I grew up in Wollongong and studied at the University of Sydney. In 1994 I was appointed to the University of Newcastle. Apart from teaching very large first-year classes in Australian history, I was also involved in a project to locate the convict coal mines which lay beneath the city.
In 2001 I was a recipient of the Australian Academy of Humanities Travelling Fellowship to support the writing of Steel Town: the making and breaking of Port Kembla (MUP, 2002). That same year I held a visiting appointment at Georgetown University in Washington DC teaching Australian Studies.
In 2003 Steel Town was awarded the NSW Premier’s History Prize for Community and Regional History. In 2005 I spent a period in Canberra as a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre, ANU, before joining Monash in 2008. I was the Head of the School of Applied Media and Social Sciences in the Faculty of Arts until June 2012.
I served as Treasurer of the Australian History Association from 2008 to 2012. I am also on the editorial boards of History Australia, and Labour History. I very much enjoy the interdisciplinary environment which a diverse University such as Monash allows. I am currently involved in projects focusing on people, place and community in regional areas and outer suburban sites.