Researchers from Australia, Canada, the USA and New Zealand gathered at the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) in mid-March for a workshop funded by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia on “Gender, Migration and Care”.

The workshop launched a new ARC Discovery project on Markets, Migration and Care led by Professors Deborah Brennan (UNSW) and Sara Charlesworth (RMIT University) and Dr. Elizabeth Hill (University of Sydney). SPRC was represented at the workshop by Emeritus Professors Bettina Cass and Sheila Shaver, Dr. Elizabeth Adamson and Dr. Myra Hamilton.

A number of international researchers participated in the workshop. They included Professors Ito Peng (University of Toronto), Sonya Michel (University of Maryland), Monica Boyd (University of Toronto) and Rianne Mahon (Balsillie School of International Relations) – all of whom, together with Deb Brennan and Sara Charlesworth - are Principal Investigators on a related project on migration and care funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities and Research Council.

PhD students, early career researchers, policy makers, trade unionists and members of non-government organisations took part in the workshop, ensuring that presentations represented a wide variety of disciplines and perspectives.

The workshop included a panel on the provocative topic: “Should Australia recruit migrant care workers?” Professor Judy McGregor, a former Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission who worked “under cover” as an aged care worker provided riveting observations on her experiences as a care worker. Another highlight was a rousing rendition of “I am woman” sung by Lina Cabaero-Ponnambalam from the Sydney-based advocacy group Asian Woman at Work.

Care and migration are now well and truly on the research and policy agenda in Australia and New Zealand!