• The Centre for Adolescent Health's vision is 'making a difference to young people’s health and wellbeing by advancing knowledge, policy and practice'. 

    As an Australian centre of excellence and a WHO collaborating centre for adolescent health, we work to bring together the professionals and organisations needed to:

    • Undertake research into adolescent health, growth and wellbeing, with the knowledge that research is a driver of quality health care, prevention of ill health, and health promotion.
    • Engage and support young people in reaching their potential and pursuing their aspirations.
    • Support adolescent health practice in the schools, communities, and environments in which adolescents live, work and play.
    • Provide education and training to enable professionals to meet the needs of young people.
    • Strengthen partnerships with the many stakeholders in adolescent health, including young people themselves.
    • Influence policies that empower and protect all young people, including those facing disadvantage and discrimination.

    Initiatives the Centre for Adolescent Health has been involved in includes:


    Heerde, J. A., Sawyer, S. M., Olsson, C.A. (2023). National Housing and Homelessness Plan: Submission from the Centre for Adolescent Health October 2023. 

    Dam J., Aston, R., Williams S., Clinton S., Smith L., and Sawyer S. M. (2023). Inquiry into the State Education System in Victoria: Submission from the Centre for Adolescent Health and the University of Melbourne, October 2023

    Sawyer, S. M., Aggarwal, S., Calais Ferreira, L., Campbell, A., Cini, K., Francis, K., Heerde, J., Margaretha., & Sabet, F. (2022). New International Development Policy: Submission from the Centre for Adolescent Health November 2022. https://www.dfat.gov.au/sites/default/files/new-international-development-policy-submission-centre-adolescent-health.pdf

    Toumbourou, J. W., & Heerde, J. A. (2022). Evidence on programs to address youth homelessness: an Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute (www.saxinstitute.org.au) for the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.

    Advocacy campaigns


    The Centre for Adolescent Health is proud to join with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, fellow human rights organisations and doctors to call for federal, state and territory governments to #RaiseTheAge of criminal responsibility from just 10 years old to at least 14.

    Children need care, love and support. Not handcuffs and prisons. Further information can be found on the #RaiseTheAge website.

    Read our COAG submission

    Obesity - Tipping the Scales report

    In September 2017, more than 35 leading community, public health, medical and academic groups united to call for urgent Federal Government action to address Australia’s serious obesity problem. In the report, Tipping the Scales, the agencies identify eight clear, practical, evidence-based actions the Australian Federal Government must take to reduce the enormous strain excess weight and poor diets are having on the nation’s physical and economic health.

    Infant, Child and Adolescent Mental Health

    In July 2019, the Melbourne Children’s Campus provided a submission on the Mental Health of Victoria’s infants, children and adolescents. The submission represents the united voices of over 6000 health professionals across the Melbourne Children’s Campus. Twenty-five internationally recognised experts have met regularly to contribute to this submission, which draws on the clinical, research and educational expertise of our institutions. 

    The Importance of the Middle Years

    The Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS) is a unique longitudinal study following 1,200 Victorian students from childhood through adolescence. The focus of the study is on health and emotional development through the middle years of school. CATS is interested in the experiences of students and their families, their changing social contexts as they move into secondary school, and the biological changes of puberty. Findings from this study has (and continues) to contribute to many government and non-government reports. Further information can be found on the CATS website.

    Promoting wellbeing and learning in the middle years

    The Centre for Adolescent Health has released a new policy brief, Promoting wellbeing and learning in the middle years: an opportune time for intervention.

    The document is based on data collected as part of The Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS). It summarises some of the issues occurring for students aged 8-14 years and why greater investment in this period would be beneficial. It calls for the government to introduce a health promoting framework that aims to strengthen curriculum around social and emotional learning, improve the primary to secondary school transition, and enable more effective links between education and health services. It also provides more specific recommendations for government, schools and educators to help maximise the support provided to students aged 8-14 years.

    Read it here: https://link.mcri.edu.au/middle-years-brief

    Engaging young people

    Positive Youth Development - with USAID

    The CAH is proud to be a technical partner to the YouthPower project. A USAID funded global project that aims to embed youth empowerment and a positive youth development (PYD) model into all work with and for young people. More information available here: https://www.youthpower.org/youthpower-about-page

    An output we are particularly proud of is the Positive Youth Development Measurement Toolkit that the team at the CAH were instrumental in writing and designing. It is available in 4 languages, English, French, Arabic and Spanish.

    The Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS) student ambassadors

    A small group of study participants, “Ambassadors” were recruited to form an advisory group. The Ambassadors advise us on a range of topics including engagement and data collection strategies and provide input about project practices, participant communication and future waves of data collection. They also contribute to media releases and participate in events such as the second Catalysing Connections event,  Everyone’s business: schools, mental health and learnings. Their involvement has helped incorporate a student “voice” into our planning.

    Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

    In the Lancet Commission we took a view that meaningful adolescent engagement was essential in the social development of all adolescents. In that process, we included 2 young Commissioners as co-authors: indeed they took major responsibility for the sections in the report around engagement and empowerment. In our planning work for the Lancet Standing Commission, we have extended those 2 young Commissioners and a further 6 from diverse geographies and backgrounds. They have worked with us in planning the next phase of the work with the Lancet and have recently joined us as co-authors on significant publications. 

    Centre of Research Excellence for Driving Global Investment in Adolescent Health - CREYATE (CRE Youth Advocates TEam)

    Adolescents are a central constituency for, and of, the Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) for Driving Global Investment in Adolescent Health and are therefore central to our broader engagement strategy. CREYATE is a group of young people with varying levels of experience in research and advocacy. CREYATE was formed to provide a youth perspective to the CRE, and to assist in ensuring the research is relevant to the lived experience of young people, and aligns with existing (or hoped) advocacy efforts.

    The main objectives for CREYATE:

    • Ensure youth perspectives inform the CRE work plan.
    • Facilitate communication with young people, advocates and their organisations about the work of the CRE.
    • Discussion of further priority areas for the CRE’s research.
    • Ensure research outputs are useful to the work of youth advocates.
    • Advise on strategies for CRE program areas to engage meaningfully with young people.
    • Support CRE partnerships with young advocates, their networks and organisations.