News and Events

The Centre welcomes Dr Rohan Borschmann

RohanThe Centre for Adolescent Health welcomes Dr Rohan Borschmann, a clinical psychologist and senior research officer, who has recently the Children’s campus with an appointment through the MCRI.

Rohan has worked in community mental health settings and universities in Australia, Canada and the UK, in addition to a number of substance misuse rehabilitation agencies and as a clinical psychologist within the Queensland correctional system. After completing his doctoral training in psychology, Rohan spent eight years in London working at St. George’s University of London and the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. He has a particular interest in self-harm and recently completed his PhD at the IOP on the topic, “The development and testing of joint crisis plans for people with borderline personality disorder: a feasibility study”.

Rohan greatly enjoyed working at the Institute of Psychiatry (the northern hemisphere’s leading psychiatric research institution and a centre for excellence in Europe) where he also had the opportunity to  explore the world. In asking about his return to Melbourne, he said that, “I was born in Melbourne and it has always been my home, so I knew one day I’d return. Working at the MCRI represented an amazing opportunity to move up in my career (as opposed to settling for a sufficient post somewhere or even taking a step backwards just so that I could relocate to Australia). I have enjoyed spending so much time with friends and family, and also learning more about the amazing work done by the Royal Children’s Hospital”.

In joining the Centre for Adolescent Health, he will be working on “2000 stories: The Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study”.  As he says about this opportunity, “I am very excited to work on one of the world’s most pre-eminent prospective studies of youth development and mental health – and all this in Melbourne, the “world’s most liveable city!”

Visiting Scottish academics

Scots_2014The Centre for Adolescent Health was pleased to host four visiting Scottish academics from the University of West of Scotland who spent 10 days exploring a range of programs run by the Centre for Adolescent Health and the RCH, including Adolescent Medicine, the Young People’s Health Service and various programs relating to transition to adult health care and child protection.

Professor Jean Herbison is a Consultant Paediatrician at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow with expertise in Child Protection and Sexual Abuse.

Dr. Jean Rankin is Senior Lecturer and Academic Director for Midwifery at the university, responsible for developing the research agenda within the Maternal, Child and Family Health Subject Development Group.

Ms Jackie McFadyen is a Senior Lecturer and has led the Health Visiting and Sexual Health Programmes for many years. Jackie has played a major role in the first School Nursing programme in Scotland which commences in 2015.

Ms Maureen Bell is a Consultant Nurse with NHS Ayrshire and Arran and has responsibility for Child Protection.

They are shown here with Dr Cate Rayner, one of our Fellows in Adolescent Medicine (far left), and Professor Susan Sawyer, Director, Centre for Adolescent Health (third from right).


RCH Inaugural Graduation

susan webThe inaugural RCH Graduation was held in the Ella Latham Theatre on Thursday 3rd April to celebrate the graduation of our patients beyond the care of the Royal Children’s Hospital and to wish them well for their transfer to adult health services. Attended by 45 patients, the event was a collaboration between Transition Services, Live Wire (Starlight Foundation) and the Chronic Illness Peer Support (ChIPS) Program (Centre for Adolescent Health). Graduating patients, their families and friends along with RCH clinicians and senior members of the RCH Executive including the CEO were in attendance. The ceremony included a key note speech by Professor Susan Sawyer (Director, Centre for Adolescent Health) who acknowledged that while many patients and their families would miss the staff at the RCH, that they were not alone: “As you have grown up with us, whether you like it or not, you have also become part of our lives, and you will also be missed by us”. On behalf of all of the RCH staff, she thanked the young people for “allowing us the honour of being part of your lives”. Following this, a new ‘graduate’ shared her story with the audience that was followed by a DVD screening of well wishes from clinicians, and finally, the presentation of graduating certificates. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the photo booth provide a great hit with patients, family, friends and staff alike who all had fun documenting the special occasion over refreshments.

The occasion highlighted a very significant event in the lives of our transitioning patients. Feedback has been exceptionally positive, which suggests we can look forward to the event becoming a regular feature on the RCH calendar.

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!