Dr Helen Skouteris

Developmental Psychologist, Social Scientist, Leading Public Health and Implementation Science Researcher, Mentor

Key Research Areas

Women’s and Children’s Health
Maternal and Childhood Obesity Prevention
Child and Family Welfare

Helen Skouteris is a Monash Warwick Professor in Health and Social Care Improvement and Implementation Science, Head of the Health and Social Care Unit (HSCU), and Co-Lead of the Evidence Synthesis, Qualitative Research and Implementation Science Division of School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. 

Her Experience…

Trained as a developmental psychologist, Helen is an internationally esteemed and arguably Australia’s leading maternal and childhood obesity researcher whose research spans preconception, pregnancy, postpartum, childhood and adolescence, with a focus on psychosocial and lifestyle health. She has vast expertise across “what matters” (systematic reviews, metanalyses, quantitative longitudinal research, and qualitative research), “what works” (randomised controlled trials) and “what translates” (implementation science), and she applies her strong methodological knowledge and skills across the health, human/community services and education sectors.

“Every child has the right to thrive and reach their potential”

Dr Helen Skouteris

Her Team…

Helen established and leads the Health and Social Care Unit (HSCU) team in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University.

Her team includes 11 postdoctoral research fellows, 4 research assistants, and 12 PhD students.

Dr Briony Hill

Briony Hill holds an Honours degree in exercise science and a PhD in health psychology. She is currently a National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellow at the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation at Monash University.

Rachael Green

Rachael works in the social care sector to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. She is currently managing the state-wide rollout of the HEALing Matters program in Victoria.

DR DARSHINI AYTON

Dr Darshini Ayton is a senior research fellow in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. She is a mixed methods health services researcher with current projects in dementia, antimicrobial stewardship…

Her Seminal Work…

Helen has pioneered 4 ground breaking programs of research that have been supported by nationally competitive funding.

Body image during pregnancy and the postpartum

Seminal research in body image during pregnancy and the postpartum, including conceptual models of body dissatisfaction and other psychosocial risk factors of excessive gestational weight gain, exclusive breastfeeding, and postpartum weight retention, and the development of the Pregnancy Figure Rating Scale (PRFS) - a measure of discrepancies between current and ideal shape during pregnancy, that is now used by researchers internationally.

Childhood lifestyle health and obesity

This work has moved the field from a focus on uni-directional parental influences on children’s lifestyle habits, toward conceptual models that map the causal pathways between bi-directional maternal and child dyadic factors in the development of healthy-weight in children

Lifestyle health of young people living in out-of-home care

Seminal work on the health of vulnerable young people living in out-of-home care with a specific focus on overweight and obesity, disordered eating, the paucity of lifestyle interventions and the lack of involvement of young people with a lived experience in decisions pertaining to their health. Today Helen oversees the scale up of the Healthy Eating Active Living Matters (HEALing Matters) program across Victoria, with her postodoctoral research fellow Dr Rachael Green and the HEALing Matters team.

Lifestyle health in preconception, pregnancy and postpartum

Pioneering work in the area of gestational weight gain and maternal obesity prevention. This work has been informed by Helen’s vast research in the area of body image during pregnancy and post birth, a clinical trial she led (2011-2013) focused on reducing excessive gestational weight gain and systems mapping work that resulted from the National Health in Preconception, Pregnancy and Postpartum Collective (HiPPP Collective) that Helen, and her early career researcher Briony Hill, established in 2013. Helen is now the Director of the Centre of Research Excellence of Health in Preconception and Pregnancy (CRE HiPP) funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (2020-2024), co-leads the Global HiPP Alliance, and is Australia’s top ranked researcher in gestational weight gain.

Her Current Projects…

In addition to these nationally funded projects, Helen is currently leading teams across 10 industry projects in collaboration with colleagues from health, social care and education. These projects are mostly focused on improving the health and developmental outcomes of our most socially disadvantaged children and families.

Helen’s Health and Social Care Improvement and Implementation Science team work on health, social service and educational sector improvement that translates to better health, social and developmental outcomes for children, young people, adults and families and is crucial to transforming policy across these sectors. Research projects with industry partners include.

My Care

A community mental health program for young people providing outreach and psychosocial support.

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MyCare Ageing

A co-designed program of training for volunteers 18-65 years of elderly patients (particularly those with dementia and/or delirium)

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Family Preservation and Reunification

A Victorian government program delivered through MacKillop Family Services that aims to support parents to provide a safe and nurturing home environment to ensure children are safe and thriving.

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Refuge to Recovery

A refuge program for women and children escaping family violence providing accommodation and bespoke services.

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Sanctuary Model

A whole of organisational approach designed to shift organisational culture to foster healing of individuals who have been impacted by a traumatic event.

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Helen’s Journey And Family Tribute

Helen is the daughter of migrant parents who came to Australia from Greece in 1963. She and her sister were first in the family to go to University – her mother was educated to Grade 3 and her father to middle high school. Yet, their resilience as migrants and their dedication to family and unconditional work ethic has resulted in a successful marriage and a life removed from poverty.

A few words from Helen…

Like many thousands of people, my parents came to Australia for work and ultimately a better life.  They left their families and the comfort and security of small rural villages with whatever they could carry in one suitcase.  Whilst Australia was on the other side of the world, it offered opportunities not available to them in Greece. 

In the early years, they made do with little possessions and worked hard to provide for us as children.  They valued education as the means to prosperity and they did not hesitate to sacrifice everything to ensure my sister and I achieved the best possible education.  For them education was about knowledge, not just about future earning capacity.  It was about empowering us to be the best we could possibly be (as individuals and importantly as broader members of society). 

My parents have always been immensely proud of the adults my sister and I have become.  When I reflect on their life journey I am so proud of them,  inspired by their courageous spirit, amazed by their determination and willpower and incredibly grateful to have been supported by them in my life’s journey every step of the way.
Dr Helen Skouteris

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Academic Papers Published

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Research Grants

CONTACT Helen

Health and Social Care Unit (HSCU)

School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine

Faculty Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Monash University

553 St Kilda Road Melbourne 3004

+61 414 409 563

Helen.Skouteris@monash.edu

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