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.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Services: Evaluation Readiness 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
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.
ANROWS special collection: violence against women in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
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
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.
Australian Early Development Census national report 2021: Early childhood development in Australia
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has released the latest report on the early childhood development of Australian children. Using data from The Australian Early Development Census 2021 the report also discusses equity trends and the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reconciliation Australia has released its biennial Australian Reconciliation Barometer. The report offers a snapshot of attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the broader Australian community. Almost all Australians (97% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and 89% Australians in the general community) believe their relationship is important. Though there have been significant strides towards reconciliation challenges persist. In the six months prior to the survey, 46% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experienced at least one form of racial prejudice. The report makes recommendations to government, community and individuals to make reconciliation a reality, including investment in public anti-racism campaigns and constitutional recognition.
Challenging racism project 2015-16 National Survey Report
This project measured the extent and variation of racist attitudes and experiences in Australia. It examines Australians’ attitudes to cultural diversity, intolerance of specific groups, perceptions of cultural privilege, and belief in racial hierarchy. The project also explored experiences of racism and the circumstances in which these events occur. Although just over 80% of respondents support a multicultural society, around 51% expressed anti-Middle Eastern sentiments and nearly 33% of participants had experienced racism in the work place.
Child Protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children
This updated resource sheet provides a snapshot of the rates of involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection and out-of-home care. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be the subject of substantiated reports of harm or risk of harm. Further, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care. The experience of poverty, assimilation policies, intergenerational trauma and discrimination is discussed in relation to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Child protection system.
Childcare Use and Its Role in Indigenous Child Development: Evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children in Australia
This paper uses data from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children to map patterns of childcare use and its effects on the learning and development of Indigenous children. The authors maintain that relatively disadvantaged children might benefit from attending childcare, but suggests that future research should investigate whether the quality of early childhood education is associated with positive cognitive outcomes for Indigenous children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Children and Families Evidence: Findings from Six Evidence Gap Maps
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.
The Prime Minister has delivered the ninth annual report addressing the Closing the Gap targets. The report recognises that changes are on the way; however, Australia is failing on six out of seven key measures. A new target for Indigenous 4 year olds enrolled in early childhood education is 95 per cent by 2025. The data shows that in 2015, 87% of all Indigenous children were enrolled in early childhood education the year before full-time school. Though improvements have been made in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students, this target is not on track. Last year, 640 more children needed to read at the Year 3 benchmark to halve the gap. We must look at the evidence to find effective solutions and focus on empowering and building the capacity of local communities.
Collaboration and co-design when evaluating intergenerational trauma projects
This brief article outlines how co-design and collaboration shapes the work of the Healing Foundation. It explores how concepts of collaboration and co-design fit with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and provides a list of further resources for those who want to know more about best practice in this area.
Doing good business: A resource for researchers about conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children about family violence.
This research tool, prepared by staff at the ACU Institute of Child Protection Studies (ICPS) is designed for people who may be interested in funding or conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children on the topic of family violence. Its guidance is informed by the views of Indigenous researchers, research ethics committee members, Elders and senior community members, service providers, parents and young people from remote, rural, regional and urban Australia.
Evaluating the outcomes of programs for Indigenous families and communities
This is a practitioner resource by Stewart Muir and Adam Dean outlining some of the key considerations for organisations who are thinking about evaluating the outcomes or impact of a program for Indigenous families or communities.
Evaluating the Outcomes of Programs for Indigenous Families and Communities
This practitioner resource outlines some key considerations for community sector organisations and service providers who are involved in evaluating the outcomes of programs involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families or communities. The resource highlights the need for meaningful participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all stages of evaluation, including planning and design.
The most recent issue of Family Matters presents a range of articles based on research presented at the AIFS Conference 2016: “Research to Results – Using evidence to improve outcomes for families”. The collection of articles discuss how evidence is being used to inform practice in the current policy and program context, and the importance of quality research to improving the lives of children and family members. Authors explore research in areas of school achievement, Indigenous program evaluation and supported playgroups for vulnerable young families, among others.
This report from the Healing Foundation offers a cultural framework for addressing child sexual abuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It views sexual abuse holistically exploring impacts on children, families and communities as well as exploring processes for healing, wellbeing and safety.
