Debra Miles is committed to social justice, inclusion and collaboration and it is these principles that inform and guide her research and teaching foci at James Cook University. Debra has significant professional experience as a social worker in child protection, family violence and the disability sector, and has worked in a range of regional communities across northern Australia including Rockhampton, Townsville and Darwin. 

Debra’s research focuses on highlighting issues of disadvantage and discrimination, and finding ways to improve and strengthen the responses to these issues.  Bringing a critical feminist lens to research analysis, Debra’s previous projects have included examining the response of feminist organisations to family violence and sexual assault, highlighting the experience of racism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and practitioners, evaluating intensive family support programs and improving the learning experience of students in distance and online education settings.  

Committed to enhancing student engagement in intercultural learning and global citizenship Debra has actively developed a range of global mobility opportunities for social work students including international exchange, internships and practicums in India and Thailand.  Building on  these experiences, Debra's latest research project examined best practice in international student exchange and was funded by the Office of Learning and Teaching from 2015-2017.   As project leader, Debra managed a large team of national and international collaborators to develop a set of guiding principles and useful resources to guide educators and others involved in facilitating students international experiences.  Informing the development of these resources was the unique and rarely-heard voice of international hosts of students on exchange and a critical, post-colonial framework aimed at maximizing transformative learning. 

Debra teaches in the undergraduate and postgraduate social work programs at James Cook University in subjects that reflect her commitment to social justice and inclusive practice.   She is also active in a range of organisations which champion social justice issues and respond to disadvantage in the community. 

  • WC2001: Australian Women's Studies (Level 2; TSV)
  • WS1005: Human Rights and Social Justice (Level 1; TSV)
  • WS2008: International Exchange (Level 2; TSV)
  • WS2512: Organisational Practice (Level 2; TSV)
  • WS3027: Social Welfare Practice with Children and Families (Level 3; TSV)
  • WS4504: Field Education 2 (Level 4; CNS)
  • WS5605: Advanced Social Work Practicum (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • Foster Care and Child Protection
  • Disadvantage and Homelessness
  • Women's Services
  • Violence against Women
  • International Social Work
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and experiences of racism and discrimination
  • Human Rights and Social Justice
  • Child and Family Welfare
  • Social Policy
  • International Exchange
  • 2000 to 2018 - Social Work Academic, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 1995 to 2000 - Social Work Academic, Charles Darwin University (Darwin, Northern Territory)
  • 1993 to 1994 - Social Worker, Women and Children's Hospital (Townsville)
  • 1985 to 1988 - Social Worker, Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services (Queensland)
  • 1980 to 1985 - Social Worker, Child Protection (Townsville & Rockhampton, Queensland)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2015 - Advisory Panel of the Year Award
  • 2013 - Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
  • 2012 - JCU Award for Excellence - Partnerships and Collaboration
  • 2018 - Research Fellow, Cairns Institute
  • 2018 - International Education Australia Association
  • 2012 - Austrlaian Association of Social Workers
  • 2010 - Australian New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education and Research

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 49+ research outputs authored by Prof Debra Miles from 1998 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Office for Learning and Teaching - Innovation and Development Grant

International Social Work Student Exchange: Facilitating Good Practice in Australia and Asia Pacific

Indicative Funding
$388,000 over 2 years
Using collaborative and inclusive processes, this project will draw on data from Australian social work education providers and their international partners, to document and analyse current international student exchange practices, highlighting key issues and constraints. Merging this data with a critical literature review, the project will synthesise the knowledge created to develop transferable best-practice models in international student exchange. Focusing on enhancing relationships with the Asia-Pacific, this project aims to document, analyse, develop and disseminate exemplary practices in international social work student exchange. The project will contribute significantly to the development of mutually beneficial international student exchange programs and will support Australian tertiary educators to integrate evidence-led, transferable, good -practice principles into core curricula.
Debra Miles, Nonie Harris, Peter F Jones, Abraham Francis, Narayan Gopalkrishnan and Ines Zuchowski in collaboration with Hurriyet Babacan, Julie King, S Rajeev, Piyachat and Linda Briskman (College of Arts, Society & Education, The University of New England, Queensland University of Technology, De Paul Institute of Science & Technology, Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University and Swinburne University of Technology)
Social Work; International student exchange; Internationalisation; Social Work Education; Curriculum Design

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Exploring the diversity of social work practice responses to domestic violence against women (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Social Adjustment Beyond Teenage Motherhood: Navigating Life Stages and Issues of Identity into Adulthood (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • The Search for Counsellor's Professional Identity: A Singapore Study (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Understanding and Developing Appropriate Service Responses for Aboriginal Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Children and Young People in out of home care, connectedness and incarcerated parents. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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Similar to me

  1. A/Prof Abraham Francis
    College of Arts, Society & Education
  2. A/Prof Nonie Harris
    College of Arts, Society & Education
  3. Dr Ines Zuchowski
    College of Arts, Society & Education
  4. Dr Narayan Gopalkrishnan
    College of Arts, Society & Education
  5. Dr Peter Jones
    College of Arts, Society & Education