Food insecurity in families with young children: Early year practitioners’ approaches and strategies


Burwood or Geelong

The first 2000 days of life are critical in establishing healthy child growth and development. Household food insecurity has been shown to impact on children’s physical, psychosocial and cognitive development. There are some estimates that 18% of Australian adults and 22% of Australian children experience food insecurity. Despite this, there is little research on the lived experience of food insecurity amongst families with infants and young children in Australia. Further, we know little about how early years practitioners including maternal and child health nurses and early childhood education and care staff identify and support families experiencing food insecurity.

This PhD will build on our well-established links across the early years system, especially the health and education sectors. We envisage that this PhD could include studies exploring the lived experience of parents with infants and young children experiencing food insecurity, perspectives and approaches of early years practitioners to identify and support these families, and the co-design of strategies to support early year practitioner responses. The PhD proposal is subject to negotiation and development with the candidate.


  • This opportunity is available to domestic and international students. Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree with Honours or a Master’s degree with a substantial research component (10,000 word thesis receiving >70% grade), or equivalent in relevant disciplines such as health promotion, nutrition, public health, maternal and child health, social work or early years education.
  • Interested students must be based in Australia for this PhD, eligible for enrolment in a PhD program at Deakin University and eligible to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award or equivalent. Please refer to the entry pathways to higher degrees by research for further information.
  • Applicants must have some experience with quantitative and qualitative methodologies
  • Fluency in English (evidence of English proficiency is required)
  • Highly motivated, organised and able to work in a multidisciplinary team.
  • Previous research or practice-based experience in food insecurity, early years education, or health care system in Australia is desirable.

Expressions of interest:

Please email your CV and a 1 page expression of interest addressing the above pre-requisites to A/Prof Rachel Laws by Friday 22 September. We will work with a suitably qualified applicant to apply for scholarship funding.


Back to PhD opportunities