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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

The Productivity Commission has released this report investigating Australia’s growing prison population. The report contains an economic cost-benefit assessment of increased use of imprisonment and explores available alternatives. The study found that increased imprisonment can be partially attributed to policy choices and more must be done to trial and evaluate prison alternatives. The study also examined the different ways in which imprisonment can affect children and families and identifies key research gaps.

Australia’s welfare 2021: In brief

Report, COVID-19, Welfare, Report

The AIHW has released its latest biennial report on Australia’s welfare. The report includes chapters on the impact of COVID-19 on health and wellbeing, an overview of Australia’s welfare, current welfare services and supports, how Australia is faring compared to other countries, and the importance of welfare data. A key finding is that Australian and state and territory governments spent $195.7 billion on welfare related services in 2019–20. The AIHW website contains further data insights, welfare snapshots and interactive welfare indicators.

Beyond borders: How to make the global compacts on migration and refugees work for uprooted children

Youth Justice, Report

The rights, protection and wellbeing of migrant and refugee children should be central commitments of global migration policies, UNICEF has said in a new report. The report outlines best practice for children’s care and protection, and includes case studies of governments and communities working to support and integrate them and their families. Key themes include keeping families together, keeping refugee and migrant children learning, and combatting discrimination. The case studies are diverse, spanning across country income levels, and can be replicated in different contexts around the world.

Birth family contact: What are the views of children and young people in out-of-home care? – March 2021 – Evidence to Action Note

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

This Evidence to Action Note provides an overview of the views of children and young people about whether they have contact with family members and their satisfaction with contact arrangements, with findings drawn from two surveys, the 2018 NSW OOHC Survey and the NSW Residential Care Survey.

Bridging the divide: Supporting children and young people in their middle years

Early years, Report

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (Good Shepherd) undertook this research to highlight some of the unique challenges faced by children and young people in their ‘middle years’ (between the ages of 8 – 12 years). The middle years are a critical time of development and change. Children can face difficulties transitioning from primary to high school, caring for parents or younger siblings, being subject to inappropriate sexualisation and sexual exploitation, and being denied the opportunity to have meaningful input into decisions that affect their lives. Good Shepherd makes recommendations to government, schools and the community sector to ensure that we are better able to meet the needs of children and young people in their middle years.

Bright futures: Spotlight on the wellbeing of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Report

This report from VicHealth discusses issues that affect the wellbeing of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. The report finds that migrant and refugee students are less likely to find full-time employment after graduation (45%) compared with Australian-born students (69%) due to racial discrimination, lack of understanding of the local job market and overseas skills and qualifications not being recognised. The research shows that refugee and young migrant communities also bring with them many unique qualities, such as global networks, new ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit, which can enrich Australian society.

Child Abuse Royal Commission’s Final Report

Safety and wellbeing, Report

On 15 December 2017, the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was delivered to the Governor-General of Australia and released. The Royal Commission’s Final Report comprises of 17 volumes and includes a total of 189 new recommendations, many of which are aimed at making institutions safer for children.

This report was developed in collaboration with Melbourne University and identifies gaps in published literature pertaining to 5 key focus areas; Aboriginal children and families, out of home care, high-risk young people, trauma-informed practice, children with disabilities and their families and family violence.

Children and Young People in Out of Home Care in Tasmania

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

This report by the Tasmanian Commissioner for Children and Young People, Mark Morrissey, presents findings aimed at improving the wellbeing of children and young people living in out of home care. Although he found that the 1,100 children in state care were ‘generally experiencing acceptable outcomes’, he also identifies a number of issues with the system. Morrissey presents seven recommendations to improve the OOHC system in Tasmania.

Children’s social care innovation programme: Final evaluation report

Mental Health, Evaluation, Report

The UK Department for Education has published an overview of the evaluation of the children’s social care innovation program in England 2014 to 2016. The report includes findings from project evaluations that show reductions in children entering care, children living in residential care and increased reunification with birth families. From these evaluations, a number of recommendations for best practice emerge, including the adoption of a family focused, strengths-based approach that supports families to take responsibility for their own lives; multi-professional teams including workers in family violence, mental health and drug and alcohol; and a ‘key worker’ to provide consistency.

Children’s voices in a changing world: 2021 UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador report

Report, Children, COVID-19, Research, Data, Report

UNICEF Australia has released this report sharing the findings of the third phase of research into children and young people’s lived experience through the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. The report found that young people aged 13-17 years view climate change and unemployment and limited job prospects as the greatest threats to the future wellbeing and livelihood of children and young people in Australia. The report includes a platform for action that calls on government to respond to the concerns of young people.

Clinical, financial and social impacts of COVID-19 and their associations with mental health for mothers and children experiencing adversity in Australia

Mental Health, COVID-19, Maternal and Child Wellbeing, Report, Case Study

This multi-authored article, published in PLOS One, examines families’ experiences of COVID-19 impacts and the associations between COVID-19 impacts and maternal and child mental health. The authors surveyed 319 mothers from Victoria and Tasmania who had experienced adversity during pregnancy in 2013-14, and found high rates of self-quarantine, job or income loss, family stress and difficulty managing home learning. Poorer mental health for mothers and children was found to be associated with self-quarantine, financial hardship and family stress.

