#JusticeSolutions Tour: Expanding the conversation

Safety and wellbeing

Earlier this year, senior leaders from Jesuit Social Services (JSS) undertook an international study tour to explore innovative and effective youth justice practices in Germany, Norway, Spain, the US and UK. JSS has recently released its report, which provides an overview of key themes and approaches observed abroad, and how these might be incorporated in Australia. It explores models of prevention and diversion through to detention and reintegration. JSS advocates for evidence-based approaches that maximise chances of rehabilitation and, ultimately, a safe community.

10 Years On: Global Progress & Delay in Ending Violence against Children – The Rhetoric & the Reality

Youth Justice, Early years, Family Violence

The International NGO Council on Violence against Children has published a report focused on violence that affects children across the globe. This report comments on the many forms of violence perpetrated against children, including child detention rates, child marriage, and physical violence and punishment. It calls on the global community to address the root causes of violence and promote a culture of respect for the rights of the child.

20-year outcomes in adolescents who self-harm: A population-based cohort study

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This Victorian study investigates whether young people who self-harm are at increased risk of psychosocial problems later in life. The study followed a sample of almost 2000 Victorian school children from the age of 14 until the age of 35. Anxiety, illicit drug use, and social disadvantage were more common at age 35 among participants who had self-harmed during their teenage years. The study calls for a response from multiple sectors to address the underlying risk factors that contribute to life-long health and social problems.

7th SNAICC National Conference – Bring Them Home: Securing the rights of our children

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

This short article summarises some of the major themes of the SNAICC Conference held in Canberra last month, which focused on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to grow up safe, healthy and strong in their families and communities. Major themes include self-determination and healing for intergenerational trauma. The summary includes a suite of supporting resources for services providing support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee has published a report on body image and the impact it has on the wellbeing of children and young people. The Committee presents recommendations to government, highlighting the integral role that education plays in promoting positive body image. Other recommendations include the commissioning of research to address current gaps in the evidence base and the development of resources to support the challenges faced by young men, LGBT+ youth, ethnic minorities, and young people with disabilities.

The Australian Human Rights Commission launched 'Conversations in Gender Equality' on International Women’s day. Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, consulted with more 1000 people from every state and territory in Australia to build a comprehensive picture of women’s experiences of gender inequality Participants in the consultation come from a diverse range of communities and with a variety of life experiences. Key themes discussed include negative attitudes and everyday sexism, women’s economic security, violence against women, and living in rural, regional and remote areas. The report aims to raise awareness of gender inequality throughout Australia and to shed light on the everyday struggles women experience across many life domains.

A critical review of the early childhood literature

Early years

AIFS has produced a critical review of the leading evidence on the value of preschool for three year olds, Indigenous children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The report includes literature from Australia, as well as the UK, US, Canada and Europe. The international evidence has consistently shown that the most disadvantaged children have the most to gain from high quality early childhood programs. The review showcases seven high quality early childhood programs that have been rigorously evaluated and offer opportunities to promote healthy child development in Australia.

A digital world for all? Findings from a programme of digital inclusion for vulnerable young people across the UK

Education

Carnegie Trust UK has published a report exploring digital exclusion among young people. It is often assumed that young people are ‘digital natives’, however, a large number of young people do not possess even basic digital skills. Findings from across the UK show that young people who are at points of transition in their life (unemployed, homeless, in care) are most at risk of being digitally excluded. Digital literacy must be actively and passively developed through ongoing access, support and training. This report provides four in depth case studies of projects engaging with groups of vulnerable young people to help develop their digital skills.

A fairer future for grandchildren: Understanding the impact of the caring role on grandparents raising their grandchildren

Report, Carers, Report

This report released by Wanslea in Western Australia seeks to build the evidence base on the impacts of caring on the mental, physical, social and financial health of grandparent carers, investigate service gaps, and explore the commonalities and differences in the experiences of grandparent carers. The study found that caring comes with significant costs to grandparent carers’ wellbeing with common challenges including poverty, health and navigating systems.

