doctor of Philosophy. (Associate Supervisor)

Cassie Austin “What constitutes a successful model of care to engage families with Aboriginal children 0-6 years of age in Maternal and Child Health Services in Victoria?” Doctor of Philosophy. (Associate Supervisor).

Azusa Umemoto - "Transition and career decision making processes among early school leavers." Doctor of Philosophy. (Associate Supervisor)

Peter Smith - "An investigation of the barriers to candidates with disability completing a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) qualification at Australian universities" Doctor of Philosophy. (Associate Supervisor)

Sunita Singaram - "Intercultural and spousal relationships for female migrants to Australia" Masters by Research. (Principal Supervisor)

Completed Supervision

2014 BA (Rural Social Welfare) Honours, Philippa McGregor, An analysis of health promoting schools initiative in a regional community

2012 BA (Rural Social Welfare) Honours, Susila Naidu, The implementation of Trauma Informed Practice frameworks in out of home care settings


Book Chapters

Sadowski, C. & Ratcliffe, S. (forthcoming) "Clients and Workers" in K. Crinall and J. Berends (Eds.) Community and Human Services: New Frameworks for Practice. Oxford University Press.

Refereed journal articles

Townsend, R., Sadowski, C. & Pediaditis, M. (in press) Peer learning communities in tertiary education: The emergence of eclectic learning frameworks, Journal of Human Development & Education

Sadowski, C., Pediaditis, M., & Townsend, R. (2017) University students’ perceptions about ‘social networking sites’ (SNS) in their educational experiences at a regional Australian university. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 33(5): 77-90.
University students' perceptions about SNS - Sadowski Pediaditis and Townsend 2017

Sadowski, C. & McIntosh, J. (2016) "On laughter and loss: Children's perspectives of parenting behaviors that enable security in shared-time arrangements" Childhood 23(1), 68-86. On Laughter and Loss - Sadowski and McIntosh 2016

Sadowski, C. & McIntosh, J. (2015) "A Phenomenological analysis of the experience of security and contentment for latency aged children in shared-time living arrangements. Journal of Descriptive Phenomenology 46(1), 69-104. A Phenomenological Analysis - Sadowski and McIntosh 2015

Conference/Seminar presentations

"Research on shared-time parenting: Children's voices, & Children and parental perspectives on fairness and equality: an analysis of qualitative research" – Ballarat Family Law Pathways Network – Invited Seminar Presentation, 19 May 2016, Horsham, Victoria.

"Living in between: Children's descriptions of their shared-time parenting arrangements following parental separation." Ballarat Family Law Pathways Network – Invited Seminar Presentation. 4 May 2016, Ballarat, Victoria.

"Can horses really change lives? An evaluation of the Equine Learning Experiences Australia program" Barwon South Western and Grampians Allied Health Conference – Facing the future: Innovation and collaboration in regional allied health. 21 April 2016, Federation University Australia, Horsham. (co-presented with Janet Phillips).

'The credentialising of human services and social work education in regional Australia' Australia and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education Research (ANZSWWER) Symposium, 3-4 September 2015, Melbourne (co-presented with Dr Robert Townsend, Federation University Australia)

"Children's experiences of shared time" Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court National Child Dispute Seminar, October 29, 2014 (invited seminar presentation)

"But does it really work? ELearning in the health and human services" Barwon Southwest and Grampians Allied Health Conference, November 26, 2013 Hamilton, VIC.

"Parental behaviours enabling security in shared time arrangements" Australian Family Mediation Association Annual General Meeting, November 25, 2013, Melbourne, VIC (invited keynote speaker)

"Unpacking the baggage: Children's experiences of security and contentment in shared-time living arrangements" Family Relationships Services Australia (FRSA) Annual National Conference: Investing in families and communities (Prevention and integration and innovation), 5-7 November 2013, Canberra, ACT

"Unpacking the baggage: Children's lived experiences of security and contentment in shared-time living arrangements" Ballarat Family Law Pathways Network Research Forum, 26 June, 2013 (Invited speaker).

