Dr Carmela Bastian

Research Associate

College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

place Social Sciences South
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 postdoctoral research fellow in the program that has been established as a result of a unique partnership with the 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.

Research interests

Social work in the context of child protection

Working with Aboriginal children and families

Child centred practice

Professional judgement and decision making

Voice, visibility and oppression of children in contexts of complexity

Building social workforce capacity

Child protecton systems

Child abuse and neglect

Practice Research

Intersection of domestic and family and child protection

Building collaborations

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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