Officer of the Order of Australia recipient Professor Anne Graham says the prestigious award highlights the contribution of all who work in promoting the safety and wellbeing of children.
Southern Cross University Professor Anne Graham has received an Officer of the Order of Australia medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her distinguished service to higher education in the area of childhood studies, as an academic, researcher and author, and to child protection.
Professor Graham is the Founding Director of the University’s Centre for Children and Young People (CCYP), establishing the reputation of Southern Cross University as a key player regionally, nationally and internationally in providing high quality, high impact interdisciplinary research aimed at improving policy and practice in key areas of children and young people's lives.
For 13 years Professor Graham has led more than 60 research projects, including more than $8M in funding from five Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grants and two ARC Discovery grants and working with government departments and major international NGOs, focusing on children's rights and wellbeing in different contexts, as well as ethical issues in research involving children, and teacher learning.
While Professor Graham was “deeply honoured and humbled” to receive the AO title, she said the award was also an acknowledgement of all who work to raise the status, participation and protection of children and young people in society, while recognising Southern Cross University as a trailblazer in the children’s rights space.
“This is an award that is about ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ in that it also recognises all those who have worked alongside me over many years and those who work in the community tirelessly supporting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people using the research we have produced,” Professor Graham said.
“I’ve been delighted to receive messages of congratulations today from so many who have been part of this story over a very long time.”
“This award also acknowledges Southern Cross University’s pre-eminent place within higher education in the area of childhood studies. The work of the Centre for Children and Young People has now positioned Southern Cross University as the ‘go to’ institution in this country for safe, ethical research involving children and young people. This award affirms the University’s long-standing commitment to this work and to navigating the challenges that lie ahead in maintaining this important research focus.”
The Lennox Head resident said she was originally drawn to work in teacher education at the University because of the privilege of helping shape the next generation of teachers and supporting and inspiring them to be authentically child-centred in their own careers.
She said her biggest challenge in undertaking research that involves hearing directly from children and young people had been navigating some deeply entrenched assumptions that children should be seen and not heard, that they don’t have legitimate views or that they won’t be affected by difficult situations if these aren’t talked about.
“Thankfully such views are changing,” Professor Graham said.
“A central focus of our work has been to develop safe, ethical methodologies to ensure young people’s views are reflected in research. That way, we have a much better chance of developing policies, programs and services likely to make a difference in their lives. This is now transforming policy and practice and we are seeing such research being used in areas like family law, education, out-of-home care and disability services.”
Professor Graham said the work that has meant most to her has been authoring the grief education program ‘Seasons for Growth’, developed for children who have experienced significant change and loss due to death, separation and divorce in their families. Close to 300,000 children, young people and adults in five countries have participated, with Professor Graham training hundreds of educators to run the program, and continuing to closely support the further development of this work.
“There have also been so many others that I’ve been proud to lead such as a collaborative project for UNICEF and Childwatch International called, ‘Ethical Research Involving Children’ which produced substantial evidence-based guidance for researchers and policy-makers about how to undertake safe, ethical research with children and young people in a wide range of contexts, including in developing countries,” said Professor Graham.
“The work has now been translated into five languages and is being accessed in almost 180 countries.”
Professor Graham will be presented with her medal at a Sydney ceremony in coming weeks.
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