Economic and Social Participation

Participation in work, education and social networks is essential for healthy individuals and communities. The Economic and Social Participation Hallmark Research Initiative (ESPRIt) investigated how participation in social, economic and political institutions can be enabled across the life span – and how to achieve this in a way that is equitable and unaffected by an individual’s age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnic or racial background.


The Economic and Social Participation Hallmark Research Initiative was established in 2017, with funding from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research for three years. Professors Guyonne Kalb and Belinda Hewitt, former Initiative co-Chairs, remain involved with an active community of researchers in this field at the University.

Research into social and economic participation often takes place within disciplines and faculties. Instead, ESPRIt coordinated research efforts to create interdisciplinary research partnerships – both across and outside the University – to generate new knowledge and insights.

ESPRIt identified a range of different lenses through which economic and social participation could be examined, including: the individual; the family; sub-populations; built environment; public policy. These lenses were used as the framework for research efforts facilitated by the initiative. Cutting across these research areas are themes of gender, ethnicity, discrimination, social inclusion and wellbeing.

At the end of the Hallmark in 2020, a video was produced including interviews with the co-chairs and several ESPRIt seed funding recipients about the benefits and difficulties of interdisciplinary collaborations, and the role ESPRIt has played in facilitating this.


The ESPRIt Hallmark supported a wide range of activities that were designed to bring researchers from diverse backgrounds across the university together to investigate the issues.  The initiative had a very strong focus on facilitating and advancing the research of Early Career Academics.

Activities that were supported or funded included networking events, a seminar series, round tables with stakeholders and an annual seed funding rounds which funded 16 projects.

Our events and seed funding have supported successful research projects funded by the Australian Research Council and collaborations with a range of stakeholders such as, the Victorian Department of Education, and VicHealth.

Funded Projects

ESPRIt conducted three annual rounds of seed funding which was awarded to the following projects.

Identity, community and social participation: What do these have to do with the art and science of practicing together? (2019) A study with Sci Curious, Science Gallery Melbourne, by Kathryn Coleman, Niels Wouters, Jenny Martin, Lea Campbell and Sarah Healy

Causes and legacy of historical frontier violence in Australia (2019)
By Cain Polidano, Julie Moschion and Michael Rigby

Towards an optimal employment strategy for people seeking asylum and refugees in Victoria (2019)
By Victor Sojo, Mladen Adamovic, Michelle Stratemeyer, Karen Block, Olivia Dun and Charlene Edwards

Myth busting and number crunching: the disability pay gap (2019)
By George Disney, Zoe Aitken, Shelley Mallet and Anne Kavanagh

Gender diversity narratives in the Australian context (2018)
By Holly Lawford-Smith, Cordelia Fine and Victor Sojo

Reaching full potential: identifying sexual and reproductive health services for young people in Australia (2018)
By Humaira Maheen, Meghan Bohren, Sarah Khaw and Cathy Vaughn and Celia McMichael

A socio-economic exploration of Melbourne's African migrants: public housing as an incubator (2018)
By Sandra Carrasco Mansilla, Majdi Faleh, Andrea Cook and Ashleigh Haw

Using machine learning to examine neighbourhood characteristics associated with physical function (2018)
By Jerome Rachele, Jasper Wijnands, Haifeng Zhao, Bec Bentley and Mark Stevenson

Stigma and segregation: investigating attitudes towards public housing in rapidly changing neighbourhoods in Melbourne (2017)
By Katrina Raynor, Camilo Ordóñez and Laura Panza

Theoretical explanations for socioeconomic inequalities in multi-morbidity among adults (2017)
By Ankur Singh, Tania King, Emily You and Diana Contreras Suarez

Does more information result in better health care choices? Evidence from NBN expansion in Australia (2017)
By Gideon Aschwanden, Arezou Zaresani and Diana Contreras Suarez

Text selection in the senior English curriculum (2017)
By Alexander Bacalja and Lauren Bliss

First published on 3 May 2022.

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