Developing an online nutrition intervention for early years educators to support healthy eating for children – Stage 2

 This is an invitation to participate in an exciting study which aims to promote a healthy eating environment within the early years education and care setting.

This new research project means that you, as an early years educator, will have exclusive access to an exciting new website called snac (Supporting Nutrition for Australian Childcare).  This website provides recipe ideas, tools and resources, nutrition information, online activities and discussion forums.  The snac website will also help you to connect with other early years educators from other centres, share ideas, learn from others experiences and to seek help when it might be needed.

The snac  website will assist early years educators to provide and promote an environment in which children’s healthy eating practices and behaviours, food habits and preferences can be developed and maintained and may also assist centres to meet or exceed the specific healthy eating requirements of the new National Quality Framework (NQF, 2012) through their use of this site.

While we hope you will participate in this study, you are under no obligation to accept this invitation and participation is entirely voluntary.  If you do choose to participate, please read the details below and ensure that you understand the information provided.

If you have any questions, please contact the coordinator for this study, Ruth Wallace (0408 097190) or Associate Professor Amanda Devine (6304 5527), both from the School of Exercise and Health Science (Faculty of Computing, Health & Science).  This research project is being undertaken as part of the requirements of a PhD at Edith Cowan University.

Why is this study important?

Childhood nutrition is of vital importance for optimal physical, social and emotional development and whilst most Australian children are thriving there are concerns about issues such as overweight and obesity, nutrient deficiencies, dental caries and food safety.  Furthermore, the habits and preferences developed in childhood remain through to adulthood and can affect health in later life.

Under the new National Quality Framework (NQF) all early years educators are required to hold or work towards a relevant childcare qualification which does incorporate some elements of nutrition training.  However, it appears that the focus of the training is food hygiene and preparation, with little emphasis on nutrition knowledge and role modelling skills.  Thus this study aims to add value to the statutory training by helping early years educators improve their nutrition knowledge and skills so that a healthy eating environment for the children in their care may be promoted, developed and maintained.

What does this study entail?

This study is being conducted in 2 stages.  This information letter describes the second stage of the study.  If you took part in the first stage of the study (a face to face or telephone interview), you were supplied with a separate information letter and signed a separate consent form.

For this stage of the study, you are being invited to access the snac website and participate in any of its activities and resources that interest you.  You will nominate your own user name and password, at which time you will gain access to all of the site’s functionality, including any online activities, recipe databases and discussion boards.

Whilst the way in which you use the website is entirely up to you, we do request that you complete an online questionnaire which will be emailed to you after your first login.  At the end of the project, after about 12 months, we will then ask you to complete another questionnaire.  This is one of the most important aspects of our data collection because it will help us to determine if the snac website has been useful and what may be needed to provide more support to workers in early years education and care centres.  These questionnaires should take no more than 20 minutes each to complete.

You may want to contribute to the discussion board on the website.  Any discussions within the discussion board may be transcribed and analysed for research purposes.  Any information we analyse in this way is kept highly confidential.  If any of the comments you make on the discussion board are used in research publications, pseudonyms are used to protect your identity and conversation threads are often changed to protect any sensitive information.  Web analytics will also be collected and analysed.  Finally, you may also be invited to attend a focus group or take part in a telephone interview at the end of the study (approximately 12 months after commencement).  These discussions will take approximately 30-60 minutes to complete and will be audio-recorded for ease of transcription.

Benefits of participation

By taking part in the second stage of the study, you will have access to the snac website and associated resources as well as online activities and the discussion board.  This will benefit you by giving you networking opportunities and the chance to chat with people who share your professional interests.  You will also be able to learn from others experiences and be able to share yours to help others.  There will be a multitude of recipe resources for you to tap into, as well as access to easily accessible online activities which will refresh your nutrition knowledge.

Access to the discussion board will enable you to take part in conversations about nutrition issues (and other topics) with staff from other early years education and care centres.  The site will be moderated to ensure that content and conversations are ethical and responsibly managed.  This means that the website will be a safe and secure environment where you will be able to exchange ideas, gain support and increase your knowledge.  The website, online activities and discussion board will be available 24/7, and are freely available on the worldwide web to you as a participant in this study.

Are there any risks?

There are no known risks associated with this study.

Results from Stage 1 of the research study

The results from the first stage of this study have been used to inform the development of an online nutrition intervention comprising of a website, online activities and discussion board, in consultation with key stakeholders.

Voluntary participation

You are a volunteer and do not have to agree to take part in focus groups or telephone interviews, complete the questionnaire or use the website and its associated resources.  No explanation or justification is required if you choose not to participate and the decision not to participate will not disadvantage you, or involve any penalty.

Withdrawing consent to participate

You are free to withdraw your consent to further involvement in the research project at any time or withdraw your consent to allow us to use any information or material that has already been collected.


Your privacy and confidentiality about the information you provide and the questionnaire, discussion board, focus group and interview data will be respected at all times.  You will be allocated an identification number that will remain confidential to the Chief Investigator and research team.  Your data will be recorded using this identification number.  All data, including names and codes downloaded from the website, will be stored in a locked room in a locked filing cabinet at the School of Exercise and Health Science, Edith Cowan University and destroyed five years after the research is completed.

Questions and/or further information

If you have any questions or require any further information about the research project, please contact: Associate Professor Amanda Devine on 6304 5527, Dr Leesa Costello on 6304 5459 or Dr Johnny Lo on 6304 5027.

Approval by the Human Research Ethics Committee

This project has been approved by the Edith Cowan University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC approval number 8727).

Independent contact person

If you have any concerns or complaints about the research project and wish to talk to an independent person, you may contact:

Research Ethics Officer
Edith Cowan University
270 Joondalup Drive
WA  6027

Phone: (08) 6304 2170