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In This Newsletter
Welcome to the first issue of the CPOW Newsletter for 2020

Our new statement of purpose is: CPOW addresses inequalities in the world of work to create sustainable, fair and decent work for all. Take a look at the new landing page on the CPOW website to see who we are, what we do and how we do it.  

I am sorry to farewell Assoc Prof Stan Karanasios, who has been leading CPOW’s research theme on Digital Business, Work & Life. He will be leaving RMIT for the University of Queensland Business School. Stan has been a valued CPOW colleague and UQ are lucky to have recruited him.  Given Stan’s departure and the focus of the other College centres, we will be reviewing our current research themes to ensure they best reflect the work-focused research strengths of our members.

The devastating bush fires over the summer have been challenging for communities, workers and industry. Australia’s unpreparedness for the long-term effects of climate change and its inadequate climate policy were taken up in an opinion piece co-authored by Dr Lauren Rickards noted below. In another recent opinion piece Dr Elizabeth Shi highlighted the importance of employers understanding their obligations in ensuring the occupational health and safety of all those who work for them during the periods of intense bushfire smoke we have experienced over the last few weeks. The new project that Prof. Peter Fairbrother is working on also addresses climate change. He will be developing case studies of farming households across a variety of landscapes and industries in the South Gippsland region and identifying creative business responses to the changing conditions.

Finally, very many thanks to Dr Fiona Macdonald who took the Directorship of CPOW in Semester 2 2019, while I was on study leave. Fiona instigated and led the CPOW Design Thinking Day which contributed to our realignment of CPOW’s mission.

Distinguished Professor Sara Charlesworth
Director, Centre for People, Organisation & Work

New Projects

(David and Kirsten Jones from Mirboo Farm [left] with Prof. Fairbrother & Dr Jessica Reeves. Photo: Growing Southern Gippsland)

The climate crisis is upon us and we need to address it. Prof. Peter Fairbrother and his team of researchers from RMIT and Federation Universities are studying how farming households in Southern Gippsland are coping with climate change. Together with Bass Coast Landcare Network, Bass Coast Shire Council, South Gippsland Landcare Network and the Department of Agriculture, they are investigating how individual households across the sub-region approach the challenges of our shifting environments (30 overall with 12 detailed cases). These households are concerned with water management, wind, drought, biodiversity, revegetation, as well as energy sources, logistics, markets and business models. They are also uncertain about the future. The CPOW research team are working with the Federation University’s Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation to develop an interactive portal whereby farming households can ask ‘what could my plan be? What do I need to consider?’ This portal and its associated resources will also be able to be used by regional decision-makers to develop strategies to address the changes underway.

Gender-Based Violence in Individualised Support & Care Services

Sara Charlesworth and Fiona Macdonald are undertaking a scoping project for Worksafe Victoria to identify available evidence on the nature and extent of gender-based violence in individualised disability support and aged care services in Victoria. These services are typically provided in the service users’ home or in the community. The project will also identify they key regulatory implications for WorkSafe Victoria. Jane Clarke is providing research assistance on the project.

New CPOW Members

Lauren is also interested in how consumers are increasingly being put to work by organisations in digital culture, obfuscating the delineation between consumers and producers. Her most recent research projects focus on the production of sexist advertising and sexualised labour by social media influencers. 


Raelene is passionate about creating positive social change. Her main research areas include examination of support service frameworks for People with Disabilities and Older Persons.  She has written on marketisation, NDIS frameworks, individualised funding and emerging online uber-style service markets. Her most recent paper is: Johnson B & West R (2020) Ableist contours of Down syndrome in Australia: Facebook attitudes towards existence and parenting of people with Down syndrome, Journal of Sociology.

Engagement & Impact
Dr Kate Farhall - Domestic/Family Violence & Workplace Responsibility

(Photo: Google Photos)

Dr Kate Farhall was invited to present her research to the Wellington Local Government Area Mental Health Practitioner’s Network, Sale, Gippsland on December 5, 2019. In front of a diverse group of health care practitioners and community service workers — from GPs and psychologists, to staff from the prison system and family violence services — Kate shared findings from her research into the relationship between work and domestic/family violence in Gippsland, and discussed implications for their practice. Focusing on the barriers to maintaining paid employment as a victim/survivor of domestic and family violence in rural and regional areas, and challenges to adequate employer responses, Kate engaged with the group regarding the ways in which social and community-based responses might work in tandem with workplaces to address the intersection of domestic and family violence and work. In particular, discussion focused on the particular social norms regarding gender and violence in the Gippsland area, and how to potentially deconstruct some of the more harmful aspects of these beliefs and values.

