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Bernadette Josephine Saunders

Associate Professor, Monash University

Dr. Bernadette Saunders is Associate Professor & Head of Social Work at Victoria University since September, 2022. She is an internationally recognized academic with post-graduate qualifications in Social Work and Education.

For 23 years, as a teaching and research Academic at Monash University, she engaged in the education of social workers, and in research and writing largely focusing upon injustices that have affected disadvantaged groups, especially children and young people. The role of law, language, and/or culture have been a key focus of her work. She coordinated the Master of Social Work from its inception at Monash in 2011 until 2018. She developed, coordinated, and taught Bachelor and Master of Social Work units, including “Human Rights, Law and Ethics”, “The Child in Society: Promoting Child Well-Being and Responding to Child Maltreatment”, and “Leadership & Groupwork”.

During this 23-year period, she passionately advocated, through research, publications, conference presentations, and media engagement, for law reform and for community and professionals’ education that recognises people’s human rights to dignity and protection from harm, especially the human rights of children and other disadvantaged people, such as people with ABI, drug and alcohol addictions, mental health issues, living with family violence, and also from ATSI backgrounds.

In 2010, Wiley UK published her book based on my PhD research, Physical Punishment in Childhood: The Rights of the Child. She has since co-edited two books and written chapters in other edited books, with colleagues in Social Work, Law, and Arts (Criminology).


  • –present
    Senior Lecturer, Social Work, Faculty Medicine Nursing & Health Sciences, Monash University
  • 2007–2011
    Senior Research Fellow - Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia, Monash University


  • 2005 
    Monash University, Doctor of Philosophy
  • 1996 
    Monash University, Master of Social Work
  • 1986 
    Monash University, Diploma in Education
  • 1982 
    University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Social Work
  • 1979 
    La Trobe University, Bachelor of Arts


  • 2011
    Saunders, B.J.&Cashmore, J."Australia: The Ongoing Debate About Ending Physical Punishment" , in J.Durrant & A. Smith (Eds) "Global Pathways to Abolishing Physical Punishment" Routledge
  • 2010
    Saunders, B.J. & Goddard,C. "Physical Punishment in Childhood: The Rights of the Child", Wiley