A graduate of University of Western Australia, with a degree majoring in social anthropology and post-graduate qualifications in social policy and social administration, Winsome started her career as a free lance researcher. She authored major reports for national government evaluations and enquiries before being appointed to full-time academic positions first at the University of Western Australia and then at the University of Melbourne, where she taught community planning, organizational development and social policy.
Joining the Victorian Public Service in 1983, she worked as a policy adviser in the policy development division of the former Department of Community Services as well as in the intergovernmental relations unit of Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Completing her doctorate (on the distribution of social capital) at the Centre for Public Policy at the University of Melbourne in 1998, she then joined the Department of Political Science as a Research Fellow. Specialising in Australian politics, civil society, citizenship and democracy -that complemented her extensive experience and involvement in local community politics- she co-authored Australians and Globalisation (CUP 2001)
and Australian Citizenship (MUP 2004).
Winsome took up a lectureship in 2005 with the School of Social Work at the University of Melbourne. Her research agenda focuses on political economy of social relations and she teaches critical social policy.