Welcome to [email protected], a new website started by the 2021 – 2023 ASASWEI Executive committee. Our aim with this website is to provide a platform for social work researchers and educators in South Africa who research the field of Social Work. The objectives of this website are as follows:

  • To provide a showcase opportunity for social work researchers to display their work and show the high standard of research we conduct in South Africa.
  • To provide an opportunity to social work researchers for compiling and directing the research agenda according to the social issues pertinent to the South African society and circumstances.
  • To attract fellow researchers that share the same research interests towards joint, collaborative research on these crucial topics
  • To create an opportunity for sharing and building research evidence that informs society of social conditions in the country.

How does [email protected] work?

Special Interests Groups (SIG's) will be formed and advertised on this website. SIG leaders will consider applications by interested social work researchers to join the SIG and participate in its activities. SIG leaders will then consider and accept these applicants to join them in directing research efforts on the topic of the SIG. Furthermore, SIG's can decide their research topics, formulate joint collaborative research projects, apply for funding if possible and publish links to their research articles or reports on this website. SIG's join the researchers' community and build common interest, research thrust and focus on pertinent social issues. Membership of SIG's is accessible to anyone wanting to join the SIG, as long as participation contributes towards research, publication and demonstration. Although researchers are mainly from the social work profession, they can join from another field or profession. Inter-disciplinary research is a possibility. Membership is free and not limited to educators or members of ASASWEI.

The benefits of [email protected]

  • SIG activities can contribute to the topics and themes of future ASASWEI conferences. SIG leaders can help set these themes and focus presentations on SIG topics.
  • SIG's can help connect researchers to international researchers as membership is open to anyone interested in a SIG topic.
  • [email protected] can upscale the scope of research, improve the quality of research, counter island type research of limited scope and build a robust research agenda.
  • The emphasis on sharing, collaboration promotes the strength gained from numbers!

Members' comments about [email protected]

"A good idea that expands the focus and relevance of ASASWEI in a way that I have not seen before" - Somya Abdullah

"I think this is a really great initiative to establish communities of enquiry in social work that could lead to viable and sustainable international research networks". – Alida Herbst


SIG topics and leaders

SIG 1: Supported education to student social workers


SIG leader: Marichen van der Westhuizen
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: As the HoD at UWC, Marichen has been exploring how self and professional identity can be developed within the curriculum, considering the socioeconomic challenges of student social workers. We are currently engaged in three studies (2 postgraduate studies and one departmental study). We want to collaborate with other interested researchers to see how a Supported Education framework could contribute to the empowerment of student social workers as the focus area of further dedicated research.

SIG Focus:



Additional Members:

Dr Shernaaz Carelse [email protected]

SIG 2: Ecometrics and Evidence-based assessment


SIG leader: Rika Swanzen  
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: Dr Rika Swanzen dedicated her Master's degree & Doctorate to expanding Ecometrics after completing a certificate in psychosocial functioning measurement by Perspective Training College. From 2007 to date, she authored 19 peer-reviewed publications and presented 20 conference papers. In the thirteen years prior to her academic career, thirteen years of direct social work practice experience were obtained in the child welfare, mental health, residential care and community development sectors. The previous Minister of Social Development appointed her to SACSSP as an education and training representative. This SIG accommodates researchers interested in scale and assessment tool development and how harnessing these instruments can improve direct social work practice with clients. The SIG focuses on all developing robust measurement tools.

SIG focus: The SIG will focus on scale development and the use of technology by social workers. Included is research on measurement tool development, validation and utilization in indigenous practice contexts, use and adoption of digital technology in the field of social work and management.


Additional Members:

Prof Wim Roestenburg [email protected]

SIG 3: Social Work graduate employability


SIG leader: Varoshini Nadesan
Contact: vnad[email protected]

Biosketch: As a senior lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, she lectures and supervises students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Her research interest is primarily in social work education. In addition, Varosh serves on the Board of Alcoholic Anonymous South Africa as a non-alcoholic trustee. Her research interests include graduate employability, field instruction, and alcoholism.

SIG Focus: The SIG will focus on social worker employability, competitiveness, training quality, job-readiness research, skill level comparisons and scarcity in the local labour market. Secondly, the SIG will focus on the role of field instruction in employability and job readiness.


