Our projects are developed in partnership with organisations working in areas that are central to ACU’s mission and ethos as a Catholic university. These organisations identify an issue, question or need for themselves or their sector and partner with the SESU on a research project to work toward a resolution.

All projects are expected to support work in the core areas of ACU’s mission, to produce positive impacts for communities experiencing disadvantage or advance the Catholic tradition.

Current projects

We understand there are various levels at which needs arise. Every organisation has specific priorities for its clients, programs and services. For this reason, our researchers work on two kinds of projects and produce high-quality outputs that reflect the nature of the project.

Sector projects

Sector projects see us partner with several organisations to address a broad research question on a systemic or 'big' issue affecting areas of the community sector.

This project brings together two non-profit organisations and seeks to understand how community services users accessed the services they needed during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The project findings will be shared with the social services sector to enable organisations to best serve the future needs of their clients.

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Jesuit Refugee Service Australia


St Vincent de Paul Society NSW 

Project team
  • Mr Nishadh Rego - Policy, Advocacy and Communications Manager, Jesuit Refugee Service Australia
  • Ms Rhiannon Cook - Manager, Policy and Advocacy, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW
  • Dr Jen Couch - National School of Arts and Humanities, ACU
  • Mr Sebastian Trew - Institute of Child Protection Studies, ACU

CatholicCare Sydney’s project aims to better understand older adults’ views on what ageing well means and their preparedness for ageing and dying. It will investigate whether being well-informed about the process of ageing improves wellbeing. The project evaluates CatholicCare Sydney’s new Ageing Well masterclass series, which delivers more person-centred education about ageing well and provides tools to better plan for ageing and dying.


CatholicCare Sydney

Project team
  • Mr David Stefanoff - Executive Manager, Funding Office, CatholicCare Sydney
  • Ms Kerryn Tutt - General Manager, Clinical Therapies and Disability Services, CatholicCare Sydney
  • Associate Professor Jenneke Foottit - School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, ACU
  • Associate Professor Bernadette Tobin - Plunkett Centre for Ethics, ACU

Bringing together Caritas Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia and Catholic Health Australia, this project will map the unique work of Catholic agencies in responding to and preventing family violence.

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Caritas Australia

Catholic Social Services Australia

Catholic Health Australia

Project team
  • Ms Zhi Yan - Advocacy, Policy and Research Lead, Caritas Australia
  • Ms Monique Earsman - Executive Director, Catholic Social Services Australia
  • Ms Rebecca Burdick Davies - Director, Strategy and Mission, Catholic Health Australia
  • Ms Stephanie Panchision - Senior Health Policy Advisor, Catholic Health Australia
  • Professor Susan Broomhall - Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, ACU
  • Dr Mary Noseda - School of Theology, ACU

Initiated by the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education, this project is a collaboration between 19 partner agencies to investigate the achievements of the main Australian cities for refugee settlement. The study will uncover the challenges of accommodating large numbers of new arrivals and the lessons these places can teach us about how to better support refugees, particularly for areas that are emerging as more popular settlement destinations. The findings will also inform advocacy campaigns for more just social policies for humanitarian entrants.


Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education

Project team
  • Dr Altin Gavranovic - Senior Researcher, Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education
  • Mr Farhad Arian - Research and Policy Coordinator, Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education
  • Dr Amanda Kearney - Professor of Indigenous & Australian Studies, Flinders University
  • Dr Mary Venner - Professional Associate, University of Canberra
  • Ms Ayah Abubasheer - Researcher, Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education
  • Dr Mary Tomsic - Research Fellow, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, ACU

Organisation-specific projects

Organisation-specific projects see us partner with organisations to inform, shape, evaluate or grow their programs or services, whether those activities be domestic or international in focus.

CatholicCare Victoria’s project will evaluate their Geelong-based Settle Well program – a holistic school-based program that seeks to facilitate the transition to further education, training or sustainable employment for young refugees and asylum seekers at risk of disengagement from school and community life.


CatholicCare Victoria

Project team
  • Ms Bernadette Garcia - Executive Manager, Communications, Fundraising and Marketing, CatholicCare Victoria
  • Mr Chris McNamara - Senior Manager, Community Services, CatholicCare Victoria
  • Mr Nestor Estampa - Geelong Settle Well Program Coordinator, CatholicCare Victoria
  • Dr Joel Anderson - School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, ACU
  • Mr Paul Chalkley - National School of Arts and Humanities, ACU
  • Sr Thuy-Linh Nguyen - Peter Faber Business School, ACU

Suicide Prevention Pathways’ project was initiated in response to the 50 per cent increase in requests for support the organisation experienced following the outbreak of COVID-19. The project seeks to evaluate the impact of its Talk Suicide Support Service which offers a non-clinical alternative to suicide prevention in South-East Queensland for those at risk of suicide aged 15 years and over and for their support networks.


Suicide Prevention Pathways

Project team
  • Ms Shana Challenor - Chief Executive Officer, Suicide Preventions Pathways
  • Dr Sera Harris - School of Allied Health, ACU

St Mary’s House of Welcome’s project seeks to explore the drivers of, and barriers to, participant engagement with their NDIS program delivered to adults with a psychosocial disability. By engaging service users as active participants in the project, the project aims to construct a framework to optimise engagement in the program.


St Mary’s House of Welcome

Project team
  • Ms Robina Bradley - Chief Executive Officer, St Mary’s House of Welcome
  • Ms Kirsty Pleiter - Manager NDIS Program, St Mary’s House of Welcome
  • Ms Donna Sesto - Programs Coordinator, St Mary’s House of Welcome
  • Mr Brian Reilly - Senior Support Worker, St Mary’s House of Welcome
  • Professor Sara Bayes - School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, ACU
  • Mr Benjamin Coyte - School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, ACU

The Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn seeks to raise up a new generation of preachers in the mission of the Australian Catholic Church. The project will pilot and evaluate innovative face-to-face and online training for ministers, priests and laypeople to better support their ministry in parishes, communities and schools.

