Department of Sociology and Social Work

Practice Research Collaboratives at the 6th International Conference on Practice Research in Social Work 2023

Practice Research Collaboratives at the 6th International Conference on Practice Research in Social Work 2023

At the Melbourne 2021 practice research conference, several practice research collaboratives were launched. The collaboratives aim to make it possible for members of the collaborative to focus on specific practice research topics, to network in between conferences and to organize a half-day conference/symposium within the main conference. This part of the conference will take place on day one –  7 June at 9 am to 12 noon.

The collaborative conferences/symposium will be arranged by the collaboratives themselves and information – including a possible call for papers – will be announced by the collaborative.

Each collaborative must confirm its participation and send in an abstract of 500 words or less describing the main theme of the collaborative conference.

The five present collaboratives are:

► Research Impact, Translation & Influence

This group is about making an impact and directly influencing practice and eventually policy, along with forming alliances. The founders believe that for research to be relevant and make an impact and change, the results of the research need to directly relate and be relevant to issues facing practitioners in the field. This is an open discussion space for members to share their experiences, their challenges, successes, as well as failures, free of judgment.

Through the knowledge and experience of the members, this group hopes to develop models that focus on translating practice research back into practice, through focusing on practitioner and service user engagement. 

​​The founders of the collaborative, Ilse Julkunen and Lynette Joubert, possess a breadth of experience in the field of practice research. Lynette Joubert is a professor of social work at The University of Melbourne, with an overarching interest in the area of Practice Research. A main interest in practice research for Lynette is on formal and informal social networks and how these contribute to effectiveness and impact in social work practice. ​Ilse Julkunen is a Professor in Practice Research in Social Work at The University of Helsinki. Her interest in practice research stems from her background in comparative and evaluation research, primarily concerning youth and marginalisation and youth transitions. Ilse’s work has a strong emphasis on empowerment based methods, as she has found that better outcomes are achieved when working in collaboration with service users and other researchers.

Contact: Lynette Joubert,; Ilse Julkunen,

► Systemic Lens to Social Work Practice

The collaborative's main interest is to expand knowledge relating to systemic child welfare – what are the core skills of relationship-based and systemic social work? How can systemic social work be studied as an open and closed system? The group will focus on various systemic traditions and evolving systemic practices and theories and how they contribute to social work today. 

The ambition is to build an inspiring learning and sharing environment to support developments in systemic, empowering, critical social work thinking and practice. This collaborative will be about producing knowledge together, where the themes of the meetings will emerge from the diverse member’s research interests.

The is led by three researchers with extensive history in the field. Dr. Laura Yliruka has been active in practice research since 2008, and currently works at the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Finland, coordinating systemic practices in child welfare, as well as working at The University of Helsinki as a Practice Research lecturer. Dr. Kaarina Mönkkönen currently works as a senior lecturer of social work at The University of Eastern Finland, where she is interested in looking at practice research from a dialogical point of view. Dr Päivi Petrelius is a practice researcher and development coordinator. Her research interests focus on the development of a systemic professional agency, and collaboration in child welfare within a multi agency context . 

Contact: Laura Yliruka,

► Collaboration & Co-Creation with Service Users

The aim of the collaborative is to focus, discus and develop service user participation in practice research. The issue has been touched at all practice research conferences and will be the main topic for the 6th International Conference in Practice Research in Social Work in Aalborg, Denmark in 2023.

The topic needs ongoing discussions and development. Collaboration and co-creation are central parts of any kind of practice research. The collaboration between researchers and service users could, however, be one of the most challenging parts – especially if we include experiences from collaboration between social workers and service users in social work.

The collaboration between social workers and service users has been and still is both the most important and most difficult part of social work. The collaborative might be able to learn from social work – and social work might be able to learn from research. The idea of the group is for members to share experience from different regions and projects, to discuss issues, notions, barriers, and possibilities, maybe to write and present together – and naturally to include service users, service user organizations and practitioners in the discussion of the collaboration and co-creation. To make the discussions and meetings possible the collaborative will plan regular online meetings, webinars and conference workshops and symposiums whenever relevant.

The collaborative is led by professor Lars Uggerhøj, Aalborg University, Denmark. Lars has 50 years of experience in social work. He is a trained social worker and worked as such for 15 years. His research interest is service user experience and participation. Lars has been part of the international advisory board of practice research since it was established and has published several articles and book chapters about the topic.

Contact: Lars Uggerhøj,

► Organisational Supports for Practice Research

The collaborative is designed for those who are interested in sharing their experience and approaches to acquiring organisation support in both practice and university settings. The principal supports of interest comprise of research funding, senior management support, access to research respondents and participants, and finally, finding ways to engage practitioners and service users in research project design.

This collaborative will further focus on fostering international collaborative research, where members will be encouraged to develop the ongoing agenda. The collaborative will meet quarterly, with a potential goal of presenting at the next International Conference for Practice Research in Aalborg, Denmark in 2023.

The collaborative is led by Professor Michael J. Austin, School of Social Welfare at The University of California, Berkeley. Professor Austin has twenty five years’ experience engaging in practice research, and 50 years in academia, primarily in the areas of client-centered agency management, community organising, policy implementation, and strategic planning.

​Contact: Mike Austin,

​Setting Outcomes

Grahame’s interests focus on intervention research, with a particular emphasis on the efficacy and impact of social work interventions. Grahame’s Practice Research Collaborative is therefore focused on ‘Setting Outcomes to Evaluate Social Work Interventions’. There is a critical need to be able to effectively measure social work outcomes, as many of the areas that social workers intervene presently, do not possess effective measures.

Associate Professor Grahame Simpson is leading the collaborative. He has 35 years’ experience working as a social worker in Australia, working for 13 years in clinical practice, as well as part of the community rehabilitation team at the Liverpool Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit in Sydney. Grahame currently leads a multidisciplinary research program at the Liverpool Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, ensuring that all disciplines play a role in research within the field. 

The present collaborative members hold a rich degree of experience and plan on exploring the multidimensional nature of outcomes, the challenges they are currently facing in practice with the existing range of measures, and how they can create new measures to expand and improve outcomes in practice research.

Contact: Grahame Simpson,

Information for presenters
Proposals, abstracts and themes
Conference committees

The conference is supported by


If you have questions regarding the conference please use this email address:

Vat no.: 5798000420649 • P numbers; Aalborg: 1012066143, Copenhagen: 1018019139