Dr Carmela Bastian

Lecturer in Social Work

College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

place Bedford Park
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Carmela was employed as a part-time lecturer in 2016 and as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in October 2018. Carmela is a member of the Social Work Research Living Space (SWIRLS) which is a social work research centre.

Carmela, has over twenty years’ experience in the field of child protection and human services as a professional social work practitioner and academic. I have worked in government and non-government organisations nationally and internationally. My employment history exemplifies a wide range of experiences including front line practitioner, policy and program manager, involvement in service development, and senior advisor to the Deputy Chief Executive at the Department for Child Protection in South Australia.

Carmela’s PhD research “The moral status of children in child protection: the case for emerging from our moral ignorance” engaged in a philosophical deliberation asserting that children are valuable members of the human community illuminating the criticality of relationships, rights and obligations. This discourse informed an in-depth analysis of the statutory child protection services. Findings indicated that the receipt of statutory child protection responses, for children at the centre of the study, did not alleviate their experiences of oppression and harm. Transformation within statutory child protection is contingent on an in depth understanding of the realities of children's lives and a workforce that is capable and confident.


Bachelor of Social Work (Honours), Northern Territory University

Master of Social Work, Monash University

PhD, Flinders University

Key responsibilities

My teaching responsibilities predominantly focus in working with children and families in contexts of complexity.

Carmela is a Lecturer in Social Work. She was an Inaugural postdoctoral research fellow funded by SA Government’s Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD), which was established in response to the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission. The fellowship program will undertake research that will inform the development of more effective early intervention strategies that promote the health, safety and wellbeing of children in South Australia.

More specifically, the research agenda for the postdoctoral program will focus on:

  • Understanding the intersections of domestic and family violence and child protection work.
  • Understanding the complex lived experiences of families seeking help for domestic and family violence.
  • Exploring, documenting and evaluating practice interventions that respond to domestic and family violence and child protection concerns.
  • Identifying workforce capacity and development, (including understanding complexity and being trauma informed).

The focus of the postdoctoral program is to engage with services including the Department for Child Protection and the Women’s Safety Services South Australia and have an impact on practice to improve outcomes for children and their families and strengthen the professional judgement and decision-making of practitioners.

In addition to the EIRD research agenda Carmela is also involved in projects centring on:

  • Understanding the meaning of safety and wellbeing for Aboriginal children as defined and articulated by Aboriginal people and communities
  • Building practice frameworks from the knowledge and practice wisdom of child and family practitioners
  • Child centred practice
  • Identifying key elements in integrated service responses that promote the visibility and accountability of perpetrators of domestic and family violence and contribute to improved safety outcomes for children and women.
Teaching interests

Social work practice

Working with children and families

Topic coordinator
SOAD3013 Children and Families: Wellbeing and Protection
SOAD9110 Complexities in Work with Children and Families

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