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Professor Donna Cross OAM

Professor Donna Cross OAM is an Emeritus Professor and Senior Honorary Fellow at the University of Western Australia and Senior Strategic Advisor at the Telethon Kids Institute and the Chief Behavioural Advisor to the NSW government.

Professor Cross is an internationally-renowned academic, having contributed to child and adolescent health and education research in the USA, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, and Israel, working with the EU COST Collaborations, and as an expert advisor to UNESCO and WHO, and international foundations such as the (Princess) Mary Foundation in Denmark.

Over the past 30 years Professor Cross has led research addressing school-based wellbeing issues related to drug use, road safety, smoking and bullying behaviour prevention and children’s social and emotional development. From 2020–2022 she led the Western Australian Node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course; a seven-year $32m project focussed on producing and trialling innovative policy and practice to address deep and persistent disadvantage and improving life-course outcomes for Australian children and families.

A commitment to drawing the community’s attention to the importance of investing in actions to strengthen the health, development and learning of children and adolescents is at the core of Professor Cross’ work. She champions positive, whole-school and community approaches to improving children’s wellbeing and ensuring quality research evidence supports school and community policy and practice.

Professor Cross’ scholarly contribution to children’s health research has been acknowledged by many university, state and national awards. In recognition of her extensive work to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people, she was awarded in 2022 the Medal of the Order of Australia and was also inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame. She was awarded the 2012 WA Australian of the Year Award and received the 2012 Future Justice Prize for Australian leadership and initiative in the advancement of future justice. Professor Cross was also a finalist in the 2011 WA Citizen of the Year Awards and the 2017 WA Scientist of the Year. In 2016 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and an NHMRC Research Fellowship, and in 2015 she was inducted as a fellow to the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science.