Dr Gretchen Ennis

BA, BSW(Hons) PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Areas of Expertise and Research Interests

  • Working with and developing communities
  • Cross cultural human service practice
  • Community cultural development
  • Networking approaches to social work and community practice
  • Housing

Current Projects

Building Capacity for Youth Arts Evaluation (Corrugated Iron Youth Arts)
The project involves working with Corrugated Iron Youth Arts to help build a culture of enquiry, reflection and meaningful evaluation.

The social impacts of LNG development and military expansion in the Greater Darwin area
A team of researchers from the Research Centre for Health and Wellbeing, including Professor Mary Finlayson and Dr Matalena Tofa,  are currently undertaking a qualitative exploration of the impacts of rapid growth associated with the liquid natural gas (LNG) industry and a growing US Marines presence in Darwin.  Focusing on the areas of housing, employment and women’s services we are exploring the issue of service providers preparedness for expected demographic changes, and their impacts.

Exploring the Health and Wellbeing Value of Participation in Youth Arts
Existing research tells us that participation in community arts activities is generally good for us.  However, we know little about why this is the case.  In partnership with Corrugated Iron Youth Arts we are seeking to understand the ‘how and why’ of  the positive health and wellbeing outcomes associated with participation in performance based youth arts activities.

Evaluation of Child Australia and Bagot Community Collective Impact Program (Families for School Attendance)
A year long developmental evaluation of a new community development project.  Evaluation methods include social network analysis and qualitative interviews with all stakeholders.

Heart’ Arts in Health Project Evaluation
Heart is an arts project aimed at providing meaningful, diversionary activity for people undergoing cancer treatment at the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre at Royal Darwin Hospital.  In partnership with the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre, we are running focus groups and interviews with all project stakeholders to gain a strong understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the Heart project and to better understand the role of ‘the arts’ in holistic cancer care.

Recently Completed

Evaluation of ‘Adventure Territory’ project  (Australian Theatre for Young People)
A community cultural development project aimed at engaging young people from Katherine, Northern Territory in school, using theatre arts and music.

Evaluation of ‘Watch My Space’ project (Corrugated Iron Youth Arts). 
A theatre and multimedia arts project aimed at raising awareness about cyber bullying in young people and their communities.  Completed in December 2012.

PhD Thesis.  Neighbourhood Networking:  A Critical Social Work Approach to ‘Creating Community’ in a Culturally Diverse Setting’.
PhD Awarded October 2012.

Professional Memberships and Awards

  • Member, Australasian Evaluation Society  (AES)
  • Member, Australian Association of Social Workers  (AASW)
  • Member, Australian Performance  Rights Association  (APRA)
  • Vice Chairperson, Happy Yess Community Arts, Darwin, NT
  • Committee Member, Cradle NT Inc.  NT.


Refereed Journal Articles

Ennis, G., Clark, H. & Corfield, F. (in press) Adventure Territory: An action evaluation of an outback Australian performance project. Youth Theatre Journal.

Ennis, G., & Finlayson, M. (in press)  Alcohol, Violence and a Fast-Growing Male Population:  Exploring a Risky Mix in ‘Boomtown’ Darwin.  Social Work in Public Health.

Ennis, G., Tofa M., & Finlayson, M (in press) Open for Business But at What Cost?  Housing Issues in ‘Boomtown’ Darwin.  Australian Geographer.

Ennis, G. (2014) Creative Forms for Creating Community. International Journal of Community Diversity, Vol 13 (1) pp 13-26.

Ennis, G., Finlayson, M. & Speering, G. (2013) Expecting a boomtown?  Exploring potential housing-related impacts of large scale resource development in Darwin.Human Geographies,Vol 7(1) pp 33-42. DOI: 10.5719/hgeo.2013.71.33.

Ennis, G. & West, D. (2013) Community Development and Umbrella Bodies:  Networking for Neighbourhood Change. British Journal of Social Work. Advanced access online publication 3 March. DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bct010.

Ennis, G  & West, D. (2013)  Using Social Network Analysis in Community Development Practice and Research:  A Case Study.  Community Development Journal, Vol 48(1) pp 40-57.DOI: 10.1093/cdj/bss013.

Ennis, G. & West, D. (2010). Exploring the Potential of Social Network Analysis in Asset-based Community Development Practice and Research.  Australian Social Work, Vol. 63 (4) pp. 404-417.

West, D., Ennis, G., & Heath, D. (2009) A Human Service Learning Community:  At Work in the Northern Territory.  Practice Reflections, Vol 4 (1).

West, D., Heath, D., & Ennis, G. (2009) Northern Territory Social Work: Views and Approaches.  Australian Social Work, Vol 62 (1) pp 74-89.

Other Publications

Ennis, G. & Davy, M. (2009) The Cradle of Shared Understanding: A history of Cradle NT Inc.  History and future directions booklet produced for and published by Cradle NT. Darwin.

Ennis, G. (2004) Learning the Lessons: Meeting the needs of early school leavers in the City of Greater Bendigo.  Report commissioned by Goldfields Local Learning & Employment Network and St Lukes, Anglicare.

Ennis, G (2004) Reconnect Evaluation, St Lukes, Bendigo.  An action evaluation of the Reconnect program facilitated by St Lukes, Anglicare, Bendigo, Victoria.

Conference Papers

Ennis, G. & Tonkin, J.  (2014).  Using Social Network Analysis in Community Arts Evaluation.   Paper presented at the Spectres of Evaluation Conference, Melbourne.  February 6-7.

Ennis, G. (2013) Unintended Consequences: Complexity in Processes and Outcomes in Community Arts for Health & Wellbeing.   Paper presented at the 5th Annual ‘Art of Good Health and Wellbeing Conference’. Sydney.  November 12-14. 

Ennis, G (2013)  Creative Forms for Creating Community.  Paper presented at the 13th International Diversity Conference.  Darwin.  June 26-28.

Ennis, G. (2012) Using network analysis in community development evaluation:  Potential and Pitfalls.  Paper presented at the Australasian Evaluation Society Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, August 29-31.

Ennis, G. (2010) Narratives of neighbourhood:  Grappling with colonisation in an Australian suburban setting.  Paper presented at the Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development, Hong Kong, China, June 10-14.

Ennis, G. (2009) Joining the dots:  Social network theory and community development.  Paper presented at the 20th Asia Pacific Social Work Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, November 11-13.

West, D., Heath, D., & Ennis, G. (2008) The Social Work Field Placement Landscape in the Northern Territory: Themes, issues and challenges.  Paper presented at the Strength In Unity Conference (Joint conference of the AASW, AASWWE, AIWCW) Sydney, NSW, November 9-12.


Location: Building Blue 5.1.63
Address : School of Health
                   Charles Darwin University
                   Darwin NT 0909
T:08 8946 7655
F:08 8946 6151