Sharon Goldfeld – Director’s message

In what seems like the blink of an eye, another year has almost come to an end!

The Centre for Community Child Health experienced some significant changes throughout 2019, not least of which was a change in leadership. My esteemed colleague and the Centre’s Founding Director, Professor Frank Oberklaid, stepped down from the directorship, while our first Deputy Director, Associate Professor Jill Sewell, stepped down from her leadership role with the Children’s Bioethics Centre. Fortunately, Frank and Jill continue to work with the Centre and we look forward to their contribution for many years to come.

I was both thrilled and humbled to be offered the new position of Director, commencing July of this year. And given that this change of leadership coincided with the Centre’s 25th anniversary, I thought it fitting to host a celebration! It was wonderful to see so many friends, supporters, colleagues, former staff and current staff attend our event on 31 October, and I thank you again for your attendance. We were also thrilled to have Megan Mitchell, Australia’s first National Children’s Commissioner, as our special guest speaker. You can watch Megan’s informative speech here. You can also access the report and video we produced for the event, which are both a reflection on our foundations, achievements and learnings over the past 25 years, and a preview of our future priorities as we continue to forge towards our vision of creating equitable health and developmental outcomes for all children.

As I noted at the event, our plan for 2020 onwards is to target five key areas for change. They are:

  • Thriving communities. We want to improve the environments and experiences of children in the communities in which they are born, live, learn and grow.
  • Equitable services. We seek to ensure all children and their families can access the high-quality services and supports they need for children’s healthy development.
  • Schools and health working together. Health, development and learning outcomes are inseparable. We want to support the two systems to work together more seamlessly to provide holistic support for children.
  • Connected and confident parents. We want parents and carers to feel well supported, connected to formal and informal networks, and to feel confident in their parenting.
  • Mental health for life. We seek to drive awareness and action on child mental health, to build resiliency in children and reduce the escalation of mental health problems.

Over the coming months, we will use our Children’s Health and Development newsletter and our other social media channels to keep you up-to-date with how we are progressing on these priority areas for change – including providing updates on our research, advocacy, work with communities and our clinical care. I would also like to invite anyone who has an interest in one or more of these areas to reach out to me if there is a project or idea you might like to collaborate on. We are always keen to form new partnerships; to both share our knowledge and learn from what others are doing.

I’d like to wish all of our readers a safe and happy festive period. I hope many of you will have time to relax and unwind and to enjoy the time spent with family and friends. I look forward to coming back refreshed and energised in the new year, ready to continue striving forward for children and families.

Professor Sharon Goldfeld, Director of the Centre for Community Child Health.

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