Gudaga Research Team

The Gudaga Study has been funded by two NHMRC project grants. A complete list of the investigators and project staff who have either worked on one or both of the project grants is below. This Gudaga Research Team has been made up of a mix of Aboriginal (*) and non-Aboriginal academics and service staff.

Chief Investigators
A/Prof Elizabeth Comino (lead)
Dr Pippa Craig
A/Prof Elizabeth Harris
Prof Mark Harris
Prof Richard Henry
Prof Lisa Jackson Pulver*
A/Prof Lynn Kemp
A/Prof Kelvin Kong*
Prof Peter Smith
A/Prof Dennis McDermott*

Associate Investigators
Alison Derrett
Prof Bin Jalaludin
Brendon Kelaher*
Vicki Wade*
Dr Jenny McDonald
Sharon Nicholson*
Darryl Wright*

Project staff
Jane Anderson*
Dr Jenny Knight
Fakhra Maan
Sheryl Scharkie
Natasha West*
Kerrie-Anne White*

Gudaga Research Publications

Journal articles

  1. Knight JA, Comino EJ, Harris E, Jackson Pulver L. Indigenous research: a commitment to walking the talk: The Gudaga Study: an Australian case study. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 2009;6(4):467-76.
  2. Sainsbury H. Personal reflections of a project officer: working with Gudaga. Aboriginal & Islander Health Worker Journal 2009;33(2):4-5.
  3. Bennett B, McDonald J, Knight J, Comino E, Henry R. Assessing development of urban Aboriginal infants. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2010;46(7-8):384-91.
  4. Comino E, Craig P, Harris E, McDermott D, Harris M, Henry R, Jackson Pulver L, Kemp L, Knight J. The Gudaga Study: establishing an Aboriginal birth cohort in an urban community. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2010;34(S1):S9-S17.
  5. Comino E, Jackson Pulver L, Knight J. Response to: The health of urban Aboriginal people: insufficient data to close the gap [letter]. Medical Journal of Australia 2011;194(5):270.
  6. Craig P, Knight J, Comino E, Webster V, Jackson Pulver L, Harris E. Initiation and duration of breastfeeding in an Australian Aboriginal community in south western Sydney. Journal of Human Lactation 2011;27(3):250-61.
  7. Robinson P, Comino E, Forbes A, Webster V, Knight J. Timeliness of antenatal care for mothers of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal infants in an urban setting. Australian Journal of Primary Health 2012;18(1):56-61.
  8. Widdup J, Comino E, Webster V, Knight J. Universal for whom? Evaluating an urban Aboriginal population’s access to a mainstream universal health home visiting program. Australian Health Review. 2012;36(1):27-33.
  9. Comino E, Knight J, Webster V, Jackson Pulver L, Jalaludin B, Harris E, Harris M, Craig P, McDermott D, Henry R, Gudaga Research Team. Risk and protective factors for pregnancy outcomes for urban Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal mothers and infants: The Gudaga cohort. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2012;16(3):569-578.
  10. McDonald J, Comino E, Knight J, Webster V. Developmental progress in urban Aboriginal infants: a cohort study. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2012;48(2):114-21..
  11. Webster V, Denney-Wilson E, Knight J, Comino E. Describing the growth and rapid weight gain of urban Australian Aboriginal infants. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2013;49(4):303-308.
  12. Knight J, Webster V, Kemp L, Comino E. Sudden infant death syndrome in an urban Aboriginal community. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2013;49(2):987–1088.
  13. Harris M, Webster V, Jalaludin B, Jackson Pulver L, Comino E. Immunisation coverage among a birth cohort of Aboriginal infants in an urban community. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2014;50(4):306-313.
  14. McDonald J, Webster V, Knight J, Comino E. The Gudaga Study: Development in 3 year urban Aboriginal children. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2014;50(2):100-106.
  15. Miller E, Webster V, Comino E, Knight J. The use of a standardised language assessment tool to measure the language development of urban Aboriginal preschoolers. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 2014;16(2):109-120.
  16. Kaplun C, Knight J, Grace R, Dockett S, Perry B, Comino E, Jackson-Pulver L, Kemp L. Gudaga goes to school study: methods used in understanding school transitions and early education experiences of an urban Aboriginal cohort. Educational Studies 2016:1-18. DOI: 10.1080/03055698.2016.1148583.

