Go to top of page

Fraser Mustard Centre – driving high-quality research to improve children’s lives

An innovative collaboration driving high quality research to improve children’s lives

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

Dr Fraser Mustard

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.

Fraser Mustard Centre executive project group

Professor Sally Brinkman, Program Head, Telethon Kids Institute and David Engelhardt, Director, Data, Reporting and Analytics, System Performance, Department for Education are the Co-Directors of the Fraser Mustard Centre.

The Fraser Mustard Centre executive project group is led by Rick Persse, Chief Executive, Department for Education, and Jonathan Carapetis, Director, Telethon Kids Institute.

For further information, info.frasermustardcentre [at] sa.gov.au (contact the Centre.)

Fraser Mustard Centre team members

David Engelhardt, PSM, Director Data, Reporting and Analytics, Department for Education, Co-Director, Fraser Mustard Centre 

Mr David Engelhardt is the Director, Data, Reporting and Analytics at the Department for Education in South Australia. Mr Engelhardt is also one of the founding Co-Directors of the Fraser Mustard Centre, a research translation partnership between the Telethon Kids Institute and the Department. 

Mr Engelhardt is responsible for the performance analysis, reporting, performance reporting, data governance and data linkage activities of the Department. He is leading the development of a new reporting and business development capability, integrating data sources covering both departmental responsibilities and data relating to the broader determinants of learning and development within the context of both state priorities and national perspectives. He is also involved in dealing with a number of research projects which aim to use linked data to better understand population level drivers of educational and developmental outcomes. 

The development of a process to measure and report on the wellbeing of children at the population level has resulted in contracts with other state governments and the government of Dubai to provide these services on a commercial basis. Prior to joining the Department in July 2008, Mr Engelhardt has worked in health and community services sectors at an executive level.

Sally Brinkman, BA, MPH, PhD, Co-Director, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

ORCID: 0000-0001-7538-4844

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.

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.

Tess Gregory, BSc(Hons), PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-4799-6258

Tess is a Senior Research Fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute with a background in Psychology and Statistics, and holds an adjunct Senior Lecturer position in the School of Public Health at the University of Adelaide.

Over the past 10 years, Dr Gregory has been closely involved in the development of the Wellbeing and Engagement Collection (WEC) - an annual census of student wellbeing and engagement conducted by the South Australian Department for Education. Almost 100,000 students participated in the WEC in 2019, and the WEC provide an incredibly rich dataset for researchers interested in the social and emotional wellbeing of children and adolescents. 

Her research focuses on the social and emotional wellbeing, school engagement, development and academic achievement of children and adolescents. Her research is primarily quantitative and utilises large, population-level datasets including the South Australian Wellbeing and Engagement Collection (WEC) and the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), and she has a strong interest in psychometrics and measurement. 

Tess holds a Bachelor of Science (Maths and Computer Science) and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Adelaide. Tess has over 90 publications  including journal articles, technical reports, government reports, conference abstracts, and translational materials such as research snapshots and fact sheets.

Brody Heritage BPsych(Hons), PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6437-7232

Brody is a Senior Research Fellow at the Fraser Mustard Centre. Previously Brody has worked in research and teaching roles at the psychology disciplines of Curtin University from 2012-2015 and Murdoch University from 2015-2021 in Western Australia, and his research focuses on surveying instrument development and validation in the space of wellbeing and protective factors. The goal of this research has been to better understand which instruments are useful as screening tools to identify persons needing support in the workplace, or for younger persons in their day-to-day lives. As a complimentary arm to this research, Brody’s research has also examined how wellbeing-enhancing interventions for complex and chronic patients in the healthcare domain have demonstrated evidence for their effectiveness. Similarly, Brody’s research has also focused on how people working in demanding roles (e.g., healthcare workers) manage the demands of their jobs in order to maintain their positive sense of wellbeing, and how factors such as resilience can buffer these demanding aspects of work. The understanding of the factors that contribute and enhance the wellbeing of individuals, and how this is measured in a valid manner, are therefore the overarching aims of research Brody is involved in.

As part of these research domains, Brody is an investigator on the ARC-funded Young Indigenous Persons’ Resilience and Wellbeing study (CI: Prof. Rhonda Marriott) that is examining wellbeing and measurement issues related to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in rural and metropolitan areas of Australia. Brody has had 40 journal articles published or accepted for publication. Brody’s enthusiasm towards quantitative data analysis has led to co-authoring two textbooks for tertiary students on how to conduct and interpret data analysis, which have been used in hundreds of undergraduate courses in Australia.

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.

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.

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.

Sandra Van Diermen, Evaluator, Fraser Mustard Centre, Child Health Development and Education, Telethon Kids Institute

Sandra is an Evaluator with the Child Health Development and Education Team and provides vital links with the South Australian Aboriginal communities and Telethon Kids Institute. Sandra works closely with team members and provides a cultural lens to the work being undertaken with Aboriginal communities. She is a staunch advocate for Aboriginal children and families and has worked tirelessly to create positive change.

Sandra began her career in the Northern Territory as a Trainer/Facilitator providing cultural competency training and child protection train the trainer programs, facilitating workshops, conferences and delivering staff development to the early childhood sector.

In 2000 Sandra returned to South Australia and continued working in the area of child protection before beginning her career with the SA Public Service where she was the Aboriginal Engagement Officer up until June 2019.

