Professor; Program Head, Health Promotion and Education Research
EdD, GradDipHSc, BEd, FAHMS, GAICD
Donna Cross is a Professor with the School of Global and Population Health at the University of Western Australia, and Program Head of Health Promotion and Education Research at the Telethon Kids Institute where she leads 27 researchers who develop and test strategies to improve children’s and adolescents’ wellbeing, with a focus on mental health and social-emotional wellbeing.
Donna is a Chief Investigator and the Western Australian Node Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course. This seven-year $32.1m project aims to produce and empower precision methods and adaptive social interventions to optimise support for disadvantaged children and families, helping them to achieve their life potential.
She was previously the Founding Director of the Child Health Promotion Research Centre at Edith Cowan University (2003-2012), where she led numerous research projects to build researcher capacity in the promotion of children’s and young people’s social and emotional development and wellbeing.
Donna is an experienced applied health promotion researcher and educator, with expertise in engaging with stakeholders to enhance intervention effectiveness and sustainability. Most of her research has involved school and community-based interventions and through the formation of stakeholder, consumer and peak agency advisory groups, she has developed strong collaborative links with state/federal government departments and major NGOs related to health, education and children. She has extensive research translation experience, contributing to major child and adolescent health practice and policy in Australia and internationally.
Donna has more than 30 years of applied research experience as a Chief Investigator for $84m in research funding. She is currently a Chief Investigator on nine longitudinal research projects aiming to prevent bullying, cyberbullying and associated mental health harms among young people; promote healthy technology use, and improve the socio-emotional wellbeing of young children and supporting the social and emotional development of children and adolescents with chronic disease.
Donna has published 38 books/chapters, 173 journal articles, 95 reports and over 100 health education resources, frequently cited by other scholars. Her research outputs have been translated by government and non-government agencies to influence policy and practice in many areas including mental health promotion, especially linked to adolescent bullying, cyber bullying and aggression prevention. Most of the major policy documents and curriculum used in schools across Australia – including the National Wellbeing Framework and Australian Curriculum – invited her contribution. Further, she was the founder and has developed and tested components of an innovative project called Friendly Schools Plus (FS+) for 20 years in 11 major studies, now implemented in over 3,000 schools in Australia, Singapore, the UK and USA.
Donna has supervised 43 PhD/Masters students and currently supervises 6 PhD students and formally mentors 6 post-doctoral researchers.
Professor Cross’ scholarly contribution to children’s health research has been recognised by many university, state, and national awards. She was awarded the 2012 WA Australian of the Year Award and received the 2012 Future Justice Prize for Australian leadership and initiative in the advancement of future justice. Professor Cross was also a finalist in the 2011 WA Citizen of the Year Awards and the 2017 WA Scientist of the Year. In 2016 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and an NHMRC Research Fellowship, and in 2015 she was inducted as a fellow to the Australia Academy of Health and Medical Science.