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Working together to improve the development, education, health and wellbeing of young Australians, the Telethon Kids Institute and the the department have joined forces in a unique approach to research translation.
The Fraser Mustard Centre has been created to bring together leading Australian child development researchers and innovative government policy makers and planners.
The Telethon Kids Institute has a proven track record of successfully translating research findings into actions that make a real difference to the lives of children everywhere. By working with the department, key decision makers have first-hand access to the research that will provide valuable insight into the development, education, health and wellbeing of children and young people. This can then be translated into policy decisions based on the highest quality research and evidence.
This initiative supports the new directions for South Australia around the realignment of key services for children and families by having access to world class research and expertise.
The Fraser Mustard Centre collaboration aims to:
- improve and promote the health and wellbeing of all children and young people in South Australia through the unique application of multidisciplinary research
- help shift focus from the historical delineation between health and education services to an integrated approach with a focus on child development
- build capacity amongst public sector staff and academic researchers to design, undertake and use research to improve the environments in which children live and the service systems which support families
- attract funding for shared priorities for research that leads to improved developmental, education, health and wellbeing outcomes for children
The Centre is named in honour of leading Canadian researcher and former Adelaide Thinker-in-Residence, Dr Fraser Mustard. Dr Mustard was a world leader in early childhood development and the social and economic influences on human development and health. His career spanned health sciences, research and the public sector. He was also the man behind Canada's Institute for Advanced Research, as well as a Canadian Medical Hall of Fame inductee.
In 2006, Dr Mustard brought his expertise on child development to South Australia and his work inspired pioneering government strategies and policy direction. The resulting partnerships promoted innovation in parenting programs, built strategic legacies and enhanced the state’s reputation as a committed leader in child development.
For further information, info.frasermustardcentre [at] sa.gov.au (contact the Centre.)
Sally Brinkman, BA, MPH, PhD, Co-Director, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Sally is a social epidemiologist with the majority of her research focusing on societies' impact on child development.
Sally is the Head of Child Health Development and Education at the world-renowned Telethon Kids Institute in Perth. Sally is also the Co-Director of the Fraser Mustard Centre, an innovative initiative between the Telethon Kids Institute and the South Australia Department of Education and Child Development aimed to improve research translation.
Sally is well known for spearheading the use of the Early Development Instrument (EDI) in Australia, being the first to pilot the instrument outside of Canada. Sally continues to work across the country to help facilitate the use of the Australian EDI (the AEDI) working with communities, service providers and governments.
Locally, Sally consults to the Department of Children's Services policy directorate primarily around data linkage, the children's centres operational group around evaluation, and the SA AEDI team around community advocacy and research translation. Internationally, Sally works with governments and donor organisations such as the World Bank, UNICEF, AusAID and the Bernard Van Leer Foundation working with various measures of child development for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
Sally has over 100 publications including books, chapters, monographs and journal articles covering topics such as infant mouthing behaviours, child physical activity and nutrition levels, the measurement of alcohol related violence, the evaluation of teenage pregnancy prevention programs, how child development varies across communities and the impact of socio economics and service integration on child development.
As such Sally brings locally, nationally and internationally recognised epidemiological skills particularly in relation to population monitoring of child development and education. She has a commitment to practical, pragmatic and translatable research.
Tess Gregory, BSc(Hons), PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Tess is a Senior Research Fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute. Tess sits in the Fraser Mustard Centre, an innovative initiative between the Telethon Kids Institute and the South Australia Department for Education aimed to improve research translation. Since 2012, Tess has worked across a series of research projects, using data from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) to deliver high quality academic research and to translate research findings into policy briefs, research snapshots, and fact sheets for the federal government's Department of Education and Training and the general public via the AEDC website. These projects have explored: the link between the AEDC and NAPLAN, the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Indigenous children on the AEDC, the development of strength based indicators for the AEDC programme, and the development of the critical difference indicators to help understand whether community level changes over time in the AEDC are statistically significant.
