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You are reading: National Careers Week webinar — Careers and student equity: Key influencers and careers advice for students from disadvantaged backgrounds

As part of National Careers Week, the NCSEHE hosted a virtual event on Friday 21 May 2021, showcasing major NCSEHE-commissioned research on key influencers and careers advice for equity students.


In 2019, the NCSEHE commissioned four large-scale projects to improve access to information about higher education study options, pathways, and careers for disadvantaged students and those who influence them.

With a particular focus on low socioeconomic status (SES), regional and remote, and Indigenous students, the year-long research projects were conducted under the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment National Priorities Pool (NPP).

In this Careers Week event, the research teams presented key findings, outcomes and recommendations from the year-long projects, followed by audience Q and A.

Webinar recording

Webinar slides

Transcript Pending

Event program

The impacts of socio-economic status on access to quality study pathways and career advice

Presented by Dr Jane Coffey (Curtin University), Professor Dawn Bennett (Bond University) and Dr Ian Li (The University of Western Australia)

This study examined the access of students from low SES groups to information about higher education study options, pathways and careers, including the efficacy of available information. Data collection and analysis involved the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) survey alongside surveys, student self-assessments and focus group discussions with school careers advisors and influencers and with students in secondary school and university. Study findings reveal a marked socioeconomic divide in the type and quality of career information available to students with career and study guidance dependent on students’ unequal access to qualified career practitioners or teachers with career guidance duties. There was also significant evidence of inequitable provision of careers and study information from the early years of secondary school.

Jobs of the future and the journey of toast

Presented by Professor Sue Kilpatrick (University of Tasmania)

You have taken the plunge and enrolled in an enabling program at university. Uni might suit you, or it might not. What will you do after this course? A degree? Go to TAFE? Get a job? What career paths are there that might suit you? Where will the jobs be in five years’ time? This presentation showcases an online careers advice intervention developed for UTAS enabling program students to help answer these questions, and the lessons learnt from the program trial. And you will discover just how many jobs there are in a piece of toast!

Best practice principles for Career Development Learning for diverse student groups

Presented by Kylie Austin (University of Wollongong) and Dr Olivia Groves (NCSEHE)

This presentation will showcase a national research project that identified and applied a suite of best practice principles for Career Development Learning (CDL) to enable diverse groups of students to explore their future aspirations. The best practice principles will be presented along with examples of how the principles can be applied in primary and secondary school settings. The presentation will refer to practical case studies which might support career practitioners in tailoring CDL activities to the diverse needs of students.

Harnessing participatory design towards context-specific careers resources

Presented by Dr Mollie Dollinger (La Trobe University)

Despite ongoing research and analysis of good practice in careers education, there remains a gap between what experts know and how to create meaningful change in the wider community. In this presentation, we will discuss a recent project that explored how participatory design could be used to co-create careers resources with students (Years 7 & 8), school staff, and carers (i.e., parents, guardians). Through our project, we visited four outer-regional schools in Victoria to conduct co-design workshops that brought to light the needs and expectations of participants and subsequently informed context-specific, fit-for-purposes resources that serve the needs of its intended audience.


Dr Jane Coffey is a Senior Lecturer School of Management and Marketing with Curtin University. Jane is an experienced human resource management practitioner and also has extensive International career research and publication expertise. She has also created and developed specialist and innovative strategic career curriculum and employability skill development applications.

Professor Dawn Bennett is Assistant Provost and Director of the Transformation CoLab with Bond University in Australia. Dawn’s primary research expertise is the development of graduate employability within higher education. Her secondary research focusses on the creative workforce and draws on her previous career as a professional musician. Publications are listed with Researchgate.

Dr Ian Li is an economist based at the School of Population and Global Health, UWA. He has extensive nationally competitive research grant experience, including NHMRC & NCVER. Ian has an established track record of competitive research funding (including as lead investigator) and publications on student equity in higher education, with a particular focus on academic and graduate labour market outcomes.

Professor Sue Kilpatrick is Professor or Education at the University of Tasmania. Before semi-retiring in 2016 she was Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students), University of Tasmania, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Rural and Regional) at Deakin University. Most of her research applies a social capital framework to, education, learning for work, health and/or community development issues in rural areas. Sue combines her research with community-based regional development roles. She holds a PhD in the economics of education.

Kylie Austin has 13 years’ experience working in the higher education sector leading the strategic planning of student equity initiatives. Over this period, Kylie has led the implementation of Outreach, Transition and Co-Curricular programs that aim to increase the participation of students from identified equity backgrounds in higher education. In her current role, Kylie leads the University of Wollongong’s Widening Participation, Transition and Peer Learning and Accessibility teams. Kylie has a significant research interest in how partnerships can increase outcomes for students from equity students across the student lifecycle. Kylie has led and been involved in national research projects that have focused on widening participation to higher education and is the current President of Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA).

Dr Olivia Groves is a post-doctoral researcher at the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. Olivia’s research interests lie in understanding the conditions under which learning takes place in order to maximise the potential for learning and success of all students. Her current research activity examines how student equity can be achieved in the higher education sector and beyond – including research into best-practice career education, particularly for those with disability; supporting student success in higher education in the time of COVID; and understanding and ameliorating inequities in graduate outcomes.

Dr Mollie Dollinger is the Academic-Lead of the Student Partnerships Portfolio at La Trobe University. Her research areas include student and staff co-creation, equity in higher education, and supporting the student experience.

The video and slides are available on the NCSEHE website, transcript pending.