Karen completed a Bachelor of Arts (La Trobe University Melbourne) in 1986, majoring in Legal Studies and Philosophy. She completed a Bachelor of Social Work with Honours grades (University of Melbourne) in 1988 and her PhD (CSU) in 2009. She's worked in social work education at CSU since 1993, initially as a casual lecturer and since 2000 as a permanent staff member.
Karen's professional practice background is mainly in the field of health as a generalist hospital social worker and in mental health as an on-site social worker in a regional psychiatric unit. She has undertaken various contract and locum positions in health and community services over the years. She worked at Centrelink as a caseworker and in indirect practice roles including staff training and development, reviews, policy and projects.
Karen has taught a range of subjects in welfare, social work and human services. She currently teaches Social Work Theory and Practice, Fields of Practice as well as in the field education subjects in the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) degrees. She coordinates the Bachelor of Social Work Honours program and the Master of Social Work dissertation subject. Karen also supervises PhD, DSW, MSW and Honours candidates and contributes to orientation and ongoing development of postgraduate students through the Social Work and Human Services Research Higher Degree Seminar program.
The title of Karen's PhD thesis is 'The experiences and support needs of non-metropolitan women who have used assisted reproduction clinics'. This qualitative research explores the experiences of rural women in relation to infertility and assisted reproduction and the role of social work and human service professionals in this context.
The dominant paradigm in assisted reproduction remains quite traditional, biomedical and individualistic in its ontological orientation. This shapes regulation, research and service provision. A major outcome of this research is its contribution to a post-conventional knowledge base in relation to human reproduction – one that validates women's epistemic agency. In terms of national health and social services delivery, the research reinforces a need for a multidisciplinary, human rights approach to service delivery in the context of IVF in Australia and internationally.