Improving family violence legal and support services for Indigenous women
This research project identifies priorities for reducing and preventing violence against, and improving services for, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the Victorian and New South Wales towns of Mildura and Albury–Wodonga. It examines the capabilities of frontline family violence services, both Aboriginal-controlled and non-Indigenous, with regard to improving the safety of women and children experiencing violence. The cross-border context of these locations enabled investigation of cross-jurisdictional issues.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has developed Knowing Growing Showing; a resource that supports teachers to engage students in financial literacy by connecting with and building upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and community values, world views and lived experiences. The resource is applied in three learning stages: Knowing - what is money?; Growing - money, you and community; Showing - money and enterprise. The resource is aligned to the Australian teaching curriculum, and offers a flexible approach to teaching. It can be adapted for use with cultural groups other than First Australians.
ldentifying strategies to better support foster, kinship and permanent carers
This final report collates evidence collected from a collaborative research project into support for carers produced by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Murawin, an Aboriginal research and evaluation consultancy. The report covers the key challenges, supports available, barriers in accessing these supports, and the effects of COVID-19 on foster, kinship, and permanent carers. The research identifies priority actions to support carers which are detailed in the report.
National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023.
During this year’s World Mental Health Week, the Federal Government launched a framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health. This framework sets out a comprehensive and culturally appropriate guide to inform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing reforms. The framework is vital to the healing and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who continue to experience greater levels of mental health issues than the broader population.
New ways for our families: Designing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practice framework and system responses to address the impacts of domestic and family violence on children and young people
This report from Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) is the first of two reports that will explore how services and systems can better respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV) who come to the attention of child protection systems. The evidence review found that the voices of Aboriginal children are largely silent in the literature despite the extensive impacts of DFV on their lives and that this concerning outcome is driven by a service system focused on adults.
NHMRC’s Ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities
This report provides guidelines for researchers and stakeholders to ensure their work is safe, respectful, responsible, high quality and of benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.
No Child Should Grow Up Like This: Identifying Long Term Outcomes of Forgotten Australians, Child Migrants and the Stolen Generations
The University of NSW has published a report on the challenges faced by members of the ‘Forgotten Australians’ (children born in Australia who were placed in ‘care’ in the twentieth century), child migrants, and the Stolen Generations. The two year study engaged 700 participants who grew up in the care system between 1930 and 1989. Participants describe the suffering they faced in their out of home care placements and the kinds of support and protection they needed growing up. Participants also describe the ongoing challenges they face due to their experiences in care. It is hoped that in bringing these experiences to light, we can better anticipate the needs of children and young people in out-of-home care today.
Our youth, our way: Inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the Victorian youth justice system
The Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP) has released its report examining the lived experience of Aboriginal young people who have had contact with Victoria’s youth justice system and the factors that contribute to their overrepresentation. CCYP found that the continuing legacy of colonisation, the stolen generation and structural and institutional racism play a significant role in the over-representation of Aboriginal young people in the youth justice system. The report makes 75 recommendations.
Over-represented and overlooked: the crisis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s growing over-imprisonment
The Human Rights Law Centre and Change the Record have released a report describing the growing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in our prison system as a national crisis. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the imprisonment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women has increased by nearly 250 per cent. The report calls for systemic change and makes 18 recommendations to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. The recommendations emphasise the need for specialist, holistic and culturally safe services that address the underlying causes of offending and imprisonment.
Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Building the evidence base of Aboriginal programs and practices to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and families
In this presentation, Melanie Ashman and Kerry Brogan from the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) spoke about the development and implementation of a culturally appropriate Evaluation Framework.
VACCA’s process is Aboriginal led and privileges the voices of Aboriginal practitioners and clients. Their Evaluation Framework foregrounds culturally specific outcomes to ensure that evaluations measure what is most important to the Aboriginal Community to build an evidence base of effective programs and practices.
Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Developing a health, wellbeing and safety evaluation framework for Aboriginal Victorians
In this presentation, Gabrielle Johnson (VACCA) and Prof. Margaret Kelaher (University of Melbourne) discuss their development of an Aboriginal-led, Aboriginal health, wellbeing and safety evaluation framework on behalf of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
The framework foregrounds Aboriginal-defined measures of success for family violence, health, wellbeing and child safety – which align strongly with the principle of self-determination. The inclusion of Aboriginal voices in the development this framework means that the priorities of Aboriginal people will be addressed in forthcoming evaluations.
Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – The Common Elements Approach: Trialling an innovative approach to embedding evidence at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Service
Kathy Crouch (MDAS), Nicola Thomson (DHHS) and Jessica Hateley-Browne (CEI) discuss the recent trial of the Common Elements Approach in the Mallee District Aboriginal Services, one of the five trial sites. Presenting wisdom from the frontline, experiences of collaboration, shared learning and joint problem solving from the two participating teams at MDAS reveals how co-design practice is an encouraging learning consideration for community services.
