Child Development Unit

At the La Trobe University Child Development Unit (CDU), we research the social, emotional, intellectual and language development of children. This research – part of our School's specialization in cognitive and developmental psychology  – is important because knowing how children develop allows us to better understand their needs for parenting, child care and education. It also allows us to identify more effectively and earlier if there is a delay or problem with a child's development.

This means that we always need children of all ages (from birth onwards), and sometimes also their parents/carers to take part in our studies.

Have you ever thought about volunteering to participate in our research studies?

If you are the parent/carer of an infant, toddler and/or child who is at school, we invite you to consider registering your details on our Research Participant Registry .

We make our studies as interesting as possible for everyone involved. For children, taking part in our studies is like playing a game. It's fun!

Joining the CDU Research Participant Registry: What to expect

The CDU Research Participant Registry is a confidential database that holds the personal, health and contact details of potential participants. This Registry is merged with that of the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC). By joining, you are simply agreeing to be contacted about future studies. You are under no obligation to join, it is entirely voluntary, and if at a later time you wish to access or make changes to your information or be removed from the registry, contact us on or (03) 9479 3271. Please read OTARC Privacy Statement before registering.

The Registry is stored in an online database, known as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This CRM helps us to better communicate with our participants. It utilises cloud computing, which means all information is securely stored in a remote data centre, with emails sent via our email marketing platform ExactTarget. Their security and privacy credentials and policies can be found on and

After you have registered, we will call to confirm your registration and to ask you some additional questions.

Participating in a study

If you or your child meet the requirements for a study, the researcher will send you an information letter with the details of the study. You are under no obligation to participate in that study, but if you do choose to take part, you can contact the researcher. We may also follow up with a courtesy phone call or e-mail. You are always encouraged to ask questions if there is something you do not understand.

Once you have agreed to participate, we will make an appointment with you and/or send you questionnaires to complete (depending on the study). Before you start, you (and sometimes your child if s/he is old enough) will be asked to sign a consent form. All our studies have been approved by the La Trobe University Human Ethics Committee.

Thank you for your interest in our centre and our work. Your participation will leave an important and enduring legacy as you provide a valuable gift - the gift of information and knowledge.

How to register for CDU Research Participant Registry

You can register yourself, your child or someone else in your family for whom you have legal responsibility to participate in studies at the CDU.

You can register by completing the online registration form or ring us on 9479 2151 and we will complete the form for you with your personal, health and contact details. Leave a message if the office is unattended and we will get back to you.

By completing and submitting the registration form, you are providing consent for your details to be included in the CDU Research Participant Registry and to be passed on to relevant researchers. Find out more about the CDU Research Participant Registry by going to 'Joining the CDU Research Participant Registry: What to expect'.

Who can complete the registration form?

Adults aged 18 years or older.

Parents or primary cares of children.

How participants benefit

Direct benefits may include:

  • finding out more about child development and research
  • receiving assessment results free of charge
  • providing an enjoyable activity for your child.

Indirect benefits may include:

  • contributing to knowledge about child development
  • helping researchers, teachers, and policy makers to make decisions about how to support children's needs
  • helping students to complete their research studies.

Register your child online

CDU Staff

Professor Cheryl Dissanayake

Dr Kristelle Hudry
Dr Karli
Research Staff  
  Alex Aulich (Lab Manager)