More than 50 academics and senior staff involved with the Life Course Centre gathered for a two-day Research Development Workshop in mid-July this year.
The high-level gathering was one of the first assemblies of a large number of representatives from the Centre’s research nodes, and also included the three program leaders and chief investigators.
Staff from one of the participating non-government organisations, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, were also present at the workshop in Werribee, Victoria.
Centre Director, Professor Janeen Baxter, said the workshop provided an important forum to discuss the goals and vision of the Centre.
“It successfully brought us all together at the same table to develop our research projects for this multidisciplinary Centre.
“This was vitally important for our planning, especially given how widely dispersed we are geographically.
“We wanted everyone involved to have a shared understanding of the first steps following the creation of the Centre, the ARC’s expectations of Centres of Excellence and where we’d like to be for mid-course review at end of year three,” Professor Baxter said.
One of the workshop’s major goals was to identify initial research projects and opportunities for collaboration across the various research teams led by the Chief and Associate Investigators.
The workshop also provided the opportunity for participants to discuss strategies for communication, collaborative arrangements and opportunities for promotion and growth of the Centre.
“We didn’t want to be overly prescriptive with the workshop structure. This encouraged deeper exploration of topics as they arose and also created a more relaxed atmosphere for people to both get to know each other and feel free to express their ideas, ambitions and aspirations regarding the Centre.
“We also looked at options for how the different disciplines might work together and communicate effectively,” Professor Baxter said.
The workshop provided an opportunity for researchers to voice and discuss their areas of special interest, start formulating early flagship project ideas and to identify potential data sources.
One joint project discussed, is one that will be a collaboration between Professor Mazerolle (UQ) and Professor Cobb-Clark (Uni of Melb), which will examine whether school attendance rates of adolescents are related to their risk and time preferences.
Another project, which will be run jointly by researchers at UQ (led by Professor Baxter) and UWA (led by Professor Zubrick), will examine the relationships between family type, marital status changes and young children’s developmental outcomes.
“We also looked beyond the dynamics of this workshop to how best to keep the discussions active as the Centre develops,” Professor Baxter said.
Specific strategies discussed include research exchanges, joint PhD supervisions, and regular cross-nodal workshops on specific topics. The first of these, “Data Resource Workshop”, will be in October in Melbourne. It is organised by Professor Haynes (UQ) and Francis Mitrou (UWA) and will cover aims and strategies of administrative data linkages.