As a senior scientist in ESR's Social Systems Group, Graeme Nicholas is involved in research on complex social issues. He and the team work on issues ranging from family violence, to making social and health services accessible to vulnerable populations, to community engagement in planning.
Prior to working for ESR, Graeme considered social issues through a number of lenses, including as an Anglican priest, a church-based consultant on organisation and leadership development, and as an independent organisation development consultant.
"Our team at ESR works with stakeholders and experts in other disciplines to find practical solutions to some of society's most difficult issues," Graeme says. "My experience working 'at the coal face' of social development and community organisations has proven to be valuable in building a rapport with many of the individuals and groups we work with."
Based in Canterbury, Graeme and members of the Social Systems Group have been involved with a number of projects related to the Christchurch rebuild following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake
One of those projects was commissioned by Environment Canterbury to seek community input on the development of Canterbury's Natural Environment Recovery Programme (NERP).
"This type of work offers community members an opportunity to be engaged in the decision-making process," Graeme says. "In the case of the NERP work we enabled Environment Canterbury to work with a broad range of competing views on what needed to be done."
Graeme and the team are also involved in a number of research projects looking at ways to identify barriers to improving services and making services reachable.
"Much of our research is really about looking through the eyes of people who programmes or services were designed for and making sure that those services are appropriate and accessible," Graeme says. "That means getting into communities and finding out what matters to them, and what barriers might exist."
Graeme earned his Master's of Theology from the University of Otago. He also holds a Bachelor of Divinity and a Bachelor of Science - Microbiology.
He and his wife have developed a commercial walnut orchard. He serves as a board member of the New Zealand aid and development agency, Christian World Service, and is a director of Walnuts New Zealand Co-operative Limited.