School of Population Health

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Child and Adolescent Health

Child and Adolescent Health is a growing research theme at the School of Population Health and spans a broad range of research areas aiming to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Children and young people are at the centre of our research. We work in partnership, led by communities and young people to address the structural, environmental and social determinants of health through strengths-based approaches. Our work is global and we have research partnerships in Indonesia, Fiji, Myanmar and the Asia-Pacific more broadly to strengthen health systems and address social and structural inequities.

We are leading research that is focused on the growing burden of non-communicable diseases among children and young people particularly around nutrition, alcohol and other drugs, mental health, injury, violence and self-harm, as well as sexual health and infectious disease.

Our researchers are collaborative and represent a true cross-section of disciplinary backgrounds, from psychology, epidemiology, health promotion, health systems, data science, social science, implementation science and health economics.

Importantly, our research translates to change on the ground.  Our research informs policy, is used in health economic modelling, has led to the development of models of care, innovative social enterprises and practical online toolkits to improve access to care. We work closely with health services, NGOs, clinicians and policy makers to ensure that our research achieves translation and improves the lives of children and young people.

Dr Melanie Andersen
Research Fellow SPH, Honorary Research Fellow The George Institute for Global Health

Melanie has expertise in the social and environmental determinants of health across the life course. She uses qualitative and quantitative research methods to answer policy-relevant questions. Her focus is on collaborative, interdisciplinary work grounded in public health and epidemiology but informed by fields including sociology, urban planning and cultural studies. Much of Melanie’s work involves working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to address community priorities.

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Dr Anne Bunde-Birouste
Senior Lecturer & Director of UNSW Yunus Social Business for Health Hub

Anne is recognised both nationally and internationally for her expertise in Health Promotion, Sport for Development and Social Change, innovative community-based approaches for working with disadvantaged groups. Anne specialises in fostering the nexus between practice-based research, teaching and social impact. In 2006 Anne founded UNSW’s flagship sport for social change program, Football United, which promotes social inclusion for disadvantaged youth and their families using soccer/football as the vehicle.


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Dr Patricia Cullen
National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellow

Patricia's research centres on strengthening health pathways for people who are disproportionately impacted by injury, violence and trauma with a focus on integrating trauma-informed care in health settings. Aligned with national priorities and recommendations for addressing trauma and violence, her research is informed by people’s preference to seek support in health settings and responds to services and peak bodies who have described a lack of coordination between sectors, and the need for enhanced workforce support to deliver optimal care.


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Dr Kathleen Falster
Senior Lecturer

Dr Falster's current research uses linked, cross-sectoral population and cohort study data to investigate child health, development and wellbeing, with a focus on disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, including Aboriginal children and children who enter the child protection system. Her interest and expertise lie in the use of epidemiological methods, including cohort and data linkage studies, managing and analysing large and complex datasets, and the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged populations.


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Professor Rebecca Ivers
Head of School, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow

Rebecca Ivers leads a global research program focusing on the prevention and management of injury. Trained as an epidemiologist, her research interests focus on the prevention of injury, trauma care, and the research to policy transfer in both high and low income countries. She has a substantial program of research addressing the global burden of injury, with a particular focus on inequalities in injury in low income settings, and the prevention of injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


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Associate Professor Rohan Jayasuriya
Associate Professor

Global Health (health systems strengthening; Human Resources for Health, health information systems development and Program Evaluation) Organizational behaviour in technology adoption; Psycho-social factors in Chronic disease (Diabetes, Hepatitis C, Osteo-arthritis, Chronic Heart failure) and in ageing (stroke rehabilitation); Social epidemiology and health inequity.


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Associate Professor Bette Liu
Associate Professor Epidemiology

Bette Liu is a medically trained epidemiologist who specialises in large scale cohort and record linkage studies. She has worked in Australia in clinical medicine and as a Public Health Medical Officer. She completed her DPhil (PhD) at the University of Oxford. She has played significant roles in the development of large scale prospective studies both in Australia and overseas. The main focus of her work has been to identify potential public health prevention strategies for common diseases through the use of observational study designs with a particular focus on infectious diseases in adults and their longer term sequelae.


