Politics and Technology

Panel Discussion

The impact of technology on politics and of politics on technology is profound.  Drawing on a range of disciplinary perspectives, this panel discussion will explore a number of areas (some obvious some not so obvious) where politics and technology intersect. 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com


  • Dr Chris Agius (Security-technology nexus)
  • Dr Damon Alexander (Analogue politics in a digital age)
  • Dr Belinda Barnet (Regulating Google)
  • Dr Rob Hoffman (Online democracy and voting)
  • Dr James Murphy (Politics and automation)
  • Assoc Prof Lorenzo Veracini (Digital natives)

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Australian Politics in the Age of Pandemic

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges for Australia as a political community.

On Thursday 4 June 2020, an expert panel of Swinburne social sciences academics discuss the implications for public policy, foreign affairs and democracy, along with an open Q&A.

Panel members:

  • Prof Mike Leach (comparative responses in the Asia-Pacific)
  • Assoc Prof Kay Cook (gendered public policy responses)
  • Dr Belinda Barnet (the future of work and social culture)
  • Dr Chris Agius (security implications)
  • Dr Andrew Peters (indigenous policy implications)
  • Dr Damon Alexander (scientific expertise in public policy)
  • Dr Kerry Ryan (conspiracy theory and social media regulation)
  • Dr Rob Hoffman (elections and democracy)

Postgraduate Training & Seminars 2020

The Faculty and School will hold several training sessions and seminars during 2020. The dates and topics for these are listed below. If you need further advice or support contact Dr Carolyn Beasley.

Training in the School of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (curated by Jessica Balanzategui):

26 February: Planning and scheduling annual research goals

26 March: Getting the most out of your supervisor

29 April: Publishing with your supervisor

26 May: Academic CVs and Interviews

25 June: Defining your methods

29 July: Dealing with Traumatic Materials

26 August: What Examiners Want

30 September: Powering towards a full thesis draft

28 October: Exploring grants and other funding avenues: How to make a start

11 November: Self-gardening as a PhD student (date may change)

24 November: Building a research profile and publication strategies


Seminar Series: 

First Monday of Month in Semesters – Screen Studies Seminar Series AS324 and Trivia at the Lido Cinema

Monthly (Wednesday 3-5pm) – Practice-Led Research Seminar Series – AS324


Monthly from March (Tuesdays 3-5pm) – Training or Themed Presentation Seminar – AS324

CUT and CTMT also run their own training and presentation series.


Faculty of Health, Arts and Design (FHAD) Events

FHAD HIT SUBMIT – 12 week journal article writing program – Tuesday 1-3 from first week of March. Runs semester 1 and 2.

FHAD Thesis Bootcamp – late November

FHAD Student Conference – first week of November

FHAD Shut up and Write Retreats


FHAD Research Training

11 February – AMDC level 5

9.30-10.20 the language of a thesis (academic writing)

10.30-12.00 literature reviews and Nvivo


12.30-1.20 Systematic reviews

1.30 pm – 2.20 Research Design – Epistemological paradigms and case study 2.30 – 3.20 Research design – empirical project with a quantitative design

3.30 – 4.20 Research Design for theoretical projects


12 February – AMDC level 5

9.30-10.20 Future Proofing Your Research

10.30-11.20 Organising your Data and Thematic Data Analysis

11.30-12.20 Results/finding/discussions


13.30-14.20 Working with Traumatic materials

14.30-15.20 Pulling the threads together on your thesis

15.30-16.20 Publishing from your thesis


15 September (some topics may change)

9.30-10.20 Research design: validity and reliability

10.30-11.20 Linking Research Questions and methods

11.30-12.20 Introduction to qualitative research approaches


13.30-14.20 Strategies for qualitative data collection

14.30-15.20 Analysing qualitative data

15.30-16.20 The art of survey


16 September (some topics may change)

9.30-10.20 Qualitative Social media research methods

10.30-11.20 NVivo graphical tools for literature review

11.30-12.20 The basics of Open Science


13.30-14.20 Integrating practice-based research

14.30-15.20 How to write an impactful data report

15.30-16.20 Literature reviews


VPIP 2019 Graduation

By Damon Alexander

On Monday November 25th students from five universities, including Swinburne, graduated from the Victorian Parliamentary Internship Program. Presiding officers, Legislative Assembly Speaker Colin Brooks and Legislative Council President Shaun Leane presented the interns with their graduation certificates during a ceremony held in Queens Hall, Parliament House.

The program, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2020 has hosted over 1,200 interns since its inception and provides students with a unique opportunity to contribute to the development of public policy and to observe the political process from up close. During the internship, students are placed with an MP and spend their time compiling a research report exploring a topic developed in consultation with their host and an academic supervisor. The internship runs across the full semester and is equivalent to a 25-credit point unit.

