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Head, Health Promotion and Education Research; CoLab Director

EdD GradDip BEd Dip Teaching, FAHMS GAICD

Areas of research expertise: Child and adolescent mental health; translational research; bullying and cyberbullying prevention; health promotion; school-based interventions

Donna Cross is a Professor with the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids Institute.

Donna and her co-researchers have been awarded more than $21m in research funding since 1999, including eight NHMRC grants, six ARC grants and 34 WA Health Promotion Foundation research grants.

This funding has supported applied intervention research, including more than 30 large empirical trials, addressing child and adolescent health promotion issues related to mental health, cyber safety, injury control, drug use control and healthy lifestyles. These included two large studies involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

In June 2016 Donna was appointed as Director of CoLab, a group established to bring together families, clinicians, educators, policy makers, other practitioners and researchers to work together to improve the development and learning of young children. CoLab was launched through a partnership between the Institute and the Minderoo Foundation, made possible by a significant grant from the Minderoo Foundation.

Donna's research has been translated into evidence-based policy and practice interventions that have being systematically disseminated throughout Australian and internationally. She has contributed to sustainable policy and regulatory change, including sun safety policies (such as 'no hat, no play'), road safety laws and national and state policies for cyber safety, bullying prevention and management.

Donna has an international reputation for developing community-based interventions to reduce bullying and aggression among young people. She is currently a lead investigator on six 2-5 year longitudinal research projects developed to prevent bullying, cyberbullying and associated mental health harms among Australian children and adolescents. Her strong focus on translational strategies has culminated in the dissemination of an evidence-based program called Friendly Schools Plus to over 3,000 Australian schools and schools in the USA and the UK and Scandinavia. She is also chief investigator for 4 studies investigating the socio-emotional wellbeing of children with chronic disease (T1D, cystic Fibrosis, hearing problems and asthma).

For her services to children’s health and wellbeing research, Donna received the 2012 WA Australian of the Year Award, and in 2015 was inducted as a Fellow to the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Most recently, Donna was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and a 2017 NHMRC Senior Fellowship.

Donna has also won awards for service professionalism and enterprise, including the 2012 Future Justice Prize; the Mental Health Research and Education Award from the Mental Health Commission of WA; NGO awards for road safety, smoking cessation, mental health, and bullying and violence prevention (e.g. from the Australian Council for Health Physical Education and Recreation); and the National Honour Award for scholarly achievements and leadership in children's school-based health research.

After being nominated by students and staff, Donna has won eight university awards for excellence in teaching, knowledge mobilisation, research leadership and research training. She has supervised to completion 18 PhD students and 23 Masters students.

Donna has published a total of 127 refereed articles, 90 major reports and professional articles, 29 books/chapters in collective works and over 80 school-based curricula and resources. She has given hundreds of invited research presentations in Australia and internationally, and regularly provides workshops and seminars for school staff and community members. 

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