Debra is a sociologist in the School of Social and Policy Studies. Prior to being Dean, 2013-2016, she was a Principal Researcher at the National Institute of Labour Studies (2007-2013). Before this she was a Lecturer in Sociology at Flinders University and a Research Fellow with the Flinders Social Monitoring and Policy Futures Network. Debra began her academic career in 1999 as a Research Fellow at the Hawke Institute for Social Research.
Associate Professor King was Dean: School of Social and Policy Studies 2013 - 2016.
Associate Professor Debra King is a sociologist with expertise in qualitative research methods and survey research. She has an overall interest on the meaning and experience of work and, in particular, the emotional dimensions of work.
Debra has conducted extensive research on the aged care workforce. She was the lead investigator and project manager for the National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey, 2012 (DoHA); has conducted over 200 interviews with direct care workers on their experience of working in the sector and with 100 managers on their experience of employing workers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; she was the co-author (with Bill Martin) of the report, 'Who Cares for Older Australians?' (2008). She has numerous academic publications on the aged care workforce.
Debra is currently a Chief Investigator on a project titled: Quality Care and Quality Jobs: Improving work practices to deliver quality aged care jobs and aged care services for older Australians (2014-2016) with Sara Charlesworth (RMIT). The project is funded by the Department of Social Services and is conducted in partnership with Helping Hand, Brightwater Care, HammondCare and United Voice. See: Quality Jobs and Quality Care Project.
Debra was previously the Chief Investigator on a two year project examining the mental health and wellbeing of farmers who have been through a drought. She has also been a senior researcher on projects relating to employment and homelessness; employment for jobless families; mapping the work-related life-course for men and women in South Australia; and in understanding the experiences of retrenched workers from the Mitsubishi factory in Adelaide.
Debra's PhD research investigated how activists constructed their work in bringing about social change.
VC Prize for Doctoral Thesis Excellence - MAR 2014
Best Student Paper Award - SEP 2012
AAG, SA Early Career Research Award - DEC 2014
I have played an active role in community and professional organisations and held leadership roles in The Australian Sociological Association including President (2011-2013) and being on the Expert Advisory Board of the Journal of Sociology.
My interest in paid care has resulted in being on the steering committee of the Australian Paid Care Research Network for which I have co-convened two national workshops and developed their website. In 2007, I was a guest editor for a special edition on paid care of the Australian Journal of Social Issues with Professor Bill Martin (UQ). A co-edited book with Professor Gabrielle Meagher (U Syd) on paid care in Australia was published in 2008. With Assoc. Professor Sara Charlesworth (UniSA), I am currently establishing a network of home care researchers.
I have held state leadership roles in the Australian Federation of University Women, and served on numerous University committees. Prior to becoming an academic I was a Community Development Officer in rural SA where I initiated and managed several community services and projects.