This semester, six students from Swinburne (Ged Shearer, Gabby Henthorn, Georgia Lloyd, Freya Fajgman, Rhyce Morton and Jesse Forde) participated in the program along with six students from La Trobe and six from Australian Catholic University.


Swinburne VPIP group-2019

The Presiding Officers’ Prize for most outstanding intern report by a Swinburne student in 2019 was awarded to Jesse Forde for his report: ‘A review of public transport access and patronage in Mount Waverley: growing into the future’, for Matt Fregon, MLA for Mount Waverley.


Jesse Ford


Special commendation was also made for Freya Fajgman’s report: ‘Investing in Melbourne’s western growth regions: the importance of the prioritisation of level crossing removal in Melton’, completed for Steve McGhie, MLA for Melton.

Freya Fajgman


Congratulations to Jesse, Freya and all our interns for 2019 for their exceptional work!  If you would like further information about the program, please contact Dr Damon Alexander at dtalexander@swin.edu.au


Rhys Morton


Georgia Lloyd


Ged Shearer


Gabby Henthorn

Fundraiser for Refugees

Staff and students in Swinburne’s Department of Social Sciences are raising funds for refugees with a screening of The Staging Post: A story of refugee resilience.


The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia ‘stopped the boats’ and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution.

A real-life, real-time, multi-platform documentary. The Staging Post is about friendship, connection and the power of community.


Students on the 2019 Cultural Study Tour visited this inspiring school. They have come together to raise funds to thank the community and to raise funds for their work.

Join us on Thursday 7 November for this important event.

Tickets are available for $15 or $12 concession. Please purchase your tickets via Eventbride.

The Staging Post Documentary Screening
Thursday 7th Nov @ 6pm
tickets: $15/ $12 concession
tickets available through eventbrite
*All money raised will go directly to the refugee community in the documentary

Photo Essay: Cultural Study Tour

By Sayema Rezai

Third year student, Sayema Rezai, has put together a photo essay of her time on the Cultural Study tour led by Sal Clark and Kythera Watson-Bonnice. Hover over the photos to read the descriptions.



Baylis and Smith Prize

Every year we award the Baylis and Smith Prize to the best overall student in POL20010 International Relations and Security Studies. The prize is named in celebration of the leading text The Globalization of World Politics, which has become a standard textbook for international relations students. The winner gets a $150 Oxford University Press book voucher and a certificate. This year we are thrilled to announce that Adam Harris is the 2019 recipient. We asked Adam for his thoughts about security and international relations when he came in to show us the certificate (and endure the cheesy photo op!). Well done, Adam!

You’ve won this prize for POL20010 International Relations & Security Studies – so what do you think are the biggest security problems we face today? 

Having undertaken this unit, I probably feel more uncertain or rather, have more questions surrounding what our biggest security issues are within the international context. Although there are bigger, overarching global security problems we covered in the unit, my interest is pointed towards the shifting dynamic of powerful and emerging nation states. I believe the implications of this shifting dynamic will have an impact well and truly beyond the defence and economic concerns often associated with it.

What was your favourite topic in this unit, both theory-wise and in terms of case study?

My favourite topics covered in the unit would be Social Constructivism in week 5 as the theory element and also looking at the role of technological advancements in both security and insecurity in week 10. 

Although I’ve somewhat cemented myself into the more traditional theories of IR throughout my degree, Social Constructivism really stood as a theory that in my opinion, can benefit strategists and policy makers.

What books do you have your eye on from the OUP catalogue?

There’s a few books I have my eye set on from the OUP catalogue. One is Strategy in the Contemporary World by Baylis, Wirtz and Gray. Another that looks really interesting is Cyber Operations and the Use of Force in International Law by Marco Roscini. I think they’ll be my two choices.

What are you plans next? 

Further study is definitely an option I’m considering. As far as career options are concerned I’m hoping to enter either the government or defence sectors in some capacity. Having come from an electrical background, any new role I end up in will be new and exciting I’m sure.

The benefits of hands-on history

By Jack Rayner

Jack Rayner is a third year student of history at Swinburne University. In 2018, Jack joined the volunteer team at the Geoffrey Kaye Museum. His research contributed to a 2018 exhibition on early women doctors. The following is his account of that experience. It is reprinted from the Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA).

Why on Earth would someone want to lock himself in a room filled with dusty old books, archaic medical equipment, and little bottles of hazardous materials for a day a week?

The answer is, of course, that to be a historian requires looking the part.