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The Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn

Project team
  • Fr Tony Percy - Vicar-General, Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn
  • Mr Huw Warmenhoven - Youth Ministry Coordinator, Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn
  • Dr Maeve Louise Heaney - School of Theology and Xavier Centre for Theological Formation, ACU

Initiated by the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Anti-Slavery Taskforce, this project will produce training resources to enable future professionals to identify and respond to modern slavery in the workforce. The efficacy of the modules will be measured through a pilot with ACU students enrolled in undergraduate courses.

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The Archdiocese of Sydney’s Anti-Slavery Taskforce

Project team
  • Ms Jenny Stanger - Executive Manager, Anti-Slavery Taskforce
  • Ms Alison Rahill - Executive Officer, Anti-Slavery Taskforce
  • Mr Carsten Primdal - Business Engagement and Remediation Advisor, Anti-Slavery Taskforce
  • Dr Christiaan Jacobs-Vandegeer - School of Theology, ACU
  • Dr Blake Wassell, School of Theology, ACU

Gunawirra’s project will assess the mid- to long-term impact of their peer group program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their children. The project will also make recommendations for the program’s future operation and expansion.

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Project team
  • Mr Graham Toomey - Chief Executive Officer, Gunawirra
  • Ms Miriam Cavanagh - Chairwoman and Cultural Consultant, Gunawirra
  • Ms Katrina Ikonomou - Program Coordinator, Gunawirra
  • Dr Renata Cinelli - School of Education, ACU
  • Ms Kate Robinson - School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, ACU

Carringbush Adult Education’s project seeks to develop and implement digital learning and teaching strategies to support their English language programs for adult learners who are from refugee, migrant and low socio-economic backgrounds and adjusting to digital learning environments.

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Carringbush Adult Education

Project team
  • Ms Margaret Corrigan - Chief Executive Officer, Carringbush Adult Education
  • Ms Rei Chin - Community Development Manager, Carringbush Adult Education
  • Ms Hayley Black - EAL teacher and Digital Capacity Advisor, Carringbush Adult Education
  • Ms Elizabeth Keenan - EAL Teacher and Teacher Mentor, Carringbush Adult Education
  • Ms Laurine Hurley - School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, ACU

SydWest Multicultural Services is evaluating the employment services delivered through their Settlement Engagement and Transition Support program. The project will assess how the program helps their clients become more employable and will make recommendations for future program improvement.

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SydWest Multicultural Services

Project team
  • Mr Clement Meru - Community Engagement and Disability Services Manager, SydWest Multicultural Services
  • Mr Saurav Shrestha - Settlement Services Team Leader, SydWest Multicultural Services
  • Dr Haydn Aarons - National School of Arts and Humanities, ACU
  • Mrs Caroline Allen - ACU Engagement, ACU

Completed projects


ACU partnered with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (Veterans’ Affairs), to analyse and interpret data collected through the NSW Government Veterans’ Survey. The online survey, with just over 2,000 participants, was conducted to help understand the issues facing veterans, future veterans (current serving ADF members) and their families and support staff, to help shape the first NSW Veterans’ Strategy. ACU took an in-depth look at the survey responses to understand the participants’ perspectives on, and experiences with, issues surrounding health and wellbeing, employment, education and recognition.

Delivered to the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (Veterans Affairs) in November 2020, one focus of the report was on the experiences of veterans as they transitioned out of the defence force. The findings highlighted particular barriers or challenges veterans and their families faced during this transition and beyond, and documented suggestions on the types of support they think could be beneficial including access to services, mental and physical health initiatives and formal recognition of service.


Undertaken in partnership with Catholic Social Services Victoria and St Mary’s House of Welcome, this project focused on addressing the economic and social impact of COVID-19 for Victorians who were already facing disadvantage prior to the pandemic. The final report finds that the COVID-19 crisis is not just a pandemic in public health terms—it has also been a pandemic of job loss and job market insecurity. The government’s reporting of economy recovery fails to recognise falls in employment and labour force participation, as well as untold suffering generated by the Federal Government’s exclusion of temporary migrants from basic social protection. COVID increased demand for emergency relief and family violence services. The report calls for government to deliver a much higher rise in the JobSeeker payment, for new investment in public housing, and for renewed support for social service providers struggling with the decline of volunteers due to COVID-19.


Catholic Social Services Victoria


St Mary’s House of Welcome

Project team
  • Mr Joshua Lourensz - Executive Director, Catholic Social Services Victoria
  • Rev Dr Gordon Preece - Senior Policy Officer, Catholic Social Services Victoria
  • Ms Robina Bradley - Chief Executive Officer, St Mary’s House of Welcome
  • Dr Tom Barnes - Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, ACU
  • Dr Scott Doidge - ACU Engagement, ACU

How to get involved

If these projects have inspired you to get involved you can follow the links below to learn more. For further information, contact the SESU.

Community can partner with us

We invite community organisations to submit an expression of interest to partner with us on a research project that has meaning for your organisation.

Learn more

Staff can join a SESU project

Academic staff at ACU can apply to work on SESU projects and lend their expertise to help address real-world problems identified by community organisations.

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Research engagement

ACU research engages communities, government, industry and the non-for-profit-sector to create real and sustainable impacts.

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Our mission and values

Discover our commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person, and the common good.

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Research at ACU

We are a world-leading research university in our priority areas of education, health, and theology and philosophy.

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Ethics and integrity

We are committed to ethical research conducted with integrity and respect for the rights and interests of participants.

Our standards

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