Additional Members:

Prof Stephan Geyer  [email protected]

SIG 4: Social work management and supervision


SIG leader: Prof Lambert Engelbrecht
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: Prof Lambert Engelbrecht works at the Department of social work at Stellenbosch University. The South African Academy for Sciences and Arts awarded him the Stals prize in 2017 for his internationally acclaimed publications. In 2018 he was rated as an internationally acclaimed researcher by the NRF. He is an author or editor of numerous articles, book chapters and books, among other books "Management and supervision of social workers: Issues and challenges within a social development paradigm" (2014; 2019), and co-editor of "The Routledge international handbook of social work supervision" (2021). He received the Stellenbosch University Chancellor's Award for research in 2021.

SIG Focus: Social work's traditional research agenda is by its very nature primarily focused on intervention with the most vulnerable people of society. These interventions should, however, be managed and supervised within public and private organisational contexts. In addition, social work management and supervision occur at distinct organisational levels and globally and progressively transformed by neoliberal discourses to ensure evidence-based practices. Contradictory viewpoints emerge when some scholars resist managerialism, and others advocate increasing control over management and supervision practices in social work. Moreover, in many social work publications, management and supervision are depicted as two separate practices, remote from policy implementation, narrowly country-specific and operating merely within a clinical context, and not compliant with social development objectives.  Such conflicting tendencies are seldom accommodated as mainstream topics in social work deliberations, resulting in management and supervision as a neglected research trajectory, contributing to the profession's potential crisis condition. This state of affairs prompted a research agenda to delineate contemporary issues and challenges in social work management and supervision within a social development paradigm.


Additional Members:

Dr Priscalia Khosa ([email protected])
Dr Mpumelelo Ncube (
[email protected])

SIG topics and leaders

SIG 5: Gerontological social work / social gerontology


SIG leader: Stephan Geyer
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: Prof. Stephan Geyer is an associate professor (Social Work) in the Department of Social Work and Criminology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He teaches modules in addiction, gerontology, and research methodology. As research supervisor, he guides both MSW and PhD candidates in addiction, social gerontology and HIV social interventions. As an applied researcher, his research focuses primarily on addiction and secondary social gerontology. He is a member of the South African Academy for Science and Arts.  He received a C2 rating from the NRF in 2021.

SIG Focus: The SIG focuses on research in gerontological care in South Africa.


Additional Members:

Dr Somaya Abdullah - [email protected]
Prof. Annaline  Keet- [email protected]

SIG 6: Religion and Social Work


SIG leader: Abdullah Somaya
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: She is a social worker and holds a PhD degree in the study of religion. Her research interests are in the role of religion in social work and social development, with specific reference to Islam and social welfare.

SIG Focus: To study the role of religion in social work and social development.


Additional Members:


SIG 7: Social work and Trauma


SIG leader: Mariette van der Merwe
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: She is an Associate professor at NWU, COMPRES research unit, Faculty of Health Sciences. Four-year bachelor's degree in Social Work (cum laude), Honours in Social Work (cum laude), Masters in Social Work (cum laude) and D.Phil. in Social Work. Vast practical experience in a different context, such as Pollsmoor prison, clothing industry, NGO's, Childline consultant and private practice. Promoter and study supervisor for Masters and PhD students. Writer and co-writer of scientific articles on trauma, well-being, and marginalised populations. She frequently presents CPD training on trauma, well-being, social and emotional competence.

SIG Focus: Focuses on trauma issues, the management of trauma, Interventions and programmes.


Additional Members:

Dr M Herselman - [email protected]
Dr Pieter Boshoff - [email protected]


SIG 8: Women empowerment, sexual assault, Gender-Based Violence


SIG leader: Shahana Rasool
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: Shahana Rasool is an activist, researcher, trainer and academic in gender and gender-based violence.   As a Rhodes Scholar, she obtained her Masters and Doctorate from the University of Oxford. She is a professor at the Department of social work at the University of Johannesburg. Her research includes socio-cultural influences of help-seeking, social and professional responses to domestic violence, decoloniality, comparative research on adolescent gender attitudes and gender-based violence. She has published in cross-disciplinary journals; is on the JIWS and Gender issues Board, chairs the International Conference on Gender and Sexuality;  she is Vice president of ASSWA and the Asia-Africa Association of Women, Gender and Sexuality.

SIG Focus: The SIG focuses specifically on Gender-based violence in a community context, women’s help-seeking behaviour and community and individual interventions.