Bette Liu


Dr Sally Nathan
Senior Lecturer

Sally Nathan’s career has been focussed on what it means to effectively engage consumers and community, in particular those who have been historically excluded from participation and decision-making in societal organisations and structures, including complex health systems. Sally’s research at UNSW has focused on the use of innovative methodologies and methods to measure and understand complex social processes and social change and this has included research into consumer and community participation in health as well as research approaches which engage and partner directly with vulnerable and marginalised communities and the organisations that represent and advocate for them.


Sally Nathan


Dr Patrick Rawstorne
Senior Lecturer International Public Health, Public Health and Health Services, Health Promotion

Behavioural surveillance surveys; survey based research; quantitative methods; data analysis; respondent driven sampling (RDS); the use of personal digital assistants (PDAs); mental health and HIV; capacity development training in research methods.


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Dr Rebecca Reynolds
Lecturer and nutritionist

Research focus on disordered eating and eating disorders (including orthorexia nervosa), eating psychology, body weight management and ethical nutrition. Regular consultant to the media and writer for The Conversation. Creator of ‘real nutrition and lifestyle’, nutrition and wider lifestyle consultancy. Passionate about: making real-world change, ethical eating, balance and evidence-based practice. Experience in academia, industry and government.


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Wellbeing Health & Youth (WH&Y)

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The Wellbeing Health & Youth (WH&Y) Centre of Research Excellence in Adolescent Health, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), is an Australia-wide network of researchers committed to championing good health in the Teenage Decade. WH&Y brings together clinicians, administrators, policy-makers, families and young people to transform how teenage healthcare is researched and designed so that all young people have the opportunity to experience the best possible wellbeing and health in adolescence. For more information on WH&Y

Prof Rebecca Ivers is one of the Chief Investigators, contributing to WH&Y Stream 2: Pathways & Costs, looking at the role of risk-taking behaviours, and injury as well as better access to healthcare for young people at risk of injury. View Publication.


Drive Global Investment in Adolescent Health

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Professor Rebecca Ivers is an investigator on an NHMRC funded Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) aiming to ‘Drive Global Investment in Adolescent Health’. Led by led by Professor George Patton from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, this Centre for Research Excellence will address the major technical roadblocks to investment in neglected aspects of adolescent health globally and in groups facing high levels of inequality in Australia. Investigators include Professor Susan Sawyer, Professor Louisa Degenhardt and Professor Stuart Skinner. Within the School Dr Amy Peden and Dr Patricia Cullen are contributing to the work, which will provide a clearer understanding of health priorities for decision makers as well as identify what the most cost-efficient policy and programming investments will be.


Positive life pathways for vulnerable adolescents

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Young people (13-18 years) referred to residential alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services are often at risk in a range of other health and psychosocial domains, including psychosocial distress, injury, self harm, suicide, homelessness and poverty. The Youth Pathways Study - an Australian Research Council (LP140100429) and Ted Noffs funded project has used mixed methods (linked data, surveys and interviews) to understand the experiences and outcomes among young people referred to the Ted Noffs Foundation residential AOD treatment programs.

See Project Details


Using sport to promote social change

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Sport is a powerful tool.  Participation can promote health education, empowerment, social inclusion, poverty reduction and even peace and conflict resolution. At UNSW’s School of Population Health, our team is engaging in initiatives that use sport as a means to create social change.

Sport for social change (SFSC) initiatives have been growing steadily for the last three decades and are recognised by the establishment of a number of UN Resolutions, diverse international networks and the United Nations Office for Sport Development and Peace.

In a world first, our team leads a global study on social enterprise as a sustainable funding mechanism for SFSC organisations to thrive.

See Project Details


Community-led solutions to prevent Aboriginal child injury

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Injury is the leading cause of death in Australian children. Our School is working together with Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in Walgett, NSW to see whether engaging young parents to deliver injury prevention messages can lead to better health outcomes.

Aboriginal children have higher rates of injury than non-Aboriginal children, particularly in remote areas. Serious childhood injury can have lifelong implications. Many of the risk factors that give rise to childhood injuries are the same as the risk factors for chronic disease.

Aboriginal Community-led interventions are likely to be the most effective means of preventing child injuries, but there has been little research or evaluation show what works best.

See Project Details