Children and Young People’s Health

Research Overview

Our program aims to advance the health and wellbeing of children and young people through an accessible and responsive primary care workforce and health system and through effective interventions. Our multidisciplinary team works across the areas of health risk taking behaviour, including a specific focus on sexual and reproductive health, mental health, physical wellbeing, preventive health and early intervention. Using mixed methods, the focus has been on: re-orientating primary care toward a youth friendly, preventive care model; building systems that better respond to vulnerable children; exploring perspectives of young women and young men on their sexual and reproductive health and healthy relationships; and using technology to address mental health and wellbeing, and access to care. The programs objectives are to:

  • Develop and test interventions that
    • improve the access of children, young people and their families to quality primary care, and self-directed care where appropriate
    • enable patient centred and integrated care across primary, secondary and tertiary care systems and also that can integrate health with education and welfare needs
    • enable detection of health risks and appropriate therapeutic responses
  • Explore experiences of children, young people and families with health risks and what they require from a responsive health care system
  • Work collaboratively with education, welfare sectors, government and non-government organisations including professional and community groups, children, young people and families
  • Promote knowledge exchange through teaching, and providing research evidence to inform policy and practice.

An emerging area of interest is the potential role of School-based health services (SBHS) in improving health care availability for young people. SBHS represent an alternative model of primary care for adolescents and a means of reaching socially disadvantaged young people who otherwise may not have access to care.


Professor Lena Sanci - Head of Department
Professor Meredith Temple-Smith - Director of Research Training
Dr Jade Bilardi - Honorary Research Fellow
Dr Ann-Maree Duncan - Research Administrative Support Officer
Dr Susan Webster - Honorary Research Fellow
Dr Ian Williams - Research Fellow, Adolescent Health
Dr Marijana Lijovic -  Research Fellow, Clinical Trials
Dr Bianca Forrester - Lecturer, Doctors in Secondary Schools Clinical Program Coordinator
Ms Jessie Lu-Lee - Program Coordinator, Doctors in Secondary Schools


Madeline Lim - PhD Candidate
Amita Tuteja - PhD Candidate
Tatiana Zecher – Masters candidate


  • Reachout Australia
  • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
  • Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital
  • Centre for Adolescent Health, Royal Children’s Hospital
  • School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
  • Australian Paediatric Research Network
  • Department of General Practice, University of Sydney
  • Loddon Mallee Health, Department of Human Services, Victoria
  • School of Nursing, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  • The Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society
  • Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service
  • Melbourne Sexual Health Centre
  • ISIS Primary Care Hoppers Crossing
  • University of Adelaide
  • Centre of Excellence in Intervention and Prevention Science
  • University of California, San Francisco
  • University of Geneva
  • The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network
  • Victorian Government Department of Education and Training
  • Victorian Government Department of Health & Human Services
  • Australasian School-based Health Alliance


Victorian Government Department of Education and Training
National Health and Medical Research Council
Medical Research Futures Fund

Research Publications

Chen, K. Y., Jones, R., Lei, S., Shanthikumar, S., Sanci, L., Carlin, J., & Hiscock, H. (2023). Primary health care utilization and hospital readmission in children with asthma: A multi-site linked data cohort study. The Journal of asthma : official journal of the Association for the Care of Asthma, 1-12. doi:10.1080/02770903.2022.2164200

Ke, T., Li, W., Sanci, L., Reavley, N., Williams, I., & Russell, M. A. (2023). The mental health of international university students from China during the COVID-19 pandemic and the protective effect of social support: A longitudinal study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 328, 13-21. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2023.02.014

Khano, S., Sanci, L., Woolfenden, S., Zurynski, Y., Dalziel, K., Liaw, S.-T., Boyle, D., Freed, G. L., Moore, C., Hodgins, M., Le, J., Morris, T. M., Germano, S., Wheeler, K., Lingam, R., & Hiscock, H. (2022). Strengthening Care for Children (SC4C): protocol for a stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial of an integrated general practitioner-paediatrician model of primary care. Bmj Open, 12(9), e063449-e063449. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2022-063449

Lim, M. S. Y., Hocking, J. S., Sanci, L., & Temple-Smith, M. (2022). A systematic review of international students' sexual health knowledge, behaviours, and attitudes. Sexual Health. doi:10.1071/sh21073

Liu, W., Lim, M. S. Y., Williams, H., & Temple-Smith, M. (2022). Contraceptive decision making among Chinese international students in Melbourne: findings from a qualitative investigation. Culture Health & Sexuality. doi:10.1080/13691058.2022.2112084

Sanci, L., Williams, I., Russell, M., Chondros, P., Duncan, A.-M., Tarzia, L., Peter, D., Lim, M. S. Y., Tomyn, A., & Minas, H. (2022). Towards a health promoting university: descriptive findings on health, wellbeing and academic performance amongst university students in Australia. Bmc Public Health, 22(1), 2430-2430. doi:10.1186/s12889-022-14690-9

Yu, A. Y., Temple-Smith, M. J., & Bilardi, J. E. (2022). Health care support following miscarriage in Australia: a qualitative study. How can we do better? Australian Journal of Primary Health. doi:10.1071/py21090

Brown, C., Sanci, L., & Hegarty, K. (2021). Technology-facilitated abuse in relationships: Victimisation patterns and impact in young people. Computers in Human Behavior, 106897.

Mathews, B., & Sanci, L. A. (2021). Doctors' criminal law duty to report consensual sexual activity between adolescents: legal and clinical issues. Medical Journal of Australia. doi:10.5694/mja2.51163

Williams, I., Vaisey, A., Patton, G., & Sanci, L. (2020). The effectiveness, feasibility and scalability of the school platform in adolescent mental healthcare. Current opinion in psychiatry, 33(4), 391-396. doi:10.1097/yco.0000000000000619