Tess also works with policy makers from the Department for Education in South Australia on a range of different projects through her position in the Fraser Mustard Centre. One of these key projects involved measuring student wellbeing in South Australian school children using the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI). Tess has been involved in the project over the past four years and works closely with colleagues within Business Intelligence on the data collection, data cleaning, statistical analyses and translation of the research findings. Tess is a chief investigator on a recently awarded ARC Linkage Project grant with colleagues from the Telethon Institute, Menzies School for Population Health, and the University of British Columbia to psychometrically validate the MDI for use in Australia, including culturally adapting the tool for Australian Aboriginal children.
Tess holds a Bachelor of Science (Maths and Computer Science) and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Adelaide. Tess has over 50 publications including journal articles, technical reports, government reports, conference abstracts, and translational materials such as research snapshots and fact sheets.
Yasmin Harman-Smith, BHlthSci, PhD, Deputy Director, Research Fellow, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Dr Yasmin Harman-Smith is the Deputy Director of the Fraser Mustard Centre and the Child Health, Development and Education group at the Telethon Kids Institute. In this role Yasmin works closely with policy makers and practitioners to design evaluations in partnership and inform systems that support children and families in the early years.
Dr Harman-Smith sits on the National Child Community Health Council and is the Deputy Chair of the board of Gowrie SA. Presently, Yasmin also manages national support services to AEDC Coordinators and the Australian Government Department for Education and Training for the Australian Early Development Census program.
Yasmin has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Adelaide. Her honours and PhD research was in the area of child development, where she investigated the development of theory of mind in children with and without autism.
Alanna Sincovich, BPsych(Hons), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Alanna is a research assistant at the Fraser Mustard Centre, an innovative initiative between the Telethon Kids Institute and the South Australian Department for Education aimed to improve research translation.
Alanna joined the Telethon Kids Institute in 2013, before which she completed an Honours degree in Psychology at the University of Adelaide. In this time, Alanna has worked across a range of projects including: the provision of support for the National Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) program, a mixed-methods evaluation of the community playgroup program, a cross-disciplinary national study exploring how community-level factors are influencing children’s developmental outcomes in Australia, a project exploring the impact of mining towns on Indigenous child development, and a project aimed at developing a national interdisciplinary educational framework for professionals working with children in the early years.
Internationally, Alanna consults for the World Bank, providing support for the implementation and evaluation of early childhood education programs in low and middle income countries. She also consults to the University of Hong Kong and the China Development Research Fund working with various measures of child development for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
In 2017, Alanna commenced her PhD at the University of Adelaide. Her project aims to utilise datasets from the early Human Capability Index (eHCI) in low and middle income countries in order to explore the tool’s psychometric properties and inform future strategies in measuring and monitoring early childhood development.
Ashleigh Wilson, BHlthSc(Nutr), MPH, Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Ashleigh holds a Bachelor degree in Health Science majoring in Nutrition, and a Master’s Degree in Public Health with a focus on qualitative research methods.
Since joining the Telethon Kids Institute in June 2015, Ashleigh has worked on various projects including the Kids in Communities Study (KICS); a cross-disciplinary national study exploring how community-level factors are influencing children’s developmental outcomes in Australia.
Currently, Ashleigh’s work is primarily centred on supporting the National Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) program - a triennial nationwide data collection of early childhood development. Ashleigh supports the Australian Government Department of Education and Training around the AEDC, providing AEDC State and territory coordinators with strategic advice and support and developing engagement resources to support the implementation and utilisation of the AEDC by communities, schools, governments and researchers. Ashleigh also provides research support to the team’s senior staff on resource development projects, aimed to support schools and early child care sectors to use the AEDC in their policy and planning, promoting stronger links between sectors and the broader early childhood community.
Mary Brushe, BPsych(Hons), Study Coordinator, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Mary is a Study Coordinator at the Fraser Mustard Centre, an innovative initiative between the Telethon Kids Institute and the South Australian Department for Education aimed to improve research translation.
Mary joined the Telethon Kids Institute in June 2016, before which she completed her Honours in Psychology at the University of Adelaide. In her role, Mary coordinates the Language in Little Ones (LiLO) study, a 5-year longitudinal study investigating language in the home environment during the early years and the impact that has on children’s later outcomes. She is also providing research support on the development of an on-entry to school measure that is currently being piloted within South Australian preschools and schools.
Prior to joining the Telethon Kids Institute, Mary worked in a variety of roles that focused on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and families at Emerging Minds, Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) national initiative and Orygen: The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.