A familiar face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents

Family Violence

Close to three-quarters of the world’s children aged two to four years old experience physical or verbal violence, or both, by their caregivers at home, according to a new UNICEF report. The report sheds light on four specific forms of violence: violent discipline and exposure to domestic abuse during early childhood; violence at school; violent deaths among adolescents; and sexual violence in childhood and adolescence. The research found that as many as 15 million girls worldwide aged 15 to 19 years old have been raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime. It is recommended that a national approach to preventing violence against children should address systemic societal beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate the problem, in any setting, including in the home, school, and community.

A future for all children addressing: Child poverty in Australia

Poverty

This ACOSS briefing paper calls on the Australian government to refocus on reducing child poverty in Australia. The most recent ACOSS Poverty in Australia report (2016) found that of the three million people living in poverty in Australia, 731,000 were children, representing 17 per cent of children under the age of 15. This number has increased by 2 percent over the past decade. The paper offers recommendations to the Federal government, such as increasing the Newstart Allowance and improving supports for single parent households.

A growing industry: A snapshot of Victoria’s community sector charities

Disability, Safety and wellbeing

A new VCOSS report measures the size and scale of the Victorian community sector and its contribution to Victoria’s economy and society. Data comes from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s (ACNC) 2015 Annual Information Statement. The Victorian community sector is growing and is expected to employ many more people in coming years. This is due to population growth, an aging population and the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

A Guide to Establishing a Children and Young People’s Advisory Group

Young People

This guide from The Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) has been designed and developed with young people and the support of many organisations across New South Wales. It is designed to help organisations establish youth councils and meaningfully engage children and young people in their work. The guide highlights why young people’s participation is important, how to engage and manage a group of young advisors, how to address ethical concerns, as well as a checklist and top tips for success.

Design, Evaluate

A Guided Tour Through: Measuring Outcomes [video resource]

Evaluation, Tool/toolkit, Video

The Expert Panel Project Team at AIFS have published this instructional video to guide you through measuring for outcomes. It explain why and how we want to measure outcomes to demonstrate impact in child and family services. This video also guides you how to choose which short, medium and long term outcomes to measure given limited resources.

Design, Implement, Evaluate

A guided tour through: program logic models [video resource]

Evaluation, Tool/toolkit, Video

The Expert Panel Project Team at AIFS have published this instructional video to guide you through program logic models. It guides you step-by-step through the terminology of program logic models, and how to build your own model, including writing a problem statement, understanding inputs and outputs, and identifying short, medium and long term outcomes.

A literature review of parent engagement and participation approaches in child protection

Families and parenting, Literature Review

This literature review published by the Voice of Parents project in partnership with the University of Melbourne aims to identify key strategies for effective parent participation whilst understanding the barriers that impact, and in effect, compromise meaningful engagement with services. The report includes a review of national and international models where the voice and experience of parents has been intentionally sought in service design and development with a dedicated focus on those that have been successful in engaging parents (specially within overrepresented cohorts), leading to improved outcomes for children, young people and their families.

A National Comparison of Carer Screening, Assessment, Selection and Training and Support in Foster Care, Kinship and Residential Care

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

A new report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse examines carer recruitment, training and support policies and processes in Australia that aim to enhance the safety of children in out-of-home care (OOHC) and prevent sexual abuse. The research found that considerable attention is paid to the issue of child sexual abuse in OOHC. However, a number of significant barriers to preventing child sexual abuse are identified, including difficulties in attracting and retaining quality foster carers, a limited pool of residential care workers and high staff turnover. Another key issue highlighted by the research was the challenge of providing training and support to carers who live in rural and remote areas.

A National System for Domestic and Family Violence Death Review

Family Violence, Child maltreatment

This report identifies the steps needed to expand domestic and family death review mechanisms to all Australian jurisdictions and ensure that recommendations made to Federal Government agencies in death review processes are actioned.

