Welcome to the School of Health and Social Development

The School brings together an exciting group of some 80 academic staff and researchers from a wide diversity of disciplines and backgrounds. Staff within the School are located at the Melbourne Burwood Campus and the Geelong Waterfront Campus. Staff in the areas of: public health, health promotion, health sciences, and environments for health are based at both the Melbourne Burwood Campus and Geelong Waterfront Campus. Staff within the areas of social work and occupational therapy are based at Geelong Waterfront Campus, and staff in the areas of disability studies are based at the Melbourne Burwood Campus. In its teaching and research, the School addresses the complex connections between determinants of health in their broadest sense and social development in a variety of settings and at a range of intervention levels.

According to the World Health Organization, health is a complete state of physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Although this definition has been criticised for being too all-encompassing and little useful in scientific applications, it does effectively support the holistic, integrative, critical and community-based perspective that our School embraces. A consequence of adopting this view is that 'health' cannot be 'owned' by one specific discipline, be it medical, social, business or environmental sciences; in our School the complete interaction between the full range of research and teaching/learning teams is required to move towards wellbeing.

Teams of researchers cluster around themes such as evidence-based public health and health promotion, promoting equity and social justice, diversity and health, health impact assessment (HIA), nature and health, critical social work, and occupational science and therapy. The unique characteristic of the School is that it connects research perspectives that have not previously been mainstream themes into highly socially responsive, progressive and innovative approaches to human wellbeing and quality of life. The Deakin environment further enhances productive and well-connected synergies between academia, communities, and public as well as private sectors.

The School is home to CHASE, the Centre for Health through Action on Social Exclusion and to well-developed research teams in child and adolescent public health, evidence based approaches and to the Deakin Health Economics Unit. The impact of nature and the built environment on health and wellbeing are addressed by NiCHE, our Nature and Health Research Group. Throughout our research there is an acute awareness of the political, social and cultural dimensions of public health, social work, workplace wellbeing, (un)employment and marginalisation, sexuality, the environment, and the generation of supportive environments for children, young people, and disadvantaged groups in society. Disability studies, social work and occupational therapy operate directly in these environments.

The recognition of these political and social aspects has led to a number of successful partnerships, for example, with the Department of Human Services – Barwon-South Western Region and Eastern Metropolitan Region and a significant number of research and teaching collaborative projects with government at all levels.

The School offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs and short courses specifically developed to enable students to achieve their professional, career and academic goals. These courses are all highly regarded by the professions and industry and provide sound bases for higher degrees by research if desired. Graduates seeking to undertake higher degrees by research are well supported by the School and its academic staff.

Please explore our website to find out about the wide range of programs and projects in teaching and research in which students, staff and communities can engage. Do not hesitate to contact me, or a relevant member of our staff, for further information.

Catherine Bennett, Head of School, School of Health and Social Development

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Health - Student and Academic Services

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