With that in mind, I have recently joined the Geoffrey Kaye Museum as a volunteer, and have been tasked with helping the museum’s curator, Monica Cronin, with gathering resources and materials that we can use in a 2018 exhibition – The Rare Privilege of Medicine: Women anaesthetists in Australia and New Zealand. Looking into early women doctors and anaesthetists is by no means an easy undertaking. It has required digging into the past in a way that university has not prepared me for – how do you gather history on someone that history has largely forgotten? Luckily for me, the feats that many of these women achieved have forced the past to take notice. We are talking about war heroes, pioneers in maternal and pre-natal health, women’s rights activists and forces of personality who simply refused to take no for an answer.

Of all the women I have researched over the last month or so, there is one who strikes me as a particularly daunting figure. Mary De Garis graduated as the dux of the Melbourne Methodist Ladies’ College in 1898. Following the completion of a Bachelor of Medicine in 1904, a Bachelor of Surgery in 1905, in 1907 Mary De Garis finished her post-graduate studies at the University of Melbourne, becoming only the second woman in Victoria to graduate as a Doctor of Medicine (MD). Following the outbreak of war in 1914, Dr De Garis attempted to enlist as a doctor with the Australian Army. Despite an extensive and impressive resume, Dr De Garis was rejected on the grounds that women would only be allowed to enlist as nurses. Refusing to take no for an answer, she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service, an all-female organisation that attached itself to Entente forces and took in women rejected from serving their own countries. In her position as Chief Medical Officer of a hospital in Ostrovo, Macedonia, Dr De Garis oversaw the 200 bed facility with such determination and distinction that she was awarded the Medal of St Sava, 3rd class, by the Serbian government, a decoration reserved for those who provided meritorious service to the Serbian state.

Following the war, Dr De Garis became the first female medical practitioner in Geelong. She was instrumental in the construction of a maternity ward for the Geelong Hospital, named “De Garis House” in her honour. De Garis House is now part of the Geelong Private Hospital. Dr De Garis was also an accomplished author, with three books and 48 journal articles to her name.

The exhibition has an important part to play in highlighting and celebrating the often underappreciated achievements of these women, who, despite every obstacle and limitation in front of them, persisted until they got their way. While valuable as an interactive tool for the public, my research has also provided personal worth for myself as a student. By taking an interest in what is a largely unresearched field, I have been able to move away from the sometimes restrictive and stuffy field of academia and delve deeper into the personal stories of the women I am researching. While trends and forces, footnotes, citations, and bibliographies are all valuable and necessary tools, the ability to take a more subjective look at the source material in front of me is a perspective that academia is often missing.

Another point of particular interest for me is the opportunity I have had to interact with some of the objects that will become a part of the exhibition. The Geoffrey Kaye Museum is in possession of a Minnitt anaesthetic machine, owned by Dr De Garis and with the words “Dr. Mary C. De Garis.” emblazoned on the nameplate. The Minnitt machine was revolutionary for the time, as its portable design allowed for the relatively easy administration of pain-relief during home-births. In practice, this meant that pain-relief was now an option for poor and working-class women that could not go to hospitals during childbirth. Being able to view the artefact first-hand reinforces for me that Dr De Garis is not just a name or photograph in an old newspaper, but a person who helped to bring new life into the world.

Overall, my time at the Geoffrey Kaye Museum has been an informative one. It has shown me that there is more to history than books, and more to being a historian than writing them.

The Rare Privilege of Medicine: Women anaesthetists in Australia and New Zealand opened in March, 2018.

This is an edited post that was first published by the Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA).

Political Attitudes in Victoria

This survey asks you to think about your political attitudes in Victoria, particularly in Aboriginal affairs. It will take around 15 minutes to complete. No knowledge level on the topics are required and your participation is completely voluntary and anonymous. To be eligible for this survey, you have to be at least 18 years old and currently live in Victoria.  Feel free to spread the link around. Your time is very much appreciated! https://swinuw.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eLiQ1GZmybuOOmV

On Tour: The European Union

In addition to the Cultural Study Tour to Indonesia (check out some of their pics on Facebookand Instagram), Swinburne students have also been avoiding the cold in Italy. Travelling with Professor Bruno Mascitelli is a group of students taking the unit Understanding the European Union, and some photos from their trip are pasted below. You can find out more about this unit here. And study tours and exchange options here

Inside the dungeon of Castelbrando a 13th century castle owned by the former Honary Consul to Australia Massimo Colomban – 20 June 2019
The 2019 group going to Conegliano at the Castelbrando lookout – 20 June 2019
Lookout on to the village of Castelbrando – 20 June 2019
In the San Francesco study centre during a coffee break from class – 19 June 2019
In class on Understanding the European Union – listening to a video on the 20th anniversary of the Euro. – 19 June 2019
Inside the main hall of Castelbrando – 20 June 2019