Co-constructing Who Am I? Ensuring the voice of the child or young person is at the heart of ‘the record’

Early years, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Client Engagement, Evidence Informed Practice, Children, Report

This discussion paper talks about the value of developing a coherent, manageable and principled practice framework for co-constructing the child’s personal life story archive. It also includes considerations around trauma, record-keeping, confidentiality,and information technology. Systems and collaborations are essential to translate this into practice.

Collective impact: Evidence and implications for practice

Safety and wellbeing, Report

This paper explores the collective impact framework and its ability to create transformational change on complex social issues. It provides an overview of the development of collective impact in Australia, drawing on case studies to demonstrate the promise of place-based, collaborative initiatives. The collective impact framework has resonated with practitioners and communities both in Australia and abroad, however, the evidence base for collective impact is still growing.

Core care conditions for children and families: Implications for integrated child and family services

Families and parenting, Report, Children, Research, Report

This report from the Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute reviews the evidence on the core needs of children and families, the conditions required for parents to meet these needs, and how well these needs are being met. The research then integrates these findings into a framework that can be used to inform service delivery.

WEstjustice has launched their 'Couch Surfing Limbo' report which explores the challenges faced by young couch surfers. Common challenges experienced by this group include exploitation, abuse, and the complexities of navigating a predominantly adult homelessness service system. The report also provides insight into the issues faced by couch providers – the informal carers that look after young couch surfers in their homes.

Counting the cost to families: Assessing childcare affordability in Australia

Families and parenting, Report, Children, Data, Report

This report from the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy at Victoria University reviews the available data on expenditure and affordability of childcare in Australia and analyses this to determine how much families are spending. The report finds that childcare is unaffordable for around 386,000 Australian families.

Covid-19 and early intervention: Evidence, challenges and risks relating to virtual and digital delivery

Technology, COVID-19, Report

This report from the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) sets out the evidence on virtual and digital delivery of interventions across a range of relevant domains, highlights the challenges and risks associated with remote delivery methods, and provides the findings from an EIF survey asking intervention developers and providers about their response to the Covid-19 crisis. It is intended to support the sector as it rapidly adapts to the constraints on delivery imposed by widespread social distancing and lockdown.

COVID-19 community sector impact survey

COVID-19, Report

This report from Our Community draws on survey data from 2020 and 2021 to investigate what was happening for the Australian community sector during the pandemic. The study found that while demand decreased in the early period of the pandemic, services are now experiencing increased demand, particularly in the areas of family violence, homelessness, food relief and childcare services.

COVID-19 Impact Report: Responding to the needs of children and families

Families and parenting, COVID-19, Report

This impact report from CFECFW is based on a review of data gathered by the CFECFW during the period March-June 2020, sometimes called the ‘first wave’ of the coronavirus in Victoria. During the four months covered by this report, CSOs across Victoria demonstrated their ability to respond quickly to the unprecedented challenges facing their clients and workers by implementing creative solutions and workarounds in the face of restrictions on face to face engagement. This report also highlights the challenges experienced by families and workers, the ‘pragmatic problem-solving’ of our CSOs as they transformed their service delivery models, and the lessons learned.

Critical interpretive synthesis: Child protection involvement for families with domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues, and mental health issues

Family Violence, Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Report, Child Protection, Report

This report by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) explores the occurrence, overlap or interrelationships between domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues and mental health issues in Australian families involved in the child protection system. A critical interpretive synthesis of the academic and grey literature found significant weaknesses in the evidence base. The study concluded that further research is needed to understand these interactions in the Australian context.

Crossover Children: Examining Initial Criminal Justice System Contact Among Child Protection- Involved Youth

Youth Justice, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

This article is part of a series of reports and articles seeking to understand the circumstances that lead to children and young people becoming ‘cross-over kids’; involved in both the child protection and criminal justice systems. It looks at cross-over children’s initial charges.

Dead ends: How our social security system is failing people with partial capacity to work

Disability, Employment, Report

This report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and Western Sydney University examines the development of the partial capacity to work classification and its impact on the lives of individuals and their households. The report finds that the partial capacity to work category is failing many people experiencing vulnerability, necessitating urgent reform, and contains eight recommendations for change.

Developing holistic integrated early learning services for young children and families experiencing socio-economic vulnerability

Evidence-Based Program, Report, Children, Research, Family Services, Report

The Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has released this report investigating the role that integrated child and family centres play in meeting the needs of children and families and reviewing what has been learned about the key elements of effective services for families experiencing vulnerability. The research identifies the core features of integrated child and family centres and examines how each element can be implemented effectively.

Domestic and family violence protection orders in Australia: An investigation of information-sharing and enforcement with a focus on interstate orders

Family Violence, Report

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has released a report summarising the findings of research undertaken by the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research regarding the enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DPVOs). Inconsistencies and competing interests at the intersections of domestic and family violence, child protection, and family law remain a barrier to effective implementation and enforcement of DVPOs.

