Commitment to Research

Tresillian Family Care Centres is committed to supporting, disseminating and undertaking research that increases the child and family health evidence base. Tresillian’s research focus is on children from birth to school age and their families, and child and family health service delivery.

Tresillian has strong links with the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), through the Tresillian Professor of Child and Family Health. The Chair is located within the Faculty of Health’s Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health

Through the sponsorship of this clinical chair Tresillian in partnership with UTS are making a significant contribution to advancing knowledge in child and family health by:

  • drawing on the research resources of UTS;
  • conducting research in partnership with other organisations and universities such as Corrective Services NSW, the University of Western Sydney and Newcastle University;
  • participating in international research in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Jordan.

Many of the listed research projects have been supported by Tresillian through the sponsorship participation and support provided to the Tresillian Chair in Child and Family Health by Tresillian Family Care Centres.

Current Research

The relationship between pregnancy and birth complications, obstetric interventions, demographic characteristics and admission to residential services of Tresillian and Karitane in NSW from 2000-2010: A data-linkage study.

The aim of the proposed study is to examine the relationship between pregnancy and birth complications, common obstetric interventions, demographic characteristics and admission to residential services of Tresillian and Karitane in NSW from 2000-2010.

H Dahlen & V Schmied (UWS), C Fowler (UTS), M.Dickinson, R. Mills & J Smit (Tresillian); G O’Loughlin  & P Jones (Karitane).

Funding: Australian Research Council grant


Tresillian Experience: the Parent and Infant Journey

This study uses data from a pre-existing quality activity designed by the NSW Ministry of Health – client experience project. The data collected focuses on the parents’ experience at Tresillian. A low risk ethics application has been approved.

Prof C Fowler; and Tresillian staff members involved: M Dickinson, L Daggar, S Bruhm, and G Goodwin

Funding: Tresillian Family Care Centres


Breaking-the-Cycle (BTC) for Incarcerated Parents: Towards Pro-Social Parenting

Breaking-the-Cycle (BTC) for Incarcerated Parents addresses a significant issue, parental incarceration.The BTC project aims to generate knowledge to transform the design and delivery of contemporary and contextualised parenting programs for incarcerated mothers and fathers. This is a collaborative partnership with Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) and the Faculty of Health UTS

Prof C Fowler (UTS/Tresillian), Dr A Dawson (UTS), Prof D Jackson (UTS), Dr M Roche (UTS), A Jones (CSNSW), S Hyslop (CSNSW)

Funded jointly: UTS Partnership grant and Corrective Services NSW 


Paediatric International Nursing Study (PINS) – Tresillian component

This international pilot project looks at the use of eight core key performance indicators (KPIs) in the development of person centred nursing in paediatric settings. A realistic evaluation approach is used and data collection include: surveys, patient stories, observations of practice, patient record review and staff interviews. The outcomes of this pilot study will be used to form the basis of a much larger international study based across a range of hospital and community settings.

Tresillian’s component of the PINS study will explore the utility of the nursing KPIs and related measurement framework in supporting the development of person-centred practice across three residential services providing nursing care to well parents and children. 

Researchers involved in the Tresillian component of the study are:

Prof Cathrine Fowler, Fran Chavasse, Leanne Daggar, Julie Maddox, Nicola Brown and Jeanette Smit.


Tresillian Infant Feeding Study

This is a longitudinal cohort study of parents admitted to Tresillian Family Care Centres or who are recruited via the Tresillian Facebook page. The parents are invited to complete self report measures of usual parental feeding behaviours, their infant’s eating behaviours including self-regulatory ability and infant weight and length at three time points. The second phase uses the NCAST Parent Child Interaction Assessment Feeding Scale, to investigate parent responsiveness and infant cue expressivity. The third phase will investigate the advice that nurses who work at Tresillian give to parents on infant feeding.

Researchers involved: Dr Georgina Russell, Prof Cathrine Fowler, A/Prof Elizabeth Denney-Wilson, Fran Chavasse and Jessica Appleton (PhD student)

Completed Research

The feasibility of implementing a national approach to child and family health services

This study investigated the feasibility of implementing a national approach to child and family health services. Consultative forums with consumers and professionals leaders, a national survey of and focus group with midwives, nurses, general practitioners and practice nurses aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the essential components of a universal service. Findings have identified organisational, service and professional characteristics that are enablers and barriers to implementation.