A Picture of ACT’s Children and Young People 2016

Education, Mental Health, Young People

This is the sixth annual report outlining how children and young people in the ACT are tracking against key indicators such as physical health and wellbeing and development in the early years. Notably, the number of children enrolled in a preschool program has increased by more than 35 per cent over three years, and the rate of young people charged with a criminal offence has almost halved since 2011.

A rapid review of sources of evidence on the views, experiences and perceptions of children in care and care leavers

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing

New research for the Children’s Commissioner for England, undertaken by the National Children’s Bureau and Research in Practice, has collated evidence reflecting the voice of children in care and care leavers regarding their experiences of the care system. This report suggests that practitioners and policy makers have much to learn from existing evidence and the voices of young people in care to help inform their practice. The report contains a number of useful examples of good practice, illustrated in short case studies.

A review of Australian Government funding of parenting intervention research

Journal article, Review, Parenting, Government Funding, Journal article

This article, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, investigates the relative amount of funded awarded by Australian government research agencies to research focused on parenting interventions. The article found that in the period from 2011 to 2020, only 0.25 per cent of the total research budget allocated by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) was allocated to parenting intervention research. This low funding commitment is out of step with the high positive impacts of improved parenting for children.

A review of the literature on key elements of effective organisational collaboration involving non-government organisations

Families and parenting, Collaboration, Interagency Collaboration, Literature Review

This review summarises key literature about organisational collaboration. It focuses on exploring the characteristics of successful collaboration (in the non-government sector and between peak bodies more specifically), how success is measured, and some of the associated challenges of this type of work. This literature review was undertaken as part of the Tri-Peaks Initiative which is a collaboration between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CFECFW), Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VADA) and the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA).

A review of the literature on social and emotional learning for students ages 3–8: Characteristics of effective social and emotional learning programs

Education, Early years

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process by which children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, maintain relationships, and make responsible decisions. This series of four reports explores the benefits of SEL in the early years, and identifies the characteristics of SEL interventions that lead to positive outcomes in the school environment. It provides helpful strategies for school staff and teachers to foster a positive classroom environment and support social and emotional competence in their students.

A team effort: Preventing violence against women through sport

Family Violence, Report

Sport has great potential to influence social change and prevent violence against women by creating inclusive, equitable, healthy and safe environments for men and women, boys and girls. This evidence guide collates the academic literature and research evidence regarding sport as a setting for the prevention of violence against women. It provides a summary of current prevention initiatives, and draws from an analysis of these and the wider literature to outline 10 key elements of promising practice in sport settings.

A waitlist intervention for transgender young people and psychosocial outcomes

Journal article, Young People, Transgender Community, Journal article

This article, published in Pediatrics, investigates the impact of the First Assessment Single-Session Triage clinic, a waitlist intervention and demand management model of care for transgender young people and their families waiting to access specialist gender services. The study found that compared with a control group, transgender young people supported by this model experienced improvements in depression and quality of life.

A ‘Situational Approach’ to Mental Health Literacy in Australia: Redefining mental health literacy to empower communities for preventative mental health

Mental Health

This paper argues for a paradigm shift for effective suicide prevention in Australia. It takes a situational approach to mental health literacy, which represents a significant departure from the current medical framework and its emphasis on illness. The situational approach to mental health literacy is concerned with the continuum of challenging life events and human experiences across the life course, and normalising human distress. It encourages constructive and non-pathologising responses to mental health issues amongst mental health practitioners and other professionals.

