Associate Professor Ruth Phillips

BA(UWA), BA(Hons)CommStudies(Murdoch), PhD(UNSW)

Associate Professor in Social Work and Policy Studies

Associate Dean Research Education (FASS)


Phone: +61 2 9351 6899

Fax: +61 2 9351 3783

Building.Room: A35.741

Research interests

Social structures, inequalities and social justice

  • Social change

Social work and social policy

  • Social policy
  • Third sector research

Professional biography

Before commencing her PhD at the University of New South Wales, Ruth was the principal policy officer in the Western Australia Department for Community Services (now Department for Community Development).

Prior to that she had worked in a range of policy positions in the WA state government. Since 2002, Ruth has been teaching full time at the University of Sydney in the undergraduate and postgraduate social work and social policy courses. She has also graduated and currently supervises a range of PhD students, in areas as diverse as:

  • Postcolonial feminist approaches to the role of informal education for 'subaltern' women
  • HIV AIDS and social work curricula in Taiwan
  • NGO Networking & the Campaign against Child sex trafficking
  • the meaning of poverty in Korea
  • Nation branding and Social Policy in Korea
  • Sub-Saharan refugee experiences of settlement policy.


  • 1998-2001 Australian Postgraduate Award administered through the University of NSW

  • 2008 AASWWE Writing Prize for Best paper published in the Journal Advances in Social Work Education in the period 2006-2007  

  • 2005 Faculty of Education and Social Work Teaching Excellence Award

Professional and community roles

  • Treasurer- Australian Association of Social Work and Welfare Educators

  • Member, Executive Committee - Australian and New Zealand Society for Third Sector Research

  • Editorial Board Member: Asian Social Work and Policy Review  - International Journal, Blackwell Publications, Editorial Base, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea

  • 2009- Editor, Third Sector Review- Australia’s only third sector journal – published by Australian, New Zealand Third Sector Research, biannual.

Current projects

  • Understanding Gender Equality and the Influence of Feminism in Women’s NGOs: A Global Study This is a study that is implementing a global survey of women's NGOs through out the world. It will be conducted over a 7 month period between September 2011 and March 2012. Research Questions Although the survey is comprised of 16 short questions there are two research questions it was designed to build knowledge around. These are: How is gender equality understood from the perspectives of women’s NGOs? What types of feminism are recognised as influencing the work of women’s NGOs in the global context?
  • Research Project Title: Social Policy Research in Human Service NGOs in Australia The aim of the first phase of this research project is to gain an understanding of the current capacity to produce and disseminate social science research within human service NGOs in Australia. This is the first stage of a bigger research project that is primarily driven by a question about the influence or impact of research conducted by human service NGOs on social policy at both the state and federal levels of government in Australia.
  • 2008 Research Fellowship - Japan - Study of Feminist and Domestic Violence Policy in Japan
  • 2009 Researching for Change: Profiling Social Policy Research in human services NGOs
  • 2007-08 Project Title: CDC PLUS - SOCIAL WELFARE: THEORIES AND CONCEPTS, Involved researching the needs of newly recruited Indigenous Caseworkers in the Department of Community Services, NSW and delivering a pilot workshop in April, 2008
  • 2006 Project Title: Conducting the Australian research which is to provide an overview and some insight on how Australian mining companies and related institutions/organisations as well as NGOs have been involved in: the "formation" process leading to the global Mining, Minerals and Sustainability Development (MMSD) process; and what happened after the MMSD process was finished. For the Social Science Research Centre (WBZ), Berlin, Germany
  • 2005 Project Title: An Audit of Contemporary Applications of Feminist Approaches and Frameworks in Social Work Education in Australia
  • 2005 Are Australian NGOs Democratic Organisations?

Current research students

Project title Degree Research student
Social policy and nation branding. PhD Bong mi Kim
Gender, literacy and development in traditional areas in Kenya: a comparative study between Lamu district and Narok district. PhD Taeko Takayanagi
Anti-Trafficking NGO Advocacy: The Case of Thailand and Cambodia PhD Selinta Clarke
Representations of indigenous peoples in Indonesia: a postcolonial analysis of discourses of indigeneity in state policy and social movements PhD Jazak Hidayat
More than a Blanket? PhD (Social Work Mary Jo Mc Veigh

Selected publications


  • Fawcett, B., Goodwin, S., Meagher, G., Phillips, R. (2010). Social Policy for Social Change. Melbourne: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Ruth Phillips (ed). (2007). Generational Change and Social Policy Challenges: Australia and South Korea. Sydney: University of Sydney Press.

