Faculty of Education and Arts

Carina O'Neill


Advanced Diploma of Management – Federation University Australia - 2016

Certificate IV in Training and Assessment – Federation University Australia - 2015

Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Development) – University of Ballarat - 2013


Carina is undertaking her Masters by Research through the scholarship initiative developed by Federation University Australia in collaboration with the Central Highlands Children and Youth Area Partnership. Carina will undertake research around “Towards an understanding of user journeys: How families navigate through early childhood services in a rural Victorian City”– funded by FedUni.

Through her leadership roles in the Grampians Region YMCA (Deputy CEO, and Children and Community Services Director), Carina brings extensive knowledge about child- and youth-focused programs and issues facing families in regional settings. She has an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Development, and postgraduate qualifications in Management and Training and Assessment.

Masters research topic summary

Despite efforts by government and other stakeholders, many vulnerable children are not achieving the same outcomes in health, education and wellbeing that we expect for all children. The first 1000 days of a child’s life are increasingly shown to have considerable impacts on children’s ability to grow, learn and thrive. But how do families navigate an often complex and disjointed service system, and how do their journeys impact on their capacity to support their children to reach their full potential.

This research explores the journeys of eight parents living in a Rural Victorian city who have a child aged between 5 and 7 years of age. By listening to their stories, it captures their first experience of moving through early childhood health and education services from conception to school. This research employs a user centred design framework to gain a deeper understanding of parent’s experiences navigating through services; and together with them identifies the key themes that impact on their ability to move through services. These experiences are mapped out across a timeline to visually make sense of their “user journey”.

This study reports the findings on the user journey, giving key insights into the highs and lows that occur within a service or system. It identifies the road blocks effecting service transition and establishes how the service system supports or encumbers parental capacity to move through services succinctly. Secondly, it considers how experience based design methods can be used to gather family perspectives of their experiences within complex service systems.

Publications/conference presentations

O’Neill, C. (2017, July). Using experienced based design to provide local insight into local problems. Paper presented at the Federation University Higher Degree by Research Conference, Ballarat, Victoria.

O’Neill, C. (2016, December) Poster presented at the Teaching, research and practice in the community and human services sector in regional Victoria: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities Symposium, Federation University Australia, Melbourne, Australia


  • Early Childhood Australia
  • Early Learning Association Australia