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Latest child wellbeing research showcased at UC event

07 April 2021

From quality sleep to developing language, experts will share their expertise on many aspects of child well-being at a symposium at the University of Canterbury (UC) this week.


Professor Gail Gillon, Director of the Child Well-being Research Institute, presents findings from research that is supporting our tamariki in Canterbury at the Child Well-being Research Symposium at UC on 8 and 9 April.


Children’s Commissioner Honourable Judge Andrew Becroft and Assistant Māori Commissioner Glenis Philip-Barbara will present the keynote address, “The Good Life”, In search of child and youth well-being in NZ - at the Child Well-being Research Symposium on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 April.

Professor Gail Gillon, Director of UC’s Child Well-being Research Institute (CWRI) is excited to showcase the leading research being undertaken through the Institute.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our community to hear about research that is making a real difference to supporting our tamariki here in Canterbury as well as national and international leading research.  We don’t need to travel the world to hear about cutting edge research related to children’s well-being - It is happening right here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Our Child Well-being Research Institute focuses on interdisciplinary research bringing together leaders across disciplines in health, education, and social sciences. We promote research that is responsive, strengths-based and can have a positive impact for our tamariki and their whanau.”

The symposium will appeal to health and education practitioners, teachers and policy makers who engage in collaborative work to support the success and well-being of children and their whanau, she says.

Participants will hear about exciting developments in effective practices from the Better Start Literacy Approach led by Professor Brigid McNeill and Professor Gillon, and related to the work of the Better Start National Science Challenge, E tipu E Rea.

Prominent psychologist Professor Julia Rucklidge, whose research on micronutrients has inspired many through TED talks, other public appearances and media commentary, will share insights on child nutrition.

The programme includes two expert panel sessions. The Interventions for children with dyslexia panel features Distinguished Professor William (Bill) Tunmer (Massey University), Professor James Chapman (Massey University) and Associate Professor Alison Arrow (UC). The Pacific bilingual education panel features Key Note Speaker Professor Stephen May (University of Auckland) with Session Chair Professor Angus Macfarlane (UC) and Discussant Tufulasi Taleni (UC).

There is much more to learn too, with a range of important topics related to children’s social emotional and physical well-being on the programme. Professor Philip Schluter (UC) presents Fluoridation and oral health in our young children: What does the research say? Associate Professor Laurie McLay (UC) asks “Quality Sleep: How can we better support children with Autism?” Dr Peter Keegan from the University of Auckland focuses on Māori language development.

“We are fortunate to have such a high calibre of world-renowned speakers. Experts and practitioners will benefit hugely and of course for our University of Canterbury students in education, teacher education and health related disciplines, this is an unparalleled learning opportunity to absorb knowledge and talk with the experts,” Professor Gillon says.

For the full programme see 2021-Child-Well-being-Research-Symposium-Programme.pdf (

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