Books and Reports

  1. Knight J, Comino E, Harris E, Jackson Pulver L, Anderson C, Craig P. The Gudaga project: researching with our local Aboriginal community. In: Williamson A, DeSouza R, eds. Researching with Communities: Grounded Perspectives on Engaging Communities in Research. Auckland: Muddycreek Press, 2007:181-96.
  2. Knight J, Comino E, Harris E, Jackson Pulver L, Anderson C, Craig P, Gudaga Research Team. What the Chicken Money Bought: Researching with our Local Aboriginal Community. Sydney: Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation, UNSW Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, 2008.
  3. Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation. The Gudaga Study: The story so far. Sydney:  Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation, part of the UNSW Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, 2011.




Antenatal Care

Antenatal care is important in identifying and managing issues likely to impact on pregnancy and birth outcomes. It also provides opportunities to learn about pregnancy, birth and early infancy.

Using extracted hospital antenatal data we compared the timing of the first hospital antenatal care visit by mothers of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal infants.

We found that mothers of Aboriginal infants presented slightly later to hospital based antenatal care than mothers of non-Aboriginal infants. Mothers of Aboriginal infants presented on average at 15.6 weeks gestation compared to mothers of non-Aboriginal infants who presented on average at 14.1 weeks gestation.

Three factors were found to be associated with later antenatal care. These included:

  • living in a disadvantaged suburb;
  • maternal unemployment;  and
  • maternal smoking.

The development of new services for mothers in the region will include new pathways to identify women in the early stages of pregnancy and ensure more ready access to antenatal care and hospital services.

Gudaga goes to School

The oldest of the Gudaga children have now turned five, and in 2011 and 2012 all of the children will start school. We plan to extend the Gudaga Study and follow the cohort children until they are nine years of age. This research provides a rare opportunity to identify the child and family antecedents of child health and development moving through the early years of formal schooling and into middle childhood.

There are three branches of research as part of the extension of the Gudaga Study:

  1. The first involves the ongoing collection of comprehensive health and development data to continue to provide an evidence base that informs the development of policy and programs for urban Aboriginal children.
  2. The second branch of the research involves a detailed audit of the local service context so that we can explore how the availability and cultural competency of local children’s services impacts on service use to support children’s health, development and learning.
  3. The third branch will be conducted in collaboration with key education researchers and will explore the education experiences and outcomes for this cohort of urban Aboriginal children. This research will gather the perspectives of children, parents, educators and leaders within the local Aboriginal community to understand school transition, engagement, performance and expectations.

The Gudaga goes to school research was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery grant in November 2011. This will enable research to continue from 2012-2014.

Project title: An Ecological Study of school transition and the early years of school for Aboriginal children in an urban environment

Lead Investigator: A/Professor Lynn Kemp, UNSW Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity

Research team: A/Professor Lynn Kemp, Professor Susan Dockett, Dr Rebekah Grace, Professor Robert Perry, A/Professor Elizabeth Comino, Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver, A/Prof Melissa Haswell-Elkins



Development at One Year

Documenting the developmental progress of the Gudaga children is one of the primary aims of this Study.  At 12 months each child went to Campbelltown Hospital for a comprehensive health check and developmental assessment by a paediatric registrar.

The Griffith’s Mental Development Scales (GMDS) were used to assess developmental progress. The areas assessed included:

  • gross motor (walking, crawling);
  • self-care and social interaction (ability to feed oneself);
  • hearing and language (use of words);
  • fine motor coordination (able to use a pencil); and
  • performance (ability to solve age appropriate puzzles).

Figure 3 shows that Gudaga Infants were mostly developing within the normal range at 12 months but below the GMDS standard population. The Gudaga infants demonstrated strengths in the area of gross motor skills, however, were below average in all other developmental areas.

Figure 3 Distribution of Gudaga infants’ General Quotient compared to standardised sample

The Study also found development to be lower in families where the mother experienced cumulative family stress or perceived alcohol to be a problem in her household.

The Gudaga Research Team is talking to those working in the area of child health and early education about incorporating a stronger focus on overall child development in their programs. The implementation of a sustained home visiting program for Aboriginal mothers, the Bulundidi Gudaga program, is a significant strategy.