A social connection

Making a difference in the lives of society’s most vulnerable people is what motivates Associate Professor Melanie Randle

After completing a PhD in marketing on attracting volunteers, Randle was employed as a research associate for a new project being conducted with local foster care organisations struggling to recruit enough carers for the number of children requiring foster homes. 

Together with a multidisciplinary team of researchers from marketing, psychology and creative arts, as well as practitioners from three local non-profit organisations, the $480,000 Australian Research Council-funded study investigated how marketing concepts can be used more effectively to increase the recruitment and retention of foster carers. 

This project was the beginning of a close research association between Randle and local social service organisations, which continues to this day. Over the next four years, she will lead an ARC Linkage project examining changes in perceived consumer value of disability services following the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). She will work with two local non-profit organisations that are faced with the challenge of operating in a newly competitive marketplace for disability service provision and having to compete with for-profit service providers. 

The bridge she has established between research and real-world situations is reflected in accolades the team has received from both academia and industry, including the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research Partnership and the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies Service Partnership Award.  

Inspired by social service organisations that work with disadvantaged and vulnerable people -- people living with a disability or socioeconomically disadvantaged -- on a day-to-day basis and face significant and complex challenges with limited resources, Randle is focused on making an academic contribution to the marketing field and providing findings that help industry partners achieve their goals. Randle’s family is an added inspiration to produce research that improves not only individual lives but also society as a whole. 

“I feel fortunate to have a job which allows me to pursue the research topics that are of interest to me and gives me the flexibility to combine my responsibilities as a mother of four children with full-time work.”