Prof V Schmied (UWS), A/Prof S Kruske (CD Uni), Prof C Homer (UTS), Prof L Barclay (Syd Uni), Prof I Wilson (UWS), Prof Fowler C (UTS/Tresillian), A/Prof L Kemp (UNSW), Dr M Fasher (Syd Uni)

Funding: Australian Research Council Grant 


Parenting Young Children in a Digital World

A collaborative project with the University of Technology, Sydney and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The overall aim of this action research project is to facilitate parenting skills of Hong Kong parents with young children in providing guidance in their children’s digital technology use as an asset for health, learning and enjoyment.

A/Prof C Wu (HK Polytech Uni), Prof C Fowler (UTS/Tresillian), Ms W Lam (HK Polytech Uni), Prof A Loke (HK Polytech Uni),

Funding: 2012 Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship; Tresillian; and Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Partners in Hope – A Research Program For Establishing Child And Parent Sensitive Approaches Within Alcohol And Drug Treatment And Rehabilitation Programs

This research investigated the implementation of an innovative alcohol and drug (AOD) and parenting support program for ADO-dependent mothers and young children, a high-risk group which poses significant challenges for the health, education, child welfare and justice systems. The program was jointly developed by project partners Kathleen York House, a provider of AOD rehabilitation services to women and their children; and Tresillian a provider of child and family health services. The AOD initiative is innovative in:

  • integrating effective parenting knowledge as central to AOD rehabilitation
  • developing new forms of interprofessional and collaborative practice between practitioners from differing disciplinary and agency backgrounds
  • actively engaging clients in the rehabilitation

Prof Alison Lee (UTS), Prof Cathrine Fowler (UTS/Tresillian), A/Prof Roger Dunston (UTS), Prof Carolyn Day (Syd Uni) & Prof Juanita Sherwood (UTS) 

Download the PDF

Funding: UTS Partnership Grant


Sustaining Practice Innovation in Child and Family Health

This research responds to an international consensus in health policy that identifies the need for health service-users to be more actively involved as partners in the development and delivery of health services. Whilst considerable investments have been made in achieving this outcome, progress has been minimal. To date little research has engaged with the complex issues of implementing and sustaining significant forms of practice change, in particular, well developed partnership practice. This research seeks to address this knowledge deficit, investigating these issues in two Australian and one New Zealand child and family health services committed to initiating and sustaining partnership practice.

Researchers: Prof Alison Lee (UTS), Prof Cathrine Fowler (UTS/Tresillian), Dr Roger Dunston (UTS), Dr Jo McKenzie (UTS), Prof Graham Vimpani (Kaleidoscope Hunter Children’s Health Network), Dr Crispin Day (Centre for Parent and Child Support, London), Angela Baldwin (Plunket New Zealand).

Download the PDF

Funding: UTS Partnership Grant and Partner Organisation contribution

Completion Date: 2010


Tresillian Model of Care Implementation within Residential Services

This project evaluated the implementation of the Tresillian Model of Care within the Tresillian residential services at Belmore, Willoughby and Nepean over a 12 month period.

Researchers: Prof Cathrine Fowler (UTS/Tresillian), Julie Maddox (Tresillian), Anne-Lyse DeGuio (Tresillian), Dr Carolyn Briggs (UTS), Prof Denise Dignam (UTS), Jane Kookarkin (Tresillian), Chris Rossiter (Tresillian), Carol Frazer (Tresillian), Magella O’Brien (Tresillian).

Funding: Tresillian Family Care Centres


Tresillian Home Visiting Intervention Project

This project aims to improve parent-child relationships, to optimise children's cognitive and emotional development, and to enhance family functioning within targeted high-risk groups through the use of extended home visiting.

Tresillian clinicians have identified these women/parents as having unmet psychosocial needs and as requiring more intensive support with their parenting.

In addition this project has been designed to improve:

  •          the mother's mental and physical health and wellbeing
  •          uptake of professional and informal support in the community
  •          the mother's perception of competency in caretaking
  •          her perception of the relationship with her baby
  •          her emotional availability to her infant during interactions
  •          her reports of positive infant temperament and positive toddler behaviour

Researchers: Prof Cathrine Fowler (UTS/Tresillian), Dr Catherine McMahon (Macquarie University, School of Psychology) and Dr Nick Kowalenko (RNSH, Tresillian & University of Sydney), Chris Rossiter (Tresillian).

Funding: The Home Visiting Intervention component is funded by Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services Early Intervention Parenting Grants. This was initially for 3 years. Due to the positive outcomes of the research additional funding has been received to extend the project until June 2009 through the Commonwealth Government REACH Grant. The comparison component of the project has been funded by Macquarie University.


