Mentoring and capacity building

The Centre is committed to shaping future-ready researchers and professional staff who can deliver high-impact and wide-reaching research in digital childhoods.

We aim to provide quality learning opportunities that are fit for purpose, capability-focused, flexible, high quality, and impactful. The Centre is committed to delivering a robust and innovative mentoring program to provide all Centre members the opportunity to develop their practice. We aim to be recognised as an exemplar in the development of researchers who work across disciplines, have constructive relationships with government and industry, and focus on translation of research outcomes.

Our early career researchers and students (some pictured above) are the lifeblood of the Centre, bringing fresh enthusiasm for their practice and new knowledge and perspectives across disciplines. In our Strategic Plan, we identified the need to establish a formal mentoring and training program for our members. In 2022, a Skills, Mentoring and Research Training (SMART) Portfolio is being formed to deliver initiatives and programs that will help build the next generation of researchers. The SMART Portfolio will upskill our mid-career and experienced researchers with practices and knowledge to continue developing and leading their disciplines.

In 2021, we established several initiatives to set in motion our SMART program:

  • established three Centre Clubs, including the Digital Ethnography Club, Early Career Researcher Club and HDR Student Journal Club
  • founded our ‘2for1′ model as a strategy to expand membership on the Executive Committee. In addition to the node representative, a second member of that node attends Executive Committee meetings to develop leadership skills and participate in the Centre’s governance.
  • Delivered the first Digital Child Seminar Series led by Professor Annette Woods, Professor Michael Dezuanni and Professor Lisa Kervin on sociomaterial theory in the digital age.
  • Delivered the Political Economy of Digital Childhoods seminar chaired by Professor Sue Bennett and featuring a presentation from Partner Investigator Professor Sonia Livingstone. A discussion document was prepared by Professor Julian Sefton-Green, Professor Michael Dezuanni and Dr Luci Pangrazio to stimulate conversation, encourage participation and engage members in a common research agenda. The seminar invited members to explore what a research agenda into the political economy of digital childhood might consist of, how such an approach might be turned into research questions and activities, and why such a theme might be important for the work of the Centre moving forward.
  • Initiated the Topaz project, a Centre-wide activity supporting capacity building through structured reviews on digital technology and children. Read more about Topaz below.

Topaz for capacity building

The Topaz project is a key part of the Digital Child’s national program for mentoring and capacity building. Topaz provides support for members conducting high quality reviews of the evidence concerning key issues in digital technology and young children to inform future research, translation into policy, practice and products, and provide trustworthy information for the broader community. Topaz is specifically designed to provide these outputs in ways that ensure capacity building through mentoring and skill development, especially of early career researchers.

Topaz provides formal and informal processes around the conduct of structured reviews on digital technology and young children in order to facilitate capacity building. Structured reviews provide a flexible, yet well-scaffolded, mechanism for researchers from different disciplines to collaborate to produce high quality publications. The project has developed a position paper outlining the importance of transdisciplinary evidence synthesis to set the foundation for capacity building. A series of practical and conceptual seminars and workshops are being conducted to support early career researchers, and those mentoring them, through a stepped process to complete a structured review. Topaz’s first seminar was held in November with an introduction to the project and to evidence synthesis reviews.

A resource hub of key support information is established, along with a compilation of expertise available within the Centre to support early career researchers. An established Working Party meets regularly to provide an informal mechanism for early career researchers to discuss ideas for reviews and seek advice on who to involve. Review topics will typically arise from core research projects, which themselves are transdisciplinary. The expectation is that each review is led by an early career researcher with the support of a transdisciplinary team with experience in relevant knowledge domains and the review method chosen.

Professor Leon Straker
Topaz project leader


In 2021, the Centre brought on board a Visual Communications Intern to support our branding and communications. Josh Hayes was a final-year QUT Creative Industries student majoring in Visual Communication with a minor in Interaction Design. Josh undertook our internship as part of QUT’s Work Integrated Learning program and gained course credit in addition to paid hours for his internship. With support and mentoring from the Centre’s Digital Communications Specialist, Josh gained real-world experience in a corporate environment and produced a suite of design work for his portfolio, including the Strategic Plan, Digital Child newsletter, and assets for our events. Following his internship, Josh successfully secured full-time work as a designer at a creative digital marketing agency.

“As a design intern at the Digital Child, I was able to apply my existing knowledge and understanding of the design tools and principles I had learnt at university. I was given the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work as a designer in a brand new innovative research centre, and learn how to work smarter within a corporate setting. My time here was supported by a very friendly and accommodating team who allowed me to explore diverse design solutions across a variety of disciplines.” 

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child acknowledges the First Australian owners of the lands on where we gather and pay our respects to the Elders, lores, customs and creation spirits of this country.