Work and Health

Work is an important social determinant of health. Led by Professor Fran Baum, researchers at the Southgate Institute have been investigating the links between work and health and wellbeing, focussing in particular on the ways that job loss, changing forms of work, and non-standard employment can affect social inclusion and health and wellbeing.


Current Projects

Centre of Research Excellence on Social Determinants of Health Equity (CRESDHE): Policy research on the social determinants of health equity


One program of research in the CREHE (WP2) concentrates on policy coherence with a focus on South Australia’s (SA) transition from manufacturing dependence to new industries. This research adopts a qualitative complex systems thinking approach to better understand the real- time policy responses to the changing new economies. Our case study centres on the health equity effects of the Elizabeth Holden plant closure in 2017 for the Playford community and also examines the dynamics surrounding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents work opportunities in this changing employment environment.

Through a series of workshops, policy actors will map the likely health impact of the Holden closure which will then be mapped to the policy responses. Data collection also involves in-depth interviews with policy and community actors to discuss policy responses within the context of the pre-existing high levels of socioeconomic disadvantage experience by the community.  The aim of this case study is to map and understand the dynamic complex policy environment and its impact on health equity. Findings will be used to inform policy actors on what works well, not so well and to identify potential leverage points to mediate health inequities. 


 Significant past projects

Workplace discrimination - to what extent is it an important occupational health and safety issue and what mediates its affects (Flinders University)
Investigator: A/Prof Anna Ziersch

Changing patterns of employment and unemployment (NHMRC)
Investigators: Prof Sue Richardson, Prof Fran Baum, Prof Anna Kavanagh, Prof Anthony LaMontagne, A/Prof Anna Ziersch, Dr Diannah Lowry, Dr Laurence Lester, Dr Rebecca Bentley

The Health, housing and labour market impacts of an automotive plant closure (ARC Linkage,          South Australian Government)
Investigators: Prof Andrew Beer, Prof Fran Baum, Prof Sue Richardson, Prof Fiona Verity, Dr Diannah Lowry, Prof Colin MacDougall, A/Prof Anna Ziersch, Dr Lisel O'Dwyer
Partners: South Australian Department of Human Services/South Australian Department of Health/Department of Families and Communities


Selected Publications

1. Keuskamp D, Mackenzie CRM, Ziersch AM, Baum FE. (2013) Deliberately casual? Workers' agency, health and nonstandard employment relations in Australia. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine., 55 (6): 62-7.
2. Keuskamp D, Ziersch AM, Baum FE, LaMontagne AD (2013) Precarious employment, psychosocial working conditions, and health: Cross-sectional associations in a population-based sample of working Australians Authors. Australian Journal of Industrial Medicine, 56(8): 838-844.
3. Anaf, J, Baum F, Newman L, Ziersch A, Jolley G (2013). The interplay between structure and agency in shaping the mental health consequences of job loss. BMC Public Health. 13:110, DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-110
4. Mackenzie C, Keuskamp D, Ziersch A, Baum F, Popay J. (2013). A qualitative study of the interactions among the psychosocial work environment and family, community and services for workers with low mental health, BMC Public Health., 2013, 13:796. DOI: 10.1186/10.1186/1471-2458-13-796
5. Anaf J, Newman L, Baum F, Ziersch A, Jolley G (2013) ‘Policy environments and job loss: Lived experience of retrenched Australian automotive workers, Critical Social Policy, 33: 325-347, DOI: 10.1177/0261018312457858
6. Keuskamp, D., Ziersch, A.M., Baum, F.E., LaMontagne, A.D. (2012). Ongoing concerns: Workplace bullying and permanent employment in a South Australian working population sample. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 36(4):116-119
7. Mackenzie C, Keuskamp D, Ziersch A, Baum F. (2011). Life after work: older Australian’s experience of early exit from the workforce. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 46(4): 347-369.
8. Jolley G, Newman L, Ziersch A, Baum F. (2011). Positive and negative impacts of job loss on family life: the perceptions of Australian car workers. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 46(4): 411-433
9. Anaf, J. (2011). The lived experience of job loss: Impacts on health and well-being and implications for social policy. PhD Thesis, Flinders University School of Medicine, Adelaide South Australia.
10. Newman, L.A., MacDougall, C.J. and Baum, F.E. (2009). Australian children's accounts of the closure of a car factory: global restructuring and local impacts. Community, Work and Family, 12(2) pp. 143-158. [doi:10.1080/13668800902778934]

PhD students

The Southgate Institute offers a dynamic and supportive enviornment for postgratudate students.  It is an exciting research hub providing opportunities for postgraduate students to work on topics of relevance to the Institute:

  • social and economic determinants of health
  • health inequity and social exclusion
  • aboriginal health
  • community health
  • building capacity in others to conduct similar research

For more information, please contact either the staff member with expertise in your chosen area, or our PhD Coordinator Dr Kathryn Browne-Yung or phone 08 7221 8487.