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David Cox (1938 - )

It was his involvement in youth work in his church that led David to an awareness of the work being done by the World Council of Churches on the resettlement of refugee people in Australia, and ultimately to his career as a social worker. In 1957, under the umbrella of the World Council of Churches, he helped establish a non-government organization that eventually became the Ecumenical Migration Centre. He worked at the EMC while completing his Arts degree, then in 1959 left Australia to work with refugees as a volunteer on the border of Austria and the then Yugoslavia. His experience as a volunteer convinced him that he needed more training to be an effective worker, and David returned to Australia where he resumed working at the EMC, and undertook theological studies, followed in 1965-1966 by the post-graduate Diploma of Social Studies at The University of Melbourne.

David believed that his work with immigrants should be based on a community development model rather than the casework and psychoanalytic content of his Melbourne social work program, and to address this lack began working with Jean Malcolm, the Professor of Sociology at La Trobe University, eventually completing his PhD under her supervision while still working at the EMC. He finally left the EMC in 1975 when he became Director of International Social Service, an agency that focuses on inter-country social work. In 1979 he was recruited by Dr Len Tierney to join the Social Work Department at The University of Melbourne to develop further courses on cross-cultural social work, which he had been teaching part-time at Melbourne and La Trobe Universities. David stayed at the University of Melbourne until 1988, when he became Professor of Social Work at La Trobe University, with the goal of developing a focus on international social work and social development, which he saw as a fundamental but overlooked aspect of the profession. David was still working at La Trobe University when the interview took place on 10 September 1996.

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