News and Events

Congratulations to Dot Henning

Dots front page IJSA March 2014Dot Henning is congratulated for her efforts in leading new research into the sexually transmitted infection Mycoplasma genitalium in young people experiencing homelessness who access care at the Young People’s Health Service (YPHS) that is run by the Centre for Adolescent Health.

The study offered STI screening (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Mycoplasma Genitalium) to asymptomatic young people accessing primary level care at YPHS for health concerns other than sexual and reproductive health. Of the sixty young people tested, 8 tested positive for Mycoplasma Genitalium and 10 for Chlamydia, and three testing positive for both. Mycoplasma Genitalium is increasingly recognized as an important STI, and this study provides important data to the prevalence of this STI amongst marginalized youth. Additionally, this study highlights the complex health needs of this population, and supports the need for comprehensive primary health care.The research findings have just been published in the March 2014 edition of the International Journal of STD & AIDS with the article gaining a mention on the journal’s front cover. Dr Peter Azzopardi (Research fellow, Centre for Adolescent Health), Clinical Nurse Consultant Donna Eade and Youth Health Nurse Alison Langstone (previously) from YPHS, and Dr Alex Marceglia and Nurse Practitioner Alison Bean-Hodges from the Sexual Health Service at the Royal Women’s Hospital provided valuable assistance with the study.

New Intake of students

Orientation 2013 006Centre for Adolescent Health and the University of Melbourne recently ran a two day orientation to welcome this year’s intake of post graduate students. Students undertake a Graduate Certificate, a Graduate Diploma or a Masters in Adolescent Health & Wellbeing, and come from a variety of professional backgrounds including nursing, teaching, medicine, allied health, social work and youth work. What they all have in common is a passion for making a difference with young people.

12 year partnership

PoliceSince 2003, the Rotary Club of Central Melbourne (Sunrise) has sponsored a member of Victoria Police to study adolescent health & wellbeing at the University of Melbourne through the Centre for Adolescent Health at RCH.

With young people disproportionately represented in crime statistics, the capacity of Victoria Police to effectively engage with young people is vital. The most recent recipient of the Silk Miller Scholarship, Liz Toffoletti (undertaking the Masters) recently received her award at a morning tea, attended by Tom Callander (Rotary), Prof Susan Sawyer ( CAH) and Commander Sue Clarke (Victoria Police), pictured here with Liz Toffoletti

Graduation Day


Proud smiles, congratulations and photos were the order of the day as we honored the achievements of our graduates at a ceremony held in the beautiful Gryphon Gallery in the 1888 building at the University of Melbourne. Moving testimonials were delivered by Rachel Hughes from the oncology stream and Gavan Bennett from the wellbeing stream. It was great to catch up with students to hear about their work and future plans as they put theory into action at their respective workplaces.

New facilities for homeless young people

YPHS photoThe Centre for Adolescent Health provides health services to homeless and socially marginalised young people through the Young People’s Health Service (YPHS) at Frontyard, 19 King Street Melbourne. Melbourne City Mission has undertaken a major renovation of the space at Frontyard, with a new-look entrance and intake area that now provides an open, respectful waiting area for young people who can access a range of youth services including primary healthcare.

YPHS has three specially equipped clinic rooms that enable the team of three  nurses with advanced adolescent skills to provide clinical services (Monday to Friday) between 12 and 4.30pm.

Alongside the physical restructure, a new intake and assessment tool has been developed to facilitate access to the range of services at Frontyard for all young people who are homeless and / or at risk of homelessness. The tool is designed to ensure that young people are aware of the range of services available at Frontyard as well as identifying the various needs individuals might have. In particular, the tool enables greater engagement by our nurses in prevention of health issues before they become a crisis.


Centre farewell’s visiting doctoral student from Iran


The Centre for Adolescent Health recently farewelled Ms Elham Khoori, a senior midwife from Gorgan, Iran who has a special interest in adolescent reproductive and sexual health.

Accompanied by her husband, a reproductive biologist, and their two sons, Ms Khoori spent 6 months at the Centre for Adolescent Health and at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute as part of her doctoral training at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, School of Nursing and Midwifery.  The topic of her doctoral thesis is ‘Health Concerns of Iranian Adolescents: A Mixed Methods Study”, which is a school based study that focuses on the concerns of Iranian young people, including aspects of their sexual and reproductive health. In addition to her research experiences, Ms Khoori was also able to learn about different Australian models of clinical services for adolescents in both primary care and specialist settings.

Prior to her departure, Ms Khoori presented some of her research findings to the clinical and research groups of the Centre for Adolescent Health, which were met with much interest. She also presented her finding to the Department of General Practice at The University of Melbourne.

We wish her well on her return home

Susan Sawyer

Tips for coping with exam stress

booksVCE exams are just around the corner and you’re probably feeling stressed.

You’re not the only one. Thousands of adolescents are feeling the same way, especially as the exams get closer. But feeling stressed can be a good sign, it means that you care about how your exams go and a bit of stress keeps you motivated to work hard to perform as well as you can.

It’s keeping it in check that’s important. Too much stress or worry can lead to sleep difficulties, poor concentration and memory and clearly that’s not going to help.

So, how can you find the right balance?

  1. Be positive: You can only do the best you can do. Remember that you will be okay regardless of the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) you end up with. There are many opportunities and possibilities out there for you to discover.
  2. Be organised: Use your time wisely by writing a study plan for each day. Be realistic with the amount of time you plan to spend studying. Trying to do too much at once won’t be effective or productive.
  3. Take breaks: Most people need a break every 30 minutes to keep focused. A short walk or chat with someone will be time well spent if it allows you to concentrate during the times when your work is in front of you.
  4. Do some exercise: Being active is as good for your brain as it is for your body during exam time. Not only providing a break, it gives you space to think and relax.
  5. Get plenty of sleep: A good night time routine which includes switching off all your screens is vital. Going to bed at a reasonable hour will enable you to get the rest you need. Tiredness and fatigue can worsen anxiety and will increase your stress level.
  6. Avoid caffeine and other substances: Coffee, energy drinks and anything else containing the ingredient guarana are not helpful. Actually, they can make exam time more difficult by increasing anxiety and sleep problems. They can even land you in hospital if you have too much.
  7. Get help: If you feel that things are getting out of control or you are not coping there are many people that can help. For some teenagers this might mean talking to mum or dad, an older sister, brother, teacher or friend. If you need to you can also speak to your local doctor or call Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800. They can chat any time of the day or night and can direct you to the most appropriate care.

Best of luck. We wish you well!

Study Adolescent Health and Wellbeing


Postgraduate Programs at the University of MelbournUOM-Pos3D_S_Sm_new- surveymonkeye

The Centre for Adolescent Health offers post graduate courses in adolescent health and wellbeing. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about our courses, meet our lecturers and hear from our graduates.

Information Night
6.00 - 7.00 pm
Wednesday, 25th September
Vernon Collins Theatre
Royal Children’s Hospital


IAAH Conference, Istanbul, Turkey

gp1The International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH) Conference – Istanbul, Turkey 2013

The Centre for Adolescent Health was well represented at the recent 10th World Congress of the International Association for Adolescent Health in Istanbul, Turkey. Held every 4 years, the international conference showcases the best of adolescent health research, practice and training initiatives across the globe. As Dr Rony Duncan, research fellow from the MCRI Centre for Adolescent Health said, “I always knew the Centre was doing great things, but until attending the meeting, I don’t think I’d quite appreciated how much we are right at the cutting edge of adolescent health”.

Held amid mounting local protests and demonstrations, the conference was a stark reminder of how political and social environments can shape young people’s health and well-being, and how young people can be agents of change within their own communities. Crowds of young people protested daily just 10 minutes from the conference venue to take a stand against the style of leadership that they are currently experiencing in Turkey. Peaceful in intent, they were met with tear gas and pepper spray (as were some of our delegates!), which only fuelled larger, more intense protests. Many of the Turkish youth delegates at the conference left the conference venue each night to join their fellow university students and professors in Taksim Square.

A recent editorial in the Lancet powerfully highlighted the importance of engaging young people within their communities:

This year, the conference theme was ‘bridging clinical and public health perspectives’. Presentations by CAH staff spanned the breadth of research undertaken at the Centre for Adolescent Health. This included:

Peter Azzopardi: Advancing Indigenous youth research  rd1

Kristina Bennett: Development of the adolescent-friendly hospital survey

Sarah Drew: Meeting the psychosocial and supportive care needs of adolescents and young adults with cancer

Rony Duncan: Why are parents concerned about confidentiality for adolescents?

Meagan Hunt: Youth participation within the Chronic Illness Peer Support program: resolving tensions between model and experience

George Patton: Session on the recent Lancet series on Adolescent Health – The world’s adolescents: opportunities for development and health + Plenary presentation on Adolescent Health

Susan Sawyer: Session on the recent Lancet series on Adolescent Health – Adolescence: a foundation for future health + symposium leader on measuring quality healthcare for adolescents

Michele Yeo: Recognizing and managing physical complications of eating disorders in adolescents: challenges and strategies

Joanne Williams: Recruitment challenges: a randomised trial of a community based obesity intervention for adolescents

Pictured here are:
(a) Professor George Patton giving his plenary address.
(b)  Four of the Centre’s delegates: Anne-Emmanuelle Ambresin, Meagan Hunt, Kristina Bennett and Rony Duncan.

Congratulations Rachel

My PhD thesis examined the effect of peer influence on the development of adolescent alcohol use. Peer influence is one of the most salient and consistent predictors for drinking behaviour among young people. It is important to understand the relative contribution of the processes of peer influence (whereby adolescents transition to alcohol use in the presence of alcohol-using peers) and peer selection (whereby those using alcohol initially in the absence of alcohol-using friends then subsequently seek out drinking peers) so that appropriate prevention strategies can be applied at different stages in adolescence. Using cross-national, prospective data from state-representative samples of students in Grades 5, 7 and 9 in Victoria, Australia and Washington State, USA from the International Youth DevelopmentStudy, I used Latent Transition Analysis to identify a range of transition groups with adolescents moving in and out of their latent peer classes over time and explored predictors associated with these transitions. The findings provide the firmest estimates to date of the prevalence of peer influenced alcohol use transitions and demonstrate age and country variations.