We specialise in research on diversity and wellbeing that empowers individuals and communities to meet the challenges associated with social, cultural and economic inequality.

Our research focuses on knowledge sharing and informs government policy and community development in Australia and overseas.

Research programs

Our research programs span a number of Colleges, Centres and Institutes and consist of expertise in several key areas:

  • Theories and practices of cultural diversity - multiculturalism, racism, refugee and asylum seeker issues, cultural resilience, diaspora communities, social cohesion, language, religion, values, place and identity across culturally diverse communities.
  • Community health and wellbeing - culturally diverse approaches to physical, psychological, social and cultural wellbeing, family dynamics, active living, sleep, food and nutrition, health services, health technologies, health ethics, cultural values in health, alcohol and other drugs, and chronic disease management.
  • International and community development - research and networks that strengthen education, culture and leadership in community organisations and governments in Australia and in a variety of developing countries.
  • Cultural diversity, policing and the law - culturally diverse perspectives on community policing, mediation, restorative justice, community-police partnerships, countering violent extremism, policing and multiculturalism, the law and religious/cultural practices.
  • Indigenous cultures and communities - including health, culture, psychology, heritage, the environment and the justice system in Australia and overseas.
  • Cultural diversity and youth studies - social and educational inclusion, multi-sited identities, young people and social networks, youth arts, and social media.
  • Cultural diversity and the arts - community arts and creativity, language, literature and communication across cultures, art and political action, creativity and new technologies, and creativity, social transformation.

Our multidisciplinary approach incorporates expertise from the following areas of VU:

Research projects

We undertake research projects in a variety of areas and continually develop new knowledge that can be applied in Australia and overseas.

Recent and current project highlights include:

  • Food, health, memory and African-Australian transitions
  • Harnessing cultural resilience capital in diverse communities to counter violent extremism
  • The impacts of arts programs for young people from refugee backgrounds
  • Culturally diverse approaches to understanding sleep and refugee community health and wellbeing
  • Improving cross-cultural training and education for policing agencies
  • Cultural diversity, parenting and family dynamics
  • Gender, theatre and political action in the Caribbean
  • Socially and culturally diverse models of resource management, including water, waste and land
  • Gender role transitions in South Sudanese families and communities
  • Muslim-Australian young people, media and representation
  • Informal social networks, resilience and emerging African-Australian communities

Featured research

The building resilience investigation

The Building Resilience investigation is the name for a group of research enquiries that look at how young people in the west of Melbourne build resilience. It’s an ongoing, responsive project and we want to engage with local community organisations.

Harnessing resilience capital in culturally diverse communities to counter violent extremism

Former VU researcher Professor Michele Grossman and Dr Hussein Tahiri from Victoria Police conducted a national study on the cultural dimensions of resilience to violent extremism across a range of Australian ethnically and religiously diverse communities.

This 2013-14 project, funded by the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee, explored the ways in which cultural identity, attitudes, practices and values can inform resilience against violent extremism and help communities stay strong and well by tapping into existing cultural strengths and approaches.

Involving in-depth interviews with more than 80 diverse community members around Australia, the study found that while levels of resilience against violent extremism are strongest when linked to culturally informed practices of social care, conflict resolution and intra-community inclusion and respect, challenges exist in relation to engaging women and families, reducing the impacts of culturally based shame, and intergenerational differences in experience and attitude around social cohesion and belonging.

"My role as researcher [was] to contribute research that allows community voices to be heard in order to foster productive dialogue and partnerships between government and communities. This work helps agencies and communities understand more about each other and develop robust partnerships to find joint meaningful solutions to common challenges and problems", said Professor Grossman.

For eight years, Professor Grossman worked on a wide range of research projects with partners including Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police, the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the Attorney-General’s Department. She led the major 2013 review of Victoria Police’s cross-cultural education and training approach, resulting in significant reform and overhaul of training in cultural diversity for Victorian police members at all levels of the organisation.

Research partnerships

Research on diversity and wellbeing is undertaken in partnership with government, not-for-profit organisations and other universities. Examples of recent and current relationships in this area include:

  • Footscray Community Arts Centre
  • Western Health
  • Victoria Police
  • Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee

If you would like to collaborate on research with real benefits to individuals, communities and organisations, please contact us.

Graduate research opportunities

We welcome applications from prospective research students wanting to undertake a PhD or Masters by Research in the area of diversity and wellbeing, including projects in the following areas:

  • resilience across cultures
  • diaspora, migration, multiculturalism and ethnicities
  • refugee and asylum seeker settlement and experience
  • cultural diversity and social research, including new technologies, methods and methodologies
  • youth studies, community development and cultural diversity
  • cultural diversity, creativity and the arts, including creative writing and performance
  • community psychology, including mental health, violence, young people
  • policing, community engagement and countering violent extremism
  • languages and communication, including narrative research, literary studies, postcolonial studies
  • social and cultural diversity in the workplace
  • comparative perspectives on cultural diversity, law and justice

Research can include research projects that lead to the production of a creative work with an accompanying exegesis as thesis submission.

Find further information about becoming a graduate researcher.

Research scholarships

Scholarships may be available for research in this area. For further information on current research scholarships for local and international students, visit scholarships for research students, or externally funded scholarships.