Maddison Hood, BPsych(Hons), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Maddison joined the Telethon Kids Institute in January 2017, before which she completed her Honours in Psychology at Flinders University in 2016. In her role as research assistant, Maddison works on the Language in Little Ones study, specifically conducting recruitment and data collection for the 5-year longitudinal study and providing support to the study coordinator.
Maddison’s previous experience has focused on vulnerable young people and their families through her time as a youth worker at Workskil and volunteer mentor at Service to Youth Council (SYC). Maddison also has experience working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families and kindergartens through her Honours thesis which investigated school readiness in children with autism.
Elizabeth Button, BPsych(Hons), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Lizzie joined the Telethon Kids Institute as a research assistant in 2017, and currently works on a number of projects focused on research translation.
Lizzie has completed her Honours in Psychology and has worked in a number of research assistant roles in the areas of child development and education, forensic psychology, organisational psychology and palliative care.
Trudy Crickmar, BECE, Office Manager/Personal Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Trudy joined the Telethon Kids Institute in May 2017, before which she worked in similar positions in a variety of industries. She has always had an interest in child health and development and completed a Bachelor in Early Childhood Education at the University of South Australia.
Trudy is both Office Manager and Personal Assistant to Sally Brinkman, providing administration support as well as managing the finances and operations of the Fraser Mustard Centre.
Luke Collier, BPsych, Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Luke joined the Telethon Kids Institute in September 2017, before which he completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science at The University of Adelaide in 2016. In his role as a research assistant, Luke provides research support to senior researchers on a number of projects aimed at translating findings into policy and practice.
Luke has interests in both health and statistics, for which he is currently completing post-graduate study in biostatistics through The University of Adelaide.
Bridgette Syrus, BHMS (Nutritional Health), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Bridgette joined the Telethon Kids Institute in May 2019, after completing her Bachelor of Health and Medical Sciences majoring in Nutritional Health at the University of Adelaide. In her role as research assistant, Bridgette works on the Language in Little Ones (LiLO) study and recently begun supporting the Electronic Use in Little Ones study too, which is investigating the relationship between electronic noise use/screen time and child development outcomes.
Bridgette has a passion for public health and strives to improve the overall health and wellbeing of all Australians. She has previous experience working with children as a swimming instructor for over 5 years. There, she specialised in working with students with both physical and learning disabilities.
Hero Moller, BA(Hons), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Hero joined the Telethon Kids Institute in February 2020 as a research assistant, providing support to senior researchers on projects commissioned by the Department for Education. After completing an Honours degree in Bachelor of Arts at University of Glasgow in 2017, she is now studying for a Master of Public Health at the University of Adelaide.
Throughout her course Hero has focused on topics such as postnatal depression and maternal morbidity, and is particularly interested in the antenatal period and early years as an important site for interventions and ensuring positive developmental outcomes for children.
Gianfranco Carosi, Bachelor of Health and Medical Science (Public Health), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Gianfranco completed a bachelor’s degree in Health and Medical Science at the end of 2019 with a major in public health. Gianfranco joined the Telethon Kids Institute in March 2020, where he assists the team in conduct tasks such as literature reviews and data analysis.
Gianfranco has a continued interest in several public health factors, particularly in the health and research into children and adolescent health needs and risk factors.
Abbey Belton, BPsych(Hons), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Abbey joined the Telethon Kids Institute in February 2020 as a research assistant in the Language in Little Ones study. She is specifically conducting recruitment and data collection for the 5-year longitudinal study and providing support to the study coordinator.
Abbey completed her Honours in Psychology at the University of South Australia in 2018, where she worked with primary school aged children investigating the relationship between sleeping habits and cognitive functions. She has always been particularly interested in working with children in a capacity that contributes to the improvement of their overall health and wellbeing.
Alisha Staines, BHSC Major in Environmental & Public Health, Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kid Institute
Alisha joined the Telethon Kids Institute in March 2020, after completing her Bachelor of Health Sciences majoring in Environmental and Public Health at Flinders University. In her role as research assistant, Alisha works in the Language in Little Ones study.
Alisha has a passion for further improving and empowering youth, as well as improving the overall health of all Australians. She has previously worked as a Student Ambassador for Yunggorendi (Flinders University’s Office of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement), as well as a presenter for the Carly Ryan Foundation.
