News and Events

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!

Free on-line learning modules on AYA cancer


The Centre for Adolescent Health in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and ONTrac at Peter Mac Victorian Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Service is celebrating the launch of two online learning modules on cancer care for adolescents and young adults (AYA). The modules have been created using a novel method of online learning developed out of Harvard Medical School known as spaced education, where courses are comprised entirely of multiple choice questions and answers delivered to the learner’s email inbox at regular intervals. The approach is backed by a strong evidence base and has been found to improve knowledge acquisition, increase long-term knowledge retention and effectively change behaviour.

 “Learners receive two questions every other day, which can be accessed via desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone,” explains Project Coordinator Sam Van Staalduinen. “You receive immediate feedback on your responses along with corresponding evidence-based information, key messages and freely available resources. It’s about delivering short bursts of information at a time and place that suits the learner- the approach allows people to enhance their understanding of issues relating to young people with cancer and develop greater confidence in working with this unique patient group through a fun approach to learning that only takes a few minutes a day.” Upon completion of each module, learners also gain access to a website containing all of the information and resources for future reference.

 Cancer Care for Adolescents and Young Adults Part I and II are freely available and aimed at clinical and non-clinical professionals working with young people with cancer, or anyone with a professional interest in the field. Click here for more information or visit to enrol (best viewed in a modern browser such as Firefox or Safari).










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


Truth about CATS has won an award!

The Truth About CATS was awarded the Warren Sturgis Motion Media AwardCATS_Project_identifier_200 at the BioCommunications Association (USA) BioImages 2013 awards.

BioImages is an annual visual media competition that showcases the finest still, graphics and motion media work in the life sciences and medicine. Entries are evaluated by a distinguished panel of judges based on their impact, clarity, scientific content, technique, lighting, image quality, presentation, creativity, originality and effective use of the medium to fulfill its purpose. Best of Show, Award of Excellence, and Citation of Merit awards, in addition to five sponsored Merit Awards, are given in three visual media divisions: Still, Graphics and Motion. Winners are announced at the BioImages Opening Reception and Awards Presentation, held each year in conjunction with the association’s annual meeting.

Click on the link for the award winners.

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.

Youth Health and Adolescent Medicine


Congratulations to the Director of the Centre for Adolescent Health, Professor Susan Sawyer, who has just published Australia’s first textbook on ‘Youth Health and Adolescent Medicine’, edited with colleagues Dr Melissa Kang, Associate Professor Rachel Skinner, Associate Professor Lena Sanci.

“The editors are excited that this field has come of age in Australia to the extent that a textbook is both needed and can be born of the enormous breadth and depth of expertise that resides among our colleagues”, she said.

 The book is in 4 parts:

  1. Adolescents and young people
  2. Clinical approaches and youth friendly care
  3. Common and important health issues in adolescence
  4. Complex, challenging and ill-defined disorders in adolescence.

Three of the 4 editors are based at the Centre (Professor Sawyer) or trained at the Centre for Adolescent Health (Rachel Skinner and Lena Sanci). Many current and past Centre staff and students contributed chapters, including John Toumbourou, Craig Olsson, Ian Williams, Bill Hallam, Sonia Grover, Michele Yeo, Yvonne Bonomo, Mick Creati, Kathy Rowe, Andrew Court and Andrew Kennedy.  

While spanning both population health and clinical perspectives, it will be most relevant for practicing clinicians, including doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, allied health professionals and students form a wide range of disciplines.

 The book can be ordered from IP communications and costs $80.

New PhD from the 2000 Stories Project

Congratulations to Carolyn Coffey on the completion of her PhD.
One of the major health risks for young people to emerge in recent decades relates to illicit drug useCC_cropped with cannabis being the most commonly used in Australia.  Yet there has been remarkably little work undertaken into quantifying the health risk associated with cannabis. This thesis is a narrative based on twelve papers published in international peer reviewed journals arising from the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study, which have contributed to our understanding of the natural history of adolescent cannabis use and the adverse consequences that may arise from its use in adolescence and young adulthood. Dr Coffey was intimately involved with this ongoing population-based cohort study which commenced in 1992 with 2000 fourteen-year-olds who were interviewed periodically until they were aged 29 years in 2010. This unique data set allowed her to track the transitions in behaviour through adolescence into adulthood and the longer term impact of cannabis use measured. The overall conclusion must be that cannabis use in adolescence is not harmless and, for some, has quite grave consequences in adulthood. The findings have already done much to shift community attitudes and policy responses.

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.

Where are They Now? A look at our past students: Gavan Bennett

Current student and Police Youth Resource Officer, Gavan Bennett

I am currently studying the Masters in Adolescent Health and Welfare. When I commenced my studies I was a Senior Constable working in the Security Event Co-ordination Unit at the Victorian Police Academy. This course has had a dramatic impact on my career. I am now working as a Police Youth Resource Officer. This is a role I could not have obtained without studying this course because the positions are scarce and when they become available they are fiercely contested.

The wonderful thing about my job is that there is no such thing as an average day. The work is incredibly varied and can include: providing information sessions to schools, government and non-government organisations on police related matters, providing outreach support to young people through foot patrols, and conducting investigations for the development of strategic programmes concerning youth within my police service area

f I were to sum up my memories of this course in one word – that word would be possibilities. It has introduced me to skills and abilities I did not know I had. It has made me aware of information and knowledge I did not know existed. And this has all come together in an amalgam of potential actions and outcomes that I had never imagined possible.

Overall I would sum up my time at Melbourne University as one of the most enjoyable and rewarding occurrences in my life. I think I have been very lucky to be part of the Melbourne University experience where I was exposed to wonderful teachers and facilities. I have always said the best thing that I ever did with my life was to join Victoria police. I still stand by that statement. However, I am absolutely certain that the second best thing I have ever done was to embark upon this course. It has been hard work and it has demanded a tremendous amount of me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually but it has given me so much in return and I am so very grateful for having been given the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful experience.

Farewell to our recent students from the Netherlands

Dutchies correctMerel and Nadia, two child psychology students from the Netherlands spent eight weeks doing a student placement within two of our research projects. They  were at the Centre for Adolescent Health  to write their bachelor’s thesis.

They told us “It was a great experience being here. It was a pleasure to see how the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Royal Children’s Hospital research teams operate. All the co-workers are interested in each other’s project. It was a wonderful experience being here and to meet all the nice staff! We learned a lot about what research is and it was great to see how the staff worked together and were very helpful to each other. We loved our internship at the Centre for Adolescent Health  and to see the brand new hospital with all the child friendly facilities. It is amazing that everything is just there in one hospital. We had a great time!”