Centre for Health through Action on Social Exclusion

Working collaboratively with communities, organisations and governments, the Centre for Health through Action on Social Exclusion (CHASE) promotes social inclusion. We also look at ways to improve health and wellbeing, especially among individuals and groups who may be experiencing exclusion.

The CHASE philosophy

Our research profile is characterised by an acknowledgment of the multiple forms of exclusion and diversity of communities:

  • promotion of individual creativity, agency and autonomy
  • remaining optimistic that policies and practices that promote inclusion can be developed
  • tackling causes of exclusion in practical ways.

Our research themes and recent projects

Our work is underpinned by:

  • the development of mixed methodologies
  • multidisciplinary approaches and the application of systems thinking
  • the systematic review and synthesis of the research literature
  • the importance of knowledge transfer and practice development.

CHASE has seven main research themes, all of which are interconnected:

Working with vulnerable populations

We investigate the physical health, mental health, and social wellbeing of people at risk of marginalisation and social exclusion due to factors such as sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural diversity, physical disabilities or socio-economic status. Our emphasis is on the development of social strategies to combat this exclusion.

Work includes: rights based approaches and methods for participation in health development (Ann Taket); promoting the health of refugees and asylum seekers (Fiona McKay); promoting inclusion of those with diverse sexualities, cultures and ethnicities (Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli); promoting health for drug users (Matt Dunn).

Gender and gender diversity

We have a large group of researchers (led by Ann Taket, Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, and Beth Crisp) working on gender equity and the prevention of gender based violence. This includes work both inside and outside of Australia.

One main focus is on the primary prevention of gender based violence and abuse. This includes using innovative theatre based education programs and workplace gender equality. Cutting across this work is recognition of multiple diversities including, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and dis/ability.

Sexual and reproductive health

CHASE has a group of researchers actively working across the spectrum of sexual and reproductive health including: attitudes, knowledge, behaviours and experiences of women in developing countries (Liz Hoban and Greer Lamaro-Haintz), culturally diverse population groups (Georgia Babatsikos, and Greer Lamaro-Haintz, Melissa Graham, Hayley McKenzie), sexual diversities (Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli), women without children (Melissa Graham and Ann Taket), people with a disability (Patsie Frawley), intersections between mothering, social inclusion and ethnicity (Karen Lane), the role of policy, and reproductive choices and consequences (Melissa Graham, Hayley McKenzie and Greer Lamaro-Haintz).

This body of research considers multiple intersectionalities along with positive and respectful approaches to relationships, sexuality. satisfying and pleasurable safe sexual experiences, the right to decide if, when and how many children to have, control over reproductive decisions including access to safe, effective and affordable contraception, health information, health care services including termination of pregnancy, and the right to make sexual and reproductive health decisions free from discrimination, coercion and violence.

Disability and inclusion

Deakin has a long tradition of research and teaching in disability and inclusion and currently offer both post graduate and undergraduate programs in this area. Our research activity is diverse but has a focus on the practice and policies related to inclusion and the enactment of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Research projects have included a focus on strategies to increase the employment of people with disability by small to medium sized businesses (Kevin Murfitt); projects related to the engagement of people with psychosocial disability in the NDIS (Erin Wilson in collaboration with Mind and University of Melbourne); work to identify the human rights priorities of children with disability in the Pacific (HDR candidate Erin Wilson, Kevin Murfitt; and colleagues in the School of Health and Social Development and School of Humanities and Social Sciences).

Other current projects include a focus on Supported Decision Making (Joanne Watson and Erin Wilson), and work on the support needs of people with dual disability (Erin Wilson and Kate Anderson).  A major focus of all our work is the design and use of research methods that foster the self-report and participation of people with disability in our research projects.

Members of our CHASE team and their colleagues were awarded the international Zero project award for Innovative Practice in 2016.

Health, social and welfare sector

CHASE researchers work across health, social and welfare sectors in partnership with service providers on a variety of projects designed to makes services accessible and inclusive for all. Students undertaking practicums, major and minor masters research thesis and honours projects, support this work, supervised by CHASE members.

Professional practice in the tertiary sector

A major aim at Deakin University is the development of access and inclusion across the range of educational opportunities. CHASE members are involved in developing inclusive curricula and modes of delivery to meet the needs to our diverse student body. One important aspect of this is working with our international students.

Built and natural environments

Space and place are intricately connected to health. Where we live, our access to nature, our ability to move around a neighbourhood, connect with people and access services, can determine our state of health and wellbeing. Recent research by the team (Fiona Andrews, Teresa Capetola, Elyse Warner and Claire Henderson-Wilson) has investigated elements of neighbourhoods that enhance people’s health and wellbeing.

Use of innovative methodologies are integral to elucidating concepts of space and place. For example, Fiona Andrews and Elyse Warner, in partnership with several local governments, have used photo voice to explore residents’ lived experiences of new housing developments. Teresa Capetola and Claire Henderson-Wilson have partnered with community health services and housing associations to explore the health benefits of community gardens.

Our partnerships

Partnering with CHASE provides increased capacity to drive positive social change through policy development, workforce development and research.

CHASE members have worked with a wide range of organisations, including:

  • Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth)
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Victorian Centre for Excellence on Depression and Related Disorders (beyondblue)
  • Mental Illness Fellowship
  • Parks Victoria
  • Helen McPherson Smith trust
  • Link Health and Community
  • Warrnambool City Council
  • Mind Australia
  • WISE Employment
  • ACE National Network
  • MS Society
  • Coles Myer
  • Telstra Foundation
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Department of Justice.
  • EACH
  • Women's Health Barwon South West
  • Women's Health East
  • Women's Health West

The CHASE team

CHASE researchers are made up of Deakin academic and honorary staff and a number of PhD, honours and master's students.

Professor Sharon Brennan-Olsen

Deputy Director
Associate Professor Melissa Graham (La Trobe University)