The Centre for Adolescent Health

Research area: Population Health

We aim to improve young people’s life chances because adolescence is as much about new opportunities as new risks.

The Centre for Adolescent Health (CAH) is led by Professors Susan Sawyer and George Patton and is a collaboration between our campus partners, The Royal Children’s Hospital and The University of Melbourne.

We are a World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Adolescent Health and we focus on adolescence as a critical life stage. This includes the transition from childhood into adolescence and the transition beyond adolescence into adult life.

We are recognised nationally, and internationally for:

  • The quality and impact of our research
  • Our capacity-building programs for students and professionals who work with young people
  • Our clinical programs in adolescent medicine
  • Our clinical programs for highly vulnerable young people.


The Centre’s research addresses the major health problems that affect young Australians. Research studies aim to understand the causes and consequences of these health problems and design the best strategies for preventing and treating them. Ultimately, we look to influence health care and health policy nationally and internationally.

 The Centre comprises two research groups

Adolescent Health

Supporting the development and use of the best evidence to increase the quality, accessibility, and value of healthcare that children receive. 

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Justice Health

Improving the lives of young people in youth justice systems in Australia and overseas.

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Areas of our research include:

  • Common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety often first arise in adolescence
  • Improving the quality of life of adolescents with chronic illnesses such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and cancer
  • Ensuring that young people receive the best possible health care in general practice and specialist settings
  • Finding responses to newer problems of substance abuse, eating disorders and obesity in young people

"As children mature through adolescence they are exposed to new health risks. Young children can't change the social circumstances and risk profiles of their parents, schools and communities. In contrast, the developmental period of adolescence provides different ways for young people to engage with their families and the wider world. The second decade of life can thus be seen to provide a second chance to children. This is relevant for all young people, especially those who enter adolescence with social, emotional, or physical disadvantages." - Professor Susan Sawyer, Director.