Co-written by Amelia Di Paolo, Jules Kidston and Glendon Gardner

In co-designing the online Graduate Certificate of Child and Family Health, the Postgraduate Learning Design Team (PGLD) and academics Rachel Reid and Vanessa Scarf have crafted transformative learning experiences that seamlessly integrate academic expertise with industry insight. The program also demonstrates alignment with the Student Experience Framework (SEF), emphasising Academic Engagement, sustained by the interconnected themes of Wellbeing, Belonging and Partnerships. Below, we delve into the intersection of theory, practice and student-centricity, illustrating how the curriculum is finely tuned to cater to diverse student needs in the dynamic health sector.

Academic engagement

Enhanced by technology, online activities (e.g. interactive case scenarios, branching video scenarios, class discussions) enable timely, high-quality feedback and multimodal learning. This approach prepares learners for diverse professional challenges, and establishes a robust connection to learning, curriculum and future careers, while aligning with the Faculty of Health’s Graduate Attributes.

Authentic assessments such as video presentations and patient assessments bridge academic experiences with real-world challenges, complemented by Rachel’s industry perspective. Decision-making assessments elevate critical thinking, and the curriculum – rich in diverse formative and summative assessments – ignites intellectual curiosity. It also provides opportunities for authentic, personalised feedback.

Summative assessments offer varied case scenario options. This enables learners to personalise their learning to community contexts, which fosters autonomy and relevance for diverse learners. Recurring family case studies simulate professional practice, guiding decisions on patient-centered care across different milestones in a child’s life course.


A homesite for the degree and an introductory module for each subject acquaints students with the university’s ethos and support services available. Building on this, each subject within the course incorporates interactive elements like discussion boards and polls which foster social learning and facilitate student engagement. The integration of FAQ boards complements these efforts by providing a dynamic platform for inquiry, feedback and community building.

The course thoughtfully employs inclusive language practices, including the use of gender-neutral terms, ensuring every student feels acknowledged and respected. This commitment to inclusivity is further reinforced through the integration of authentic case studies and representative imagery. This reflects the diverse backgrounds of our student community and helps nurture a culture of equality and understanding within the course. Additionally, the degree addresses sensitive topics by implementing content warnings and offering just-in-time support resources, ensuring that the learning environment remains secure and supportive for all students.


With all students entering the course with an established sense of professional community, one of our aims was to build on this as they transition into their roles as Family and Child Health workers. We provided resources from professional heath networks across Australia that offer the best ways to support families and children in need. We also included opportunities for learners to share their own challenging professional experiences, reflect on how this changed their approach to practice and connect with others in similar situations.

Students also had access to professional resources and skills to support their own wellbeing. We recognised that sensitive topics covered could act as triggers for individuals with personal or professional experience dealing with these difficult issues. We also wanted to build a culture of recognising when they needed help and seeking appropriate professional support.

Rachel’s experience as a health care professional, teacher, role model and community builder offered a meaningful approach to supporting students. Early in the development of Foundations of Child and Family Health, we created an avatar to represent Rachel, and incorporated professional feedback and support into each module.


Industry connections are exemplified through a partnership with industry experts Tresillian, Australia’s largest not-for-profit Child and Family Health organisation. This resulted in co-designed, program-specific videos, which offer nuanced insights into the critical role of family partnerships and patient-centered care. This collaboration aims to enrich students’ understanding of collaborative practices within Child and Family Health, fostering a real-world learning environment. The program also champions ‘Parenting in partnership’, where families are actively involved in decision-making about their child’s development and wellbeing.  

These intentional partnerships aim to enhance the relevance of learning and equip professionals with vital interpersonal skills for navigating child and family health complexities sensitively and effectively.

Setting the SEF in motion

Since the program was aligned to the SEF, student feedback showed that learners found the Canvas site modern and easy to use, the content relevant to their roles, and teaching staff friendly and enthusiastic. Several learners have been offered positions while on clinical placements. Student feedback, ongoing evaluation and continuing alignment to the SEF will provide opportunities for further improvement of this program, showing the power of co-design in shaping future health education and promoting an evidence-informed, inclusive approach.

Stay tuned for more ‘snapshots’ into engaging with the SEF throughout 2024. Together, we can explore and be inspired by the many pathways to the shared goal of a positive student experience.

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