Published: September 23, 2019

Dr Kirsten Hancock, a Life Course Centre Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute, has been awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship.

Kirsten will use her Churchill Fellowship to travel to New Zealand and the United States in 2020 to further her research on school absenteeism. Her research investigates a range of issues around child development, with a specific focus on education and school attendance. The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established in 1965 to honour the memory of Sir Winston Churchill. Its Churchill Fellowships recognise people with passion and drive, and provide an unrivalled opportunity to experience world’s best practice on issues that matter to Australian communities. Kirsten is one of 115 Churchill Fellowship announced Australia-wide today, and one of just 14 WA recipients.

Kirsten’s WA Department of Communities Churchill Fellowship will focus on researching the factors and contexts linked with successful and failing student absenteeism strategies. Her proposed itinerary will take her to Wellington, New Zealand, and a number of major cities throughout the United States over a six-week period in 2020. “I’ll be visiting New Zealand and the US to interview a range of researchers and professionals working to address student absenteeism, to understand the interventions they’re trying, which strategies do and don’t work, and the reasons that contribute to their success or failure,” she said. “My goal is to combine this information with what we already know in Australia and assemble a toolkit of strategies so that schools can have information at hand about what might help different students in different contexts.” Each year in Australia, 25% of primary students miss more than a month of school, and 20% of secondary students miss more than two months, placing their social and educational development at risk.