Measuring developmental outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Research Opportunity
PhD students
Department / Centre
Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Anita d'Aprano Personal web page

Summary This PhD opportunity is focusing on the design, validation and evaluation of a psychometric measure to evaluate developmental outcomes in Australian Aboriginal children.

Project Details

The Department of Paediatrics, Melbourne Medical School, is offering a three-year scholarship for an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander graduate to undertake a PhD in the Unit for Indigenous Child Development Measures (Department of Paediatrics) based at the Melbourne Children’s Campus (Royal Children’s Hospital).  The scholarship includes an annual stipend of $50,000 a year tax free, for three years, with additional non-financial support (e.g. research costs, travel, conference support etc).

This PhD opportunity is focusing on the design, validation and evaluation of a psychometric measure to evaluate developmental outcomes in Australian Aboriginal children. This project is a collaboration between the University of Melbourne, Northern Territory (NT) Department of Education, Nunkuwarrin Yunti Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation and Victorian agencies. The candidate will have the opportunity to work with the team and partners to design and lead research that makes a significant difference to Aboriginal children and families and ultimately leads to improved early childhood development outcomes. The PhD research will involve validation of the ASQ-STEPS for Measuring Aboriginal Child Development (ASQ-STEPS). The ASQ-STEPS is a developmental outcome measure, adapted from the Ages and Stages Questionnaire Inventory, for use in Australian Aboriginal communities.

This study will require engagement and close collaboration with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, peak bodies, government health and education agencies, and government departments. It will also involve working alongside community members in urban, regional and remote health and education settings. The ASQ-STEPS prototype has been developed but requires pre-testing (phase 2). Once pretesting is completed, the study will then evaluate the ASQ-STEPS to confirm instrument content and face validity, concurrent validity (phase 3) and feasibility (phase 4). Further research questions would be tailored with the candidate to suit the candidate and research team’s areas of interest. The PhD research will involve: adopting a mixed methods approach; developing and delivering training; and field trips to health, early learning and family support settings in Aboriginal communities across Australia for data collection, when possible.

The project will suit candidates with undergraduate degrees in psychology or early childhood education or candidates with health/biomedical background and with solid experience in early childhood. Applicants need to be able to demonstrate their ability to complete a research higher degree through a combination of academic study, research experience, professional experience and overall knowledge of the proposed are of study.

The PhD will be supervised by Dr Anita D’Aprano, as the principle supervisor, and the successful candidate is encouraged to find an appropriate Indigenous supervisor.

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine

Research Opportunities

PhD students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre


Research Node

Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

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