Book chapters

  • Fawcett, B., Goodwin, S. and Phillips, R. (2011). Challenges and Futures for Social Work and Social Policy Research. In Lina Markauskataite, Peter Freebody and Jude Irwin (Eds.), Methodological Choice and Design, Scholarship, Policy and Practice in Social and Educational Research (pp. 267–276), Springer.
  • Phillips, R. (2011). Postcolonial Scholarship in Social Justice Research. In Lina Markauskataite, Peter Freebody and Jude Irwin (Eds.), Methodological Choice and Design, Scholarship, Policy and Practice in Social and Educational Research (pp. 157–166), Springer.
  • R. Phillips. (2008). National Policy Contexts. In B. Fawcett & F. Waugh (Ed.), Addressing Violence Abuse and Oppression: Debates and Challenges London: Routledge.
  • Phillips, R. (2007). Diverse Histories, Shared Social Issues: The Australian and Korean Welfare States. In R. Phillips (Ed.), Generational Change and Social Policy Challenges: Australia and South Korea Sydney: University of Sydney Press.
  • Kendig, H. and Phillips, R. (2007). Health, Economic, and Policy Implications of an Ageing Australia. In , Generational Change and Social Policy Challenges: Australia and South Kore Sydney: University of Sydney Press.
  • Phillips,R. (2006). Women and Poverty: The application of Feminism in overcoming women’s poverty in the global context. In Serr, K. (Ed.), Thinking About Poverty (pp. 25–34), Sydney: Federation Press.
  • Phillips, R. & Irwin, J. (2005). The Social, Political and Practice Context for Social Work in Australia. In , Korean Association of Social Workers (2005) Present and Future of Social Work Seoul: Korean Association of Social Workers.
  • Phillips, R. (2002). From Confrontation to Sponsorship? Multinational Corporations, Corporate Citizenship and Social Movement NGOs. In J. Goodman (Ed.), Protesting Globalisation (pp. 205–218), London: Pluto.

Journal articles

  • Phillips, R. & Jung, Y.M. . (2013). The Clash Between Social Policy and Traditional Values: Unmet welfare needs sustained by the culture of familism in South Korea . Asian Social Work and Policy Review, 7(1), 18–27.
  • Phillips, R. . (2012). ‘Non-government Organisations in a Sustainable Relationship for Sustainable Mining? The Australian NGO Perspective on what happened after the MMSD’ . Third Sector Review, Vol 18, No. 1, pp171-193 , 18(1), 171–193.
  • Phillips, R. (2010). Social Policy Research in Human-Service Non-government Organisations in Australia: Towards a Theorisation. Third Sector Review, 16(3), 7–24.
  • Phillips, R. (2009). Food security and women’s health: A Feminist Perspective for International Social Work”, International Social Work 52(4) . International Social Work, 52(4), 477–490.
  • Phillips, R. . (2008). Feminism, Policy and Women’s Safety During Australia’s ‘War On Terror’ . Feminist Review, 89, 55–72.
  • Phillips, R. (2007). Tamed or Trained? The Co-option and Capture of “Favoured” NGOs. Third Sector Review, 13(2), 27–48.
  • Phillips, R. (2007). The Place Of Feminism In Contemporary Social Work Education In Australia . Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education , 9(1), 56–68.
  • Phillips, R. (2006). Undoing an Activist Response: Feminism and the Australian Government’s Domestic Violence Policy . Critical Social Policy, 26(1), 192–219.
  • Phillips, R. (2006). The Role of Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations in Australian Democracy and Policy Governance . Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations , 17(1), 57–63.
  • Phillips, R. (2005). Australian NGOs: Current Experiences of Corporate Citizenship . Journal of Corporate Citizenship , 17(Spring), 21–25.
  • Phillips, R. (2004). Global Social Policy: Expanding Social Policy Ideas in Social Work Teaching in Australia. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 6(1), 64–76.
  • Phillips, R. (2004). From Waves of Action to the "Dead Calm" Responses to Violence Against Women in the New Millennium . Women in Welfare Education , 7(October), 17–32.
  • Phillips, R. (2002). Is Corporate Engagement an Advocacy Strategy for NGOs? The Community Aid Abroad Experience . Nonprofit Leadership and Management , 13(2), 123–137.

Conference papers

  • Phillips, R. and Goodwin, S. (2010). Social Policy Research in Human Service NGOs. In ISTR (International Society for Third Sector Research ISTR Conference Working Papers Volume VII Istanbul Conference 2010 (7pp. 1–14). Istanbul, Turkey, July 7-10, 2010 .
  • Phillips, R. (2009). NGOs in a Sustainable Relationship for Sustainable Mining? : The Australian Perspective on What Happened after the MMSD Initiative. In ISTR ISTR Conference Working Papers Volume VI Barcelona Conference 2008 . Barcelona, Spain, July 9-12, 2008.
  • Phillips, R. (2005). Challenges to NGOs' Legitimacy in Policy Governance in Australia: Addressing the Neo-Liberal Critique’, . In ISTR ISTR Conference Working Papers, Volume IV "Contesting Citizenship and Civil Society in a Divided World" July 11-14, 2004, International Society for Third Sector Research Sixth International Conference
  • Phillips, R. (2004). Democracy, Advocacy and Critique: the Search for Civil Approaches for Community Development , Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship. In Community Development, Human Rights and the Grass Roots Conference, Refereed Conference Proceedings (pp. 207–219). Deakin University, 14-18 April, 2004.
  • Phillips, R. (2002). Confronting Corporate Citizenship Culture: NGOs and the New Advocacy of Corporate Engagement. In Interdisciplinary Conference, Deakin University , 2002, Refereed Conference Proceedings CD Rom (pp. 145–152).