Early Start Research Institute

The Early Start Research Institute (ESRI)

The Early Start Research Institute is a research strength of the University of Wollongong and a part of the Early Start initiative.

Our multi-disciplinary team of 26 members and more than 110 higher-degree research students across the areas of education, psychology, health sciences, arts and creative arts all work within ESRI to overcome disadvantage and impact the lives of children, youth and families through world class research and using cutting-edge facilities.

We are also partnered with Cancer Council NSW, The Movember FoundationPearson Education Group and Big Fat Smile in research into overcoming disadvantage and effecting real social change through Australia’s first Children’s Discovery Centre and its 38 connected Early Start Engagement Centres across New South Wales.

Some of our achievements this year are:

  • Being awarded ARC grants for 2015 to research the implications of advanced or delayed capacity for empathy on relationships; how young children learn to write; and measuring physical activity.
  • Having our Deputy Director Associate Professor Sue Bennett appointed to the ARC College of Experts.
  • Being awarded an ARC Linkage Grant with the Cancer Council NSW to research the influence of unhealthy food marketing on children.
  • Being awarded an NHMRC grant to research increasing physical activity among children from disadvantaged communities.
  • Leading a two million dollar project funded by the Movember Foundation to study the role of sport in helping adolescent males identify and overcome mental health issues, in partnership with several national sport and mental health institutes. 
  • Continuing to work with AIME to build on the research of best mentoring practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read more about our research into public health, social inclusion and learning, design, cognition and pedagogy.

Top story

ESRI has teamed up with Movember on a multi-million dollar first-of-its-kind project, involving six of Australia’s major sporting organisations, which aims to address mental health issues among adolescent male athletes.

Stewart Vella

ESRI Sports Psychologist Dr Stewart Vella will lead the project, which will use a grassroots approach to provide clubs with the tools they need to support their young members who are grappling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

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