Health & Physical Education

The Health and Physical Education (HPE) Discipline group provides pre-service and post-graduate education and research in the broad areas of health, health education, physical education and student well being.

About the group

The Health and Physical Education Discipline teaching and research group is a dynamic and diverse team of researchers and practitioners who engage with conceptual, methodological and practice orientated approaches to health, physical education, sport and wellbeing in the broad educational community.

We position our research and teaching in a critical and transformative socio-cultural framework  that explores practices and pedagogies that underpin health, wellbeing, physical education and sport in Australian and international communities, with a strong emphasis on disrupting, deconstructing  and transforming traditional notions of health, physical activity, sport and wellbeing.

Adopting a broad notion of education, our teaching and research is committed to diversity, inclusion and impact. The nexus between our research and teaching provides an authentic and evidenced based approach to the student experience, pedagogy and program development, not only at Deakin but in the wider educational community where we contribute to capacity building of educational authorities, NGOs, inservice and preservice teachers and academics.

We advocate a critical approach to teaching and research that explores the dynamic relationships between teaching and research, and students, teachers, schools and communities.

Our diverse research and teaching expertise and interests explore and interrogate the relationships between physical activity, health, sport and wellbeing with culture, technology, the environment, the body, pedagogies, inequalities, power relations and identities and include:

  • Health and Physical Education curriculum, pedagogies and practice
  • Gender, Sexualities and Sexuality Education
  • Health and Physical Education preservice teacher education
  • Sociocultural factors (e.g., family, class, ethnicity, culture)
  • Sport and social change
  • Critical studies of young people
  • Student experiences in Health and Physical Education
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Contexts of youth wellbeing and health promotion
  • Special Education, Inclusion and Diversity in Health and Physical Education

Our work draws from a diverse range of disciplines and research methodologies including:

  • Quantitative and qualitative approaches that draw on the fields of education, sociology, gender studies, sexuality, sport sociology, public health, cultural studies, physical culture
  • Poststructuralism, postmodernism and post-qualitative
  • Feminist theory
  • Queer theory
  • Phenomenography and phenomenology
  • Narrative methods
  • Ethnography including digital and cultural approaches
  • Affect theories and new materialisms
  • Participatory and visual methodologies

Contact us

The group welcomes enquiries from future HDR candidates, schools and the industry and business sector. We invite you to contact any of our staff to discuss future collaborations.

HDR Supervision

We offer a rich and dynamic HDR environment and welcome enquiries from potential candidates interested in research projects relating to our fields of expertise (see ‘About Us’ tab).  In particular, we encourage applications that align with our strategic research interests of projects that explore:

  • The policy and practice of Health and Physical Education in school contexts and beyond
  • Sport, gendered identities  and social change
  • Sex, sexuality and gender in educational contexts
  • Gender based violence and respectful relationships  education and practice   
  • Pre-service teacher education in Health and Physical Education
  • Health promotion, health education and whole school change
  • Teaching, learning and assessment in Higher Education

Current HDR research candidates:

‘Health and Welfare of adult female Bhutanese refugees’ (Co-Supervisor – A/Prof Lyn Harrison)

‘The Health Promoting School Framework in an International School’ (Principal Supervisor – Dr Debbie Ollis)

‘How do HPE teachers make meaning of their professional identities’ (Executive Supervisor – Dr Amanda Mooney, Co-Supervisor – Prof Chris Hickey)

‘Indigenous Education Policy: Myth, misunderstandings and mayhem’ (Principal Supervisor – Prof Chris Hickey)

‘Above and beyond’: Lesson Study’s effect on teachers’ pedagogical development (Executive Supervisor – Dr Amanda Mooney, Co-Supervisor – Prof Chris Hickey)

‘Being a reader and being a man: Exploring the impact of masculinities on young men’s reading practices in Tunisia’ (Principal Supervisor – Prof Chris Hickey)

‘Professional identities of early career teachers of PE’ (Principal Supervisor – Dr Debbie Ollis)

‘Women’s elite sports participation in the United Arab Emirates’ (Executive Supervisor – Prof Chris Hickey, Co-Supervisor – Dr Amanda Mooney)

‘Support shortfalls and the lifelong learner: Full-time employee, part-time learners’ motivation to study’ (Principal Supervisor – A/Prof Lyn Harrison)

‘Parental involvement in primary school children’s sexuality education’ (Principal Supervisor – Dr Debbie Ollis)

‘Understanding how healthcare students acquire communication skills in undergraduate programmes’ (Principal Supervisor – A/Prof Lyn Harrison)

Past HDR research topics (completed between 2010 – 2015)

Doctoral Projects:

  • Critical Multicultural Teacher Education; Identity and Difference in New Zealand
  • Assembling a Health [y] Subject
  • The Relationship between Academic Achievement and Co-curricular Involvement
  • Educational Praxis in Various Australian Indigenous Higher Education Contexts
  • Transferring Personal Body Knowledge in Schools: A Case Study
  • Pedagogical practices of female physical educators in all-boys' schools
  • Exploring stakeholders perspectives of cooperative education in sport tertiary education
  • Data Use in Monitoring Student Performance in a Secondary School
  • Txeemsim and A Journey of Transformation? Decolonizing Post-Secondary Education
  • Exploring Critical Reflection in Cooperative Education: A Case Study
  • Gender Relations in Elite Coeducational Schools
  • Tertiary Education for Social Justice in an Age of Uncertainty

Masters Projects:

  • Narratives Exploring Earth-based Spirituality for Transformative Outdoor and Environmental Studies
  • ‘A sporting chance’: Health and Physical Education pre-service teachers experiences of Sport Education


We teach into the Masters of Teaching, service all the education courses in relation to health and student wellbeing, and deliver specialty programs in health and physical education, including primary and secondary education.

Click here for more information.

Research Projects

Sexuality Education Matters 

Preparing pre-service teachers to teach sexuality education

Debbie Ollis
Lyn Harrison
Claire Maharaj

Deakin University
Faculty of Arts and Education
School of Education
Burwood, Victoria

April 2013

Download resource  (PDF, 7.4 MB)

Suggested citation
Ollis, D, Harrison, L & Maharaj, C 2013, Sexuality Education Matters: Preparing pre-service teachers to teach sexuality education, Deakin University, Burwood, Vic

Video material on iTunes
Sexuality Education Matters is a Deakin University series of videos showing footage of pre-service teachers and lecturers discussing their experiences and challenges, as well as some examples of teaching and learning activities in action.

Building Capacity Research report

Authors: Debbie Ollis, Lyn Harrison and Anthony Richardson
May 2012

Building Capacity in Sexuality Education: The Northern Bay College Experience (PDF, 4.9 MB)

Page custodian: Faculty of Arts & Education
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