New project examines neighbourhood influence on early childhood development

A new project led by the Centre’s Deputy Director Hannah Badland has just been awarded a VicHealth Impact Research Grant

The project, “Early childhood data to decisions: Equitable child development neighbourhoods”, seeks to understand how neighbourhood features contribute to equitable early childhood development and to health and wellbeing outcomes across different geographic contexts.

“There is emerging evidence that where children live and play can interrupt the pathways of disadvantage,” Prof Badland said, “We need to understand which local area factors should be prioritised to promote health in children in established areas and urban growth corridors.”

The project uses a world-first dataset of spatial neighbourhood-built-environment indicators linked with data for early childhood development in Australian cities to understand the connection between neighbourhoods and child development. Using innovative participatory research methods, the team will deeply examine these associations to identify “what works” for families living in diverse neighbourhoods.

The RMIT project team includes Dr Karen Villanueva and A/Prof Melanie Davern, Director of the Australian Urban Observatory (AUO). Other research partner organisations are the Royal Children’s Hospital (Prof Sharon Goldfield), Telethon Kids Institute (Prof Sally Brinkman), and the University of Montreal (Prof Lise Gauvin).

The AUO will eventually host the data and visualisations of the indicators established by the project. The new indicators will contribute to the various data already available through the AUO which is being used by local governments and other organisations to inform policies for building health-promoting environments.

In partnership with Jesuit Social Services, Cardinia, City of Port Phillip, and Mitchell Shire, this practice-focused project aims to provide national to local evidence for supporting urban and social decision-making and advocacy.  

The VicHealth Impact Research Grants fund research that considers the bigger picture in health, “Ultimately” Prof Badland says, “this project aims to generate evidence to create long-lasting, more equitable urban environments that support child development and wellbeing in Victoria.”

Story: Jenny Lucy

  • Header image: Image by StockSnap from Pixabay