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Capability Statement


The Swinburne Institute for Social Research (The Swinburne Institute) is one of the largest social sciences and humanities research centres in Australia, with an international reputation for independent, innovative and timely work. Staff work across disciplines including economics, statistics, sociology, history, media studies, and political science. The Swinburne Institute links with researchers and policy-makers in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

The Swinburne Institute hosts a node of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation, and the Swinburne-Monash Research Centre of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI). It edits and publishes the web sites Australian Policy Online, Creative Economy and Inside Story.


The Swinburne Institute research makes connections across disciplines to address some of Australia’s most significant social and economic problems. Research is concentrated in four flagship areas:

  • Communication and Creativity
  • Sustainable Cities
  • Democracy and Justice
  • Technology, Economics and Society

Research staff at The Swinburne Institute command a strong profile in print and electronic media on issues including:

  • delivering sustainable and affordable housing and achieving social housing reform
  • finding solutions to youth and family homelessness
  • investigating the impact of broadband and Internet use on social, cultural and economic life
  • refugee and immigration policy
  • electoral reform, democratic process and state politics

The Swinburne Institute’s research is funded primarily by national competitive grants from the Australian Research Council.

Industry Involvement

The Swinburne Institute aims to meet the highest standards for research and scholarship, while working closely with partners in industry, the community and government at federal, state and local levels. Past and present clients include housing departments in all states and territories, Australian government departments (Education, Community and Family Services, Immigration) and agencies including the Australian Electoral Commission, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and CSIRO. The Swinburne Institute has partnerships with the Victorian Parliament, Victoria Police, the State Library of Victoria and state departments including Human Services, Justice and Education. We have worked closely with local government authorities across Australia and with commercial bodies. Partnerships from the non-profit and philanthropic sector include the Salvation Army, the Caledonia Institute, Anglicare,  Melbourne City Mission, Hanover Welfare Services, Oxfam, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Tenants Union of Victoria and InfoXchange.  International funders include the World Bank and the European Commission.


The Swinburne Institute is a thriving centre of postgraduate research. Currently The Swinburne Institute has 40 doctoral and masters research students, who participate in a lively research culture of seminars, reading groups, workshops and mentoring. Many co-write and co-research with senior scholars. The Swinburne Institute's staff teach in undergraduate and Honours courses in the social sciences and media. The Swinburne Institute also offers Australia's only national program for housing practitioners: the Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Masters coursework degree in Housing Management & Policy. Flexible delivery caters to part-time and distance students.

Recent Projects

  • Sustainability through socio-technical innovation - Explores supply side solutions to sustainability in relation to water, energy, material use and urban transport.
  • Counting the homeless - Tracks the number and kinds of homeless people across Australia over time. 
  • Rethinking housing submarkets - Examines the policy instruments available to social housing agencies.
  • Youthworx - The impact on at risk young people of working as producers in a youth-run community media station; the convergence between media diversity, innovation and new approaches to social problems. 
  • World Internet project - An international statistical study of patterns of Internet use over time.
  • The reinvention of indigenous media - Examines the activities of remote indigenous media organisations, exploring how community-based media are assisting with communications uptake and use at the local level, as well as Indigenous content development.
  • Social memory and historical justice - How the victimisation of minorities is publicly and collectively remembered in countries including Australia, New Zealand, the Ukraine, Spain, Austria, Germany, Peru and Mexico.
  • Migrant communities, security and policing - Research on relations between community policing and Vietnamese, African and other immigrant groups.
  • From research to manufacturing: networks and knowledge diffusion in Australian nanotechnology - A CSIRO funded project.

Key Contact
Prof Julian Thomas
Director, The Swinburne Institute for Social Research
Telephone: +61 3 9214 5466

Further Information

The Swinburne Institute for Social Research
Swinburne University of Technology
Level 1, Engineering West (EW) Building
Hawthorn, Victoria 3122, Australia
Telephone (general enquiries): +61 3 9214 8825
Fax: +61 3 9819 5349
Email (general enquiries):