Melissa Laing

Melissa is a critical social work researcher with an interest in human-animal bonds and subversive social work practice.

Melissa’s PhD explores the nature of companion animal-inclusive social work practice in the context of social work in the Homelessness and Family Violence sectors. The human-nonhuman bond is especially strong in vulnerable interspecies families, such as those comprising women experiencing, or at risk of homelessness who have a companion animal. Non-human family members have long been excluded from the human services fields. In Australia, there is an emerging ‘companion animal turn’ in mainstream discourse about the need to attend to all members of interspecies families in a range of precarious contexts. What is less known is how this turn is playing out in the field of social work. Subversion offers one way that social workers can practice ethically and in line with their values. Melissa is interested in the way that social workers are practicing subversively to support women who have a companion animal. Melissa is also a Research Assistant in the Social and Global Studies Centre, and a Sessional Tutor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies.

Expert commentary on...

critical animal studies, human-animal interaction, critical social work, homelessness and pets, family violence and animal abuse