"Bringing children's voices to conceptualisations of 'best interests,' post-separation," Albury-Wodonga Regional Family Law Pathways Network Conference, "Best InterestsHow do we determine the best interests of children and young people?" 24 April, 2013. (Invited keynote speaker and co-facilitator of workshop session)

"Children's experiences of shared-time living arrangements," Barwon Region Family Law Pathways Network Regional Conference, "The impact of trauma on children – hurt to healing,"17 April, 2013 (Invited speaker)

"Children's experiences of security and contentment in shared time living arrangements," Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, 25-27 July 2012, Melbourne, Australia

"Applying an attachment lens to children's experiences of joint residential custody," 49th Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, 6-9 June 2012, Chicago, Illinois, USA (co-presented with Dr Denise Whitehead, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada)

"Children's experiences of and development within joint residential custody," 48th Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, 1-4 June 2011, Orlando, Florida, USA (co-presented with Professor Jennifer McIntosh, Director of Family Transitions)

"How children fare in shared care: Existing research and new directions in depth enquiry," 2nd Annual Family Relationships Services Australia National Conference, 24-26 November, 2009, Sydney, New South Wales.

"Bringing Children's Voices to Discussions about their own "Best Interests" following family separation," University of Ballarat Annual Research Conference, November 2009, University of Ballarat, Australia.

"Bringing Restorative Justice to Rural Victorian Communities," Restorative Practices International Conference, October 2007, Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

"What's the Risk? Understanding Engagement in High Risk Activities by Young Female Street-Based Injecting Drug Users," Global Social Work Congress, October 2004, Adelaide, South Australia.

"Yarra Family Support Project for Refugees" (poster presentation), Global Social Work Congress, October 2004, Adelaide, South Australia.

"Working Effectively With Newly Arrived Refugee Families," Australian Association of Social Workers National Conference, 2001.

Funded research

Central Highlands Children and Youth Area Partnership (CHCYAP) Research Collaboration Post-Graduate Initiative. 2016-2020 – ($322,500 external funding – Child and Family Services Ballarat Inc. (CAFS), Berry Street, State Government of Victoria, Central Highlands Family Services Alliance, Central Highlands Family Violence Committee) (Researchers: Dr Christina Sadowski, Prof John McDonald)

Strategic Research Plan Development for Area Partnership Research Collaborations. 2016 – ($10,000 – Faculty of Education and Arts Strategic Research Initiative funding) (Researchers: Dr Christina Sadowski, Dr Karen Crinall, Dr Sue Emmett)

Evaluation of Equine Learning Experiences Australia: Building capacity for innovative evidence-based intervention strategies within regional communities. 2015-2016 - ($29,614 – Bendigo Bank (Buninyong Branch) Community Grants Project - $5,000 – Faculty of Education and Arts Small Research Grants Scheme) (Researchers: Dr Robert Townsend, Dr Christina Sadowski, Janet Phillips)

B/Ed Pathway to Success Participatory Action Research (PAR) Pilot Program – 2015 – HEPP (Higher Education Participation Program) ($77,000) – PAR project with students from low SES communities (Researchers: Dr Christina Sadowski, Mika Pediaditis, Margaret Stewart)

Gambling Behaviours and Attitudes of Regional University Students - 2014 -collaboration between Federation University Australia and Ballarat Community Health ($20,000) (Researchers: Dr Robert Townsend, Dr Christina Sadowski) (Supported research assistant to undertake qualitative focus groups and quantitative survey)

Students' experiences of formal and informal peer learning: A mixed methods study of undergraduate students' formal and informal learning using campus, social media and online activities – 2014 – Funded by Faculty of Education and Arts Small Research Grants Scheme ($3,000) (Researchers Dr Robert Townsend, Dr Christina Sadowski, Mika Pediaditis)

Experience of Student Accommodation for Nursing Students on Clinical Placements in Regional Victoria – 2014 -collaboration between Department of Health, Australian Catholic University & Federation University Australia ($2,600) Researchers: Dr Allan Donnelly, Val Goodwin, Jenny Farrer, Susan Thorpe, Dr Jack Harvey, Dr Christina Sadowski) (Conducted and analysed qualitative focus groups)

E-Learning and Professional Development in Human Services and Social Work – 2012 ($2,000) funded by University of Ballarat – (Researchers Dr Christina Sadowski and Dr Robert Townsend)

The lived experience of security and contentment in shared care in latency aged children, post-separation – 2008 – 2012 ($120,00) – Industry PhD scholarship and federal funding – partnership between University of Ballarat and Ballarat Family Relationship Centre (undertook industry-based PhD scholarship, submitted August 2012, supervised by Professor John McDonald, Dr Angela Murphy, Professor Jennifer McIntosh)

Harnessing Intersectorial Cooperation for Newly Arrived Communities 1999 – funded by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) - $80,000 – Conducted community consultations with newly arrived humanitarian and refugee communities about their experiences of services


  • Australia and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education Research (ANZSWWER)
  • National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU)
  • Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY)
  • Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare Inc. Sector Research Partnership