Melanie Shier-Baker, Case Manager, Queensland:
Receiving the TASA Conference Scholarship for Sociology in Action gave me acknowledgment that my experience and contribution to applied sociology in Australia has been valued and useful. I am truly appreciative for this recognition.
Having spent much time and energy managing the activities of the Applied Sociology Thematic Group as co-convener in 2016, I envisioned being able to attend the TASA Conference as a celebratory climax to aim for. However, the financial costs of travel, registration and time off work had initially constrained my decision to attend. Winning the scholarship not only provided me the opportunity to attend the Conference, it meant I could support the convener and the group with the various applied sociology activities, engage in professional development and build networks. Most importantly, it gave me inspiration and a confidence boost.
I hope my attendance added value to the Conference discourse to some extent. I know how much I need the support of the academy but I equally believe the academy needs to work with those of us outside of university walls to better understand the challenges and strengths of using sociological theory and knowledge in an applied setting. The feedback I consistently hear in applied sociology discourse is that it can be fraught, alienating, complex, frustrating, exciting and creative all at the same time. We all, inside or outside of the academy, need professional support, opportunities for collaboration and the need to establish sociology as an accessible and useful disciple. So, I hope the value of applied sociology remains an important feature in future TASA conference planning and that we will continue to see an investment in developing more conduits for change-making knowledge and skills between theoretical and applied sociology