Olga Bursian joined the School of Applied Media and Social Sciences’ Community Welfare & Counselling team in 2005 to teach social policy, welfare law, rights and ethics in the Bachelor of Community Welfare & Counselling and Masters of Human Services Management. She was a co-designer with Dr Marg Lynn ( SAMSS) and Professor Margaret Sommerville( Education) of the Masters of Education & Regional Commmunity Development . Past academic roles were at RMIT teaching social work and community development, however the majority of her career has been in the field.
As a young social work graduate, I witnessed the debilitating impacts of low incomes and the empty material, cultural and social spaces of outer Western Sydney on the lives of families and young people. The cultural revolutions of the 1970s and visionary teachers contributed to an abiding commitment to social justice. The efficacy of specific policies in extending the human capabilities of large segments of the Australian population also demonstrated the importance of social research and political engagement by social professionals and community groups.
In the late 1980s, as the re-structurings of Australia’s economic and social fabric began in earnest , social policy and research roles (eg:The Brotherhood of St Laurence, Social & Community Services Industry Training Board Vic) focussed on unemployment, poverty, family support services, and divergent access to labour market, training and education opportunities for major groups, such as women, young people and migrants. Formal production of research evidence based recommendations to governments for budgetary allocations and a period as a statewide manager of early childhood services in the public service deepened my understanding of policy development within government parameters.
I have worked for small ngos in the multicultural sector including managing settlement services, community development with refugee groups in urban and regional Victoria and cross cultural training of workers and bureaucrats in family and children’s services, health, education and local government.
This professional background informs current academic teaching and research. I seek to apply the paradigms of emancipatory social work, critical pedagogies, anti-colonial knowledges and praxis, equality and rights to peaceful existence for people, cultures and the earth’s living systems. My overarching reference point as an academic is the impact of public policies on people’s daily lives.
Doctor of Philosophy RMIT
Master of Social Work Monash University
Bachelor of Social Work UNSW