Dr Kay Cook, Vice-Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow, reveals how welfare policies and laws are made.
TEXT ON SCREEN: Dr Kay Cook Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies. RMIT University logo.
AUDIO: Ambient music
VISUAL: Kay sitting in her office facing the camera.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: I grew up in Melbourne and did my undergraduate degree in Melbourne and then I went to Canada to do my masters degree in the Centre for Health Promotion Studies.
VISUAL: A shot from above Swanston Street looking down at RMIT buildings, intercut with a shot of Bowen st with people walking.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: I've really enjoyed coming back to a university that's in the heart of the city. It's been great, it's a much more vibrant campus that where I've been previously and you really notice that it is connected.
VISUAL: Side-profile shot of Kay speaking in her office, intercut with Kay looking directly at the camera.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: My research focuses on families and society and how our current policies impact on families and children. The particular policies that I'm looking at are things that affect...
VISUAL: Shot of suburban street with a graffiti covered wall, intercut with scenes of mothers and children walking down a street lined with cafes. Cuts back to Kay speaking from her office.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS:... mainly disadvantaged families. So the welfare to work reforms for single parents, child support policies. We look a mainly qualitative data so people's experiences of policies and we also look at the policy making process and what interests are being served and how different gender roles featured in the policy making process and how different understandings of families were reflected in policy.
VISUAL: Kay speaking from her office, intercut with a scene from an automotive workshop showing a mechanic working with a hoisted vehicle.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: What we see is whether it's childcare, the welfare to work reforms for single parents, child support policy is that there's a normalising of gender roles where it's assumed that both men and women can participate equally as income earners and carers.
VISUAL: Returns to Kay speaking from her office, intercut with shots of people walking down a suburban shopping strip.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: Whereas what we find in reality in people's experiences is that it is a very gendered pattern of behaviour where it is mainly the mothers that are conducting care-giving activities and mainly fathers that are participating in the economic activities.
VISUAL: Returns to Kay speaking from her office, alternating between front-on and side profile camera shots of Kay.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: But there's tensions when the policies have expectations that people can do both roles unproblematically where there's a lot more barriers for women to participate in employment and a lot more barriers for men to undertake carers roles. It was great to receive the VC's fellowship...
VISUAL: A shot from inside RMIT’s SAB building looking out towards Swanston Street, intercut with a shot of a balcony with the RMIT logo, intercut with a fast-motion shot of RMIT on Swanston street with pedestrian and traffic activity.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: ...It really provided me with an opportunity to focus on my research and come to an institution where practical and applied applications are a strong focus, where I can connect with other people doing similar types of work and really be connected with policy makers and local agencies.
VISUAL: Kay speaking from her office, intercut with various shots of Kay walking up sets of stairs and chatting with colleagues. Cuts back to Kay speaking from her office, intercut with Kay chatting with another colleague.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: The research culture at RMIT has been very supportive. I've come to the Centre of Applied social Research. There are a number of academics who have very strong connections with government and with industry and I've been able to partner with those people to attract significant grants that are making a real difference in policy and community terms.
VISUAL: Returns to Kay speaking from her office, intercut with slightly out of focus shots of mothers and children walking down a suburban shopping strip and other suburban streets.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: What I like best about my current role is that I'm able to, I have complete control over what I want to research and these positions allow us to focus on problems that affect people who don't have a voice in society and we're able to focus our research attention on problems that can have real practical benefits to people who might not otherwise have access to the policy making process.
VISUAL: Returns to Kay speaking from her office, intercut with shots of Kay drinking coffee at an outdoor café with a colleague. Fade to white.
DR KAY COOK SPEAKS: The Vice-Chancellor's fellowships have really provided great assistance with the research program. They come with a bursary that is designed to allow the fellows to travel and to connect with other academics both in Australia and overseas. And I've been able to use those funds to establish an international network of child support scholars and we're going to bring international academics out to Canberra later this year to hold a ten year review of Australian child support policy making. And it's all been achieved because of the support that I've had through the fellowships program. And in a year I've been able to more at RMIT than in my previous seven years at my previous institution.
TEXT ON SCREEN: Find out more at www.rmit.edu.au/research/research-fellowship-schemes. RMIT University logo.
[End of Transcript]
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