Community & Country - Sandra is from the Yawarrawarrka People of the Cooper Basin and Western Arrernte Peoples of the Central Desert in addition to having a paternal lineage to the Cameleers who came to Australia as camel handlers. As a traditional custodian of the Cooper Basin and a descendant of the Cameleers, Sandra has wide-ranging cultural obligation and responsibilities to her community and country.

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. 

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. 

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.

Neida Sechague Monroy, MPH, Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute.

Neida joined the Telethon Kids Institute in August 2020. Neida completed her Master of Public Health at the University of Michigan in December 2016. In her role as a research assistant, Neida provides research support to senior researchers on the wellbeing partnership project funded by the NHMRC, which focuses on supporting students’ social and emotional wellbeing.

Tamina Islam, BPsych(Hons), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

Tamina joined the Telethon Kids Institute in September 2020, after completing her Honours in Psychological Science at the University of Adelaide where she explored young migrant and refugee children’s expression of ethnic identity. In her role as Research Assistant, Tamina works on the Electronic Use in Little Ones (EUiLO) study which is investigating the relationship between children’s exposure to screen time and developmental outcomes. 

Tamina is interested in achieving greater community outcomes through research. She has previously volunteered with Time for Kids, an early intervention and volunteer respite program for children in South Australia. Her experiences there highlighted the positive implications of research informed practice on the lives of vulnerable children and families. 

Adrienne Gregory, BSocSci, MPhil, Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

Adrienne joined the Telethon Kids Institute in December 2020 as a Research Assistant, providing support to senior researchers on projects commissioned by the Department for Education. Adrienne holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology and Criminology) and a Master of Philosophy (by Research) from Bond University in Queensland.

In Queensland, Adrienne provided support on a federally-funded project into crime on public transport networks which informed several industry changes across the state. Since returning to Adelaide, Adrienne worked as a project coordinator on service redesign projects in the aged care and disability sectors. Adrienne is passionate about early intervention approaches to support child wellbeing, and working collaboratively with stakeholders to translate research into practice. 

Benjamin Lam, BA (Psych), BIntSt, M.Biostat, Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

Ben is an accredited biostatistician and has completed a Master of Biostatistics and Bachelor of Psychology & International Studies. Ben joined the team at Telethon Kids Institute in February 2021 and is providing statistical support to several projects as well as working on data linkage of wellbeing data across several Australian states.  

He has previously worked on projects at the School of Public Health, where he looked at racial discrepancies in oral cancer screening, and SAHMRI, where he used complex survival models to predict kidney retransplantation. Ben’s work at the SPH was published in MDPI’s Cancers in Feb 2021. Ben’s interests in statistics include causal inference techniques and applications, analysis of longitudinal and survey data, and parametric survival models. Ben’s aspirations for the future are to contribute to the Australian statistical sphere, and to lead large Australian studies using novel statistical techniques.

Honey Ighani BSc, MPH, MPhil, Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute 

Honey Joined the Telethon Kids Institute in February 2021 as a Research Assistant working on the Electronic Use in Little Ones (EUiLO) study.  

Honey completed her degrees at the University of Adelaide with focus on Military and Indigenous health. She has worked as a Research Officer at the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies and tutored Public Health at the University Of Adelaide School Of Population Health. Her previous work experience also includes Migration Health and Support Programs at the Australian Red Cross. 

Paul Sandery, BA, BTeach, BPsychSc (Hons), CMusA, Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

Paul joined the Telethon Kids Institute in February 2021, providing support to senior researchers on a range of projects. Over the last six years, Paul has worked in a variety of educational settings across metropolitan and rural South Australia, and has been providing tutoring services to year 7-12 level students. Most recently, Paul was a Research Assistant at the Freemasons Centre for Male Health and Wellbeing. Paul is passionate about supporting children and adolescents, particularly in the area of mental health and wellbeing.

Zackary Boulton, BPsych (Hons), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

Zackary joined the Telethon Kids Institute as a research assistant in February 2021. As part of their role, Zackary assists senior researchers with a variety of projects, including the Electronic Use in Little Ones study and the Wellbeing and Engagement Collection.

Zackary has completed their Honours in Psychology at the University of South Australia, focusing their prior research on the social and emotional well-being of same-gender couples. Having also worked previously in various youth mental health and well-being roles, Zackary has always had an interest in the health and development of children, adolescents and young people.

Adam Gavin, BPsych (Hons), Research Assistant Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

Adam Joined the Telethon Kids Institute as a research assistant in October 2021, after completing his Honours in Psychology at Flinders University where he investigated techniques to improve problem solving accuracy. 

Adam is passionate about the implementation of applied research to enhance quality of life and human potential across the lifespan. He previously worked as a volunteer research assistant at the Flinders University sleep lab assisting with the investigation of adolescent sleep phase delay and cognitive performance.

Fraser Mustard Centre PhD students

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 Chong

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.

Catherine Johnson

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 Riggall

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 Osenk

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.

Establishment of the Fraser Mustard Centre

The Fraser Mustard Centre launched in September 2012, at its inaugural event: Found in Translation.

The online seminar between South Australia, Manitoba and British Columbia explored the value of knowledge translation as a means of addressing the underutilization of evidence based research in practice and policy development. That is, how to close the gap between what is known and what is currently done both at the strategic and local level.

The translation of knowledge has the capacity to inform our policies and programs to improve the outcomes for children and young people in South Australia. Manitoba, British Columbia and South Australia share a common goal for children and young people. The theme of the event supports this common goal and recognises the enormous influence of Dr Fraser Mustard in bringing it about. 

Fraser Mustard Centre

Phone: 8207 2039
Email: info.frasermustardcentre [at] sa.gov.au