Ms Deborah Lutz

Postgraduate Research

Research Area: Disability

Research Topic: The experiences of support work relationships within the ruling relations - An institutional ethnographic research study on the relationships between personal budget holders with intellectual disabilities and their support workers in Australia and Germany
Supervisor: Prof Kelley Johnson
Co-Supervisor: Prof Karen Fisher

Debbie has many years of work experience as a practitioner in the field of disability and has worked as a support worker, teaching assistant, program team leader, and case manager for people with disabilities in Germany and Australia.

Debbie obtained a B.A. (Social Work) from the Cooperative State University in Stuttgart, Germany in 2009 and a M.Ed. (Special Education) from the University of Sydney in 2011. She is the recipient of both an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) and a UNSW Arts & Social Sciences Top-up scholarship.

Debbie was employed as a Research Officer at the Social Policy Research Centre from April 2012 to August 2013, where she worked on a number of government-commissioned evaluations of services for people with disabilities. Following her employment, she spent several months in Ireland at the National Institute for Intellectual Disability (NIID), Trinity College Dublin, and returned to Australia in August 2014 when she started her PhD studies.

Debbie also has research and teaching experiences in the field of disability. Amongst others, she worked in the intellectual disability and behaviour support (IDBS) program for Prof Leanne Dowse at the UNSW School of Social Sciences where she also taught Qualitative Social Research. Furthermore, she has taught Introduction to Disability Studies at Cooperative State University in Stuttgart, Germany.

Research Interests

  • Intellectual Disability
  • Assistance/ support work
  • Support/care relationships
  • Inclusive and participatory research
  • Disability policies and reforms
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Ethical research relationships

Research Summary

Debbie's research study aims to better understand the relationships between people with intellectual disabilities using a personal budget and their support workers in Germany and Australia. Many countries, including Germany and Australia, have introduced personal budgets for people with intellectual disabilities. A personal budget is a sum of money that allows people with intellectual disabilities to purchase their own support work. Support workers are people who assist budget holders with intellectual disabilities in organising and doing support work activities, such as shopping, physical exercises, cooking or travelling to work.

Debbie’s PhD research investigated two questions: (1) How are people with intellectual disabilities in receipt of a personal budget and their support workers experiencing their relationships with each other? (2) How have the lived experiences of people with intellectual disabilities and their support workers in their relationship with each other been influenced by personal budget policies organising support work?

Through the methodology of Institutional Ethnography, Debbie has explored both questions in Australia and Germany. This methodology states that people’s everyday experiences are influenced by the ‘ruling relations’, which are policy processes and people’s practices that organise social settings, in which people work together.

During almost two years of field research in Australia and Germany, Debbie conducted participant observation and interviews with people with intellectual disabilities and their support workers from each country, interviews with disability service professionals in each country and analysed disability policy documents from each country. The empirical findings of Debbie’s research study identified and unpacked the experiences of support work relationships within ‘ruling relations’ across both national contexts. These empirical findings will be published in the near future.

Publications

Journal articles

Fisher, K.R., Purcal, C., Jones, A., Lutz, D., Robinson, S., Kayess, R. (2019). What place is there for shared housing with individualized disability support? Disability and Rehabilitation, available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2019.1615562

Lutz, D. L. (2015). Friend or worker? Understanding relationships between people with intellectual disabilities and their support workers through Institutional Ethnography, Human Welfare, 4, 27-33, available at: https://humanwelfarejournal.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/lutz_2015_final-edited.pdf (PDF)

Lutz, D., Fisher, K.R. & Robinson, S. (2015). Sharing the focus: engaging with support workers to include people with communication needs in researchBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. accepted 13 January. DOI:10.1111/bld.12126

Fisher, K.R., Lutz, D., Gadow, F., Robinson, S. & Gendera, S. (2015). A transformative framework for deinstitutionalisation. Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. DOI:10.1080/23297018.2015.1028089

Consultancy reports and plans

Purcal, C. Smedley, C., Jones, A., Meltzer, A., Lutz, D., Fisher, K.R., Robinson, S., Hill, T., Kayess, R. (2015), Supported Accommodation Evaluation Framework Drop-in Support, SPRC Report 11/2015 (PDF) [2 Mb], for the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Ageing Disability and Home Care. Sydney.

Jones, A., Purcal, C., Meltzer. A., Lutz, D., Fisher, K.R., Robinson, S., Hill, T., Kayess, R. (2015), Supported Accommodation Evaluation Framework Individual Packages, SPRC Report 10/2015 (PDF) [2 Mb], for the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Ageing Disability and Home Care. Sydney.

Purcal C., Fisher, K. R., Jones, A., Lutz, D., Meltzer, A., Hill, T., Robinson, S., Kayess, R., & Smedley, C. (2014). Supported Accommodation Evaluation Framework (SAEF) - Guide for service providers (SPRC Report 32/14) (PDF). Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Australia. 

Purcal, C., Fisher, K. R., Jones, A., Lutz, D., Meltzer, A., Hill, T., Robinson, S., Kayess, R., & Smedley, C. (2014). Supported Accommodation Evaluation Framework (SAEF) - Summary Report (SPRC Report 31/14) (PDF). Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Australia.

Bates, S., Raven, M., Fisher, K. R., Kayess, R., Newton, B. J., Lutz, D., & Smedley, C. (2013). Services Our Way Research Plan (SPRC Report 20/2013) (PDF) [401 Kb]. Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Australia.

Skattebol, J., Lutz, D., Nethery, D., D’aegher, L., & Brennan, D. (2013). Evaluation of the Youth Housing and Reintegration Service, After Care and Supervised Community Accommodation Initiatives: Interim Report. Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Australia.

Lutz, D., Skattebol, J., Thompson, D., & Eardley, T. (2013). Young people leaving care: policies, factors and effective models addressing homelessness. A literature review. Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Australia.

Fisher K. R, Gendera, S., Gadow, F., Lutz, D., Kayess, R., Meltzer, A., & Robinson, S. (2013). Specialist Supported Living Services: post-implementation review summary (SPRC Report 17/2013) (PDF) [2 Mb]. Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Australia.

Conference presentations

Lutz, D. (2017). What can Institutional Ethnography offer? Learning about the connections between the lived experiences of support work relationships and disability policies. Paper presented at the 14th NNDR Conference in Örebro, Sweden.

Lutz, D. (2017). Using participant observations to understand relationships between people with intellectual disabilities and their support workers: methodological insights and challenges. Paper presented at the 14th NNDR Conference in Örebro, Sweden.

Gadow, F. & Lutz, D. (2016). Prioritising the voices of people with intellectual disabilities in fieldwork. IASSID World Congress 2016. Melbourne, Australia.

Lutz, D. (2013). Privileging the voices of people with disabilities in the research process: practices supporting collaboration between researchers and direct support professionals. Paper presented at the Direct Support Professionals Conference 2013, Sydney, Australia. 

Awards

UNSW Arts & Social Sciences Dean's Award for Research Society Impact 2015

Australian Postgraduate Award and UNSW Arts & Social Sciences Top-up Scholarship 2014