PLAYCE Policy Project
Creating environments to keep Australian children physically active
Physical activity is critical during the early years of life for a child’s health and development, and yet only one in three Australian children aged two to five get the recommended level of three hours of activity per day.
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) services can be used to increase physical activity, and there is a significant need for an ECEC-specific physical activity policy. This policy will provide clearer guidelines on the amount of physical activity children should do during care, and strategies for implementing these guidelines.
Together with our collaborators, we are working to develop, implement and evaluate an evidence-based policy for improving physical activity and movement in children attending care. As a multi-level co-developed strategy, it will target ECEC policy, practice, and parents to increase physical activity of children attending ECEC services.
This project will provide our multi-sectorial partners with evidence-informed policy and implementation strategies for creating environments to give Australian children a physically active and healthy start to life.
Our main goals in the creation of this policy include:
- National uptake and monitoring of a National Heart Foundation (NHF) endorsed 'Early Movement' policy including 'Movement Guidelines' specific for early childhood education and care settings developed by this study.
- Training and development of early childhood education and care staff in the use and implementation of the NHF 'Early Movement' policy.
- Improved parent engagement with early childhood education and care staff around encouraging and enabling children to be more physically active.
The PLAYCE Policy project is supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Grant, Goodstart Early Learning, WA Department of Local Government, Sport & Cultural Industries, Minderoo Foundation, National Heart Foundation, Nature Play Australia, WA Department of Health and Australian Childcare Alliance WA.
Research team leader: Associate Professor Hayley Christian
UWA Associate Professor Hayley Christian’s research focuses on improving children’s physical activity levels, health and development. She examines health and wellbeing through multi-level interventions focused on the child, family, social and built environment. This includes identifying and testing strategies to create healthy early childhood education and care environments, while investigating how the home and neighbourhood environment shapes children’s health and development. Other members of the research team include Associate Professor Michael Rosenberg, Associate Professor Leanne Lester, Dr Bryan Boruff, Dr Ashleigh Thornton, Ms Clover Maitland and Ms Joanne Powell from UWA, Dr Gina Trapp from the Telethon Kids Institute, Professor Stewart Trost from Queensland University of Technology, Associate Professor Jasper Schipperijn from the University of Southern Denmark, Mr Griffin Longley from Nature Play WA and Ms Shelley Prendergast from the Australian Childcare Alliance, WA.
The PhD opportunity within this project involves doctoral-level training in public health policy implementation and evaluation.
The PhD candidate will evaluate the impact of the NHF ‘Early Movement’ policy for ECEC and develop skills in policy evaluation, manuscript writing, oral presentations, and interpreting and communicating research evidence for policy use.
To assist with the PhD candidate’s research expenses, a PhD top up of $5000 per year for three years will be provided by partner cash contributions from the Minderoo Foundation.
An additional $5000 PhD top-up for three years, also funded by partner Mindaroo Foundation, will be available for a higher degree research student, who will be funded through a competitive research scholarship scheme.
The requirements specific to this project include:
- ability to conduct quantitative and qualitative research
- ability to undertake statistical analysis (SPSS and/or SAS)
- excellent writing skills
- ability to work as part of a team
- good interpersonal communication skills
The supervisors of this PhD opportunity are Associate Professor Hayley Christian and Professor Donna Cross. Contact Associate Professor Christian for more information.
For more information about this project, see the readings below:
- Christian, H., Rosenberg, M., Trost, S., Schipperijn, J., Maitland, C., Trapp, G., Lester, L., Boruff, B., Thornton, A., Zubrick, S., Powell, J., Wenden, E (2018). A snapshot of the PLAYCE project: Findings from the Western Australian PLAY Spaces and Environments for Children’s Physical Activity Study. Supportive Childcare Environments for Physical Activity in the Early Years. Perth, Western Australia: The University of Western Australia, School of Population and Global Health.
- Christian, H, Maitland, C, Enkel, S, Trapp, G, Trost, SG, Schipperijn, J, Boruff, B, Lester, L, Rosenberg, M, Zubrick, SR (2016). Influence of the day care, home and neighbourhood environment on young children's physical activity and health: Protocol for the PLAYCE observational study. BMJ Open, 6, 014058.
- Okely, AD, Ghersi, D, Hesketh, KD, Santos, R, Loughran, SP, Cliff, DP, Shilton, T, Grant, D, Jones, RA, Stanley, RM, Sherring, J, Hinkley, T, Trost, SG, McHugh, C, Eckermann, S, Thorpe, K, Waters, K, Olds, TS, Mackey, T, Livingstone, R, Christian, H, Carr, H, Verrender, A, Pereira, JR, Zhang, Z, Downing, KL, Tremblay, MS, 2017. A collaborative approach to adopting/adapting guidelines. The Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (Birth to 5 years): An Integration of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Sleep. BMC Public Health, 17 (5), 869.
For the PLAYCE Policy Project we are collaborating with a number of organisations:
- Goodstart Early Learning
- Nature Play Australia
- Australian Childcare Alliance
- Minderoo Foundation – Collaborate for Kids (CoLab)
- Department of Health, WA
- Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, WA
- UWA Childcare
- Great Beginnings Early Education for Life
- Buggles Early Learning and Kindy
- Jellybeans Child Care & Kindy
- Maragon Early Learning
- MercyCare Early Learning
- Sonas Early Learning and Care
- Little Learners Early Development & Education Centre
- Ngala Early Learning and Development
- Early Childhood Australia (WA)
- Playgroup WA
- Western Australian Local Government Authority
Go outside and play, kids
On any day, in every part of Australia, there’s a place close to home for a child to run around outdoors, dip a toe in the water or explore the leafy bush. UWA’s Hayley Christian thinks a visit to Naturescape may at least act to jog parents’ memories of outside play and give them an excuse to turn off the TV or laptop games.Read more
Perth preschoolers are not getting enough physical activity
A UWA study of 1600 Perth preschoolers aged two to five-years-old found two-thirds were not getting the recommended three hours of daily physical activity needed for their growth and development.Read more