Travel and Impact: Professor Melissa Bull

Melissa Bull

QUT Centre for Justice Director, Professor Melissa Bull recently attended the European Society of Criminology Conference in Florence, Italy where she presented a keynote and panel participation as part of the pre-ESC 2023 on “Research Methodologies in Policing Studies.”  as well as presenting as part of a conference panel on “Policing in a Digitalised Society”.

Following the conference, Melissa travelled to Ghent, Belgium, where she met with QUT Centre for Justice Adjunct Professor Marleen Easton. See below for Professor Easton’s summary of Melissa’s visit.

It was a pleasure hosting Prof. Melissa Bull (Director of QUT Centre for Justice, Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia) as Visiting Professor at our Department of Public Governance & Management at Ghent University. During her stay we intensively worked on: (1) revising a project proposal, (2) exploring innovative methodologies and how to integrate them in our research and teaching and (3) revising our current publication on policing and technology.

Furthermore, she provided a seminar for our department on ‘Understanding practices in the public sector through a different lens’.


Often, putting programs of public administration into practice and getting them to work in the way that is intended can be challenging. When there are problems, we often respond with an administrative review or an Inquiry. These generally rely on the analysis of administrative data or submissions from relevant experts – practitioners and/or academics. Such reviews are focused on how we can improve program delivery, but often the problem remains. This presentation gives examples of how visual methodologies can be used to put people with lived experience of the failures of public administration at the centre of analysis, arguing that shifting the focus beyond administrative data and expert assessments can provide a different perspective which opens new opportunities for both policy and practice.

During the research seminar Melissa Bull reviewed three empirical projects that deployed variations on visual research methodologies: visual ethnography of prison graffiti; content analysis of YouTube videos of ‘hooning’ behaviour; and a photo elicitation survey of women’s perspectives on policing gender violence in Vanuatu. She described why and how these methodologies were used, and discussed how they can unsettle research power relationships, potentially decentering the researcher and interrupting orthodox accounts of practices in the public sector.

No surprise that visiting Ghent in company of Professor Bull generated new insights on some of the visuals in our city!