Pandemic parenting

Investigating reproductive, maternal and infant health care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Degree type


Closing date

6 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

The pandemic has contributed to reduced utilisation of maternal and newborn health services, increased number of stillbirths, increased medicalization of care (more cesarean sections and induction of labours), reduced family involvement, low support, and uptake of breastfeeding, and amplified maternal anxiety and stress.

This project will investigate how Tasmanian families have experienced reproductive health -pregnancy, birthing, and postnatal care during the pandemic, with a particular focus on infant and young child feeding practices.

Lay people are skilled interpreters and translators of their lived experiences and can provide valuable place-based accounts of their practices. The project will also investigate how structural inequalities associated with social class, remoteness/rurality, and gender contribute to how they access and make use of services. Target populations will include culturally and linguistically diverse parents and those who identify as LGBTQI+.

The successful applicant will work with the supervision team to refine the scope of the project, make decisions about study design, and select an appropriate theoretical framework. This PhD project will develop and extend the teams research expertise/ theme of family health and public health, build new knowledge around emerging communicable diseases and how these impact family/maternal/paternal health producing original empirical findings with the potential to guide future policies and interventions aimed at improving equitable access to appropriate reproductive health care in Tasmania.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Jennifer Ayton


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • First Class Honors,  Master sociology, social sciences, research, medicine,  public health

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Undergraduate degree in medicine, health-related fields, sociology, social sciences

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Jennifer Ayton to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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