Menu Close

Bernadette Saunders

Senior Lecturer Social Work, Monash University

Dr. Bernadette Saunders is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences. She teaches Human Rights, Law and Ethics, and The Child in Society – Promoting children’s well-being and responding to child maltreatment. Bernadette graduated from La Trobe University with a degree in Arts (Social Sciences). She then completed a Bachelor of Social Work degree at the University of Melbourne. She practised as a Social Worker at the Cancer Institute, Victoria, before completing a Diploma in Education and a Masters in Social Work (First Class Honours equivalence) at Monash University. She was then invited to join the Child Abuse & Family Violence Research Unit, Monash University, and took part in an Australian Research Council funded project on mandatory reporting of child abuse. She has been conducting research at Monash University in relation to childhood, children’s rights and child abuse since 1997, and was a Senior Research Fellow at Child Abuse Prevention Australia until recently. In 2005 she completed doctoral research funded by the Australian Research Council and The Australian Childhood Foundation as part of an Australian Post-Graduate Award (Industry). Her PhD research focused on legally sanctioned physical punishment of children, children’s rights, and the intergenerational transmission of family violence. Her current research projects include Legal Services Board (LSB) funded research in conjunction with the Faculty of Law at Monash on clarifying the boundaries of lawful correction of children, and LSB funded research exploring the Infringements System in Victoria and its impact on disadvantaged groups. She has published nationally and internationally on child abuse, risk assessment in child protection; language and children’s rights; child abuse and the media; and the physical punishment of children. Her book, 'Physical punishment in childhood: the rights of the child" was published by Wiley in 2010.


  • –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