Social work academic brings Canadian experience to UNE

Published 16 February 2010

lindaturnerDr Linda Turner is looking forward to her involvement in the expansion of the University of New England’s innovative Bachelor of Social Work degree program, now beginning its second year.

Dr Turner (pictured here), who arrived in Armidale from Canada last month, has joined the staff of UNE’s School of Health as Associate Professor of Social Work.

“I’m very excited about being part of UNE’s Social Work program,” she said, “and working with Dr Myfanwy Maple, its founder and coordinator. I’m looking forward to seeing the program build on its success of 2009 – its inaugural year.”

Dr Turner, who moved to UNE from her position as Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, worked for 20 years as a social work practitioner in Canada – “always,” she said, “in rural contexts”. “I’ll enjoy sharing some of that experience, and learning about some of the unique characteristics of communities in the New England region,” she said.

There are now more than 100 students in the UNE program which, with its unique focus on social work practice in rural and regional communities, is addressing the current shortage of social workers in such communities. “There appears to be growth and passion in the social work profession in general,” Dr Turner said, “and I’m looking forward to seeing students from UNE contributing to that.”

Dr Turner has a strong interest in the historical origins of social work, and intends to do some research on the pioneers of social work in New England. “I’ve just completed a project of this kind in New Brunswick,” she said.

She first visited Armidale last July, when she was a participant in the 2nd Australasian Narrative Inquiry Conference, held at UNE. That experience, including the connections she made at UNE then, was one of the factors that influenced her decision to move here. Another was the reputation of Australian social work in general. “In Canada, Australian educators and practitioners of social work are highly regarded for innovation and for their commitment to social justice,” Dr Turner said. “That increased my desire to come here.”

UNE has become something of a family affair for her, as her daughter Genevieve, who accompanied her to Armidale, has embarked on a UNE Bachelor of Business degree course.