SIG Co-Leader: Vedhna Lalla
Contact: [email protected]


Biosketch: Vedhna is passionate about Development, Gender and Empowerment. She is a visionary. Ensuring that she delivers on her objectives is a crucial work ethic for her. Her experience within the NGO sector, National Government and Higher Education have enabled her to develop and facilitate many programmes on Leadership, Gender and Empowerment and HIV and Aids. She has also had the privilege of delivering papers on Peer Education, HIV/Aids, and Gender Empowerment locally and internationally. She is currently a PhD candidate with a focus on the empowerment and flourishing of women.

SIG focus: Focus is on the topics of women empowerment, sexual assault and gender-based violence issues. This includes identification, assessment and reactive and pro-active interventions, policy interventions and macro-level strategies

Additional Members:

SIG 9: Social work in health (Narratives of illness and health)


SIG leader: Alida Herbst
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: Alida Herbst is a registered social worker, professor of social work, director of the School of Psychosocial Health at the North-West University and a C3- rated researcher by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.  She has extensive practice experience as a medical social worker in public and private hospitals. Since the start of her academic career at the NWU in 2005, Alida participated in several trans-disciplinary research projects and supervised 22 MSW and 11 PhD students to graduation. She has authored / co-authored 24 peer-reviewed scholarly articles, has contributed chapters to textbooks and edited the textbook, Trauma counselling: Principles and practice in South Africa today (Juta, 2017). Her research focuses on the psychosocial health of individuals, groups and communities, with a specific interest in the narratives of individuals living with a chronic and life-threatening illness.

SIG Focus: Narratives of health, illness and interventions 


Additional Members:

Dr Nelia Drenth [email protected]
Dr Charlene Carbonatto [email protected]


SIG 10: Family-centred social work


SIG leader: Nicolette Roman
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: Professor Nicolette Roman, is a South African Research Chair in the Development of Human Capabilities and Social Cohesion through the Family; She is PI in Early Childhood Development (UWC), an Established Researcher in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Children, Families and Society (CISCFS), at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Her research focuses on family life including the family-parent-child relationship across the lifespan. She currently leads a COVID-19 project exploring Family Life during COVID-19, co-authored Chapter 8 of the first edition of the Country Report on Covid-19 and is a member of the Western Cape Steering Committee for strengthening families.


Additional Members:

SIG 11: Green Social Work; Environmental Justice & Disaster Management;
Sustainable Development


SIG leader: Poppy Masinga
Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: Dr Poppy Masinga is the current Head of Faculty of Social Work and Community Development at the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP), since January 2021. I started my academic career at the University of Pretoria in 2008 as a lecturer whilst studying towards a PhD with a special focus on designing a school-based violence prevention programme, which I obtained in 2017. I also hold a Master of Social Work Degree in Child and Family Welfare from Buffalo State University, USA and a Master of Social Work in Social Work Management from the University of Pretoria. I worked at the University of Pretoria since 2008 -2017 lecturing Social Policy and Community Development both at under-and postgraduate levels. Subsequently joined University of the Witwatersrand  in 2018, as a Senior Lecturer teaching both social policy and community development at both under-and postgraduate levels until November 2020. My research interests are in school violence, youth development, community development, green social work and disaster management, immigration issues and programme design and management. Currently, I serve on the Editorial Board of Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work and Journal of International Migration and Integration. I am the current President of ASASWEI and serve on the South African Council for Social Service Professions' (SACSSP) Foreign Qualifications and Continuous Professional Development Panels

SIG Focus:



Co-SIG leader:Louis Nyahunda   Contact: [email protected]

Biosketch: I hold a Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral Degrees in Social work, all obtained from the University of Limpopo in South Africa. My research titles for both Masters and PhD were foregrounded in climate change, gender dynamics and social work. Since then, I developed an insatiable interest in environmental social work, climate change, environmental sustainability and sustainable livelihoods within the prism of the social work profession. I am a well published researcher in the field of climate change, gender dynamics and social work. To date, I have published more than 45 peer reviewed journal articles and 10 book chapters.

SIG Focus: The SIG focuses on the social aspects of environmental sustainability, climate change, disaster management and green issues.

Additional Members:

Namoonga Chilwalo - [email protected] ;
Peggie Chiwara -email: [email protected]
Molly Shayamano -
[email protected]

Frans Matlakala: [email protected]


Further Arrangements

Interested researchers are welcome to contact the SIG leader by email directly. In addition, all social workers, whether practising or in academia, local and international, are welcome to join our SIG's. Finally, all other scholars interested in our topics may also apply.

New SIG's

Researchers who are willing to start, develop and lead new SIG's are welcome to complete the attached form. Although we do not want too many SIG's, we will accommodate a few more.