Shirley Chau, BSW, MSW

(She, Her, Hers)

Associate Professor

Social Work
Office: Arts 149
Phone: 250-807-8739

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Dr. Chau also conducts research with individuals and communities in transition that experience social marginalization and social exclusion due to race and ethnicity, racialized identities, and racism, class (e.g., homeless populations), and other factors that influence their access to services in the health and social care systems in “large”, “midsized”, and “small” cities in Canada. As well, youths at risk of becoming homeless/houseless, including youths transitioning out of care (child prote

Courses & Teaching

2022-2023: SOCW 531: Antiracist anti-oppressive practice for clinical social work (Fall and Winter terms), SOCW 553: Research and evidence-informed practice for clinical social work.
2021-2022:SOCW 531: Antiracist anti-oppressive practice for clinical social work (Fall and Winter terms), SOCW 553: Research and evidence-informed practice for clinical social work.
2020-2021: SOCW 531: Antiracist anti-oppressive practice for clinical social work (Winter), SOCW 553: Research and evidence-informed practice for clinical social work.
2019-2020: SOCW 512: Direct theories of social work practice, SOCW 553: Research and evidence-informed practice for clinical social work (Fall and Winter)


Dr. Chau is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health & Social Development, School of Social Work at UBC Okanagan Campus. She holds a B.A. Psychology (Hons.) (Supervisor: Dr. J. Ogloff, Simon Fraser University), a B.S.W. degree from UBC Vancouver, and an M.S.W. and Ph.D. from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Previous to her academic appointment at UBC Okanagan, Dr. Chau was a clinical social worker specializing in crisis intervention work for a national service provider for large corporations. Other clinical experience includes her years spent working in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC as a research assistant for several psychiatrists and psychologists in large studies of personality disorders and assessment, including one of the largest studies involving data collection with adult twins in Canada. Her training and background in applied research in health and social sciences and her experiences as a clinical social worker have led to her interest in transdisciplinary perspectives on social problems and their impacts on individual experiences of social exclusion in interprofessional contexts (see her research activities below).  These experiences have led Dr. Chau to explore how these social issues and impacts can be “social worked” in a good way for good outcomes in health and wellbeing (social, cultural, etc.).


Shirley Chau (


Ph.D. (Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto)

M.S.W. (Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto)

B.S.W. (School of Social Work, University of British Columbia (Vancouver)

B.A. (Hons.) (Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University)

Research Interests & Projects

1. Project: Remembering and Commemorating Trauma.

PIs: B. Le Normand (History, Irving K. Barber School, UBCO) & M. Tamez (Indigenous Studies, Irving K. Barber School, UBCO), Co-Is: B. Buffam (Sociology), S. Chau (Social Work, FHSD), A. Hargreaves (English), C. Higgs (History), V. Magnat (FCCS), S. Porter (Psychology), and M. Ungureanu (Philosophy)

Funder & Funding Amount: University of British Columbia,  Vice President Research, Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters: Social Sciences & Humanities, $11,000 (2016-2017)

2. A community-based intervention to support belonging among the South Indian Canadian diaspora.

PI: C. S.Caxaj (Nursing, UBCO)

Co-Is: South Okanagan Immigrant Community Services Society, Lower Similkameen Community Services Society, S. Chau (SOWK, UBCO), N. Gill, A. Dhaliwal (Women’s Organizing Committee)

Funder & Funding Amount: Vancouver Foundation, $9,985 (2015-2016)

3. Queer(y)ing Campus Space: Experiences of Queer, Indigenous, and/or Students of Colour at UBCO.

PI: C.S. Caxaj (Nursing, UBCO)Studies, UBCO

Co-Is: R. Lee (FCCS, UBCO), I. Parkins (Gender & Women Studies, UBCO), S. Chau (SOWK, UBCO)

Funder & Funding Amount: UBC Hampton Endowment Fund, $23,740 (2013-2016)

4. Experiences of social cohesion, cross-cultural understanding as indicators of community-wide mental health promotion.

PI: C.S. Caxaj (Nursing, UBCO), Co-Is: Chau, S., McDonald, M., Pauly, B., Clark, N., Jakubec, S., O’Mahony, J., Damoon, R. & Leipert, B.

Funder & Funding Amount: Rural Health Services Research Network Team Building Award, $5000.00 (2013-2014)

5. Project: Understanding the process of building social capital in the economic integration of recent and long-term Chinese immigrants
PI: S. Chau, Co-Is: D. Lai, University of Calgary, M. Cheung, University of Manitoba, & J. Hughes, University of Manitoba
Funder & Funding Amount: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Insight Grant, $146,260 (3-Year Funding, 2012-2015)

6. Project: Building knowledge on the determinants of health of immigrants in smaller cities: a photovoice study
PI: S. Chau, Co-Is: C. Teixeira, UBC Okanagan Campus, D. Lai, University of Calgary, & J. Hughes, University of Manitoba
Funder & Funding Amount: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Operating Grant, $238,762 (3-Year Funding, 2011-2014)

7. Project: Developing knowledge about the determinants of health and wellbeing of immigrants in Kelowna, BC (A Survey).

PI: S. Chau, Co-Is: C. Teixeira, UBC Okanagan Campus
Funder & Funding Amount: UBC Okangan Interdisciplinary Collaborative Research Grant, $10,000 (1-Year, Jan. 2012 – Dec. 2012)

Selected Publications & Presentations

*Hughes, J., & Chau, S. (2013). Making complex decisions: Child protection workers’ practices and interventions with families experiencing intimate partner violence.  Children and Youth Services Review, Online DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.01.003.

