Uniting and CSI Swinburne join forces to strengthen community services

The Centre for Social Impact (CSI) Swinburne and Uniting Vic.Tas are launching a new research chair to lead a high quality, high impact research program in social innovation and community services.

The chair will be held by Professor Erin Wilson who will commence her new role as the Uniting Kildonan Chair in Community Services Innovation in February 2019 continuing a career in the field of participatory social change. Professor Wilson comes to Swinburne from Deakin University, having previously worked in the areas of disability and inclusion and Indigenous community management and development.

In addition to Professor Wilson’s position, the partnership will support post-doctoral and doctoral research candidates committed to a shared research program in community services innovation.

Paul Linossier, Chief Executive Officer for Uniting Vic.Tas said that by establishing this chair, Uniting Vic.Tas is delivering on its strategic ambition to base its work on evidence.

“This new position and program come at a time of major change for our sector. Consumer-directed care means people will have more control over the services they access”, said Mr. Linossier. “We need high-quality research to inform the future shape of our services and to ensure good life outcomes for the people we work with.”

“Professor Wilson understands well the challenges to community services of short term and limited funding, high workloads and ongoing systemic change. Her team will tackle issues such as the vicious cycle of poverty, disability and substance dependency”, added Mr. Linossier.

Professor Jo Barraket, Director of CSI Swinburne said that she was delighted to welcome Professor Wilson to the CSI team in this newly created role. “We’re thrilled to welcome Erin to the team and to partner with Uniting in this way.

The Uniting-Swinburne partnership builds on past collaborations between CSI Swinburne and Uniting Care agencies, in which we have realised the practical benefits of integrating leading edge research with the service design challenges facing Uniting and the communities it serves. This partnership has been embraced by the wider University, with Swinburne making a substantial investment in the research program. Erin is exactly the kind of high impact scholar needed to realise our ambitious shared agenda.”

Professor Kristy Muir agreed, “The overall aim of this program is to create generational benefits to society. It is a research-driven initiative to support Uniting services and will be a strategic partnership for systemic change. We look forward to welcoming Erin to the team.”

Professor Wilson said an important outcome of the chair would be training early-career researchers to apply their insights to social problems and create new partnerships for change.

“This role enables me to focus on how to create and embed social change. My interest is to find what works for the benefit of the community. By doing so, community services organisations and governments can focus on ways to better resource effective services and activities in the long term,” she said.

“We can be at the forefront of providing critical support to vulnerable people in our community,” said Professor Wilson.