Researcher helping young people navigate the digital age wins Research Impact Competition


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Dr Philippa Collin from the Institute for Culture and Society has taken out first place in the third annual Research Impact Competition held during Research Week. Dr Collin’s research efforts focus on changing the debate about the relationship young people can have with technology.

The Competition gives 12 finalists from across the University five minutes to highlight the ways their research has made significant differences to the broader community. Over 85 guests attended the event, including external visitors from NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Transport, and other university collaborators.

On a larger scale, Dr Collin’s research efforts also deal with the role of the digital in the social, cultural and political lives of young people, with the focus on the implications for their mental health, wellbeing and citizenship.

As co-lead of the Young and Resilient Initiative – which examines the role of technology for young people to learn about, adapt, respond and transform complex challenges in contemporary social life - with Associate Professor Amanda Third, the impact of this research has been far reaching. To date, this initiative – involving 23 Western Sydney University researchers - has engaged more than 1500 young people and 90 organisations in meaningful partnerships to deliver 33 projects. Together, Dr Collin and Dr Third have also helped generate more than $1 million of new research funds and enhanced sector capacity for a new conversation on young people and digital media.

Dr Collin says that forming research teams with partners and collaborators, and working together right from the “outset all the way through the project” is essential if academics want to change debates and enable different ways of thinking and doing.

“Impactful research takes time. It happens unevenly and sometimes isn’t easy to track. So taking a long view, working with those who stand to benefit the most from the research to identify what you want the impact to be and what this might look like as well as staying in close contact with your constituents can really help,” she says.

For other researchers hoping to make impactful contributions, Dr Collin advises one thing: “Collaborate. Rarely do we achieve impact as individuals – but working together on multiple projects, on multiple fronts and, most importantly, in partnership with the potential beneficiaries of research is critical.”

The honour of second place in the competition was given to Dr Mark Hohenberg from the School of Medicine for his research into the perceptions of elders and health care staff in the Macarthur region. The judges also presented the People’s Choice award to Dr Michael Salter from the School of Social Sciences and Psychology. Dr Salter spoke about his research on the impact of organised sexual abuse and discussed his collaborations with policy makers, mental health practitioners and law enforcement.


31 October 2017

Jessica Cortis, Media Assistant