Dr Carmela Bastian

Senior Lecturer

College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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

Carmela Bastian is an academic (teaching and researching) at Flinders University and is responsible for the child protection portfolio within social work and within the university. Carmela, has over twenty years’ experience in the field of child protection and human services as a professional social work practitioner and academic. She has worked in government and non-government organisations nationally and internationally. Her 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.

My teaching responsibilities predominantly focus on teaching social work knowledge and skill development in working with children. and families in contexts of complexity and raising the profile of child protection within Flinders University. Carmela is involved in an extensive research focusing on theorising practice and improving outcomes for children, young people and their families. All research is conducted as a member of the Social Work Innovation Living Space (SWIRLS) and in partnership with industry partners in South Australia.


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 and raising the profile of child protection within Flinders University. .

Carmela is a balanced academic social work and responsible for the child protection portfolio. 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 at the intersection of domestic and family violence and child protection.

In addition to the EIRD research agenda Carmela is involved in research projects that focus on the following:

  • 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.
  • Evaluation of housing program for perpetrators
  • Theorising practice to improve outcomes for children and their families
  • Understanding workforce needs of practitioners who work in the child protection service sector
  • Working with children in the context of women's refuges
  • Practice with domestic and family violence in the context of child protection
Teaching interests

Social work practice

Working with children and families

Theorising practice

Trauma Responsive Practice

Child centred practice

Collaborative practice

Working with Aboriginal Children and Families

Topic coordinator
SOAD9110 Complexities in Work with Children and Families
SOAD9213 Social Work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Supervisory interests
Child protection
Higher degree by research supervision
Associate supervisor: Social Work (3)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Sally-Ann Keipert

Honours -

Further information

Committee member - Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee

Working groups - Decolonising Curriculum CEPSW

Flinders University Human Research Ethics Committee member