Griffith University’s commitment to breaking the cycle of disadvantage in Logan has been bolstered by a $5.5 million grant from the Paul Ramsay Foundation that will fund a new community-based research program.

A unique feature of the program is that it will be designed and created in partnership with the community.

The initiative is part of a combined $11 million grant from the Foundation to Griffith University and Victoria University in Melbourne aimed at improving educational, social and health outcomes for children and young people in lower socioeconomic communities.

The joint program will see Griffith enhancing its programs in the rapidly growing Logan region while Victoria University will do similarly in the western Melbourne region of Brimbank.

Griffith University, through its Logan campus, has a successful history in adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to improving youth outcomes in health, education, crime and truancy, as well as broader programs assisting refugees who are have settled in the region.

Led by Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, and harnessing Griffith’s long-established community links in Logan, the jointly funded project will primarily address disadvantage from early childhood while Victoria University will focus on the transition by school students to work or post-school training.

The work will build on existing projects in the community, including Logan Together, a whole-of-community campaign based at Griffith’s Logan campus and designed to create the best life opportunities for every child in Logan.

Headed by Project leader Pro Vice Chancellor (Health) Professor Sheena Reilly, the program fosters strong interdisciplinary connections with Griffith academics from criminology, psychology, education and health.

Project Lead Professor Sheena Reilly

Griffith staff are involved in successful programs with partners in the Logan community that have led to meaningful impact, including a decrease in the maternal smoking rates during pregnancy and a decrease in the number of children identified as vulnerable on more than one domain of the Australian Early Development Census.

“As a community-led initiative, we plan to work very closely with local organisations, local government, service providers, schools, families and young people, as well as the broader community, to co-create and implement solutions.

“Our focus in Logan is to break the cycle of disadvantage and this new initiative is a major step forward in our efforts to achieve this,” Professor Reilly said.

Statistically, 31.9 per cent of children in Logan are developmentally vulnerable as they enter school, well above the Australian average of 21.7 per cent. Nationally, disadvantaged students are, on average, shown to be two to three years behind in reading and math by the time they are 15 years old.

Through the Paul Ramsay Foundation grant, Griffith plans to extend research into the effectiveness of place-based approaches that support children and young people; develop tools and guidance that can replicate the success of these programs in other communities; and developing a framework that will equip a cohort of professionals to support the extension of place-based initiatives across Australia.

“As Griffith is deeply anchored in the Logan community through existing programs, we are well placed to leverage off a collaborative framework that will deliver further positive outcomes in improving early and middle childhood systems,” Professor Reilly said

“It is our intention to focus on the pre-school, primary and secondary school, and school leaver years, to strengthen the capability of education, health, and community services systems to support children, young people and families under pressure.”

The Paul Ramsay Foundation’s vital grant acknowledges Griffith University’s reputation as a leader in addressing disadvantage at a community level through ground-breaking programs such as Logan Together.

Paul Ramsay Foundation CEO Emeritus Professor Glyn Davis AC said Griffith has a proud history of building and reshaping communities of purpose.

Paul Ramsay Foundation CEO Distinguished Professor Glyn Davis AC

“We are delighted to be investing in the community transformation building on the wonderful work of Griffith University in giving opportunity to provide a better future.”

Griffith University Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans congratulated the project teams on their successful funding outcome and acknowledged the generosity of the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

“At Griffith we believe in creating a future for all and Ramsay’s philanthropic vision and commitment will create lasting impact for the Logan community and for other communities that face similar challenges.”