Historians of social welfare

shurlee swainEmeritus Professor Swain is recognised internationally as one of Australia’s preeminent historians of social welfare. She has written extensively about the welfare system in Australia, including on topics such as forced adoptions, children who grew up in out-of-home care, Indigenous children and the history of women’s leadership in Australia.

Her research expertise lies in the area of Australian and comparative social history, with a particular interest in the history of childhood, women's history, welfare history, religious history, history of the family and Indigenous history. Now retired, previous research projects include a history of adoption in Australia, and being the historian chief investigator working on the development of the national Find and Connect web resource for former child migrants and Forgotten Australians. Her latest book, Apologies and the Legacy of Abuse of Children in ‘Care’, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 (co-edited with Johanna Sköld), addressed the challenges of writing history in the post-apology era, drawing on insights developed through her role on the Find & Connect web resource project.

Emeritus Professor Swain has worked at Deakin University, the University of Melbourne and ACU, and in each of those positions she has always sought to tie academic research to the public sphere.  She has been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in recognition of her outstanding contributions to research and public life.

Selected publications

  • Swain, S., Wright, K., & Sköld, J. (2017). Conceptualising and categorising child abuse inquiries: From damage control to foregrounding survivor testimony. Journal of Historical Sociology.
  • Swain, S. (2017). A Long History of Faith‐Based Welfare in Australia: Origins and Impact. Journal of Religious History, 41(1), 81-96.
  • Wright, K., Swain, S., & McPhillips, K. (2017). The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect.
  • Swain, S & Skold, J (2015) Apologies and the Legacy of Abuse of Children in ‘Care’. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 (co-edited with Johanna Sköld).
  • Swain, S (2014). History of Australian inquiries reviewing institutions providing care for children. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
  • Swain, S (2014). History of institutions providing out-of-home residential care for children. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
  • Swain, S (2014). History of child protection legislation. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

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