Future Fellowship aims to reduce poverty in Australia

30 August 2018

The Australian Research Council (ARC) recently awarded Associate Professor Cameron Parsell from UQ’s School of Social Science with a Future Fellowship in order to equip society with the knowledge to better address poverty.

This Fellowship aims to introduce empirical evidence and theoretical knowledge about the function, nature, experience, and impact of charity as a response to poverty in Australia.

Dr Parsell sees this as an ideal opportunity for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences to extend existing partnerships with The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland, and the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Social Services.

“It will spearhead a program of research to produce and use new knowledge to drive transformations in the ways that charities and the welfare state better contribute to disrupting long term poverty for some of Australia’s most excluded citizens,” he said.

Acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Professor Julie Duck was delighted to learn of Dr Parsell’s success in the ARC Future Fellowship scheme, a scheme designed to attract the nation’s best and brightest mid-career researchers.  

“The award of a Future Fellowship is acknowledgement of the calibre and excellence of Cameron’s research on poverty, homelessness, social services, and charity aimed at addressing social disadvantage,” she said.

“His current project promises to deliver important insights into the function, nature, experience, and impact of charity as a response to poverty in Australia and I look forward to following his progress.”

Despite the fundamental role that charity plays in the lives of people who are poor, Dr Parsell said we advocate and pursue it, or critique and lament its inadequacy with little empirical knowledge and often based on our political and faith based beliefs.

“Commentators and scholars on charity have been driven by ideology that caricatures charity in a one dimensional positive gloss of virtue or negative gloss of vice,” he said.

“The boundaries between charity on the one hand, and formal social services delivered as part of the contemporary welfare state, on the other, are conceptually porous.”

With hundreds of millions of government, private, and philanthropic funding annually, Dr Parsell said the traditional model of charity as a one off resource is under pressure.

“Charities are expected to function as a vital part of the welfare state, yet we have an underdeveloped knowledge base about what charities do.

“The Fellowship will produce knowledge to underpin and transform charity so that it plays a demonstrable role in reducing poverty,” he said.