Evaluate

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Services: Evaluation Readiness Toolkit

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Evaluation, Tool/toolkit

This new toolkit from SNAICC gives fantastic guidance on designing and measuring for outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family services. It compiles an insightful list of 21 key outcomes for this sector, drawn from the 8 key principles of The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Services Wellbeing Framework. It also features a detailed, yet accessible, step-by-step guide to help you develop a theory of change to support and measure for outcomes. This toolkit centres on evaluation work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family services, but its clear and concise explanation of how to use outcomes, an outcomes framework, and a theory of change will be relevant and useful to many workers across the wider child and family services sector.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and child sexual abuse in institutional contexts

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Child maltreatment

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a new research report that suggests a strong connection to culture can help protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from sexual abuse in institutions. The paper argues that culture can help children develop their identities, foster positive self-esteem and resilience, and strengthen family and community supports.

Accommodating transition: Improving housing outcomes for young people leaving OHC

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Report, Case Study, Report, Case Study

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) has released this report outlining the results of a study into the service delivery pathways for young people transitioning from out-of-home care and the available opportunities to improve transition planning and housing outcomes. The study analysed linked administrative for all Victorian care leavers in 2013 and 2014 and found that smooth transitions are the exception, with most transitions resulting in housing instability, homelessness and other adverse outcomes. The report includes a range of policy development options.

Adolescent service change and the edge of care

Young People

The Rees Centre has published a report that looks at nine projects funded through the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme (UK), which directly targeted adolescents at the ‘edge of care’. The analysis makes suggestions for services that aim to reduce the number of young people entering care, and improve outcomes for those living in care. Common components of a successful program included multi-professional staff development, a focus on building positive relationships with families, and strong leadership and management on the ground.

Alcohol/Drug-Involved Family Violence in Australia: Final report

Family Violence, Alcohol and Other Drugs

Alcohol/Drug-Involved Family Violence in Australia (ADIVA) has set out to investigate the links between family violence and alcohol and other drug (AOD) use in Australia. It draws on data from an Australia wide personal safety survey and police attendance data. Findings show that alcohol was involved in 29% of family violence incidences, and that 12% of family violence incidents were drug-related. Significant challenges include the intergenerational nature of the cycle of violence, and the impact of trauma on children. The paper makes recommendations that would address AOD use in repeat offenders.

All tapped out: Touchscreen interactivity and young children’s word learning

Education

A report in Frontiers in Psychology has examined the effectiveness of touchscreens for children’s learning and the impact on family life. The study explores how children of preschool age interact with touchscreens, and how different types of screen interactions affect their ability to learn language.

Allegations of child sexual abuse: An empirical analysis of published judgements from the Family Court of Australia 2012-2019

Children, Data, Child Sexual Abuse, Journal article, Case Study

This article, published in the Australian Journal of Social Issues, analyses data from Family Court of Australia judgements containing allegations of child sexual abuse. The study found that judges expressed or implied a belief that the allegations were true in only 14 per cent of fully contested cases, and risk of sexual harm to a child was found in only 12 per cent of fully contested cases. The study also found that parenting time with the allegedly unsafe parent was increased in 63 per cent of fully contested cases.

Identify, Design, Implement, Evaluate

Alliance for Useful Evidence – resources

Evidence Informed Practice

This website hosts a range of research and publications relating to how evidence can be used to improve public health outcomes, including introductions to 'standards of evidence'.

Amplify insights: Education inequity – Part two: Levers of change

Education, Report, Report

This second report in a series on education inequity from the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW Sydney identifies levers of change to address five of the 11 drivers of educational inequity identified in the first report: lack of accessible and responsive early childhood education and care; disconnection between education setting, home and community; bullying, discrimination and social isolation; one-size-fits-all curriculum; and absence of a whole-of-school approach underpinned by resources and infrastructure. The authors synthesised 16 levers from a systematic review of 45 evidence-based programs and culturally inclusive studies based in Australia. The report makes 22 recommendations.

Amplify report: Turning up the volume on young people and family violence

Family Violence, Young People, Report, Policy, Report

Melbourne City Mission has released this report examining the policy and service gaps for young people experiencing family violence in Victoria. A key finding of the study is that young people’s ways of managing their safety are often misunderstood and seen as problematic instead of being recognised as protective. The report makes 20 recommendations.

