The Health and Social Care Improvement and Implementation Science Team…

The following experienced and highly professional Health and Social Care Improvement and Implementation Science team members at HSCU work under the leadership and mentorship of Helen.

Deputy Heads of Unit…


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 Health and Social Care Unit.


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, patient-reported outcome measures, clinical quality registries and volunteer programs. She is also the Bachelor of Health Sciences Honours Coordinator and a Consumer and Community Involvement Fellow for Monash Partners.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow…


Dr Heidi Bergmeier is a developmental psychology research leader, renowned as one of few international researchers to pioneer ground-breaking methodologies for assessing dyadic parent-child interactions implicated in child eating and weight development. She has expertise in incorporating a developmental lens to public health research priorities and has led conceptual advancements highlighting modifiable psychosocial factors linking maternal and child adverse outcomes across the first 2000 days of a child’s life, from a life course perspective. Her research expertise has been applied across a range of contexts, including family, clinical, community support and advocacy and education settings. Dr Bergmeier works closely with people with lived experiences of relevant issues to ensure their voices are central to research initiatives and recently led the co-development an international consumer and community involvement framework, with key stakeholders including clinicians, researchers and women in perinatal life stages. Her current work emphasises integrating a holistic life-course approach to childhood obesity prevention, by including an equitable developmental perspective, from conception to five years of age. As an emerging research leader, Dr Bergmeier holds a number of appointments including co-chair of the Health in Preconception, Pregnancy and Postpartum Early and Mid-Career Researcher Collective and is a postgraduate supervisor and mentor.


Alexandra Chung is a Research Fellow with the Health and Social Care Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. Alex’s research interests include childhood obesity prevention, health equity and the role of policy to equitably reduce childhood overweight and obesity. She is interested in understanding and addressing the determinants of childhood obesity across individual and environmental contexts. Alex is a dietitian with experience in community and public health. She has worked on National and State Government projects including the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing project ‘Get Up & Grow’ to develop healthy eating and physical activity guidelines for early childhood education and care settings. Alex is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar, participating, with Helen Skouteris and Louisa Whettam, in the 2019 program Halting the Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Identifying Decisive Interventions in Complex Systems.


She recently completed her PhD, generating evidence to inform the development of policies to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in obesity among Australian children.


Claire collaborates with education and health professionals to co-design, implement and evaluate approaches that strengthen children’s social-emotional development. Her research interests include social and emotional learning, early childhood mental health, educator-child interactions and implementation science methodologies.


Dr Lauren Bruce (DPsych, Health) is a Research Fellow and part of the HEALing Matters Team. Lauren is also a registered Psychologist and the Education/Research Manager at Eating Disorders Victoria. Her research interests include prevention and early intervention strategies for improving health and wellbeing, with a particular interest in body image and disordered eating behaviours in young people and adult women.


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 Heather Morris is an early career research fellow.  Working directly with community service organisations that directly engage with vulnerable children and families, she uses her expertise in implementation science and practice, qualitative research, and experience-based co-design to support their service delivery, and more broadly the social care sector.


Dr Mandy O’Connor is a Developmental Psychologist and Research Fellow at the Health and Social Care Unit. She is an expert in Intervention Mapping, Implementation Science, program development and evaluations. Focusing on parent-child relationships, child development, family violence, disability, women’s health and wellbeing.


Dr Renée O’Donnell is an Early Career Research Fellow at the Health and Social Care Unit. Dr O’Donnell is an expert in program implementation, evaluation and scale-up of community-based services. In particular, Dr O’Donnell is presently leading the implementation of two state-wide programs which support marginalised groups in the community (i.e., persons from low socioeconomic backgrounds and persons with lived experience of out of home care) to improve their health and wellbeing. As part of this body of work, Dr O’Donnell is identifying and addressing the barriers which impede upon the implementation of these community-based programs.


Dr. Stephanie Pirotta is an accredited practising dietitian and post-doctoral research fellow currently working as the senior clinician on a real-world implementation study which aims to reduce the risk of cognitive decline through behaviour change in healthy adults at risk of dementia. Stephanie is also the founder and leading dietitian of the private dietetic practice Womanly Nutrition and Dietetics. Stephanie completed a mixed-methods PhD in 2020 that informed the development and implementation of an evidence-based PCOS lifestyle program to be applied in community and clinical settings. She now also continues this work part-time, helping women receive evidence-based lifestyle therapy to optimise their PCOS management.