Dropping off the edge 2021: Persistent and multilayered disadvantage in Australia

Report, Disadvantaged Communities, Report

This report from Jesuit Social Services is the fifth in a series of reports measuring indicators of disadvantage in communities across Australia. It examines where disadvantage is concentrated, how various forms of disadvantage overlap and how this multilayered disadvantage becomes persistent. The study found that disadvantage is concentrated in a small number of communities across Australia. In Victoria, 5 per cent of locations accounted for 29 percent of the most disadvantaged positions across all indicators.

Educational opportunity for all: Overcoming inequality throughout the life course

Education, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Report

According to a new OECD report, too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds are falling behind in education and being disadvantaged in the future job market. Only a few OECD countries offer people from disadvantaged backgrounds equal opportunity to succeed as their more well-off peers, including Japan, Korea and the Netherlands. To address this level of inequality, investment in good quality early childhood education and care is needed, especially for children from disadvantaged families.

Enabling the public health approach to protecting children

Report, Review, Child Protection, Report

The Productivity Commission has released this paper, the second in their What Works reviews, investigating what is known about systems that enable a public health approach to protecting children. A key finding of the review is that developing a learning process which encourages continuous improvement and assists the child protection workforce to handle uncertainty is an important feature of the commissioning process for government when seeking to deliver an effective public health approach.

Enabling young people’s participation in residential care decision-making

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Report, Literature Review

This brief from the Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care discusses what is needed to create genuine participation for young people in residential care. It discusses why youth participation is important and beneficial for designing services, programs and policies in this setting. It also covers a number of different models for participation, and implications for practitioners and organisations in using these approaches.

Engaging Students: Creating Classrooms that Improve Learning

Education, Report

The Grattan Institute's Engaging students: Creating classrooms that improve learning examines the hidden problem of student disengagement in Australian schools, reporting that as many as 40% of Australia’s school students are unproductive in a given year. The report draws on a number of major Australian studies from the past 10 years, finding that though classrooms are not out of control, many students are not engaged in learning. The paper offers a number of classroom level and system wide recommendations to improve student engagement. Teacher support is identified as a significant factor in improving student engagement, with a number of recommendations relating to teacher training and mentoring. Also important is the targeting of disadvantaged schools, where student engagement is lowest.

Evaluation of the Brighter Futures Transformation Pilot

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

This evaluation report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, examines The Brighter Futures Transformation Pilot (BFTP). This pilot was funded for two years from July 2018 to June 2020, and aimed to improve outcomes for young people with an experience of out-of-home care. The pilot responded to a need, identified through earlier work of the Area Partnership, for changing how the leaving care system worked with young people.

Evidence to Action Note: What risk factors are associated with being placed in out-of-home care?

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

This evidence to action note from the NSW Department of Communities and Justice summarises the findings of the NSW Child Development Study, which examined 17 risk factors to see if they could accurately predict whether a child would enter out-of-home care (OOHC) by the age of 13-14 years. The study identified six risk factors that can jointly classify children with an OOHC placement with 95% accuracy. This summary note discusses the implications of these findings for policy and practice.

Exploring the decline in wellbeing for Australian girls

Mental Health, Young People, Gender, Report

The Commissioner for Children and Young People Western Australia has released this report reviewing the current evidence on girls’ wellbeing to understand the reasons for the wellbeing gap between male and female young people. It was found that gender stereotypes, driven in part by increasing social media usage, affect self-esteem, low engagement in physical activity, reduced feelings of safety and independence, and decreased sense of belonging for girls. The report calls for urgent action to improve girls’ wellbeing outcomes.

Families in Australia survey – Towards COVID normal: Report no. 2 – Employment & work-family balance in 2020

Families and parenting, Report, Report

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has released this report examining families’ experiences of work at the end of 2020. A key finding was that mothers were more likely to make work arrangements that allow for the care of children with 57% of employed partnered mothers and 9% of employed partnered fathers using part-time work to help care for children.

Families in Australia Survey: Life During COVID-19

Families and parenting, COVID-19, Report

The AIFS Life during COVID-19 survey ran from May 1 to June 9 2020 and had 7,306 participants from around Australia. It was the first survey in the Families in Australia Survey series. The aim was to understand how Australian families coped with the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the greatest health, social and economic challenges in history. The findings in this report are drawn from our first analyses of the survey data. Later reports will add to, and expand on, these findings.

Final evaluation of Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS) pilot

Evaluation, Report, Family Services, Child Protection, Report

RMIT University has released this report evaluating the IFAS pilot program delivered by Victoria Legal Aid. IFAS provides non-legal advocacy and support to parents and primary carers who are involved in the investigation stage of the child protection system with the primary aim of diverting families from the child protection system. The evaluation found a high level of satisfaction among clients and estimates that 20 per cent of clients are diverted from court. A cost-benefit analysis found that around $3.52 is saved by the Victorian Government for every $1 spent on IFAS.

Final report: Inquiry into homelessness in Australia

Report, Research, Homelessness, Data, Inquiry, Recommendations, Report

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has released its final report into homelessness in Australia. The inquiry examined the causes of and contributing factors to homelessness, opportunities for early intervention to prevent homelessness, support services for Australians experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, and governance and funding arrangements. The report makes 35 recommendations.