Kathy Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in the Youth Work Program within the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies.
Kathy's research interests and expertise lie primarily in the areas of gender (women and feminist theory) and youth (youth sociology and youth work). In respect to these areas, Kathy's research traverses theory, policy analysis and empirical research.
Kathy's PhD research considered 'the body' in feminist theory, she has worked as a Research Associate on an ARC Linkage between the University of Sydney and the NSW Premier's Department investigating the contemporary state of gender equity in the NSW Public Sector and is active in promoting prostitution law reform, an area she has also published in.
In respect to youth (and youth work) Kathy's crowning achievement is being a co-editor of the SAGE Handbook of Youth Work Practice, a volume in which (reviewers' comments) she also contributed a chapter on youth work and colonialism co-written with a graduate of the youth work program.
Kathy has also published widely in respect to young people's electoral and political participation. In particular, she has questioned that young people can or should simply be 'educated' towards participatory virtues through Civics and Citizenship education. Instead, she has situated this participation in a broader policy context, considering the effects of neoliberal employment, welfare and housing policies on young people's capacity to participate. She has argued that whilst young people are chastised for a lack of participatory and civic virtue that the state effectively places barriers to their political engagement. In investigating social inclusion, she has argued that social inclusion needs to be rigorously interrogated because it runs the risk either being an empty policy vessel or one that supports neoliberal policies that detrimentally affect young people.
Kathy's emerging research interests intersect with youth and gender (women) as well as her teaching over the last ten years in youth work. These include the experiences of young people in care and workforce sustainability in the human services sector. In particular, she is interested in researching workplace health with respect to compassion fatigue, burnout and and their impact on turnover.
Kathy has over ten years experience teaching and coordinating courses in youth work at the RMIT. Currently, she teaches in a range of courses in the Social Work and Human Services Cluster. In the Youth Work and Youth Studies program, she introduces students to youth studies in 'Youth Studies One: Theories, Trends and Development and guides students to produce a capstone project in 'Youth Futures and Wicked Problems'. Her passion for policy is reflected in her teaching in 'Policy, Praxis and Programs' and also 'Public Policy', a course taken by students across the Social Work and Human Services cluster.
As a long-time social activist, Kathy brings a strong commitment to social justice for all to both her teaching and research. She also focuses on bridging the gap between theory and practice, exploring social issues using a theoretical lens and using theory to contextualise, illustrate and explain social issues. In her teaching, she is committed to active learning and on imparting broader-based skills such as critical thinking and the 'how-to' as well as the 'what' aspects of learning.
Kathy has supervised a range of honours theses including on topics as diverse as policy approaches to prostitution, workplace violence, youth participation and de-colonising youth work.
PhD UNSW (Political Science), 2000
BA (Hons) (Politics) University of Adelaide, 1989
BA University of Adelaide, 1988
Kathy is a long-time member of the YACVic Policy Advisory Committee. Her expertise in youth policy has also been recognised by her selection to attend the UN-Backed First Global Forum on Youth Policies in 2015. She is a member of the International Editorial Committee for the Journal of Applied Youth Studies.
- Edwards, K.,Shaafee, I. (2018). Youth Work as a Colonial Export: Explorations From the Global South In: The SAGE Handbook of Youth Work Practice, Sage Publications Limited, London, United Kingdom
- Manning, N.,Edwards, K. (2014). Why has civic education failed to increase young people's political participation? In: Sociological Research Online, 19, 1 - 12
- Manning, N.,Edwards, K. (2014). Does civic education for young people increase political participation? A systematic review In: Educational Review, 66, 22 - 45
- Edwards, K. (2012). Political Socialisation In: Contemporary Politics in Australia: Theories, Practices and Issues, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, Australia
- Carson, L.,Edwards, K. (2011). Prostitution and sex trafficking: What are the problems represented to be?: A discursive analysis of law and policy in Sweden and Victoria, Australia In: Australian Feminist Law Review, 34, 63 - 87
- Edwards, K. (2010). Social inclusion: Is this a way forward for young people, and should we go there? In: Youth Studies Australia, 29, 16 - 24
- Edwards, K. (2010). Beyond the blame game: Examining 'the discourse' of youth participation in Australia In: Proceedings of the Future of sciology, Canberra, ACT, 1-4 December 2009
- Edwards, K. (2009). Disenfranchised not 'deficient': How the (Neoliberal) state disenfranchises young people In: Australian Journal of Social Issues, 44, 23 - 37
- Edwards, K. (2008). Social inclusion and youth participation: A new deal for Australia's young people? In: Youth Studies Australia, 27, 11 - 17
- Edwards, K. (2007). Force us to be free! The motivation of Australian school students for compulsory enrolment and voting In: Youth and Political Participation, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Australian youth work education: curriculum renewal and a model for sustainability for niche professions. Funded by: Australian Learning & Teaching Council from (2010 to 2013)