Centre for Children and Young People

parent holding childs hand

About Us

Children and young people matter. Understanding their lives, circumstances and the issues that are important to them are central to our research. So, too, is identifying how such knowledge can improve policy and practice

At the Centre for Children and Young People, our research focuses on the rights and wellbeing of children and young people (0-25 years) in the different contexts in which they live their lives. Children and young people’s views and experiences are central to the research that we do, why we do it and how it is approached.

Located within the Faculty of Health at Southern Cross University, the Centre has partnered with over 70 organisations to undertake projects ranging from small community-based or regional research initiatives to major national and international studies, including 8 Australian Research Council (ARC) funded projects.

From working collaboratively with partners to develop an International Charter and evidence-based guidance and resources on Ethical Research Involving Children (now translated into 6 languages) to authoring the highly successful suite of Seasons for Growth loss and grief education programs (implemented in 5 countries with over 360,00 children, young people and adults participating) we focus on ensuring our research has measurable social as well as academic impact.

Research Areas

Our research focuses on topics broadly linked to:

  • children and young people’s wellbeing, safety and participation (in school, family, community and research settings);
  • the relevance and impact of policies, practices, programs and services designed to improve children and young people’s lives and circumstances (such as in schools, out-of-home care, mental health services, disability services, family law, juvenile justice, in disaster-recovery and resilience).
Explore our research

Research Approach

Our research is highly collaborative and underpinned by an understanding that children and young people have the right to protection, provision and participation (as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child).

This means:

We are proactive and innovative in progressing ethical and participatory mixed-method research with children and young people, regardless of background, age or ability.

Children and young people are involved not only as participants in our research but also collaborate in the design of our studies, advise on our progress, and co-develop outputs that are relevant for children and young people.

New publication alert

Day, K., Barlo, S., McPherson, L., & Menzel, K. (2024). Aboriginal dance as pedagogy: privileging voices of Bundjalung elders. Critical Studies in Education, ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2023.2298203

Professor Anne Graham

Centre Announcement:

Centre Director, Professor Anne Graham, AO has been appointed as Distinguished Professor, Southern Cross University.

The announcement was made by University Vice Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Carlin.

“The title of Distinguished Professor is reserved for the recognition of genuinely outstanding leadership and service to our University over the span of many years. It is the highest academic honour within our University and as such, is conferred only in very exceptional circumstances.

In announcing Anne’s appointment, I reflected on her focus on doing and leading the highest quality work that has real impact, her leadership through mentorship and in particular on her humility as a person and her deep dedication to our University and to our region.

Anne is a role model for all of us both as regards what she has accomplished and how she has adopted a very purpose and values led approach to her work and community engagement.

We are deeply fortunate to have her as our colleague and I hope you will join with me in congratulating her on her appointment.”

Meet our researchers
Associate Lynne McPherson

Centre Announcement:

Lynne McPherson: Chair, Out of Home Care Research


We are delighted to announce the appointment of Lynne McPherson as Chair, Out of Home Care Research, based in the Centre for Children and Young People, Faculty of Health.

The establishment of this Chair, a co-funded 3-year Professorial Appointment, offers an unprecedented opportunity to focus on knowledge mobilisation in Out of Home Care in Australia.

The Chair is a collaborative initiative between the Australian Childhood Foundation and Faculty of Health at Southern Cross University. It will build on an established, successful research partnership that has demonstrated the development and timely application of new knowledge aimed at improving outcomes for some of Australia’s most vulnerable children.

CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation, Dr Joe Tucci said that “a key driver for the establishment of the Chair role is to elevate the status of out of home care in Australia through strengthening the evidence base supporting it.”

Executive Dean, Faculty of Health Southern Cross University, Professor Julie Jomeen points out that, “For those who know Lynne, her passion for this research area is clear.  She brings to the role a deep understanding, at a range of levels, the issues facing children in Out of Home Care.  She is one of few people in academia who can bring that breadth and depth of experience to the research in this area. Lynne will also bring freshness and flexibility to the role and is eager to really address the issues facing policy and practice”.

Lynne said that she was honoured and humbled to be the first person to take up this newly created and innovative role in the area of out of home care. “This is a very important opportunity to allow the voices of the children and young people we all serve to be seen and heard”, she added.

Director of the Centre for Children and Young People, Professor Anne Graham, underlines the significance of the partnership forged between academia and industry by Southern Cross University and the Australian Childhood Foundation. “This Chair appointment provides an outstanding platform for the creation and mobilisation of knowledge to promote the best possible care of some of the most marginalised children in Australia today”.

Meet our researchers
Research Launch at Office of the NSW Advocate for Children & Young People Sydney

Research impact

We work hard to develop and sustain collaborative partnerships with government and community agencies to deliver research and program evaluation that has high relevance and impact.

Impact and engagement are critically important aspects of our work. Our research is focused on generating knowledge that can inform policy and practice likely to improve children and young people’s lives. 

Our research is widely disseminated. We do this through high quality academic publications but also through colourful 'plain-English' research summaries, 'good-practice' guidelines, websites, education programs, professional learning workshops, conferences and various digital forms. Explore Our Research and Resources to see examples for each of our projects.

Meet our researchers
Strengthening connections and relationships project logo: Heartspace: created by Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl artist Talah Laurie

Project Spotlight: Strengthening Relationships and Connections

Young people in residential care face major challenges that can prevent them from forming healthy relationships and a strong personal identity, which are critical building blocks for their wellbeing and safety. For the first time in a large-scale mixed-methods study, we will listen to young people living in therapeutic residential care, staff and managers across NSW about current practice and how it can be improved.

From January – March 2023 the research team is reaching out to staff and young people currently living in intensive therapeutic care (ITC) and ITC-significant disability to hear your perspectives about relational practice that strengthens connections and relationships for young people. To find out more, please read the information sheet and contact Meaghan at [email protected].

If you are interested in joining the co-design team, please watch our video and get in touch!

For updates on this project, follow #StrengtheningConnectionsAndRelationships on Linked In and Twitter.