Melbourne Social Equity Institute Strategic Purpose Statement

Our commitment

Melbourne Social Equity Institute is committed to achieving fairer societies through research that makes a difference.

What we do

Melbourne Social Equity Institute conducts and facilitates interdisciplinary research that addresses the causes and consequences of social inequities and  advances knowledge about effective ways to respond.

We are leaders in community-engaged and co-productive research for social change. Our work contributes to changing public policy and perceptions, as well as improving social and organisational practices. Our approach creates opportunities for researchers, community organisations and people with lived expertise to develop their skills in working together.

What is social equity?

Social equity refers to people’s opportunities to access, shape and benefit from societies’ assets. Social inequities occur when people and communities are disadvantaged by unfair distributions of resources and opportunities. These inequities are underpinned by relations of power, embedded through societal norms and institutional practices, and informed by entrenched hierarchies of people and places. Social inequities and their effects are systemic, typically multi-layered and often intergenerational.

Current social equity challenges and priorities

World trends are amplifying existing social inequities. These trends include the social impacts of climate change, the effects of a global pandemic, labour market restructuring and the growth of precarious work, the resurgence of populist politics and the persistence of colonisation. These issues are influenced – both positively and negatively – by the rapid pace of technological change and its impacts on economies, cultures and science, as well as on media and communications.

Where social problems arise, so too do new or renewed responses. Civic movements in support of health and gender equity, climate resilience, peer-designed social programs, new business models, mutual aid and other community approaches to just economic transitions, and digitally-enabled social change are just some examples.

Our approach

Melbourne Social Equity Institute’s work is informed by:

  • Working systemically and at key intersections that amplify social inequities.
  • Bringing interdisciplinary research skills to the priorities of our partner communities and organisations.
  • Centring the voices, knowledge and agency of those most affected by inequities
  • Respectful and reciprocal relationships that contribute to communities
  • Innovating (with care) in designing co-productive research for social change
  • Integrating the benefits of diverse knowledges, people and perspectives in our research practices and goals
  • Purposefully sharing learning to advance knowledge and practice.

Our activities

Melbourne Social Equity Institute invests in interdisciplinary and co-productive research that addresses social equity issues through seed funding and co-funding.

We partner with others committed to tackling social inequities through research, policy and practice initiatives.

We support our Community Fellows to create social change through mentored action-research.

We both provide and enable leadership in community-engaged and co-productive research through our doctoral academy, PhD scholars program, and researcher development activities within and beyond the University of Melbourne.

We incubate emerging research programs that address social equity concerns

We support the uptake and sharing of research knowledge through our events, project outputs, and knowledge exchanges .

We help connect interested people with social equity relevant research and scholarship activities of the University of Melbourne

Our research priorities

Circle graphic depicting the relationship between the research priority areas. At the centre is a fairer world. The outside circle says Community-engaged and co-productive research, and Interdisciplinary

Melbourne Social Equity Institute responds to many social equity issues through its interdisciplinary research training and partnerships. Reflecting current social equity challenges and complementary research across the University of Melbourne, our research priorities are:

  • Gender equity
  • Migration and mobility
  • Health equity
  • Inclusive and distributive economies
  • Digital access and equity (enabling theme )

Reflecting the nature of social inequities, many of our research initiatives engage at the intersections of these priorities.