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In This Newsletter
Welcome to the 3rd CPOW newsletter of 2020

This is an issue that Adele Murdolo, from the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, takes up in her CPOW blog post of 8 July. We are always looking for more copy for the CPOW in the time of COVID-19 blog so if you think you have something to say, please let us know.

Our July newsletter profiles three of our newer CPOW members. We are reshaping the CPOW research themes to best reflect the current research our members are undertaking. The focus of one of those reshaped themes Digital Work & Society, led by former CPOW Director Vanessa Cooper and new member Elizabeth Tait, is outlined below. We feature a recent publication by CPOW member Afreen Huq which draws on interviews with women refugees in Melbourne as a basis for an important scholarly contribution on refugee entrepreneurship. We are also very pleased to feature an animation designed by Fiona Macdonald and her team. A day in the life of a care and support worker is an innovative translation of research undertaken with disability support workers using time diaries.

CPOW is working to provide a more inclusive and supportive environment for HDR students who are directly connected to CPOW as members or through their supervisors and have an inaugural ‘HDR Corner’ newsletter item below.

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

Professorial appointment to CPOW

Johanna is a formidable academic leader with an international reputation in her field of expertise, industrial relations. She has received numerous grants recognizing her work including ARC Discovery and Linkage grants, HEPPP grants, and industry grants. Johanna's disciplinary research has been focused on unions, collective bargaining, soft regulation of employment relations, and the role of government and third parties in facilitating collaboration at work. She is involved in a long-standing and productive research relationship with the Fair Work Commission, examining their New Approaches Program. Johanna has active international research collaborations with colleagues at Cornell University, University College Dublin, Cardiff University, the University of Minnesota, and Brandeis University.

Johanna looks forward to collaborating with Professor Sara Charlesworth and the broader team at CPOW in progressing their innovative research agenda.

'Digital Work & Society' Research Theme

Following on from CPOW’s mission realignment early in 2020, work has also been undertaken on recasting CPOW’s research themes to focus on the current areas of research strength among the CPOW membership. The former ‘Digital Business, Work & Life’ theme has been renamed ‘Digital Work & Society’. Its research focus is on investigating the opportunities and challenges afforded by digital transformation in workplace settings. Co-led by Professor Vanessa Cooper and Dr Elizabeth Tait (Accounting, Information Systems & Supply Chain),  Digital Work & Society will concentrate on the interaction between digital technology and workers, organisations, industries and wider society; how technology can create agency and transform work and society; and how technology adds value to workers, organisations, industries and society. If you are interested in getting involved in the Digital Work & Society theme, please contact Vanessa or Elizabeth.

Our New Members
Dr Elizabeth Tait

My main area of expertise relates to the digital transformation of business and culture through the application of emergent technologies such as: laser scanning, 3D visualisation and semantic linked data. I have led and co-designed projects across multiple countries and industries with a particular focus on: the energy sector, cultural heritage institutions and economic regeneration of the urban built heritage environment. I am especially interested in technologies for museums and galleries to develop engaging exhibits for patrons, how technologies can be used for civic engagement such as participation in politics, and the use of 3D laser scanning and visualisation of urban built heritage to promote tourism.


For hobbies, I enjoy music and play bass guitar (badly) and usually love going out and about to the museums, restaurants etc of Melbourne. But right now like everyone else I'm pretty much staying inside watching Netflix and baking. I am also a fan of all things geeky and especially like robots and sci-fi books/movies/TV shows. I’m happy to be involved in CPOW and look forward to getting to know everyone better.

Dr Sophia Duan

Prior to joining RMIT, she worked for Monash University and Charles Sturt University as an academic and has held various leadership roles. Her research interests are in the areas of digital business, digital strategy, digital work, innovation adoption, multi-criteria decision analysis, and productivity analysis. Her work has been published in major information systems journals and conferences. She is an ad-hoc reviewer for top tier information systems journals including Information & Management, Decision Support Systems, Australasian Journal of Information Systems, among others. She is passionate about using her research to inform policy, drive organisational change and design systems.

Featured CPOW Researcher
Jenny Malone

Jenny was a qualified social worker and has worked in various research roles in the not for profit, government and academic sectors for 15 years.

