Child protection expert joins Australian Centre for Child Protection at UniSA
Associate Professor Melissa O’Donnell, a nationally and internationally recognised researcher in child maltreatment, has joined the Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP) at the University of South Australia (UniSA).
Best known for her work in investigating and monitoring outcomes and risk and protective factors for children and families who experience child abuse and neglect, Associate Professor O’Donnell’s work has informed both national and state policy, including the National Child Protection Framework and the development of the first Youth Health Policy for Western Australia.
Prior to joining UniSA, Associate Professor O’Donnell was a lead researcher with the Telethon Kids Institute at the University of Western Australia, where she was awarded more than $4.7 million in competitive grants, produced more than 40 publications, and earned the prestigious WA Premier’s Award Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year in 2018.
Internationally, she has been an expert to the United Nations and is a member of the International Working Group on Child Maltreatment Data Collections through the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Her innovative data linkage work has contributed new knowledge about the rise in babies born affected by maternal substance use during pregnancy, and the impact of parental mental health issues and family domestic violence on children’s safety and wellbeing.
Welcoming Associate Professor O’Donnell, ACCP Co-director Professor Fiona Arney said the appointment will build on the ground-breaking work and insights being developed at the ACCP, helping the Centre to continue to pioneer new approaches and methodologies for preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect.
“Child abuse and neglect is one of the country’s greatest social and public health challenges, with one in four Australian children reported to child protection services before the age of 10,” Professor Arney said.
“Melissa shares our commitment and passion to improving the outcomes for children impacted by abuse.Her expertise will strengthen our ability to provide contextually-driven solutions to what are complex societal problems.”
Associate Professor O’Donnell will also play a major role in helping to establish a new innovation hub focused on the development of nationally leading, evidence-based responses to child abuse, neglect and trauma.
Further information about the Australian Centre for Child Protection can be found here.