Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) Professor Sharon Goldfeld has been awarded the inaugural Marles Medal in STEM (science, technology, engineering and medicine) for excellent and original research that led to outstanding achievement in research impact.
The Marles Medal is awarded by the University of Melbourne to candidates who are employees of the University of Melbourne.
Professor Goldfeld is the Director of the Centre for Community Child Health and a Professor in the University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics.
She has received the medal for her leadership of the right@home study, a trial designed to build parenting capacity among disadvantaged parents. The trial delivered additional maternal child health nursing visits to families who had been identified as being in need of additional support to deliver their child the best start in life.
“UNICEF and former US President Barack Obama both champion nurse home visits as a way to help disadvantaged families,” said Professor Goldfeld.
“These are families dealing with challenges like poor mental health, a lack of employment, limited education, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence or even just families where the parents are very young and inexperienced. Mostly it’s a combination of these factors.”
right@home has delivered great outcomes for children and families. The initial trial showed that, at the child’s second birthday, the parents were warmer, had greater confidence in their parenting and provided safer, more nurturing homes for their children.
After the initial trial, the program was funded in the 2016/17 Victorian state budget and has been adopted at eight sites across Victoria. Since then, right@home has been rolled out in the Northern Territory and Queensland, delivering capacity-building skills to disadvantaged parents across the country.
The Marles Medal in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine (STEMM) and the Marles Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) (collectively ‘The Marles Medal’) were established to complement the Woodward Medal. The Marles Medal recognises excellence in research impact, which may include an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health and wellbeing, the environment or quality of life beyond academia.