CHAMPION COLUMN | Community rallies to support research

More than 250 local business and community members across South-West Sydney are anticipating Ingham Institute’s annual lunch to be held on Friday, March 1 at Camden Lakeside Resort.

Hosted by Channel 7’s Sunrise newsreader Natalie Barr, the sold-out event celebrates women in science and raises vital funds towards medical research programs across cancer, injury and rehabilitation, mental health, cardiovascular disease, population and community health programs, being conducted here in South-West Sydney.

This year, guests will meet Professor Valsamma Eapen from the Institute’s Academic Unit of Child Psychiatry, which seeks to understand and provide support on childhood disorders such as Tourette Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Guests will learn about the Watch Me Grow program – a world-first program for the early identification of childhood developmental disorders like autism.

In Australia, nearly a quarter of children start primary school with developmental vulnerabilities.

Unfortunately, most of them will have had no intervention.

The team’s 2011-2014 Watch Me Grow project examined 2000 parents and children in South-West Sydney, during their 6-, 12- and 18-month health checks and saw the low uptake of follow-up developmental checks by parents.

In Australia, nearly a quarter of children start primary school with developmental vulnerabilities.


Using the results from the Watch Me Grow project, Professor Valsamma Eapen and her team worked alongside NSW Health, to develop the new, 2017 Blue Book program to co-ordinate with the WMG-E questionnaire app to collectively screen for learning development vulnerabilities.

The WMG-E app has been designed as a non-threatening platform through which parents of young children are able to provide and receive information about their child’s development.

This study is being run in GP practices in South-West Sydney and guests will meet with the very first mother who has commenced this program.

The lunch is supported by more than 20 local businesses and more than 250 community members.

  • Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research