Deakin Child Study Centre

Science made real

The Deakin Child Study Centre (DCSC) is a multidisciplinary research centre with a focus on understanding neurodevelopment from the early years of childhood through to adolescence.

Our goal

Through our research and dedication to translating science into practical outcomes, our ultimate goal is to enhance the lives of young people with neurodevelopmental disorders, helping them develop to their full potential.

Our focus

Established in 2013, the DCSC has rapidly grown with large-scale funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Council and our many philanthropic and industry partnerships. We focus on the early years of childhood through to adolescence, a time where children learn the pivotal skills to regulate emotions, interact with peers and develop a sense of self.

Making the world fit for all kids

The Deakin Child Study Centre strives to reach the one in five children who have a disability, developmental challenge or vulnerability, to develop practical and sustainable evidence-based strategies. We include all children and create programs that are culturally sensitive and inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

We aim to see the meaningful participation of children with disability or developmental challenges through community-integrated interventions. We place an emphasis on providing children with resources and support to enable meaningful participation and engagement in organised physical activities.

With a focus on developing child-centred interventions, we are dedicated to working with the community to ‘make the world fit for all kids’, where children of all abilities feel secure to thrive socially and emotionally. With access to community-based interventions complementing and enhancing best practice clinical care, our research and pilot studies have shown that children with disabilities and developmental challenges gain developmental, clinical and health benefits.

Our research

Our aim is to provide the community with training and technological innovations connecting individuals, families and professionals to work together with a common goal: ensuring every child with a disability or developmental challenge has the best possible opportunity to reach their full developmental potential. We combine research, clinical expertise and technology with like-minded partners and peak bodies to create evidence-based, accessible and innovative resources.

Key projects

Sleeping Sound in Adolescence (2020–2025)

Sleeping Sound in Adolescence is a research project about sleep in adolescents with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sleep difficulties are common for teens with ADHD, including difficulties going to bed, falling asleep, staying asleep, and being tired in the morning. Sleeping Sound is a brief treatment program for sleep problems. This project aims to see whether the program helps to improve sleep, as well as wellbeing and daily functioning, in adolescents with ADHD.

Building Resilience in Children and Young People

The Building Resilience in Children and Young People initiative was developed by the Inner Eastern Melbourne region of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, formerly the Department of Health and Human Services, to provide trauma-informed therapeutic care and supports to young people living in out of home care.

It aims to promote their resilience, enhance their overall wellbeing and reduce the risk that their behaviours of concern will translate to criminalisation. Information to inform recommendations has been sought via quantitative and qualitative data including psychometric assessment instruments, administrative data, questionnaires, individual interviews and focus groups. Deakin researchers have led the mixed methods evaluation of two components of this program:

Therapeutic Life Story Work (TLSW)

Therapeutic Life Story Work (TLSW)

TLSW involves the delivery of an intensive (12-month duration) therapeutic intervention with young people and their primary carer. TLSW uses a narrative approach designed to assist traumatised young people to better understand their experiences, to form constructive relationships with carers and make positive life choices.

Funded by: Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, formerly the Department of Health and Human Services.

Building a Community around the Child

Building a Community around the Child

In partnership with the Department of Justice and Community Safety, Victoria Police, and residential out of home care providers, this program involves the training of direct care staff, wider care teams and frontline police in trauma informed care and the application of agreed strategies and tools that enable the distinction between behaviours of concern that may arise from the young person’s experiences and behaviours that warrant criminal justice intervention.

Funded by: Department of Justice and Community Safety.

Other key projects

  • Comparing the effect of non-invasive brain stimulation on different brain regions for reducing social symptoms in autism spectrum disorder (2017–2018)
    Funded by: NARSAD (Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation) – Independent Investigator Award
  • The development of the social brain in early childhood (2017–2021)
    Funded by: Australian Research Council – Future Fellowship
  • The neurobiological basis of motor impairment in developmental coordination disorder: Evidence for compromised mirror neuron activity? (2016–2017)
    Funded by: Deakin University – Faculty Research Development Grant
  • An investigation of neuroplasticity in autism spectrum disorder using brain stimulation and neuroimaging (2016–2017)
    Funded by: Deakin University – Faculty Research Development Grant
  • Calm Kids – does the treatment of anxiety in children with ADHD improve outcomes?: A large-scale randomised controlled trial (2016–2019)
    Funded by: NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council) – Project Grant
  • Sleeping sound with autism spectrum disorder – tailoring a brief sleep intervention for autism: A randomised controlled trial (2016–2019)
    Funded by: NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council) – Project Grant
  • Sleeping Sound in Adolescence: A pilot study (2016–2018)
    Funded by: Deakin University – Central Research Grant
  • Sleeping sound special needs: A feasibility pilot study (2016–2018)
    Funded by: Deakin University – Faculty of Health
  • Impact of sleep intervention in ADHD: Translational randomised trial (2014–2017)
    Funded by: NHMRC
  • Mindful choices for parents of children with ADHD (2017–2018)
    Funded by: Deakin University – 2017 Central Research Grant Scheme
  • Joy of Moving: Getting children moving: An evaluation of the effectiveness of the "Joy of Moving" program in Australian primary school aged children (2017-2020)
    Funded by: Ferrero’s international foundation, Kinder + Sport

Our team


Associate Professor Emma Sciberras

Associate Professor Glenn Melvin

Professor Jane McGillivray
B.B.Sc (Hons Psych), M.Psych (Clin), DHSci (Deakin), MAPS, APS College of Clinical Psychologists, APS College of Health Psychologists

Research staff/research fellows

Postgraduate students

Katherine Howells (PhD)
Emily Chan (PhD)
Nicola Read (DPsych)
Chloe Emonson (PhD)
Lucy Sommers (DPsych)
Emily Pattison (DPsych)
Simone Thomas (PhD)
Moira Whelan (PhD)
Anastasia (Soula) Kontomichalos-Eyre (MAppSc)

Contact us

Email the Deakin Child Study Centre for more information on our projects and for any general enquiries.