About

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. 

As an Associate Professor in Social Work and Human Services at James Cook University, Debra’s research focuses on highlighting issues of disadvantage and discrimination, and finding ways to improve and strengthen the response 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 opportunites for social work students including international exchange, internships and practicums in India and Thailand.  Building on  these experiences, Debra 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 has developed the content of subjects focused on human rights, social policy and working with children and families as well as mentoring students in subjects that develop their interpersonal and counselling skills.  She is also active in a range of organisations which champion social justice issues and respond to disadvanatge in the community.  Her involvement includes past leadership roles with the Ruby Geia Rape Crisis Service, Dawn House Women's Shelter,  Townsville Women's Centre and a current involvement with Althea Projects. She is the conveneor of the annual Social Justice lecture which has welcomed popular and esteemed speakers such as Caroline Overington., Trent Dalton, Professor Lena Dominelli and Professor Brendan Edgeworth.

Teaching
  • WC2001: Australian Women's Studies (Level 2; TSV)
  • WS1005: Human Rights and Social Justice (Level 1; TSV)
  • WS2008: International Exchange (Level 2; TSV)
  • WS3027: Social Welfare Practice with Children and Families (Level 3; TSV)
  • WS4504: Field Education 2 (Level 4; CNS & TSV)
  • WS5005: Social Policy Analysis (Level 5; TSV)
  • WS5605: Advanced Social Work Practicum (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
Interests
Professional
  • Foster Care and Child Protection
  • Disadvantage and Homelessness
  • Women's Services
Research
  • Violence against Women
  • Womens experience in and after prison
  • International Social Work
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and experiences of racism and discrimination
Teaching
  • Human Rights and Social Justice
  • Child and Family Welfare
  • Social Policy
  • International Exchange
Experience
  • 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)
Honours
Awards
  • 2015 - Advisory Panel of the Year Award
  • 2013 - Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
  • 2012 - JCU Award for Excellence - Partnerships and Collaboration
Publications

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
Conference Papers
More

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 46+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Debra Miles from 1998 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Menzies School of Health Research - Ext_Source: NHMRC Grant 1078927 CRE IQI

Strengthening community-led partnerships to improve Indigenous health and well-being

Indicative Funding
$6,363
Summary
This project aims to strengthen community-led partnerships (CLPs) to improve Indigenous health and well-being using CQI processes. The seed funding will be utilised in bringing together leaders of existing community-led partnerships, and visits with leaders of other identified CLPs, with the aim of identifying and documenting the strengths of existing community-led partnerships, and exploring how CQI processes can improve, support or accelerate best practice in community-led partnerships.
Investigators
Komla Tsey, Cindy Woods, Ines Zuchowski and Debra Miles (College of Arts, Society & Education and The University of New England)
Keywords
Indigenous Health Services; Interagency relations; Health Services; quality Improvement; Indigenous Populations

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
Summary
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.
Investigators
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)
Keywords
Social Work; International student exchange; Internationalisation; Social Work Education; Curriculum Design
Supervision

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.

Current
  • Domestic and Family Violence Perpetrator Interventions - How Successful Are They? (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Social Adjustment Beyond Teenage Motherhood: Navigating Life Stages and Issues of Identity into Adulthood (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Women's Experiences of the Family Violence Intervention Order Process Across Rural, Regional and Metropolitian Victoria (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • 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)
  • Working for the welfare: Exploring the experiences of Indigenous child protection workers (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
Completed
Collaboration

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 Nonie Harris
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  2. Dr Ines Zuchowski
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  3. Dr Narayan Gopalkrishnan
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  4. Dr Peter Jones
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