24 December 2013

Dr Kylie Hesketh is passionate about ensuring our children are physically active and has spent a large part of her research career collecting data on the activities of children.

In a new research project to be conducted at Deakin University, which received funding through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects scheme, she hopes to understand more about the development of physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

The grant was awarded in November by the Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, at the ARC's major grants announcement in Adelaide. A total of 703 Discovery Projects received funding at a total value of $257.6 million.

Dr Hesketh wants the lasting outcome of her research to be children having fun and being active.

Her $600 000 research project will extend on an existing study of children who were originally recruited at the ages of three to five years. This will be the third wave of data collection from this cohort of children which will follow them through the period to preadolescence when they are nine to 11 years of age.

"We aim to really understand the development of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in this time as we know, or suspect, they are declining as children get older," Dr Hesketh said at the announcement ceremony in Adelaide.

"And within this Discovery grant we'll also be looking specifically at the neighbourhood environment—in previous waves we've tried to understand the family and schools environment and how they may influence children's physical activity.

"We'll now also collect objective measures of their neighbourhoods through geographic information systems and park audits to get a really comprehensive picture of the environments in which children spend the majority of their time and how that might influence their physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

"The outcomes of this research will have important implications for the development of policy and strategies to encourage our children to be more active."

Some of the other research to be undertaken with funding awarded under this Discovery Projects funding scheme round, include:

  • Research at Queensland University of Technology which will use new methods to reduce the Australian road toll. Researchers will develop, test and validate an evidence based methodology to proactively detect  motor vehicle crash black spots. They will also use statistical analysis on observed crashes
  • A study at Curtin University of Technology, which will use naturalistic in-vehicle driver monitoring devices and a state-of-the-art driving simulator to examine the impact of first and second eye cataract surgery on driving outcomes. The results of this study will inform Ophthalmology and licensing authorities regarding surgical and refractive management as well as fitness to drive assessments for older drivers with bilateral cataract.

The Discovery Projects scheme provides funding for research projects that can be undertaken by individual researchers or research teams. For more information about these funding outcomes please visit the ARC website or view the media announcement kit


Image: Children Playing Ball. Image courtesy: ©iStockphoto.com / STEFANOLUNARDI