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Associate Professor Sarah MacLean Associate Professor, Social Work & Social Policy

Much of my research concerns substance use and other dependency forming social practices such as gambling. I have a strong interest in how experiences of social and economic disadvantage and discrimination (for example as experienced by Indigenous people and people from sexual minorities) impact on, and are in turn affected by, these social practices. I use participatory and collaborative research methods to explore how public health policy and health promotion interventions can be designed to maximise the likelihood that effects will be positive, rather than harmful.

I completed my PhD in 2007, a study of the social meanings of inhalant use. I held an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2010-2014. During this period I was employed at the University of Melbourne and located at the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR). My postdoctoral research entailed an investigation of patterns of alcohol use in inner- and outer- suburban Melbourne and cultures that frame alcohol use among young adults. From April 2013 I was employed as Senior Research Fellow in Social Health Determinants in the Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit at the University of Melbourne. I was appointed as Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Social Work and Social Policy in October 2015. CAPR moved to La Trobe University at about the same time and I continue to work as part of the Centre.

While I have worked as an academic for the past decade, my earlier career was as a youth worker and senior public servant. This gives me a keen understanding of the importance of making research relevant and accessible to health, welfare and policy practitioners. Along with Professor Karen Willis I have been appointed as Editor-in-Chief of Health Sociology Review, 2019-2022.


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