Blair Grace, BSc, PostGrad Dip Sci, PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute, Department for Education
Blair currently works between the Fraser Mustard Centre and the South Australian Department for Education, on a NHMRC funded project, which looks at supporting students’ social, emotional wellbeing and mental health in the education system.
Blair has a BSc in Maths and Zoology (Monash University), a PostGrad Dip in Tropical Ecology (James Cook University), a PhD in modelling plant and insect populations (University of New England) and a Grad Cert in Biostatistics (University of Adelaide). He has worked for various state and territory governments and universities in biological control, fisheries, biodiversity, health epidemiology, mental health surveys and education. He has worked as a statistician / analyst in DfE for 3 years, much of this time working on the Wellbeing and Engagement Collection.
Ellen Harvey, BSocWk(Hons), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute
Ellen joined the Telethon Kids Institute in April 2020, after completing her Bachelor of Social Work with Honours at Flinders University in January 2020 where she explored the role of Social Workers in managing complexity in rural health settings. In her role as a research assistant, Ellen is working on projects commissioned by the Department for Education and the Department of Human Services.
Ellen has a passion for promoting child health and wellbeing, having had experience working with primary school aged children with a disability or trauma background and volunteering with the Starlight Children’s Foundation to promote connection and positive distraction for children in hospital. Ellen has always been interested in the intersection of complex social issues and health and development outcomes for children, seeing early intervention and engagement as a key factor in promoting positive outcomes for children and families.
In honour of Dr Fraser Mustard, the Fraser Mustard PhD Top-Up Scholarship was established to fund a new PhD student each year, based in the Fraser Mustard Centre, Adelaide.
The scholarship provides additional funding support to a PhD candidate who has been awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) to undertake a PhD. The intent of this is to attract outstanding students who are passionate about improving developmental, health and educational outcomes for children and young people.
It is envisaged that with the appropriate support, these researchers will later contribute to the advancement of policy and practice in the area of child development.
Shiau was the inaugural recipient of the Fraser Mustard Centre Scholarship in 2013, completing a PhD in the School of Population Health at the University of Adelaide. In 2016, Shiau submitted her PhD thesis titled: The influence of early childhood temperament and parenting on cognitive, social and health outcomes.
Shiau qualified for her PhD in August 2016 and was awarded a Dean’s Commendation for her thesis. Shiau was supervised by Dr Tess Gregory from the Telethon Kids Institute, as well as Associate Professor Lisa Smithers, Dr Catherine Chittleborough, Dr Murthy Mittinty, and Professor John Lynch from the University of Adelaide.
The second Fraser Mustard Centre Scholarship was awarded to Catherine in 2014. Catherine is completing a PhD in the School of Psychology at Flinders University under the supervision of Professor Tracey Wade and Associate Professor Sally Brinkman.
Catherine's project is titled Mindfulness in Schools: A transdiagnostic prevention programme. This project will assess a 9 module mindfulness programme tailored for adolescents, on a range of outcome measures including anxiety, depression, wellbeing, and eating disorder risk factors. The project will also examine mediators of change to assess the mechanisms by which this approach exerts its effects.
Kate was awarded the third Fraser Mustard Centre Scholarship in 2017. Kate is completing a PhD in the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of South Australia under the supervision of Professor Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Dr Mark Kohler, and Associate Professor Sally Brinkman.
Kate’s project aims to investigate the alpha frequency of the human electroencephalogram (EEG) as a physiological correlate of cognitive development. She will determine how it is influenced by aspects of the child’s environment) and how it leads to behavioural and learning outcomes.
Ivana was awarded the fourth Fraser Mustard Centre scholarship in 2018. Ivana is a provisional psychologist completing a Clinical PhD in the School of Psychology at Flinders University under the supervision of Professor Tracey Wade and Professor Sally Brinkman.
Ivana’s project aims to investigate the effect of unhelpful perfectionism on academic achievement in young adolescents. Additionally, she will develop and assess the effects on a school-based intervention program for perfectionism on depression, stress, self-criticism and general wellbeing, and investigate the extent to which self-compassion mediates this relationship.
Fraser Mustard Centre
Phone: 8207 2039
Email: info.frasermustardcentre [at] sa.gov.au