*Yan, M.C., Chau, S., & Sangha, D. (2012).  An exploratory study of how multiculturalism policies are implemented at the grassroots level.  Canadian Ethnic Studies, 41-41 (2009-2010) (3-1), 49-75.

*Hughes, J., & Chau, S. (2012).  Children’s best interests and intimate partner violence in the Canadian Family Law and Child Protection Systems.  Critical Social Policy, 32(4), 677-695.  DOI: 10.1177/0261018311435025

Gray, D., Chau, S., Huerta, T., & Frankish, J.  (2011).  Interventions to enhance cultural competence of service systems and reduce health inequities: a multi-disciplinary perspective.  Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, Vol. XX, 1&2, 75-93.

*Hughes, J. Chau, S., & Poff, D. (2011).  “They’re not my favourite people”: What mothers who have experienced intimate partner violence say about involvement in the child protection system.  Children and Youth Services Review, 33 (7), 1084.1089.  DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.01.015

*Chau, S. & Lai, D. (2011).  The size of an ethno-cultural community as a social determinant of health for Chinese seniors.  Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 13(6), 1090-1098.  DOI: 10.1007/S10903-010-9374-0. (First published online on August 4, 2010 at

*Lai, D.W.L., Tsang, K.T., Chappell, N., Lai, D.C.Y., & Chau, S.B.Y. (2007) Relationships between culture and health status: A multi-site study of the older Chinese in Canada.  Canadian Journal on Aging,  26 (3) : 171 – 184.

*Lai, D., & Chau, S. (2007). Effects of service barriers on health status of elderly Chinese immigrants in Canada. Social Work, 52, 261-269.

*Lai, D.W.L., & Chau, S. (2007). Predictors of health service barriers for older Chinese immigrants in Canada. Health & Social Work, 32(1), 57-65.

Regehr, C, Leslie, B., Howe, P., & Chau, S. (2005). Stress, Trauma, and Support in Child Welfare Practice. The APSAC Advisor17(2), 12 – 18.

Regehr, C., Hemsworth, D., Leslie, B., Howe, P., & Chau, S. (2004). Predictors of post-traumatic distress in child welfare workers: A linear structural equation model. Children and Youth Services Review, 26, 331 – 346.

Tsang, K.T., Irving, H., Alaggia, R., Chau, S., & Benjamin, M. (2003). Negotiating Ethnic Identity. Youth & Society Journal34(3), 359 – 384.

Regehr, C., Chau, S., Leslie, B., & Howe, P. (2002). Inquiries into the deaths of children: Impacts on child welfare workers and their organizations. Children and Youth Services Review, 24, pp. 885 – 902.

Regehr, C., Chau, S., Leslie, B., & Howe, P. (2002). An exploration of supervisors’ and managers’ response to child welfare reform. Administration in Social Work26 (3), 17 – 36.

Alaggia, R., Chau, S., and Tsang, K. T. (2001). Astronaut Asian families: Impact of migration on family structure from the perspective of the youth. Journal of Social Work Evaluation and Research: An International Journal, 2(2), 295 – 306.

Chau, S., Lai, D., & Tong, H. (2012).  The role of social exclusion in the perception and experience of health and wellbeing of aging Chinese immigrants in Canada.  Presented at the 41st Canadian Association of Gerontology (CAG) conference, Vancouver, BC, October 21, 2012.

Chau, S., Lai, D., & Tsang, K. T.  (2012).  Social capital in the Canadian context: Relevance and implications to working with aging Chinese immigrants.  Presented at the Knowledge Mobilization Symposium: Social Work with Chinese Communities: Integration of Research and Professional Practice in a Global Context, Vancouver, BC, October 2, 2012.

Chau, S. (2012).  “It’s a piece of cake to conduct research on immigrants, isn’t it?”  Presented at Metropolis National Conference (For theme of Housing & Health among immigrants), Toronto, Ontario, March 2, 2012.

Chau, S., Lai, D., & Tong, H. (2011).  Social exclusion in aging immigrants: Perspectives of aging Chinese immigrants in Canada. Presented at 40th Canadian Association of Gerontology (CAG) conference, Toronto, Ontario, October 23, 2011.

Hughes, J., & Chau, S. (2011).  Women’s experiences as evidence to improve social workers’ responses to intimate partner violence in the child welfare.  Presented at the International Conference of Violence Against Women: Complex Realities and New Issues in a Changing World, Montreal, QC, May 31, 2011.

Chau, S., & Lai, D. (2010).  Cultural influences in the physical and mental health status of aging Chinese adults in the Canadian context.  Presented at the 39th Canadian Association of Gerontology (CAG) conference, Montreal, QC, Dec. 4, 2010.


Meet Your Professor video: Shirley Chau (


Apologies, but no results were found.