Research project on pets and the elderly

Director of Regional Operations at La Trobe University’ School of Psychological Science, Pauleen Bennett, is heading a research project with undergraduate students at La Trobe’s Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo and Melbourne campuses.

Older man and petThe research project will be investigating daily experiences and the overall well being of community-dwelling Australians over the age of 65 and comparing those who live with pets and those who don’t.

So far the research conducted in Albury-Wodonga has had close to twenty people over the age of 65, but they are looking for more people in the area to partake in this important study.

According to Dr Bennett, researching in these three regions in Victoria will give better insight into the different ways older people experience their communities but also gives La Trobe students the chance to be part of a research team.

‘This gives all of our students more choice in terms of which topic they participate in, and it also provides them with opportunities to learn skills in electronic communication which we believe will be vital to their future career success,’ says Dr Bennett.

Third-year La Trobe Albury-Wodonga Bachelor of Psychological Sciences student, Cynthia Brown says that collaborating with fellow students and members of the community has been a rewarding experience.

‘Making contact with the community for this research has been both challenging and rewarding but it is great working with people that I wouldn’t normally interact with. 

‘I have a greater appreciation from that age group and the types of challenges they encounter to maintain health and well being.

‘I also have a more positive outlook towards researching, previously I was not particularly interested in doing research but after doing this subject I find it quite exciting,’ Cynthia says.

The subject this project is part of is the third year capstone subject for a Bachelor of Psychological Science. In previous years this subject was taught relatively separately at the three La Trobe campuses, with staff supervising students in groups as they conducted a small research project. 

The information students will research has the potential to impact or assist future research in this area to further maintain or enhance people’s well being.

‘Research is an important component of any subject area and learning how to collate and distill information is one of the skills we hope students will learn while assisting in this project,’ says Dr Bennett.

‘I think the great thing about this is for students to be involved with their communities and know that their work amounts to better information on the health and well being of those that make up our populations.’

If you are interested in participating please contact: Dr Pauleen Bennett, T: 03 5444 7460 E:  


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Meghan Lodwick

La Trobe University Communications Officer

T:  03 9479 5353 M:  0418 495 941 E: