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About the Fraser Mustard Centre

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

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

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

Fraser Mustard Centre team members

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.

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 and Child Development 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 and Child Development (DECD) 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 and Child Development 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 and Child Development 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.

Eleonora Dal Grande, BSc(Hons), MPH, PhD, Statistical Analyst, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

Eleonora (Lora) is a statistical analyst at the Fraser Mustard Centre, an innovative initiative between the Telethon Kids Institute and the South Australia Department for Education and Child Development aimed to improve research translation.

Lora joined the Telethon Kids Institute in February 2017, providing statistical support to senior researchers in the Adelaide team to deliver high quality research around early child development, with a focus on translating research to policy and practice.  Her current work involves analyses of datasets measuring the health, development and wellbeing of children in Australia including the wellbeing data for Australian school children, the developmental data for Australian children at school entry (Australian Early Development Census), and administrative data from government databases (NAPLAN).

Prior to joining the Telethon Kids Institute, Lora worked in the discipline of medicine at The University of Adelaide as a senior research associate and at SA Health as a senior epidemiologist.  She has worked in the public health field and with population health data since 1995.  This work involves the planning and implementation of surveys, data management, advanced epidemiological analyses of the data and preparation of reports.  She has played an integral part in setting up the monthly monitoring and surveillance population survey, SAMSS (South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System).

She has recently been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 2017 from The University of Adelaide (topic on telephone sampling survey methodology).  She has a Bachelor of Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science and Bachelor of Degree Honours in Mathematics from the University of South Australia, and has completed a Masters of Public Health in 2001 at The University of Adelaide.  Eleonora has authored over 70 peer-reviewed publications, 50 departmental reports, and 40 peer-reviewed oral presentations or poster publications.

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.

Emily Barnett, BPsych(Hons), Research Assistant, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

Emily joined the Telethon Kids Institute in January 2017 as a research assistant on the Language in Little Ones study, conducting recruitment and data collection for the 5-year longitudinal study and providing support to the study coordinator.

After completing her Honours in Psychology at Flinders University in 2011, Emily worked as a research assistant in the School of Psychology at Flinders University on a number of projects, including those on the topics of theory of mind in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and eyewitness and recognition memory. She also worked on Macquarie University’s ‘The Efficacy of Models for Educational Service Delivery for Students Living with Autism’ study from 2012 to 2015, and has previously worked as an ABA therapist for children on the autism spectrum,

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.

Sally Gardner-Brunton, BHSc, MPH, Senior Research Officer, Fraser Mustard Centre, Telethon Kids Institute

Currently, Sally is working on system mapping in the child protection space for the Early Intervention Research Directorate in South Australia. Analysing referral patterns and networks, the system mapping work is intended to give the South Australian government clarity and strategic advice into planning and resourcing for current and future early intervention programs in child protection.

Prior to joining the Telethon Kids Institute Sally worked for Google out of Singapore, managing employee disability programs to improve inclusion and diversity and reduce employment discrimination in the Asia Pacific Region, as well as designing systems and processes for consistent regional management of employee health-related issues. She has also worked in occupational health and safety for BHP, analysing and working on improvement projects for BHP’s Olympic Dam mine to improve occupational health outcomes.

Sally holds a Bachelor of Health Science in health policy and management and a Master of Public Health in occupational and environmental health, both from Monash University. As part of her MPH, Sally completed an internship with the World Health Organization in Hanoi, designing occupational health service systems for the informal workforce, predominantly in rural and remote areas, as well as advocating to the Ministries of Labor and Health for a country-wide ban on the import and use of chrysotile asbestos.

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.

 

Contact

Fraser Mustard Centre

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