Research Assistants…


Anna Crawford-Parker is a Research Assistant at the Health and Social Care Unit. Anna is currently studying a Batchelor of Criminology and Psychological science.
She has lived experience in out of home care and is enthusiastic about helping disadvantaged young people through the HEALing Matters program.

Jacob Thomas

Jacob Thomas is one of Australia’s most prominent leaders in sexual orientation and gender identity. Jacob uses the pronouns they/them and works at the Monash Warwick Alliance and guest lectures in Global Studies. They are undertaking their PhD in public health and preventative medicine, exploring the power of LGBTIQA+ youth around the world.

In 2016 Jacob received the Queen’s Young Leader Award, recognising Jacob’s work on suicide prevention for Australia’s LGBTIQ community. Jacob was the Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN) and represented the network at international events including the 61st session of UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York, the 11th Commonwealth Youth Forum in London, and at AIDS2018 in Amsterdam.

They are currently an advisor to The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and in their spare time are a performer, designer and sometimes drag artist.


Kostas completed his Honours in Psychology at Deakin University in 2019, exploring the functional connectivity of visuospatial attention during implicit sequence learning.

His current research interests are embedded in social care and the disability sector and he aims to pursue a PhD in this area.


Mara is a 4th year Medical Student at Monash University with a strong interest in health policy and public health. She is passionate about the impacts of social determinants on health and health care, and wants to direct her focus towards more universally minded medical treatments and policies.


Ms Savaglio is a Research Assistant at the Health and Social Care Unit, and is currently completing her Masters in Clinical Psychology.

Ms Savaglio’s primary research interest is examining the impact of community-based interventions on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable population groups, including those with a mental illness and young women at risk of child removal


Ruby Tate is a Research Assistant at the Health and Social Care Unit and completed a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) in 2019. Ruby is passionate about youth mental health and is currently assisting Rachael Green in managing the state-wide rollout of the HEALing Matters program in Victoria.


Seonad has a background in health science and is a research assistant at the Health and Social Care Unit. Seonad is currently completing her mixed-methods PhD to develop a workplace digital health intervention to promote healthy lifestyles and wellbeing for working women across the preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum periods.

Research Support Staff…

Media Advisor


Michelle is a self-motivated, mature and driven communications specialist. Michelle has a background in PR, internal and external publications and correspondence, event planning, exhibitions, journalism and editing in Australia and the United Kingdom. Michelle is managing media and communications for the NHMRC-funded CRE HiPP

Business Manager


Tracy has a strong professional background in public health, university and professional sectors, with extensive experience in business administration, research project management, finance and executive management, including 15 years of experience in research project management within the areas of neurological science, child psychology, implementation science and health promotion. Tracy is also project managing the NHMRC-funded CRE HiPP and the MRFF-funded HiPPP (2018- 2022) programs of research.

PhD Students…

Julie Avery Implementation and evaluation of a trauma responsive educational practice model for community services
Emma Galvin Understanding drug and alcohol use among young people within Out-of-Home Care
Michelle Gooey Bridging the gap: translating childhood obesity prevention policy into clinical practice
Angie Jaman The effectiveness of a psychologically informed environment in achieving outcomes in youth refuge
Pragya Kandel Motivation and readiness for lifestyle behaviour change in preconception women
Seonad Madden A workplace digital health intervention to promote healthy lifestyles and wellbeing for women across the reproductive years: An Intervention Mapping approach
Alex Mullins The utility of My Health Record in the emergency department
Melissa Savaglio Developing a community-based psychosocial intervention for young people with mental illness
Madelaine Smales Understanding drug and alcohol use among young people within Out-of-Home Care
Andrea Tamblyn An intervention to optimise the physical early childhood education and care environment to support children’s social and emotional development
Jacob Thomas LGBTIQA+ Youth: A global investigation into their power and wellbeing

Academic Papers Published


Research Grants


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

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