Dr Lynda Shevellar


School of Social Science
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 54927


Dr Lynda Shevellar is a lecturer in the School of Social Science at The University of Queensland, Australia. She has previously held roles in government and the community sector, and is influenced by twenty-five years of experience in community development, the disability sector, mental health, education, and psychology.

Lynda has worked extensively with community groups and organisations providing training and development, program and service development, and evaluation. Her work focuses upon the dynamics of personal, organisational and social change, and this interest is supported by studies in a range of intersecting fields. Lynda holds a PhD in Community Development, a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, a Master of Education (Training and Development), a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology and a BA. She is part of the non-profit Community Praxis Co-op, as well as 'A Place to Belong' - a local mental health network. Some of her recent work has focused upon the practice of community development workers within bureaucracy, the experience of people living with high debt and the impact of high cost credit, supporting people with disabilities and mental health challenges to develop a deeper sense of community belonging, and people's participation in community-based organisations. Please follow this link to find out more about her research profile and current projects.

Research Interests

    My research interests are multiple and varied - but central to all my work is a focus upon the phenomenon of meso-level community. In particular I am interested in ‘community-based organisations’ (CBOs), that are both formalised into legal entities or remain as informal but still recognisable structured entities. Research indicates that while community in itself, theorised as networks of people, is significant for a whole range of reasons (see for example, the social capital literature), it is at the level of meso-level community that people band together to move private concerns into shared public agendas for change. It is this clear developmental agenda which also distinguishes CBOs from NGOs. I am particularly interested in the interplay between personal agency and larger social structures that occurs in this space and that contribute to the overall health of CBOs. My research explores both the resistant and creative elements of this agenda. For example I examine the current threats to the lifeworld of CBOS, such as the audit culture, professionalisation, and other rational technical manifestations of the present truth regime. At the same time I seek to understand how we might respond creatively to these agendas; for example, by exploring the values and ethics of practitioners that safeguard good work; and by examining the kinds of organisational contexts and structures that support compassionate, community-based, development work.
  • Participation in community-based organisations
    This research focuses on the ways in which a new generation of people are being engaged in political issues and social activism. Current research suggests people are tweeting instead of meeting, responding with cheques instead of time and signing up for e-petitions not committee positions. However, critics argue that this does not replicate the face-to-face engagement of community. Taking CBOs as a site of practice, this research examines changes to community participation. It asks what shifts in participation CBOs are witnessing, how they are understanding and experiencing these shifts (both challenges and benefits), how they are responding to these changes, and what the long-term consequences of shifts in participation may be. Utilising qualitative research it examines community organisations across a range of practice fields, including those working in social, cultural, political, economic and environmental development issues. This work is being supported by a UQ Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Fellowship
  • NCEC research
    This is a two –year action research project being run by two UQ researchers in partnership with a local community cooperative. The project will explore and document NCEC’s key practices and processes, and through this process, influence discussion around social and labour policy relevant to the long-term unemployed, particularly amongst those identified in policy and practice discourse as ‘people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues’.
  • Research in the community sector
    This project emerges from the recent Research Symposium on Community Development hosted by UQ, Griffith Uni, USC and CQU on 22 May 2015. At the conclusion of the symposium there was great interest by participants in having an ongoing conversation about how research can aid collective efforts for social change and can strengthen practice in the community sector. The present project has been developed as an action research project in response to this request.

Research Impacts

Lynda's work is located in the interface of theory and practice. Her work is driven by three key questions:

1. What is the experience of people who live with heightened vulnerability?

2. How can we develop the agency and capacity of practitioners to respond to social disadvantage?

3. How can we more closely align community development theory and education to inform practice in working alongside people who live with heightened vulnerability?

In addition to publishing in academic texts and presenting at academic conferences, Lynda also ensures her work is available in industry journals more regularly accessed by practitioners. She regularly presents at workshops and forums for practitioners and agencies and works closely with industry partners in the fields of disability, mental health and community development to ensure her work is rigorous, useful and accessible.


  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Arts, The University of Queensland
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology, The University of Queensland
  • Master of Education, Southern Cross University
  • Doctor of Philosphy, The University of Queensland


View all Publications


View all Grants


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Featured Publications


Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Shevellar, Lynda (2013). How do we get people to behave appropriately during disasters?. In: Peter Rekers, Barbara Ryan, Hamish McLean and Phil Nickerson, Emergency Media & Public Affairs Conference 2013: Conference Proceedings. EMPA 2013: 7th Annual Emergency Media and Public Affairs Conference, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, (1-7). 2-4 June, 2013.

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision