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The Centre for Adolescent Health

The Centre for Adolescent Health (CAH) aims to improve young people’s life chances because adolescence is as much about new opportunities as new risks. 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.

The CAH is a World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Adolescent Health, CAH are unique in focusing on adolescence as a critical life stage. This includes the transition from childhood into adolescence, and the transition beyond adolescence into adult life.

The Centre for Adolescent Health is 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.

There are two research groups within CAH:

Areas of our research include:

  • Common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety that 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