Dr Maree Higgins

Lecturer in Social Work

Doctor of Philosophy (Social Work), ACU National

Bachelor of Social Work (Hons First Class), UNSW

School of Social Sciences


+61 (2) 9385 2365
G41 Morven Brown
Kensington Campus

Fields: Human Rights, Social Justice, Forced Migration, Social Work, Group Work, Gender Studies, Work Integrated Learning, Social Research Methodology.

Dr Maree Higgins has over 10 years’ experience as a social worker in clinical and management roles in cross-cultural contexts including refugee and asylum seeker services, youth services and international aid and 12 years’ experience in WIL management across a variety of contexts including Social Work, Criminology, Social Research and Policy, Education, Media/Arts and Humanities.

Maree is interested in how people's cultures and lived experiences shape their understandings of human rights, significant life transitions and wellbeing, and how poetry, metaphor and storytelling can convey meaning in intercultural practice and research towards meaningful change. She also focusses on exploring and reflecting upon the nexus between ethics and qualitative research practices. Maree engages in social-justice oriented research in collaboration with a range of industry, community and government organisations in relation to forced migration, criminal justice and health and welfare. Maree has published two book chapters on intercultural social work focusing on mental health and group work skills. She has also published a journal article on qualitative research methods.

In addition to these focusses, Maree is interested in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and holds a consulting position in the discipline of social work as Academic Lead of Field Education. Maree has published a book chapter on WIL pedagogical implications and two practice papers which document her innovative work regarding scaffolding learning and linking theory to practice.

Maree is an inspiring leader, currently fulfilling the role of School of Social Sciences Grievance Officer, First Year Experience Coordinator (Social Work) and Convenor of Introduction to Social Work, Honours Portfolio and Level 4 Placement. Prior to this, Maree established and managed the Faculty WIL Unit.


Journal articles

  1. Higgins, M. & Fox, M. (2018) The Cake Model: a visual tool to enhance deep learning in social work students on field placement. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 20(1), 215-222.
  2. Fox, M., & Higgins, M. (2018) Theory Mapping in Social Work Placements: The KIT model applied to meso and macro practice tasks. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 20(1), 209-214.
  3. Rollins, W; Egan, R; Zuchowski, I; Duncan, M; Chee, P; Muncey, P; Hill, N; Higgins, M. (2017) The National Field Education Network: Leadership as Collaboration. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, Vol.19(1), p.48-61
  4. Higgins, M. (2016) Reflections on methodology for the qualitative cross-cultural study of human rights. Proceedings of the 39th African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) Annual Conference, 5-7 December 2016, The University of Western Australia.
  5. Higgins, M. & Vinson, T. (1998) Social Disadvantage and Regional Youth Unemployment. UNIYA Social Justice Research Centre.


  1. Higgins, M. (2019) ‘Like gold scattered in the sand’; Human rights as constructed and understood by African families from refugee backgrounds. Thesis: Australian Catholic University.
  2. Studdy, L., Fox, M., Higgins, M. & Smedley, C., (2015). How to grow a Social Worker (3rd Edition). Sydney: UNSW Press.

Book Chapters

  1. Higgins, M. (2019) Social Work with Refugees and Migrants. In Social Work. Mental Health and Social Work. Ow, R. & Poon, A. (Eds). Springer. (Forthcoming)
  2. Rollins, W., Chee, P., Higgins, M., Bowles, W., Waugh, F., & Fox, M. Pedagogical considerations. Chapter 5 in Challenges, Opportunities and Innovations in Social Work Field Education. (forthcoming).
  3. Hall, N. & Higgins, M., “Group work practice and cultural diversity (including asylum seekers)”. In N Hall (2019), Group work on the Edge, Routledge (forthcoming).


  1. Higgins, M. (2016, 2018). Advanced Supervisory Practice Course. Featuring 11 weekly masterclasses, the course facilitates learning through engagement with current theory, simulated learning, applied activities and discussions led by highly experienced supervisors.
  2. Higgins, M. & Fox, M. (2015) Theorising Indirect Placement Tasks. Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National Symposium Workshop.
  3. Higgins, M., Rose, J. & Dziamba, K. (2015) Preparation for Placement. Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National Symposium Workshop.
  4. Higgins, M. & Fox, M. (2015) Deconstructing placement tasks for the purpose of assessment. Combined Universities Field Education Group (CUFEG) NSW/ACT Colloquium Workshop.
  5. Higgins, M. (2015) Studying Social Work. Aspire! Careers Days Dubbo, 6 Workshops.
  6. Higgins, M. (2014) The Ontological Importance of the Staff-Student Relationship in Field Education. Conference Poster: Universitas 21 Educational Innovation.
  7. Higgins, M. (2014) Sustaining diverse and high-quality field placements in health: ethics, collaboration, and ingenuity. Keynote Address: Western Sydney LHD Forum.
  8. Higgins, M. (2014) Looking with fresh eyes: A grassroots exploration of human rights. Conference Paper: Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development.
  9. Higgins, M. (2014) Polishing a Gem: The Theory Circle adapted to indirect field placements. Conference Poster: Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development Poster.
  10. Higgins, M. (2012) Encouraging Critical Reflection in Students and Supervisors. Conference Presentation: Social Work Forum: Growing Field Education in Health.
  11. Higgins, M. (2012) Including the voices of African families from refugee backgrounds in human rights discourse for culturally sensitive social work practice. Conference Paper: Social Work: Towards Inclusion, Social Justice and Human Rights.
  12. Higgins, M. and Fox, M. (2012) Inter-university collaboration in Australian field education: A working example. Conference Paper: Social Work: Towards Inclusion, Social Justice and Human Rights.


    Book Chapters

    • Higgins M, 2019, 'Social work with refugees and migrants', in Poon AWC; Ow R (ed.), Social Work. Mental Health and Social Work, Springer

    Journal articles

Teaching and Supervision

SOCW1001- Introduction to Social Work

SOCW2100 - Aboriginal People and Social Work (tutor)

SOCW4016 - Social Work Honours (Practice Portfolio)

SOCW4018 - Social Work Practice - Level 4 Placement (Part B)

SOCW3009 - Ethics and Reflective Practice (forthcoming)


Sole:WIL Futures. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW (2019) Total Grant Awarded:$10,000

Ravulo, Fox, Higgins, Blakemore:NUW Alliance Community Hub (NUWACH).Newcastle, UNSW and Wollongong University Scheme (2018)Total Grant Awarded:$1,500

Baldry, E., Evans, P., Newton, BJ, Higgins, M., Trotter, C., & Sheehan, R., Missing girls: from childhood runaway to criminalised woman(2019)Total Grant Awarded:$5,000

Lenette, C., Banks, S., Milne, EJ, Nunn, C.,Higgins, M.,Atem, A., & Nguyen, D., (2019)Ethics and community-based participatory research in refugee studies: Co-designing a framework with refugee-background co-researchers(2019)Total Grant Awarded:$5,000

Engagement and Professional contributions

I bring to my role extensive professional practice experience, authentic leadership skills and ability to promote learning excellence. I hold the roles of School of Social Sciences Grievance Officer, Field Education Academic Lead, and First Year Experience Coordinator (Social Work)

I am proud of my membershipof the International Association for Social Work with Groups (IASWG), Australian Association of Social Work,Australian and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education and Research group, African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific(AFSAAP), NSW/ACT Combined Universities Field Education Group (CUFEG) and National Field Education Network (NFEN).

My research engageswith African families from refugee backgrounds living in Sydney, NSW, andexplored their understandings and constructions of human rights and implications for social work.