Dr Lydia Gitau
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Lydia Gitau

B.Ed. (Literature, English), Kenyatta University

M.A. Counselling, International Leadership University, Kenya

High Dip. in Counselling Psychology, Tec Institute of Management

M.A International Relations, USIU-Africa

PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney

Arts,Design & Architecture
Big Anxiety Research Centre

I specialise in research on creative interventions that have potential to support healing for survivors of refugee trauma. I work collaboratively with people from refugee backgrounds and colleagues to explore cultural and creative approaches that have this potential. I am committed to co-design and decolonial approaches in investigating what works in different communities of refugee background, and to using different art forms to engage individuals and communities. I am a social scientist and counsellor by training. I have previously worked as a counsellor in Kenya, and as a trainer and trauma counsellor with NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS).

Research projects I am currently involved in include:

  • Immersive Media Explorations of the Felt Experience of Emotions in the Body (HC200508)
  • Exploring Creative Engagement for Psychosocial Support of Young People from Refugee Backgrounds (with possible collaboration between Anglicare Program form Mental Health and Community Living Supports for Refugees, STARTTS, and fEEL UNSW).
  • Poetry and Mental Health: Young South Sudanese Community Members Exploring Ways to talk about Suicide 
Cnr Oxford St & Greens Road Paddington NSW, 2021
  • Books | 2017
    Gitau LW, 2017, Trauma-sensitivity and Peacebuilding Considering the Case of South Sudanese Refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Springer
  • Book Chapters | 2022
    Gitau L, 2022, 'EmbodiMap I: Trauma survival and refugee experience', in Bennett J (ed.), The Big Anxiety: Taking Care of Mental Health in Times of Crisis, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, pp. 166 - 177
    Book Chapters | 2021
    Gitau L, 2021, 'Defining and Decolonising Spaces in the Western Academy: Like a Laughing Dove', in Martin SB; Dandekar D (ed.), Global South Scholars in the Western Academy: Harnessing Unique Experiences, Knowledges, and Positionality in the Third Space, Routledge, New York, pp. 100 - 107, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781003109808
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Gitau L; wa Mungai N, 2019, 'African Refugee Women in Australia: Domestic and Family Violence Experience', in Kalunta-Crumpton A (ed.), Violence against Women of African Descent Global Perspectives, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland, pp. 211 - 228
  • Journal articles | 2022
    Gitau L, 2022, 'Resistance as resilience: negotiating gendered contours in conflict and trauma', Journal of International Relations and Development, http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41268-022-00265-z
    Journal articles | 2022
    Gitau L; Kenning G; Burgess S; Bennett J; Kuchelmeister V; Neidorf M; Ginnivan N, 2022, 'Pre-Engagement as Method: An EmbodiMapTM VR Experience to Explore Lived Experience of People from South Sudanese Refugee Background', International Journal of Qualitative Methods, vol. 21, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/16094069221123167
    Journal articles | 2016
    Gitau LW; Rhodes P, 2016, 'A Dark Stone in My Stomach: Interventions for Survivors of Mass Violence and Building Sustainable Peace', Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, vol. 11, pp. 37 - 52, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15423166.2016.1230025
    Journal articles | 2013
    Lambourne W; Gitau LW, 2013, 'Psychosocial Interventions, Peacebuilding and Development in Rwanda', Journal of Peacebuilding & Development, vol. 8, pp. 23 - 36, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15423166.2013.859933
  • Creative Works (non-textual) | 2022
    Gitau L; Clark H; Juk A; Bennett J, 2022, Heartsick: Poetry and Mental Health, The Big Anxiety Melbourne 2022, The Big Connect at The Big Anxiety Festival Melbourne 2022, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Footscray, 30 September 2022 - 07 October 2022, medium: Film, at: https://feel-lab.org/research_projects/heartsick-poetry-and-mental-health/