Mothering at a Distance

This project is in collaboration with NSW Department of Corrective Services (DCS).

This project has established a self sustaining education and support program to assist with the case management and addressing the criminogenic needs of incarcerated mothers and enhance their ability to provide appropriate and sensitive parenting, reducing the emotional and social impact of separation due to incarceration on their children 0-5 years with the aim of breaking the inter-generational cycle of crime.

Researchers: Prof Cathrine Fowler (UTS/Tresillian), Kyleigh Heggie (DCS), Victoria Perry (DCS), Judy McHutchinson (DCS), Dr Catherine McMahon (Macquarie University), Dr Nick Kowalenko (Tresillian), Prof Andrew Cashin (UTS/Justice Health).

Funding: This was a 3 year collaborative project between Tresillian Family Care Centres and NSW Department of Corrective Services funded through the Greater Western Sydney: National Community Crime Prevention Programme as an Australian Government Initiative.


Understanding Motherhood and Mothering from Inside

This project was in collaboration with NSW Department of Corrective Services. The main purpose of this project was to implement and evaluate two ten week groups that will enhance the mother and infant relationship by: increasing maternal sensitivity and appropriate responsiveness to infant's signals increasing mother's ability to reflect on her own and infant's behaviour, thoughts and feelings in regard to attachment & caregiving interactions identifying and building on maternal & infant strengths increasing mother's knowledge and skills to care for her infant to enhance the positive impact of their current caregiving patterns and behaviour reducing negative (punitive) parenting interactions.

The group program is based on strength and relationship based approaches for working with the women and children. The two 10 week groups have been completed. The groups required 4 facilitators (3 from Tresillian and 1 from NSW Department of Corrective Services). Weekly clinical supervision was provided. Pre and post data has been collected.

Researchers: Dr Cathrine Fowler (Tresillian): Ms Belinda McInnes (NSW Department of Corrective Services); Dr Catherine McMahon (Macquarie University); Dr Nick Kowalenko (Tresillian & Royal North Shore Hospital), Chris Rossiter (Tresillian)

Funding: NSW Government Women's Grant program.


Evaluation of Family Partnerships Model training and its possible impact on Child and Family Health nurses' practice and client care

New South Wales has started to introduce the Family Partnerships model (FPM). The FPM promotes 'family friendly' communication between people attempting to support families and families themselves. This project evaluated training in the FPM delivered to 16 Child and Family Health (CFH) nurses in October 2002.

Project objectives include identification of:

  •          the impact, if any, of training in this model on participants perceptions
  •          of their practice,
  •          participant's perceptions about the relevance of the FPM and its likely
  •          impact on their practice (and thereby their clients);
  •          whether or not participants have trained other CFH nurses in the FPM
  •          since their participation in the initial training,
  •          barriers to participants' achieving this

Researchers: Professor Diana Keatinge (University of Newcastle), Dr Cathrine Fowler (Tresillian), Dr Carolyn Briggs (University of Technology), Ms Marian Clark (Families First Hunter)

Funding: Grant from Hunter Children's Research Foundation

Current Staff completing Higher Research Degrees

Staff who are being supported by Tresillian to complete a higher research degree at UTS are:

  • Fran Chavasse (Senior Nurse Educator) who is completing a PhD at UTS Faculty of Health. Fran is investigating:  How the working alliance is affected by the attachment state of mind of a mother and the child and family health nurse assigned to her care?
  • Marie Dickinson (Quality Manager) who is completing a PhD at UTS Faculty of Health. Marie is investigating: Acceptance of accountability and responsibility for quality and safety in health care.
  • Nicola Brown (Nurse Manager, Professional Practice and Innovation Centre) is a PhD candidate at UTS, investigating family-based interventions for a smoke-free home.

Completed Staff Higher Research Degrees

Jane Kookarkin (Health Information Manager) who has completed a UTS Masters in Health her research investigated: The clinical stories shared at handover compared with formal documentation by child and family health nurses.

This study investigated and evaluated nursing documentation practices and verbal handover practices within a child and family health setting. The study focused on the differences between what nurses write in the medical records and what they communicate verbally in ‘handover’ and identify variations between the verbal and written stories.

Researchers: Jane Kookarkin (Tresillian/UTS Masters of Health (Hons) student), Professor Maralyn Foureur (UTS), Prof Cathrine Fowler (UTS/Tresillian)