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Dr Lynne McPherson on improving outcomes for young people at risk


Media and content team
24 August 2021
Dr Lynne McPherson

Can we transform practice to improve outcomes for young people most at risk, in therapeutic intensive care?

Dr Lynne McPherson, Associate Professor at Southern Cross University’s Faculty of Health and researcher within the Centre for Children and Young People has built a career tackling this very question.

Since joining the team at Southern Cross University in 2016 Dr McPherson has led a program of research that focuses on vulnerable children, young people and their families, and leading practice. She is a qualified social worker with significant experience in child protection, assisting some of Australia’s most disadvantaged children and families, and working in the field of abuse, trauma and violence, in therapeutic practice and education for more than 25 years. 

Dr McPherson is the Director of Research for the Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care (CETC). The CETC is an intermediary organisation formed in partnership with Southern Cross University and the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF), charged with the responsibility for developing knowledge and transforming practice at the frontline, supporting the implementation of intensive therapeutic care (ITC) system for vulnerable young people. 

“Our job as researchers is to build knowledge that can be translated into practice and ACF’s role as the lead partner is to provide on-the-ground knowledge development by facilitating communities of practice and practice reflections using the knowledge bank,” said Dr McPherson. 

Dr McPherson oversees a number of research projects for the Centre. The first project is examining the unique needs of LGBTQIA+ young people in an intensive care therapeutic environment, by conducting in-depth case studies with young people who have recently left care.

The second is a detailed investigation into the last 100 referrals into the care system, analysing what they can teach us about who they are, what their needs are and what the system needs to do to support them.

The final project, under development, will be a collaboration with Gnibi College of Australian Indigenous Peoples. It will look at the cultural needs of Indigenous young people in care. An anticipated outcome of this project will be the strengthening of Indigenous young people’s connection to their culture and community. 

Dr McPherson continues research in the field through her association with the Centre for Children and Young People.

“I was drawn to the Centre for Children and Young People because of its rights-based approach to involving children within research. Children’s voice matters and hearing their lived experiences enriches our understanding of issues that concern them,” says Dr McPherson.

Under the Directorship of Professor Anne Graham, the Centre is leading Internationally acclaimed projects such as in partnership with UNICEF, with so much of that work embodied in the work done in the Centre more broadly.

As an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Dr McPherson teaches in the discipline of social work and community welfare.

“I’m interested in engaging students with stories from the real world and how they connect to complex theories and research findings,” she said.

“We work in an area where, tragically, some families are highly disadvantaged, and some children are highly vulnerable. The problem of trauma, violence and abuse is a significant and ongoing issue in Australian society,” said Dr McPherson.   

“We need to have considered and evidence-informed responses. The solutions to these problems involve a great deal of knowledge, planning; and well-resourced, educated staff and leaders.”

Find out more about Associate Professor McPherson’s research here.


Media contact: Southern Cross University Media and content team, [email protected]