Featured Publications
Associate Prof. Afreen Huq:
Self-reliance for Women Refugees in Australia

Huq, A. and Venugupal, V. (2020). 'DIY Entrepreneurship? – Self-reliance for Women Refugees in Australia', International Migration (ABDC A).

What is the research about?

The paper draws on a social constructionist perspective to conduct a narrative analysis of data from the lived experience of twelve women refugee entrepreneurs in Melbourne, Australia, from countries like Eritrea, Rwanda, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. We looked at the key issues surrounding the economic and social barriers to entry into entrepreneurship by refugee women. Our findings reveal the complexities of self-reconstruction and socialisation as experienced by refugee women entrepreneurs. We observed three different trajectories reflected in the life story of these women — the loss of their old identity, construction of new identities, and embracing unfulfilled potential. We found that these three areas of personal struggle are not mutually exclusive, nor are they linear or ordered. In fact, they can take place concurrently. This provides interesting insights into the multiple layers of self-reconstruction in women refugees as they take on the role of entrepreneur. We observed that the strength of each reconstruction impacts the nature of the overall narrative—whether it is progressive or regressive.

Why is this important?

We hope this study will help foster more constructive and evidence-based discussions about how to genuinely promote refugees’ self-reliance in ways that strengthen refugees’ ability to meet essential needs with sustainability and dignity. Enterprises founded by refugee women are based on the very agency that refugee women have in making decisions about the successful settlement outcomes for them and their families. But this sense of agency on their part is not complemented by structural support from the host country. Policies and programs to support new refugee enterprise formation and the growth in existing refugee enterprises must enable refugee women to be ‘pulled’ into entrepreneurship rather than ‘pushed’. Such efforts also need to be sensitive to matters related to the intersection of ethnicity and gender and in so doing deal with deeper cultural and racial differences.

What was surprising?

Is resilience an effect of refugee entrepreneurship, or does it precede it? The evidence suggests that resilience precedes entrepreneurship, due to the trauma wrought by the refugee experience, making any suggestion that refugees need to be taught resilience by starting a small business preposterous. 

Engagement & Impact

This recent project by Fiona Macdonald, Jenny Malone and Eleanor Bentham - supported by ARC project grants - draws upon time diaries of care support workers to investigate their working time while providing home and community support.

Many disability support workers provide support to people in private homes and in the community, travelling between work sites. Low pay and undervaluation of work are problems for these mainly women workers. Irregular, fragmented and short hours’ working time patterns contribute to insecurity in work, work-life problems and low pay.

One of the devices of translation for this research is a short, animated video commissioned by Fiona and her team. To watch the video and read the project brief, please click the button below. 

Lena Wang & Vanessa Cooper:
LGBTIQ Program Evaluation Research

(Photo: Photo by Steve Johnson / Pexels.com)

Lena Wang and Vanessa Cooper with Dr Raymond Trau (Macquarie University) have been engaged by Victoria’s Department of Premier and Cabinet (DCP) for a 3rd year, to conduct the program evaluation of the DPC-funded LGBTI program for 2020 ($14,610 + GST).

The LGBTQI program has been organised by the Equality division at DPC since 2018, with the aim of providing leadership training to LGBTQI leaders and emerging leaders across Victoria. Participants come from a wide range of backgrounds including the community and not-for-profit sectors as well as corporate and government organisations. The RMIT team has been engaged to provide independent evaluation of the program since 2018. 

Dr Maria Beamond presenting at the AIM 2020 Online

(Photo: aib.world)

On July, 8th, as a part of the Live Author Showcase event of the Academy of International Business online conference, Maria Beamond presented a competitive paper 'Effects of Local Factors on Global Strategic Talent Management in Emerging Markets: Mapping Cognition of Managerial Groups'. The paper focuses on the effect of local on multinational (MNEs) subsidiaries in emerging economies, analysed through the lenses of cognitive mappings of agents on key local frames. 

CPOW involvement in COVID-impact university survey

(Photo: pexels.com)

CPOW is supporting the conduct and analysis of an international survey that aims to examine the impact of current working arrangements on both professional and academic university staff arising from adaptations to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the key catalysts to the design of the survey was emerging evidence that the effectsof COVID-related work changes, particularly on researchers, are likely to be huge, uneven and gendered. The survey is being undertaken by a team of academics across Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and led by Professor David Peetz and Emeritus Professor Glenda Strachan at Griffith University. At RMIT, CPOW is participating through the involvement of Director, Professor Sara Charlesworth. It is anticipated that the survey will provide a picture across the university sector of how COVID-related changes have affected teaching, research, funding, service and administration as well as the well-being of staff.