    Conference Presentations | 2021
    Gitau L, 2021, 'Communicating Hope Our Way: Young South Sudanese Community Members and fEEL', presented at The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) Hope and Empathy in Uncertain Times Symposium, Online, 28 October 2021 - 29 October 2021
    Conference Presentations | 2021
    Kenning G; Ginnivan N; Gitau L, 2021, 'A virtual visual matrix focussing on the visit', presented at Dementia Lab 2021, Vancouver online, 18 January 2021 - 28 January 2021
    Creative Works (non-textual) | 2021
    Kuchelmeister V; Bennett J; Kenning G; Ginnivan N; Neidorf M, 2021, EmbodiMap VR, Ongoing experimental development, not a specific exhibition, 01 March 2021 - 31 March 2021, medium: Virtual Reality, at: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/5315851651819402/
    Conference Abstracts | 2020
    Kuchelmeister V; Bennett J; Kenning G; Ginnivan N; Gitau L; Burgess S, 2020, 'EmbodiMap VR. A tangible and immersive body-mapping experience.', in Frameless Journal, Vol.3, Rochester NY, presented at Frameless Symposium, Rochester NY, 19 November 2020 - 20 November 2020, https://scholarworks.rit.edu/frameless/
    Conference Presentations | 2018
    Gitau L, 2018, 'Rethinking Interventions for Refugee Survivors of Trauma and Torture', presented at International Peace Research Association (IPRA) Conference, Gujarat Vidyapeeth Research Centre, Ahmedabad, India, 24 November 2018 - 28 November 2018
    Conference Presentations | 2018
    Gitau L, 2018, 'Towards a Decolonial Approach in Interventions for Refugee Survivors of Trauma and Torture', presented at International Peace Research Association (IPRA), Gujarat Vidyapeeth Peace Research Centre, Ahmedabad, India, 24 November 2018 - 28 November 2018
    Conference Presentations | 2015
    Gitau L, 2015, 'Peace in My Father's World: Trauma Sensitivity in Interventions for Survivors of Conflict and Mass Violence', presented at 38th African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP), Deakin University, Australia, 28 October 2015 - 30 October 2015
    Conference Presentations | 2014
    Gitau L, 2014, 'Beyond Hope: Trauma and Resilience in South Sudanese Refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya', presented at International Peace Research Association (IPRA), Sakarya University, Istanbul, Turkey, 10 August 2014 - 14 August 2014
    Conference Presentations | 2014
    Lambourne W; Gitau L, 2014, 'Rwanda 20 Years On: Trauma, Transitional Justice and Reconciliation After Genocide', presented at International Network of Genocide Scholars Fourth Global Conference on Genocide, Cape Town, South Africa, 04 December 2014 - 07 December 2014
    Conference Presentations | 2013
    Gitau L, 2013, 'Blurred by Pain: Trauma Healing and Social Justice for Survivors of Mass Violence', presented at Higher Degree Research Conference on Social Justice, University of Sydney, 27 November 2013 - 27 November 2013
    Conference Presentations | 2013
    Gitau L, 2013, 'Trauma Healing for Peace and Development: Considering South Sudan', presented at 2nd Annual Interdisciplinary Conference, Catholic University of East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, 25 June 2013 - 29 June 2013
    Conference Presentations | 2012
    Gitau L, 2012, 'Resilience in Survivors of Mass Violence and Its Contribution to Reconciliation in Post-Conflict Rwanda', presented at 35th African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP), Australian National University, Canberra, 26 November 2012 - 28 November 2012

  • Dorothy Marchus Senesh Fellowship, International Peace Research Association (IPRA) Foundation, 2014-2015 
  • Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney, 2014

My Research Supervision

Emmanuel Mensah: Transitional Justice, Truth Commission and Community Psychology: What can Community Psychology offer in the trauma healing of victims of past atrocities towards peace and national reconciliation? (Discipline of Psychiatry & Mental Health, PhD Research) - Associate supervisor