Major gift to study challenges of modern parenting

Posted on December 4, 2013


Roberta Holmes at the launch of the Judith Lumley Centre: a vitally important yet undervalued role.

La Trobe University has received a philanthropic gift of $3.2 million dollars over five years to fund an innovative new research program on the challenges of modern day parenting.

The program was launched in November by Natasha Stott Despoja, Deputy Chair, beyondblue and Chair of the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children.

The  gift is from private donor Mrs Roberta Holmes to establish a professorial chair. The new chair will be under the auspices of La Trobe’s newly renamed Judith Lumley Centre – previously known as Mother and Child Health Research Centre. Emerita Professor Judith Lumley was its founding director.

The Centre is a leader in public health research in the fields of mother and infant health, sexual and reproductive health, family services, reducing violence against women and the transition to contemporary parenthood.

From left, Natasha Stott Despoja, Mrs Holmes, Judith Lumley Centre Director, Professor Rhonda Small and Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Angela Taft.

The new research program will  provide better preparation and resources for today’s parents who face new challenges and pressures.

First-hand experience

Mrs Holmes’ philanthropic interest in parenting is a personal one. Having raised her own family, she knows first-hand some of its challenges.

‘Through my own personal experiences as a parent, I came to recognise how vitally important the role is and how undervalued and under recognised it is. Because of this deficiency, there is little if any preparation for it,’ she said.

‘I also believe that the challenges parents face in an increasingly complex society require urgent, contemporary research and resources which will assist parents in raising healthy, happy children, capable of confidently navigating the demands of a globalised world.’

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar welcomed the major gift.

Mrs Holmes with her daughter, La Trobe historian, Professor Katie Holmes.

Mrs Holmes with her daughter, La Trobe historian, Professor Katie Holmes.

Treacherous waters of parenthood

‘La Trobe University is most grateful for this generous gift from Roberta Holmes. Thanks to Roberta’s passion and generosity, La Trobe can lead critical research into addressing the challenges faced by couples as they navigate the often treacherous waters of modern parenthood,’ Professor Dewar said.

‘The University is also pleased to be able to recognise the distinguished contribution of Judith Lumley to research into perinatal and maternity services world-wide by renaming its Mother and Child Health Research Centre in her name.

‘La Trobe has a rich history in leading relevant research that responds to societal issues. Roberta’s significant gift will boost our Research Focus Area efforts to build healthier communities that optimise well-being and quality of life,’ said Professor Dewar.