Human Security and Social Change

Human Security and Social Change

Participants at an Australia Awards reintegration workshop run by the Institute undertaking 'The Marshmallow Challenge'.


This Disciplinary Research Program (DRP) forms the research component of La Trobe University's Institute for Human Security and Social Change (IHSSC) - a 'one stop shop' for La Trobe's engagement with the international development sector, as well as a hub for La Trobe's research and teaching in this area.

The Institute focuses on the following key themes:

  • the role and effectiveness of governments and non-state actors (civil society, NGOs and community level structures, and informal networks and coalitions) in promoting development, and how greater participation, equity and inclusion might be fostered
  • how development leaders emerge, and the role of attitudes, values and ideas in development leadership
  • the role of collective action and coalitions with a particular emphasis on gender inequality
  • the implications of the above for aid programming and international cooperation.
Human Security and Social Change

Gillian Fletcher, Chris Roche and Dennis Altman facilitating a dialogue at the Australia Awards Mid Year Celebration.

2015 Projects

The DRP supported five projects in 2015 which involved:

  • Research on rights-based disability with people with spinal cord injury and related neurological disabilities in Pacific Island countries
  • Funding a Progressive Social Change Research Award for a student at the Centre for Social and Creative Media (University of Goroka, Papua New Guinea)
  • Research with International NGOs on Transformational Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Work with DFAT supported programs in the Pacific on thinking and working politically, and strategic Monitoring and Evaluation
  • DECRA application support and communication, and outreach activities of the Institute.

Partners, Industry, Community links and Cooperation

The DRP's research projects and funding for communications and outreach activities has allowed the Institute to build a diverse range of connections and partnerships with:

  • Government (DFAT, Department of Community Health)
  • International NGOs (Oxfam, Action Aid, Caritas Australia, Australian Red Cross, Australian Volunteers International, Motivation Australia) and their Peak Body (the Australian Council for International Development)
  • Local NGOs in Myanmar and the Pacific (with Paung Ku, the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, and the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Fiji)
  • Multilateral bodies (WHO)
  • Universities in Australia and Internationally (Monash, ANU, University of Birmingham, University College London, University of Sussex, Massey, University of Goroka, PNG, Bayreuth University).

Public activities

  • Our work on Transformational Development and the Sustainable Development Goals resulted in invitations to:
    • present our results to Oxfam International CEOs and Board Directors on 'the Future of International NGOs' on 25 March 2015
    • design and facilitate a workshop for the Australian Council For International Development (ACFID) on Changing the world and Changing Ourselves on 3 June 2015
    • run a workshop and present findings to 80 participants at the ACFID National conference on Innovation in International Development in Sydney on 15 October 2015
    • talk to the Civil Society Network at DFAT on 6 October 2015.
  • Raul Sanchez Urribari's research on Informal Networks in Non-Western Judiciaries in Comparative Perspective resulted in a two-day workshop in late March 2015 to explore the role of informal networks and "clientelism" in judiciaries of the non-Western world.
  • Our collaboration with DFAT and research on developmental leadership led to requests for us to:
    • Provide support to the DFAT Australia Awards scheme, running two workshops on Developmental Leadership for returning scholars on 2 June and 29 June, 2015
    • Design and deliver a development 'master-class' for the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre, for emerging journalists as part of their development fellowship in April 2015.


Chris Roche, Director of the Institute for Human Security