Associate Professor Deb King

Academic Status

College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

+61 8 82013806
place Humanities Building (352)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

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.

  • Bachelor of Arts, majors in Sociology and Politics, Flinders University, 1992
  • Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Sociology, First Class, Flinders University - awarded the University Medal, 1993
  • PhD in Sociology, Flinders University, 1999
  • Graduate Certificate in Education (Higher Education), QUT, 2002
Honours, awards and grants
Australian University Teaching Award )Institutional), Online Learning Support (2002)
University of South Australia, Postgraduate Student Association 'Staff person of the year' (2002)
Vice Chancellors' Award for Innovation - Process Improvement (2001)
University Medal (1993)
Australian Institute of Public Policy, Undergraduate Award (1991)
Key responsibilities

Associate Professor King was Dean: School of Social and Policy Studies 2013 - 2016.

Research expertise
Research interests

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.

Topic coordinator
SOCI2004 Sociology of Work and Organisations
Supervisory interests
Aged care workforce
Emotions in work and organisations
Sociology of work
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Work and Organisations (1)
Associate supervisor: Emotion work (1), Economic sociology - rural women (1)
Principal supervisor: Ageing, social support (1)
Associate supervisor: Social change (3)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Linda Isherwood

VC Prize for Doctoral Thesis Excellence - MAR 2014

Linda Isherwood

Best Student Paper Award - SEP 2012

Linda Isherwood

AAG, SA Early Career Research Award - DEC 2014

Expert for media contact
Aged care workforce
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  • Aged care workforce