CPOW in the Media
Mike Rafferty on Global manufacturing

(Photo: Tiger Lily / pexels.com)

Warren Staples on the future of Virgin Australia

(Photo: Alex Azabache / pexels.com)

Sara Charlesworth on Women Workers & the Pandemic


Event Success
CPOW & HDRs: Touching Base

(Photo: Anna Shvets | Pexels.com)

On June 30, CPOW hosted an inaugural CPOW-HDR – Touching Base workshop. With many HDRs finding the isolation of remote research difficult, the online workshop sought make contact with HDR students whose theses are focused on contemporary problems of work. Led by two CPOW HDRs, Lisa Heap and Jenny Malone, together with Dr Raelene West, a CPOW ECR, the workshop encouraged participants to share their experiences of studying during the COVID-19 pandemic period. Lisa, Jenny and Rae highlighted a number of pivotal aspects for them, such as methodology upskilling, engagement with peer-support networks, and the integration of past work experience into PhD research as crucial. The workshop also sought to identify the sort of support CPOW might provide to HDRs in the future. One issue raised was developing structured collegial support from peers – though regular get-togethers as well as writing sessions. Ensuring greater visibility of CPOW HDR/ECRs was also seen as useful. As an initial response, the HDR page on the CPOW website now features current CPOW HDRs.

HDR students who are connected with CPOW are very welcome to send us a headshot and a brief summary of their research to be included on our website.

HDR Corner

(Photo: Tamás Mészáros | Pexels.com)

In this and our forthcoming newsletters we will feature items we hope are of interest to HDR students connected directly with us as members and/or through their supervisors’ CPOW membership. In this issue we draw attention to a wonderful RMIT resource for both HDR students and researchers who use qualitative methodologies in their work: the Qualitative Interest Group (QIG).

QIG is long established at RMIT. QIG is led by Dr Helen Marshall from the Social and Global Studies Centre and is open to all RMIT HDRs and researchers. The QIG website describes QIG as an informal, collaborative group of researchers interested in the issues of qualitative work. It provides a supportive and lively forum for discussion and debate, and offers a mix of workshop-type training in skills and trouble-shooting discussion of methodological issues.

The next QIG virtual meeting will be on Tuesday, 04 August from 12.30-2.00pm. The topic for discussion is: Demystifying theories. Share your own description of the theory/ theories you have encountered or are using in your work and learn about different approaches!  Contact Helen on helen.marshall@rmit.edu.au if you are not on the QIG mailing list so you can be sent a teams invite. For the August 4 meeting Helen suggests reading the QIGSITE top topic ‘Theory  From Qualitative Research’ as background.  

Upcoming Events
Care work, COVID and gender inequality: Achieving change for justice and equity for paid care workers in the wake of the COVID pandemic.


Sharan Burrow, President, International Trade Union Confederation

Kirsty McCully, Director, Ē tū, New Zealand

Natalie Lang, Branch Secretary (services), Australian Services Union, NSW.

When: Tuesday, 01 September,  7.30 pm (NZT), 5.30pm (AEST), 9.30 am (CET)

This webinar will bring together international and regional trade union leaders to reflect on the local and global challenges for care workers arising from the current crisis. Globally, care work is one of the fastest growing areas of employment. Before the COVID pandemic, most workers in these highly-feminised workforces were in undervalued, low-paid and mostly insecure work. Care and other community services workers have been on the frontline during the COVID pandemic.  The purpose of the webinar is to share knowledge and start conversations about how we achieve change for justice and equity for paid care workers in the wake of the COVID pandemic.

Joint hosts: Centre for People, Organisation and Work, RMIT University, Melbourne and New Zealand Work Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology, for the Global Carework Network COVID response.

CPOW Contacts

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

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

Joining CPOW: If you are an RMIT researcher whose current research addresses sustainable, fair and decent work and you are interested in joining CPOW, here is the link to our membership application form.

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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