School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications
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The association between COVID-19, personal wellbeing, depression, and suicide risk factors in Australian autistic adults
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the world's population, with particularly negative effects on vulnerable populations, including autistic people. Although some consensus regarding specific impact on aspects of wellbeing and mental health in autism is starting to emerge, it is unclear whether the pandemic has increased suicide risk. The goals of this study were to examine (a) potential associations between COVID-19 impact and depression, personal wellbeing, and suicide risk factors in Australian autistic adults and (b) age and gender effects. The COVID-19 Impact Scale (CIS), Personal Wellbeing Index, Patient Health Questionnaire, and the Suicide Behavior Questionnaire, Revised (SBQ-R), were administered to 111 autistic adults aged 20 to 71 years during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. COVID-19 impact showed small associations with poorer personal wellbeing (r = -0.224, p = 0.023, [-0.409, -0.016]) and higher depressive symptoms (r = 0.268, p = 0.006, [0.056, 0.445]) and was not associated with the SBQ-R suicide risk score (r = 0.081, p = 0.418, [-0.118, 0.264). No significant effects were identified for age. Although model results were similar for women and men, the strength of the associations between personal wellbeing and depression (z = -2.16, p = 0.015), and depression and SBQ-R suicide risk (z = 1.961, p = 0.025), were stronger in women than in men. Qualitative analysis of an open response question from the CIS suggested that the pandemic had both positive and negative impacts on participants. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a large impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the world's population, particularly vulnerable populations such as autistic people. It is not known if these impacts on mental health and wellbeing have increased suicide risk. Our findings suggest that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may be associated with poorer wellbeing and higher depression, but is not associated with suicide risk. Overall, autistic people reported both positive and negative impacts of the pandemic on their lives.
Re-Feminizing Death: Gender, Spirituality and Death Care in the Anthropocene
Critiques of ecologically harmful human activity in the Anthropocene extend beyond life and livelihoods to practices of dying, death, and the disposal of bodies. For members of the diffuse ‘New Death Movement’ operating in the post-secular West today, such environmental externalities are symptomatic of a broader failure of modern death care, what we refer to here as the ‘Death Industrial Complex’. According to New Death advocates, in its profit-driven, medicalised, de-ritualized and patriarchal form, modern death care fundamentally distorts humans’ relationship to mortality, and through it, nature. In response, the Movement promotes a (re)new(ed) way of ‘doing death’, one coded as spiritual and feminine, and based on the acceptance of natural cycles of decay and rebirth. In this article, we examine two examples from this Movement that demonstrate how the relationship between death, religion, and gender is re-configured in the Anthropocene: the rise of death doulas as alternates to funeral directors and the invention of new necro-technologies designed to transform the dead into trees. We ask how gender is positioned within the attempt to remake death care, and show how, for adherents of the New Death Movement, gender is fundamental both to a critique of the Death Industrial Complex and to mending our distorted relationship to death. By weaving together women, nature, and spirituality, the caring labours of death doulas and the fertility symbolism of new arboreal necro-technologies build an alternative model of a good death in the Anthropocene, one premised on its (re)feminization.
Separatism as a Mode of Relations: Practicing Indigenous Resurgence and Nationhood in the 21st Century
This chapter argues that a politics focused on reorganising Indigenous-settler relations to facilitate Indigenous autonomy and separatism is not beyond imagining. Indigenous peoples have contested colonial domination since the first invasion of this continent began, struggling to regain and sustain their independence from settler authority and control in ways that have come to define Indigenous movements. While a focus on national politics, and particularly on changing the policies of the federal government, was a feature of much of the twentieth century, more recently there has been a profound shift in emphasis. In response to the seeming imperviousness of settler structures and institutions, there has been a growing call for Indigenous people to turn away from hostile political environments in favour of decolonising programs focused on local, place-based politics and cultural rejuvenation. This chapter examines some of what is happening in contemporary Indigenous separatist moves in Australia—moves that will inevitably reshape Indigenous-settler relations in profound ways. It argues that the ability for Indigenous peoples to live genuinely self-determining lives will depend on a careful disentangling of Indigenous and settler modes of governance, combined with extensive work to reconstitute Indigenous jurisdiction, decision-making and control.
Evaluating the effectiveness of KooLKIDS: An interactive social emotional learning program for Australian primary school children
The effectiveness of universal social emotional learning (SEL) programs are dependent on the incorporation of best practice principles, including an evaluative component. In the present study, the effects of a best practice, teacher-led SEL program was examined with 854 children aged 8–12 years. KooLKIDS uses an interactive multimedia format and animated character to help children develop their emotion regulation capacities, social and friendship skills, empathy and compassion for others, and self-esteem. A quasi-experimental waitlist-control design was used to examine the impact of KooLKIDS on social and emotional competence, behavioral and emotional problems, academic achievement and effort. Hierarchical linear modeling demonstrated significant increases in social and emotional competence, and reductions in internalizing and externalizing problems in children post KooLKIDS program in the intervention group. The findings suggest that KooLKIDS has strong potential as a teacher-led, classroom-based, structured program for enhancing children's social and emotional learning.
Indigenous family life in Australia: A history of difference and deficit
Indigenous family life has been a key target of family and child policies in Australia since colonisation. In this paper, we identify four main policy eras that have shaped the national and state policy frameworks that have impacted Indigenous families: the protectionism, assimilation, self‐determination and neoliberalism eras. Our analysis of these national and state policy frameworks reveals an enduring and negative conceptualisation of Indigenous family life. This conceptualisation continues to position Indigenous families as deficient and dysfunctional compared with a white, Anglo‐Australian family ideal. This contributes to the reproduction of paternalistic policy settings and the racialised hierarchies within them that entrench Indigenous disempowerment and reproduce Indigenous disadvantage. Further, it maintains a deficit paradigm that continues to obfuscate the positive aspects of Indigenous family life that are protective of Indigenous well‐being.
From Friction to Free Trade Negotiations: Australia's Engagement with the European Union
Following decades of skirmishes, Australia's relationship with the European Union (EU) has finally come of age. With the commencement of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, the outlook is promising for enhanced cooperation. Yet there are distinctive— and at times diverging— hierarchies of interests. This article argues that, although the EU and Australia regard each other as like‐minded partners, their interests and domestic pressures do not necessarily denote comprehensive convergence. This is due to the burden of memory, divergent concerns and values, some mutual neglect and an element of mutual misunderstanding.