A career working with at-risk children

19 July 2018

Sarah Calvert
Dr Sarah Calvert

A psychologist who has influenced the way we deal with at-risk children in Aotearoa New Zealand is being given a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Waikato.

Dr Sarah Calvert graduated with her PhD from Waikato in 1982, having done bachelor and masters degrees at Waikato before that. Her doctoral thesis was titled ‘Women and Mental Health in New Zealand’.

During her career, Dr Calvert has worked in range of settings in the public and private sectors, mostly with children, young people and their families, and managed several major projects for the Ministry of Social Development.

She has researched the impact of family conflict, sexual assault, the treatment of victims and the dynamics of sexual and physical assault on children and adults.

Part of her job involved dealing with issues in Court. Her expertise as a report writer has been widely praised by judges, who have also acknowledged her contribution to the resolution of family disputes concerning children and the pivotal role Dr Calvert has played in discussions surrounding the function and role of psychologists in a difficult and emotionally sensitive area of the law.

Aside from her day job, Dr Calvert has made a significant contribution to educational research in New Zealand. She often collaborated with Professor Jane Gilbert from AUT and together they developed new ways of researching; combining psychotherapy techniques with conventional qualitative research. Their work was later republished in an edited book on major trends in science education research.

The pair also worked on the six-year FoRST project ‘Connectedness in Young New Zealanders’. It was a longitudinal study of about 2000 adolescents who were surveyed every year for three years. In a third study they evaluated the provision of Alternative Education in New Zealand and in the process developed an innovative approach for interviewing at-risk young people in alternative education facilities, previously expelled from mainstream schools.

Dr Calvert is a life member of the New Zealand Psychological Society and, as a representative of the Society, has been active in advocating for psychological services that best meet the needs of clients of ACC, the Family Court and others.

Dr Calvert will be presented with her Distinguished Alumni Award on 24 August, joined by four other awardees, Dame Annette King, international businessman Jan Zijderveld, Queens Counsel Miriam Dean and leading archaeological scientist Professor Tom Higham. Computer Scientist, co-founder of DeepMind technologies Dr Shane Legg received a Distinguished Alumni Award earlier this year.

Dr Sarah Calvert will give a public lecture from 10.30 - 11.30 on Friday 24 August at the Hamilton campus: "Feminism: what brings real change for women and children?" Please register to attend.

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