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Professor Donna Cross

Program Head, Development & Education

Beacon Director


Donna Cross is a Professor with the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Western Australia, and Head of the Health Promotion and Education Research team at the Telethon Kids Institute where she leads 32 researchers who develop and test strategies to improve children’s and adolescents’ wellbeing, with a focus on mental health and social-emotional wellbeing.

Additionally, Donna is a Chief Investigator and the Western Australian Node Director of a recently awarded 2020 ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course. This $32.1m project will aim to produce and empower precision methods and adaptive social interventions to optimise support for disadvantaged children and families, helping them to achieve their life potential.

Donna has 29 years of applied research experience as a Chief Investigator for $84m in research funding. She is currently a Chief Investigator on nine longitudinal research projects aiming to prevent bullying, cyberbullying and associated mental health harms among young people; promote healthy technology use, and improve the socio-emotional wellbeing of young children and supporting the social and emotional development of children and adolescents with chronic disease.

Her scholarly contribution to children’s health research has been recognised by many university, state and national awards. Most recently she was named a finalist 2017 WA Scientist of the Year. In 2016 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and an NHMRC Research Fellowship to investigate ways children’s wellbeing, development and learning is influenced by their use of technology.

In 2015 she was inducted as a fellow to the Australia Academy of Health and Science. She was awarded the 2012 WA Australian of the Year Award, the Future Justice Prize 2012, and the ECU Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Research (2012, 2011) and Research Supervision (2011).

Bec Nguyen

BCom(Information Systems and Technology), BA

Bec Nguyen is a Digital Project Manager with the Health Promotion and Education Research team, overseeing all digital health projects.

She is currently project managing the Bright Tomorrows App Project and The Beacon App Project.

Her background in digital health project management, UX (user experience) design thinking and community engagement has enabled her to collaborate with a number of digital health projects across multiple research focus areas at Telethon Kids Institute to support the translation of research to the wider community through digital technology and smartphone apps.

She advocates strongly to include the involvement of the community, especially children and young people, to be co-designers and co-researchers within each project.

Since 2015, she has directly contributed to grant and philanthropic funding applications in digital health research with a funding total of over $3.7 million.

Dr Helen Monks

Senior Research Officer

MPH BA(Psych) PhD

Helen Monks is a Research Officer within the CoLab team at the Telethon Kids Institute. She has extensive research experience in child and adolescent health, particularly across projects in the areas of mental health promotion and school-based intervention.

Helen completed her PhD on positive body image among women, and has a Masters Degree in Public Health that focused on predictors of bystander behaviour in bullying among secondary school students. Prior to joining the CoLab team, Helen was a Senior Research Officer at the Child Health Promotion Research Centre (CHPRC) at Edith Cowan University.

She is experienced in quantitative and qualitative research conducted with young people, educators and communities. She has also coordinated numerous literature reviews and research reports, and co-authored several book chapters and research articles published in peer-reviewed journals.

Karen Forde

BHlthSc (Hons 1A)

Karen Forde works as Project Coordinator at Telethon Kids Institute and current projects include Core Story for Early Childhood Development and LearningBright Tomorrows app and Beacon Cyber Safety app.

Her background in health promotion and health communication science has driven research translation outcomes through innovative collaborative approaches, digital platforms and social marketing.

Committed to supporting the health and development of all children, Karen engages with a wide variety of audiences to empower parents, families, communities and organisations to share research in ways that can make a difference.

Kate Erceg

BA (Human Geography and Urban Planning)

Kate is a Research Assisant for the Beacon Project, as well as the Program Coordinator for the Health Promotion and Education Research Team at Telethon Kids Institute. Kate works with all areas of the research team, providing leadership and support to research, project management and administrative staff to ensure the team delivers high quality research outcomes.

In addition, Kate is also a Research Assistant for the Beacon App Project which developed a cyber safety app targeted at parents.

Kate has been involved in numerous research projects in the Health Promotion and Education Research Team over the last several years and has a particular interest in cyber safety, social and emotional learning, and the impact of the built environment on children’s health.