Dr Debby Lynch

Senior Lecturer

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
+61 7 336 53024



Deborah Lynch is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Student Engagement, Experience and Employability (SEEE) Academic Lead in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work (NMSW) since September 2021. In this academic leadership role, Deborah engages with staff and students groups across the different disciplines and programs in NMSW to facilitate participatory practices and create multiple opportunities for students to engage, express themselves, connect and belong. This has involved partnering with students from each discipline in the School in a Student-Staff Partnership (SSP) Project to co-create a NMSW Student Experience Action Plan (SAP). The SSP project positioned student voices at the heart of the process and emphasised the added value of interdisciplinary connections to facilitate the interchange of knowledge, practice and skills between disciplines that side-steps separate and distinct professional silos.

Since joining UQ, Deborah has undertaken a range of leadership roles in the School. From 2013 until 2016, she was Program Lead of the Bachelor of Social Work and subsequently Bachelor of the Social Work (Honours) overseeing the program through the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences Academic Program Review (APR), mapping to AQF Level 8 (Honours) and Reaccreditation of the Program by the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS) in 2016. She resumed this leadership role to lead the APR and Reaccreditation of the Program in 2021. She was the Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Program Lead in the School from 2019 to 2021 leading the program through COVID-19.

Deborah teaches social work across undergraduate and post-graduate programs in the School and supervises Higher Degree by Research students. Her main teaching areas are group work, community development and international social work. She brings many years of experience in hospital and community-based social work as well as international community development practice in South Africa, India (Kolkata and Bangalore), Nepal (Kathmandu) and Indonesia (North Sumatra) to her teaching. Central to her pedagogy is modelling professional practice by example, and creating safe, supported and enabling learning environments where social work students can build their repertoire of practice skills and capacities which empowers them as learners and future professionals. Deborah grounds her social work teaching in values such as social justice and human rights, criticality and working collectively to nurture dynamic, innovative forms of practice that can respond to contemporary community, environmental and societal issues. Deborah is passionate about social work and the environment and researches and incorporates ecosocial work into her community development teaching. She is a member of BrisLETS which is a Brisbane-based local energy trading system.

Since joining UQ, Deborah has attained recognition for her teaching through receiving the following awards: Dean's Scholar Commendations for Teaching (2012 and 2013); School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Teaching and Learning Award: Respect and Support for the Development of Students (2016); UQ Teaching and Learning Award: Commendation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2017); and Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences Teaching and Learning Award: Commendation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2022). She became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy through the HEA@UQ program in June 2019 which is an established international recognition scheme for university educators. Currently she is an Affiliate Academic with the UQ Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation (ITaLI) which is an academic outreach role offered by ITaLI to UQ academics who can demonstrate expertise in teaching and learning.

Since her first research paper on child sexual abuse in The South African Medical Journal in 1988, Deborah has published on systems, policies and practices in health, education and justice that impact on children, young people, families, and communities. In Australia, she developed the North Sydney Area Health Service’s response to young people and adults who experienced childhood sexual abuse, and contributed to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) policy and protocols in New South Wales (and subsequently in Ireland). In Canberra, Deborah developed support programs for refugee children with the Torture and Trauma Rehabilitation and Network Service (TRANSACT). Her publications on children’s rights and child protection foreground the critical contributions of child protection practitioners, academics, non-government organisations, professional groups, children’s rights advocates and child abuse survivor groups to policy, theory, research, and practice. Working with East Cork Area Development (ECAD) which is a community partnership between public, community and voluntary sectors; youth organisations in East Cork; and the Health Service Executive (HSE), Deborah collaborated on a community-based project which explored the needs of over 700 young people in Cork, Ireland.

Deborah is committed to international outreach, engagement and leadership in social work and community development research and education.Through international collaborations in social work in Sweden, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and Singapore, Deborah contributes to interdisciplinary leadership in collaborative projects and journal publications including the British Journal of Social Work, European Journal of Social Work, Social Work Education and Ethics and Social Welfare. She co-authored Social Work and Community Development: A Critical Practice Perspective (2015; Palgrave McMillan) with Dr. Catherine Forde at University College Cork in Ireland and in 2021 she co-edited a themed section of the Community Development Journal with Dr Catherine Ford (University of Cork) and Dr Athena Lathouras (University of the Sunshine Coast). The section focused on community development and social work education and explored contemporary themes such as COVID-related circumstances, digital technologies for social good, the climate crisis and economic inequality and achieving economic opportunity and justice. In addition, Deborah contributes to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning through innovative conceptual papers such as the use of visual pedagogies to develop students’ observational skills and criticality in a digital era (The British Journal of Social Work) and on her teaching experiences and lessons learned during COVID-19 (UQ Teaching and Learning Newsletter; Social Dialogue).

Deborah builds interdisciplinary partnerships through research collaborations which align with, and support her program of research in community development. Her recent Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project (2022-2025) focuses on how school-community partnerships underpinned by social justice principles can enable and empower young people experiencing disadvantages and vulnerabilities to engage in education. She is part of an established research team and program initiated by the UQ Humanities and Social Science (HASS) Strategic Research Funding (SRF) Scheme. This research builds on commissioned work with the Queensland Department of Education on school attendance.

Deborah is passionate about health equity. She is keen to draw on community development approaches in research scholarship to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, groups and communities. In November, 2023 she contributed to the Singapore Ministry of Health National Training Programme as a Visiting Expert in Community Development. Currently, through an inter-disciplinary Indigenous research collaboration within nursing and midwifery colleagues and HDR social work students in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, Deborah is researching community-based prevention programs and initiatives to address Rheumatic Heart Disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Sydney
  • Masters (Coursework), University of Cape Town
  • Bachelor (Honours), Stellenbosch University
  • Bachelor, Stellenbosch University


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Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision