Sadowski, Christina Dr

Position: Senior Lecturer, MSW(Q)
Study area: Community and Human Services/Social Work
Location: SMB Campus D108, Mt Helen Campus, H Building, Room H246
Phone: 5327 6057

Video: meet Dr Christina Sadowski


Doctor of Philosophy - University of Ballarat

Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education - University of Ballarat

Masters in Social Science - Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) - University of Melbourne

Bachelor of Arts (Cum Laude) - College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts, USA



Master of Social Work (Qualifying)


  • Social Policy: Development and Impact (MSWPG7210)
  • Social Work Practice with Children, Young People and Families (MSWPG7107)
  • Social Work Field Education 1 & 2 (MSWPG7106 / MSWPG7208)


Christina is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Master of Social Work (Qualifying) at Federation University Australia. Prior to commencing her academic career, she worked in a range of social work positions (at the direct service, community development and leadership levels) in urban and regional Victoria, remote regions of Cape York in Far North Queensland, and Brooklyn, NY USA. Christina has expertise in developing innovative face-to-face, blended and online curriculum across a range of subject areas, and actively contributing to course and program level reviews and professional accreditation processes, at the Bachelors and Masters levels. Christina’s collaborative research/practice partnerships with industry have resulted in conference presentations, industry reports, practice changes and refereed journal articles on issues such as animal-assisted therapy, the Circle of Security-Parenting program (COS-P), children’s experiences of shared care post-separation, and university-industry-community partnerships.

Christina is a founding Committee Member of the Grampians Region Social Work Practice Group (which aims to promote networking and professionals support and development for social workers in the Grampians region), and a current Steering Committee member for the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s OPEN (Outcomes Practice Evidence Network).

Areas of expertise

  • Harnessing participatory, action-based research and research elucidating “lived experience” to inform policy/practice reform and influence social change and innovation;
  • Forging robust connections between theory, practice and research in social work education;
  • The application of qualitative research methodologies/approaches (including descriptive phenomenology, Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA),Qualitative Interpretive Meta-Synthesis (QIMS), Most Significant Change (MSC), photovoice)

Research interests

  • Children’s and parents’ experiences of shared time, post-separation;
  • Harnessing insights about lived experience to inform practice and policy within higher education and human services;
  • Circle of Security Parenting program (COS-P)


Current supervision

Principal Supervisor

Rachel Goff – “It takes a village to raise a family: Designing desire-based community support with parents who receive a family service in South West Ballarat” Doctor of Philosophy. (Principal Supervisor) (submitted for examination April 2021)

Michelle Hunt – “Breaking through using photovoice: Supporting strong families, safe children in the context of family violence” Doctor of Philosophy. (Principal Supervisor)

Lauren Irvin – “Women’s lived experience of their partner’s referral to a 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)

Associate Supervisor

Woody Boyce – “Integrating youth and adult perspectives: Using participatory action research to examine education and transitions in out-of-home care” Doctor of Philosophy. (Associate Supervisor)

Completed supervision

Kim Cooper (2020)– “Supporting children and young people in out-of-home care: A study of perspectives of foster and kinship care” Doctor of Philosophy. (Associate Supervisor)

Phillippa McGregor (2014) “An analysis of health promoting schools initiative in a regional community” - BA (Rural Social Welfare) Honours

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


Book Chapters

Sadowski, C. & Ratcliffe, S. (2017) "Clients and Workers" in K. Crinall and J. Berends (Eds.) Community and Human Services: New Frameworks for Practice. Oxford University Press.

Refereed journal articles

Sadowski, C., Sawyer, N. & Goff, R. (2021) A mixed-methods study of two modes of the Circle of Security Research on Social work practice DOI: 10.1177/10497315211009315

Sadowski, C. Stewart, M. & Pediaditis, M. (2017) Pathway to success: using students’ insights and perspectives to improve retention and success for university students from low socioeconomic (LSE) backgrounds” International Journal of Inclusive Education. 22:2, 158-175, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2017.1362048

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

Industry reports/publications

Hunt, M. & Sadowski, C. (2018) Equine and canine assisted interventions: Development of future direction for CAFS informed by an analysis of research evidence, commissioned report for CAFS (Child and Family Services Ballarat) prepared by Federation University Australia

Townsend, R., Sadowski, C., Phillips, J. & Hood, M. (2016) A Preliminary, Independent Evaluation of Equine Learning Experiences Australia (ELEA) Buninyong Bendigo Bank and Federation University Australia.

Townsend, R., Sadowski, C. & Sergi, S. (2014) The prevalence of gambling amongst international students in the Grampians Ballarat region, Grampians Primary Health Care Partnerships & Federation University Australia.

Conference/Seminar presentations

“The journey towards innovative evidence-informed practice: Research insights about the Circle of Security parenting (COS-P) intervention.” Rural Social Work Action Practice Group Rural Conference, 25-26 July 2019, Horsham, Victoria.

“Human service and higher education reforms: An opportunity for policy and practice innovation and disruption”  Australia and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education Research (ANZSWWER) Symposium, 20-21 September 2018, Adelaide, South Australia.

“Advocating for Service Innovation and Social Change: The Possibilities of a Collective-Impact, Industry-Engaged Research Approach” Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National Symposium, 30 November – 2 December 2017, Hobart, Tasmania

“Listening to children’s voices about shared time parenting: What can we learn and how do we do it well?” Barwon SouthWest Family Law Pathways Network Conference – Invited Keynote Speaker – 28 June 2017, Colac, Victoria.

"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 Interests… How 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

Christina has been a member of the research team for a total of $495,009 externally funded research/consultancies/projects, and $20,000 internal University funding.

Externally funded

Widening the Circle of Security: Developing a flexible, client-centric support model in the Central Highlands 2018 – 2019 ($38,500 external funding – Department of Health and Human Services Learning Systems Grant, administered through the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare Inc.)  (Research partner: Child and Family Services Ballarat Inc. (CAFS)) (Researchers: Dr Christina Sadowski, Rachel Goff, Neroli Sawyer)

Equine and canine assisted interventions: Development of future direction for CAFS informed by an analysis of research evidence, 2018. ($4,510 external funding – Child and Family Services Ballarat Inc. (CAFS)) (Researchers: Dr Christina Sadowski, Michelle Hunt)

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)

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 (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) ($77,365) – 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)

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)

Internally funded

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. 2016 $5,000 – Faculty of Education and Arts Small Research Grants Scheme) (Researchers: Dr Robert Townsend, Dr Christina Sadowski, Janet Phillips)

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)

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)


  • Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)
  • National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU)