Health & Wellbeing at the Margins

Social factors critically shape the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. While good health and wellbeing are widely held goals, embedded in universal human rights, there is substantial social inequity, not only across countries but also between individuals and communities in the same nation.

The disproportionate burden of health and social problems experienced by socially vulnerable individuals and communities requires effective and appropriate policy and program responses that are informed by robust evidence. This will not only benefit public health outcomes, but also ensure that the human rights of all people are ensured and that all individuals and communities can thrive.

Our research is especially concerned with the social processes affecting the experiences of health and wellbeing, the management of risk and vulnerability and the services utilization of individuals and communities often marginalized in society, including people with disabilities, people who inject drugs, same-sex-attracted people, migrants, refugees and people enmeshed in the criminal justice system.

This area of research at UNSW is nationally and internationally distinctive in a number of ways, including a specific focus on vulnerable communities and how social factors, policies and programs shape their health and wellbeing. Our research reflects a multidisciplinary approach across the Social Sciences and Humanities, and combines outstanding scholarship with policy relevance. The breadth and depth of our research provides engagement with diverse communities and highlights the critical role of the social science and humanities in promoting health and wellbeing.

The Impact of our Work

The work of our research group has a significant impact on public discourse and contemporary understandings of the social aspects of health and wellbeing and is instrumental in shaping appropriate, evidence-informed policies and programs at the local, state, federal and international level. Our research is widely cited in strategy and policy documents and our researchers are expert members of numerous government and non-government advisory committees. The effective translation of our research outcomes to policy and practice is realised through close partnerships with government, non-government stakeholders, international agencies, and genuine community engagement.

Evidence of Excellence

Our research consistently receives excellent evaluations in the Excellence for Research in Australia assessment, and in the most recent evaluation undertaken in 2012 UNSW ranks first or second nationally in the fields of research in which our work is embedded.

Our researchers are members of learned academies, hold esteemed fellowships and are winners of prestigious prizes. Our researchers are highly successful in attracting research funding from a wide range of sources, including government departments and agencies, international organizations and competitive grants schemes. Our researchers also have outstanding publication track records, including numerous edited books, book chapters, contributions to reference works and articles in peer-reviewed journals; they also act as editors of leading journals and book series.