QUT Centre for Justice member Michelle Newcomb, with Alyssa Venning from QUT Public Health and Social Work, has recently published an article in Q1 journal, Australian Social Work titled, “Individual Responsibility and Disconnection: Practitioner Experiences of the First Wave COVID19 Lockdown.”
The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia called for a lockdown that impacted the delivery of social work and human services. This study investigated the experiences of 15 social work and human service practitioners in Southeast Queensland, Australia. Telephone and Zoom interviews were conducted with practitioners and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Three themes arose: 1) technology problems; 2) flexibility in work roles; 3) supportive and unsupportive organisations. Findings suggested that practitioners faced challenges due to poor technology, reduced role clarity, and in some cases limited organisational support. Findings also provided insight into benefits that included increased flexibility, regular communication from the organisation, and acts of kindness and care from individuals and organisations. A fundamental lesson from this study was the importance for organisations to nurture connections that demonstrated care for employees during times of crisis.
Michelle is a lecturer within the School of Public Health and Social Work, and also has extensive field experience working in homelessness, domestic violence and social housing. Alyssa is from QUT Public Health and Social Work.
In 2020 Michelle received seed funding from QUT Centre for Justice under an ECR RA Funding Scheme which led to this research and publication.