SJIDE: Social Justice, Inclusion and Diversity in Education

Welcome to the landing page of the Social Justice, Inclusion and Diversity in Education (SJIDE) research focus area (RFA). On our web page you will find tabs to enable you to look at current research projects; researchers working within the focus area; grants and awards obtained by our researchers; publications associated with the focus area; and news and events.

Contact us

The convenor of the RFA is Professor Jenene Burke.

What we do

The Social Justice, Inclusion and Diversity in Education (SJIDE) Research Focus Area (RFA) undertakes research and scholarly engagement with social justice in education within the broad themes of equity, diversity, inclusion, opportunity, regionality and wellbeing in formal education as well as non-formal education settings. Educational issues relating to learners from a diverse range of ethnicities, genders, classes, cultures, sexual identities and orientations, geographical locations, ages and abilities are the core of this RFA.

Research students

Michelle Briede

Professional identities of staff in Australian enabling education

Despite the acknowledged influence staff have within educational settings, minimal attention has been paid to the staff who deliver enabling programs, and the professional roles they hold. This mixed methods research will investigate the backgrounds and professional identities of enabling staff at Australian Universities and contribute greater understanding of enabling education as a career and its positioning within the discourse of professionals in further and higher education.

Christelle Dottrens

Catering for 4–5-year-old intellectually gifted students in the regular early childhood classroom

The aim of this minor thesis is to explore Victorian kindergarten teachers’ current understanding and utilization of differentiation strategies to cater for the needs of intellectually gifted students in their classrooms. The research investigates the issues teachers face by providing for the academic, social, and emotional needs of gifted students in a heterogenous group of students with various abilities and strengths.

Wendy Holcombe

Reframing inclusion through the lens of educational permaculture.

Through an investigation of teacher perspectives and practices, Wendy explores the elements, processes and culture that contribute to the experience of classroom inclusion. Reframing the teacher’s role as an ongoing designer, this study is focused on generating a model for developing inclusion within the classroom ecosystem based on analogy with the principles and practices of permaculture.

Anna Larsen

Improving self-efficacy: An exploration of marginalised students in enabling programs

Ana is exploring the lived experience of enabling students regarding the factors that impact self-efficacy during their transition to university. This study is focused on the experience of students in one or more equity groups, hoping to improve enabling practices and therefore retention and success.

Tania McMullen (School of Arts)

ADHD: The experiences of children, parents and teachers in the educational context

Tania is examining, through narrative inquiry, the schooling experiences of ADHD through the lenses of a small group of Victorian secondary school students, their parents and teachers. Her study examines the concept of inclusive education as it relates to ADHD, and seeks to investigate why some educational experiences are more positive than others.

Parwaiz Najibi

Enablers and potential barriers of female participation in tertiary education in Afghanistan: An analysis of contemporary issues

The purpose of this project is to identify and analyse the reasons why Afghan women participate (or do not participate) in tertiary education. A review of recent research identified that one of the key challenges for Afghanistan is finding ways to build a society that encourages education for women. At present less than 2% of the female population enrol in tertiary education which presents a significant problem to the growth of the society. The present study will focus on the experiences of women who are current undergraduates and recent graduates, examining their pathways and reasons for their participation in tertiary education. The findings of this research may assist non-government organisations and the Afghan government to develop pathways for greater female participation in tertiary education in Afghanistan.

Naomi O'Brien

Megan O'Keefe

Melania Pantelich

An investigation of the experiences of lecturers teaching international students at Australian universities

This study will examine the experience of academics/lecturers at Australian universities when teaching international students. With international students becoming such an important part of the higher education sector in Australia in the recent past, academics have needed to adjust their teaching style in order to cater to their changing cohort. This study will provide an alternative insight into the internationalisation of higher education in Australia.

Anjali Rana

Preparing future teachers to teach sexuality education: A comparative study of Australia and India

Anjali will explore the perceptions of teacher educators in teaching institutions, colleges or universities that teach sexuality education to pre-service teachers (PSTs) in Australia and India. The study will explore teacher educator’s agency and confidence in presenting sexuality education material to PSTs. The areas of attention will be teacher educators’ skills, confidence, motivation, and competence to teach sexuality education to their students (PSTs).

Deb Robertson

Karen Schneider

Gerry Skene

Teaching with difference: Barriers and enablers for teachers with impairments in professional roles

Gerry is investigating, through narrative inquiry, the experiences of teachers who have identified as having an impairment. His study, through the lens of the social model of disability, seeks to recognise teachers with impairments as ‘culturally relevant educators’ and has evoked the question: Is it time for a shift away from teaching about disability to a nuance of teaching with disability.

Peter Smith

An investigation of the barriers to candidates with disability completing a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) qualification at Australian universities

Peter is a PhD candidate with disability who is studying the barriers to a person with disability completing a higher degree by research qualification at an Australian university. He is passionate in his belief in social justice, inclusion and diversity. He believes in doing what he can to raise awareness of the life of people with disability.

Alison Watson

Educating the vulnerable: Is the support there for early childhood educators?

Alison's PhD research is an interpretive case study using qualitative methodology. It explores early childhood educator perspectives of vulnerable children, the translation of early childhood professional learning/development into practice, and the pedagogical support offered by early childhood educators to vulnerable children.

Recent PhD completions

Dr Karen Felstead

Young mothers: Discursive constructions of their lives and identities

Through a post-structuralist lens, Karen draws on Foucauldian concepts of discourse, power/knowledge and governmentality to examine how young mothers are discursively constructed in the social world. The normalising effects of the dominant discourses about young mothers are contrasted with the counter discourses identified in the young mothers’ narratives.

Dr Amy Claughton

Special needs, special play? Examining the agency of children with impairments in play-based learning in a special school

This thesis examined play-based learning experiences of children with impairments who attended a special school. Children were found to play with agency and individuality as they navigated opportunities of exploration

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Jenene Burke; Dr Genee Marks


Dr Moya Elvey

Implementing inclusion : classroom journeys

This study interrogates the professional experiences, attitudes and pedagogical choices of eight classroom teachers in regular schools and inquiries into their impact on the development of inclusive teaching practices.

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Jenene Burke; Dr Genee Marks


Dr Grant Meredith

Managed Identities: How do Australian university students who stutter negotiate their studies?

Previous social research focused on people who stutter has problematised and largely ignored the experiences of university students who stutter, relying heavily upon surveys of teachers and peers while almost ignoring the authentic voices of students who stutter. Using a novel bricolage approach incorporating autoethnography, this project posed the question: “How do students who stutter negotiate their university experiences in Australia?” An online survey of 102 Australian university students who stutter, and follow-up individual interviews with 15 students, revealed how these students manage their social identities from enrolment through to graduation. A series of recommendations for supporting and teaching these students are made to key stakeholders in higher education.