Tony Vinson - Career


Vinson's long and diverse career in social research, education, government services, prison reform, and community development, has included many projects on social disadvantage and young people. Vinson has also studied the impact of cumulative medico-social problems and life opportunities generally. The determinative influence of education (or life prospects) has remained a theme in this strand of his research, culminating in the recent publication of an influential study on the distribution of social disadvantage in Victoria and New South Wales.

His work as the Foundation Professor in Behavioural science within the University of Newcastle (NSW) in the 1970s followed research into connections between social factors, and pregnancy outcomes, including the health and progress of young children. At Newcastle, an important educational experience was his involvement in the development of the problem-based learning approach adopted for the new medical course. This approach incorporated many of the key elements of the educational approach considered as somewhat radical departures in the field of school education. Vinson also instigated the broadly based admission procedures adopted by the medical faculty.

Following three years as Head of the NSW Department of Corrective Services (1979–81) during a period of intense penal reform, Vinson took up an appointment as Professor of Social Work at the University of New South Wales. Over subsequent years he has served as Head of School and Dean. He has twice been a Visiting Professor at the University of Stockholm and has observed the operation of Swedish social services, including early schooling. There have also been Visiting Professor appointments in the Netherlands and government consultancies in the South Pacific. In 1980 Vinson chaired a Commonwealth Government Inquiry into health and social services in the ACT.

In recent years Vinson has had an extensive involvement in assessing schemes to protect children exposed to the dangers of abuse. Some of these projects have included the evaluation of professional practices, including the co-operation of schools with government and non-government services. Others have dealt with the social contexts and environments in which abusive practices occur. This work has been published internationally in journals such as the British Journal of Social Work and Modern Medicine as well as within Australia by the Institute of Criminology and other authorities.

On Vinson's initiative, the UNSW School of Social Work, in partnership with the NSW Department of Housing, residents, and local community bodies, formed a community development centre on the Waterloo Housing Estate. Tony Vinson has had the title Professor Emeritus conferred on him by the University of New South Wales.

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