Investigating promising practices in Bergen, Norway

(Photo: Tamara Daly)

CPOW Director Sara Charlesworth (pictured above, 3rd from right) with colleagues in December 2019 from Bergen, Victoria, Lethbridge, Nova Scotia and Toronto, conducting immersive field research into Age-Friendly Communities within Communities in Bergen, Norway. The research is part of the $2.5 million, SSHRC partnership grant led by Prof Tamara Daly (York University) (on the right in photo), in which CPOW is a partner. The 7 year project explores how to create better ageing futures for groups of older people whom official ‘age friendly’ strategies often miss. The project is particularly concerned with those workers who support the aged, including migrants and domestic carers, who are ageing on the job.

Featured Publication
CPOW member, Dr Elizabeth Tait and colleagues

(from left:  Sue Reynolds, Michelle Matheson & Elizabeth Tait. Photo: Elizabeth Tait)

Michelle Matheson, Elizabeth Tait & Sue Reynolds (2020) Checking the Pulse of LGBTIQ+ Inclusion and Representation in the Academic Library: A Literature Review, Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association.

What is the research about?
The paper explores how academic libraries meet the information and service needs of LGBTIQ+ staff and student users and those researching LGBTIQ+ related topics. We looked at the key issues of information needs, service needs and LGBTIQ+ resources and access in collections. We conclude there is a need for an updated examination of LGBTIQ+ users’ views on how academic libraries might meet their specific needs. This includes an evaluation of LGBTIQ+ holdings in academic libraries with libraries and then implementing recommendations to better meet LGBTIQ+ user needs.

Why is this important?
When staff and student users enter either the physical or virtual spaces that now are ‘the library’, they bring with them their whole personhood, including diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, disabilities, classes, religions, and LGBTIQ+ identities. These identities present challenges for libraries aiming to provide inclusive services. For libraries to become more LGBTIQ+ inclusive they need to understand and address the various ways that library services may create barriers for LGBTIQ+ staff and students and also ensure adequate representation of LGBTIQ+ relevant resources in their collections.

What was surprising?
What was surprising about the research was the breadth of issues in the literature around LGBTIQ+ users and resources in relation to academic libraries. While social inclusion has not traditionally been a focus, the research highlights that the growing inclusion of LGBTIQ+ issues across university curriculum and by university support services means academic libraries may need to evaluate their services and collections to ensure LGBTIQ+ inclusion and representation. Of growing importance, is the need for academic libraries to respond to the specific needs of users of diverse genders such as transgender or non-binary.

Upcoming Events
Karla Zimpel-Leal: How are emerging Home Care models shaping the care market in England?

Time: Wednesday, 19th February 2020 – 4pm-6pm
Venue: RMIT Building 80, Level 10, Room 17 | 445 Swanston St, Melbourne  
RSVP: by accepting this invitation or via email - peter.nowotnik@rmit.edu.au

In this seminar Dr Zimpel-Leal will report on the findings of her research examining how emergent home care models in England differ from the ‘time and task’ model, and how these new models are shaping the care market. Home care providers for older people are facing a rise in demand for their services driven not only by an ageing population but also from a market demand for personalised care, choice, continuity of care, and real time availability. Dr Zimpel-Leal’s study investigated various emergent models of home care and found disruptive and emergent models such as uberisation, community-based, live-in and preventative models are becoming more pervasive.

Event Success
Corporate Social Responsibility: Ethics, Business or Politics? Public Lecture by Prof. Jeremy Moon

On 20 November 2019, Jeremy Moon, Professor of Sustainability Governance and Director of CBS Sustainability Centre, at Copenhagen Business School, gave a highly successful CPOW-sponsored public lecture. Taking a critical perspective on corporate social responsibility (CSR), he argued that it is often presented as a vehicle not only for business legitimacy but also for wider societal problem solving.  Prof Moon discussed three different perspectives on the motivations and underlying rationale of CSR and highlighted the tensions between corporate responsibility towards shareholders, and the broader societal good. He argued that in order for CSR to be evaluated by social and public regulators, the different motivations and rationales need to be understood.

Link to video of Prof Moon’s lecture:

Feminist Forum – Violence against Women in the Context of Militarisation and Conflict

(Dr Sara Meger [left] and Dr Jasmine Westendorf. Photo: Peter Nowotnik)

The Feminist Forum seminar series rounded out 2019 with a panel discussion on the topic of sexual violence in war. Held on the 25th of November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women that marks the start of the UN’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence – three feminist scholars shared their research examining forms of violence against women in conflict zones.

Dr Jasmine Westendorf (La Trobe University), Dr Sara Meger (University of Melbourne) and Dr Lisa Carson (University of New South Wales) interrogated sexually exploitative behaviour perpetrated by peacekeepers towards women and children, the political economy of rape in war, and the failures of ‘Gender Training’ for UN personnel to adequately address forms of violence against women in war and recovery. All three highlighted the ways in which militarised masculinity, in conjunction with other power relations, including racialised and colonial dynamics, served to encourage, shape and mask the harms of violence against women. A lively discussion followed the presentations, tackling big questions around competing feminist evaluations of the military and the distinctions to be made between military industries and other forms of armed groups.

Feminist Forum, a partnership with the CPOW research theme Gender, Equality and Diversity led by Dr Meaghan Tyler, returns in 2020 with a fascinating line up of feminist researchers. Keep an eye on your inboxes for invitations.

CPOW in the Media
Elizabeth Shi: What employers need to know - the legal risk of asking staff to work in smoky air

(Photo: Messala Ciulla / Pexels.com)

This opinion piece by Dr Elizabeth Shi was published in The Conversation on 13 January 2020. Elizabeth addresses the work, health and safety implications of the thick smoke haze that blanketed Australian cities during the recent devastating bushfires. She outlines the broad employer obligations under current federal and state OH&S laws to reduce harm to their workers left many employers confused as the lack of specific OHS regulations has been revealed by this unprecedented workplace disruption.

Shea Fan, Matthew Walker, Xuali Huang & Timothy Bartram: How are Australian-Chinese sister cities faring after 40 years?

(Photo: theconversation.com - Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock)

Australia-China sister-city relationships are a pivotal platform connecting cities, towns, and ports, and most importantly, people between Australia and China. In their 29 January 2020 Conversation piece, the authors reported on their research that investigated how best to enhance the management of Australia-China sister city relationships. Using a national survey and five-case Australian-based studies, they examined Australian-Chinese sister city relationships, including their management structure, key activities, best practices, benefits for the local community and challenges faced by councils. Some of the key enablers for positive sister city relationships identified included Chinese language proficiency among those managing the relationship, resourcing of the relationship, involvement of local Chinese business and community groups, and regular evaluation of the relationship.  The research on which this article drew was published by the authors in their 2019 report Australia-China Sister Cities: Seizing Opportunities Together undertaken for the Australia-China Council.


(Photo: Daria Shevtsova / Pexels.com)

Dr Lauren Rickards and Prof Mark Howden (ANU Climate Change Institute) published an opinion piece in The Age on January 11, 2020. They point out the necessity of generating more knowledge about the long-term effects of climate change and its cascading effects on how we live, work and how our health responds to these changes. They outline the inadequacies of the current climate policy framework and argue that given frequent and intense climatic extremes, Australians need to embark on a serious program of climate change adaptation underpinned by an integrated, national-scale, multi-sector approach.


(Photos: RMIT University)

CPOW researchers Dr Kate Farhall and Dr Meagan Tyler were featured in RMIT's campaign to address the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) and the United Nations 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence. Kate's work on the intersections of work and domestic violence in rural and regional areas was highlighted, as was Meagan's work on violence against women in the sex industry.

Sara Charlesworth: Addressing long hours in law firms

Prof Sara Charlesworth was cited in a recent article in the Financial Review ‘Procurement rules target law firms that overwork staff’, 5 February 2020. The article reported the Victorian government’s recent decision to require law firms tendering for government business to disclose any safety breach, notification or investigation and submit their strategies on work/life balance. Sara noted that this procurement policy was an innovative step towards addressing the legal industry's decades-old history of long hours.

Call for Papers
Multinational Companies in Turbulent Times: Strategies, Norms and Experimentation Across Borders

16-17 April 2020

Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Conference Themes

This conference welcomes scholarly works in any social science discipline that enhances our understanding of both emerging and established MNCs as the strategic action fields. Three themes for theoretically rich and timely discussions are identified as follows, and submissions can address one or   cross-cutting themes. 

  • Globalizing Actors in MNCs 
  • Institutional experimentation 
  • Emerging MNCs.

Abstract Submissions

Interested participants of the conference should   submit their abstracts with a maximum length of 1000 words by 20 January 2020 to Dr. Jinsun Bae at mnctt2020@gmail.com. Please email inquiries to this address as well.

CPOW Contacts

Peter Nowotnik, CPOW Administrator (Tuesday to Thursday): peter.nowotnik@rmit.edu.au

Sara Charlesworth, CPOW Director:  sara.charlesworth@rmit.edu.au

CPOW addresses inequalities in the world of work to create sustainable, fair and decent work for all

CPOW is an RMIT University Centre located in the College of Business & Law.



RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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