Student Wellbeing Action Partnership

Contact Catholic Education Office / University of Melbourne

Michael Elliott

Project Details

SWAP (Student Wellbeing Action Partnership) promotes robust and evidence-based discussion connected to student wellbeing with a focus on Victorian primary and secondary schools. It is part of the partnership between the Catholic Education Office Melbourne and the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, a partnership which celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2014.

The project had two main agendas:

  1. to gain a perspective on changing policy conceptualizations of Australian curriculum (knowledge/ student/academic/vocational) over the decades from 1975 to 2005; and
  2. to gain a perspective on state differences in values and approach in these decades prior to the formation of the National Curriculum Board.

It aimed to produce resources that other scholars and students might access that brought together the story of these decades across Australia; and it aimed to develop an interpretive account of the significance of its findings for the field of curriculum.

The project findings are summarised under the following headings

School Environment

Teaching and Learning


Professor Field Rickards
Dean of Education, University of Melbourne

Stephen Elder
Director, Catholic Education Office Melbourne

Michael Elliott
Catholic Education Office / University of Melbourne

Liz Freeman
Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne

Desma Strong 
Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne

Helen Thomas 
Team Leader Student Wellbeing Unit, Catholic Education Office Melbourne


Australian Catholic University

Research Outcomes

2004-06 Enhancing Relationships in School Communities (ERIS): A Program to Promote Creative and Constructive Conflict Resolution Skills through Sustained Professional Development

Collaborative Research Team: Elizabeth Freeman, Professor Eleanor Wertheim (La Trobe University), Professor Ann Sanson; Australian Psychological Society - Psychologists for Peace Interest Group) Project Manager: Margot Trinder
Funding: The Scanlon Foundation, Morawetz Social Justice Fund

The aim of this collaborative project was to enhance the capacity of primary schools to develop productive conflict handling and relationship-building processes in the schools (including in the area of cultural diversity) and to teach children how to handle conflict constructively. ERIS Phase 2: 'Enhancing Relationships in School Communities (ERIS)' commenced mid 2007.

Download the ERIS summary report (176kb PDF)

2000-2002 Australian Research Council Strategic Partnerships with Industry Grant
The Effectiveness of Student Welfare Professional Development as a Strategy for Whole School Student Welfare, Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention

Chief Investigator: Professor Johanna Wyn
Collaborating Partner: Catholic Education Office Melbourne

Elizabeth Freeman and Desma Strong from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education's Student Wellbeing team collaborated with staff Youth Research Centre and the Catholic Education Office in a three-year longitudinal research study to investigate the impact of systemic credentialed professional development in student welfare on teacher participants and their schools at the whole school level.

Cahill, H. Shaw, G. Wyn, J., & Smith, G with Freeman, E. Strong, D. Huggins, D. Mary Tobin, M., & Montgomery, J. (August 2004). Translating caring into action: An evaluation of the Victorian Catholic Education student welfare professional development initiative.

Australian Youth Research Centre Research Report No. 26 (1.1mb PDF)

Action Research Projects in Student Wellbeing

As part of the Master of Education (Student Wellbeing), and its forerunner, the Postgraduate Diploma in Education Studies (Student Welfare), at the University of Melbourne, participating teachers have been undertaking action research projects in their schools in areas such as student wellbeing policy, anti-bullying policy and programs, behaviour management, social and emotional learning; drug education, home-school partnerships, transition, peer connectedness, student leadership and staff wellbeing. Action Research – Example projects are available for reading (below).


Student Wellbeing staff have supervised research in the areas of the role of the school in promoting wellbeing, student wellbeing policy, programs and practice, organisation of welfare in schools, the teacher's role in wellbeing, the teacher-student relationship, school-community partnerships, conflict management in education, bullying, disability and cross-cultural issues.

Action Research

From theory to practice

The intention of studies in student wellbeing at the University of Melbourne is to prepare graduates to successfully facilitate projects to promote wellbeing in their schools. In the fourth semester of the course teachers undertake action research projects in their schools applying the knowledge and skills that they have learned in their studies. These projects are tailored to the specific needs of each teacher's school. The teachers engage in a collaborative process using action research to develop, implement and evaluate student wellbeing related improvement. To support each other, teachers pair with fellow students from other schools to provide mutual peer consultancy.

The projects provide the opportunity for teachers to reflect on outcomes and to test knowledge and skills about the change and improvement process in the complex world of schools. They enable teachers to enhance their capacity to act as a resource persons in their schools. Importantly the projects have direct and tangible outcomes for schools as the examples on the SWAP website will demonstrate. What begins as a project for study may become the vehicle for a sustained improvement process in schools.

Published Research

Note: All papers above have been prepared for partial fulfilment of the Master of Education (Student Wellbeing) or Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Studies (Student Welfare) courses at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. The papers have been written in accordance with the ethical standards of confidentiality and anonymity of the persons and organisations involved and has been further modified for online use. The purpose of this paper is to provide educators with general information and examples of implementing change in issues related to student wellbeing and does not necessarily represent the views of CEOM or the University of Melbourne. CEOM and the University of Melbourne do not accept liability for inaccuracies, misrepresentations, omissions or errors in information referenced in the paper or the citations. CEOM and the University of Melbourne gratefully acknowledge the authors for making the research available for public use.

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