Annual alcohol poll 2017: Attitudes and behaviours

Family Violence, Alcohol and Other Drugs

This report by The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education summarises findings of the 2017 nation-wide survey that explored community attitudes towards alcohol. For the first time, Australians were asked in 2017 if they thought there was a link between alcohol and family violence. Ninety-two percent of Australians believe that there is a link between the two, and 80% indicate that they think governments should be doing more to address the role that alcohol plays in family violence.

ANROWS Research Summary: The impacts of domestic and family violence on children

Early years, Family Violence, Young People, Report

This summary is designed for practitioners and policy-makers who want to know more about ANROWS research on the impacts of domestic and family violence (DFV) on children. It outlines the major issues found in ANROWS research relevant to children, the factors preventing effective service delivery and the policy and practice changes recommended by the researchers. It concludes with future research directions.

ANROWS special collection: violence against women in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

In acknowledgment of National Reconciliation Week, ANROWS has launched a special collection of resources that can be used as a starting point for people looking for information about issues and challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and women in particular. It synthesises Australian and International literature and program evaluations to establish what is known about what works to prevent violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia.

ARPNet Dilly Bag: a practical field guide and research tools for use by Aboriginal research practitioners in Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Tool/toolkit

This is a practical guide to participatory and other research tools for Aboriginal research practitioners. It was developed by a network of Aboriginal Research Practitioners in the Top End who want to use participatory tools that enable participants to better understand why and what is being done.

Assessing the different dimensions and degrees of risk of child sexual abuse in institutions

Safety and wellbeing, Child maltreatment

This Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse report explores the factors related to institutional child abuse. It identifies four dimensions of risk factors in an institutional setting; situational, vulnerability, propensity and institutional risks. It examines to what extent various risk factors might be more concentrated within some institutions or activities than others.

Audio recording – Coffee Talk – Introduction to the Evidence Based Decision Making Course Information Session

Audio recording - Coffee Talk - Introduction to the Evidence-based Decision Making for Human Service Leaders’ course. The session included reflections from co facilitators, Eric Barends, the Center for Evidence Based Management at Carnegie Mellon University and Dr Lisa . Griffiths, CEO, OzChild and three past course graduates.

Australia’s child support scheme: Third interim report

Report, Inquiry, Family Law, Child Support, Report

The Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System has released a third interim report for its inquiry into the family law and child support systems. It provides an overview of the child support system and outlines issues identified by inquiry participants. The report makes 19 recommendations.

Australian children growing up with opportunity

Early years

This paper discusses trends related to access to formal childcare in Australia and the impact that attendance has on childhood development. It focuses on the impacts of childcare and preschool for disadvantaged groups in particular, noting the evidence that childcare may have greater positive impacts on child outcomes for disadvantaged groups. Nonetheless, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are much less likely to access formal childcare. The article provides recommendations to improve policy and reduce inequality of opportunity.

Australian country report – “Never waste a crisis”: Domestic and family violence policy and practice initiatives in response to COVID-19

Family Violence, COVID-19, Review, Domestic Violence, Prevention Strategies, Report

Australia’s Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and the University of Melbourne have released this Australian country report, one of four country reports as part of the DAHLIA-19 study, examining prevention strategies and responses to domestic and family violence during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and up until June 2021. The study found evidence that policy and funding strategies resulted in increased collaboration and communication, more multiagency working, leveraging of existing relationships and more efficient decision-making processes.

Australian Early Development Census national report 2021: Early childhood development in Australia

Report, Children, Child Development, Report

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has released the latest report on the early childhood development of Australian children. The Australian Early Development Census 2021 found that the percentage of children who were on track on five domains decreased from 55.4 per cent in 2018 to 54.8 per cent in 2021 and the percentage of children developmentally vulnerable on one or more domain(s) increased from 21.7 per cent in 2018 to 22.0 per cent in 2021. The report discusses equity trends and the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.