Problem sexual behaviours and sexually abusive behaviours in Australian children and young people
This paper reviews the available literature to summarise what we currently know about Australian children and young people who exhibit Problem Sexual Behaviours (PSAs) and Sexually Abusive Behaviours (SABs). Particular attention is paid to vulnerable populations such as Indigenous children and young people, and those in out-of-home care. It is argued that children and young people who demonstrate PSAs and SABs are in need of early therapeutic support.
Promising Practice Guide: Improving the Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Severe and Complex Mental Health Needs
This promising practice guide from Orygen draws on an emerging, yet disparate, evidence-base about promising
practices aimed at improving the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. It aims to support service providers, commissioners, and policy-makers to adopt strengths-based, equitable and culturally responsive approaches that better meet the needs of this high-risk population.
Reporting the health and development of children in rural and remote Australia
A new report highlights the rapidly growing disparity between city and rural children’s developmental health. The report emphasises the developmental, behavioural and mental health needs of children aged 0-12 years of age, and the current gaps in the provision of appropriate health services for children and families. Aboriginal children are significantly more likely than their non-Indigenous peers to live in remote and rural areas, and are have greater exposure to adverse conditions and lack of services in these areas.
Review of mental health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in out-of-home care
This article published in the International Indigenous Policy Journal reviews the programs, policies and interventions that aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people living in out-of-home care (OOHC). The review identified nine programs or policies that are designed to improve the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people in OOHC in Australia and abroad. The report concludes that there is a need for culturally competent service provision and attention to the monitoring and evaluation of mental health policies and programs.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released this web report providing baseline data from a new national data collection on the safety and abuse of children in care. The report found that 1,442 children were the subject of a substantiation of abuse in care, of whom 46 per cent were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The AIHW will undertake ongoing monitoring and reporting of this issue, with improvements and expansion of data collection taking place over time.
Spatial variation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s access to 4 types of maternal health services
This report examines spatial variation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's access to hospitals with public birthing units and 3 other types of maternal health services. It finds that over 250,000 Indigenous women live more than a one hour drive away from a public birthing unit and that poorer access to maternal health services is associated with higher rates of pre-term birth and low birthweight.
Strong families, safe kids: family violence response and prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families
While most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have strong and healthy relationships, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are significantly more likely to experience family violence than non-Indigenous people. This policy paper outlines the impact of family violence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including the role of communal grief, disempowerment and trauma. It also investigates the key factors behind why current policy and practice responses are failing, and a detailed pathway for achieving change. Connection to culture and the right to self-determination are central to supporting families to be free from violence.
The characteristics and potential effects of the school that Indigenous Australians attend
This Working Paper from Australian National University’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) uses National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) data to map the distribution of Indigenous students across Australian schools, and identify some of the effects of that distribution on literacy and numeracy outcomes. The researchers consider whether and how school segregation plays a role in undermining the educational performance of Indigenous children.
Understanding and applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child placement principle: A resource for legislation, policy, and program development
To support the implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, SNAICC is producing a series of resources. The first is a guide to understanding and applying the principle, including definitions of the core elements and guidance on the best-practice approach to implementing them. The resource draws on the research evidence base and on the guidance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in the child and family services sector.
Understanding and applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander child placement principle: A resource for legislation, policy, and program development
Understanding and applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) is the first in a new series of resources being produced by SNAICC to support better implementation of the ATSICPP. The paper provides a definition of the five core elements of the ATSICPP and guidance on a best-practice approach to implementing its full intent. It is designed primarily for professionals engaged in legislation, policy and program design. The resource has been informed by the work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Group for the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.
What contributes to placement moves in out-of-home care?
Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) has released this scoping review of local and international evidence examining the factors that influence placement moves for children in out-of-home care. Factors found to increase the risk of a placement move include the age at which a child first enters care and the presence of externalising behaviour. CFCA found kinship care to be a factor that reduces the risk of placement moves. The paper identifies a lack of evidence on factors influencing placement moves relating specifically to Aboriginal children.
What works in effective Indigenous community-managed programs and organisations
This report presents research undertaken with three women’s Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) specialist services. The focus is on the ways services respond to the culturally and context specific needs of Aboriginal women. It also explores how Indigenous women themselves (as workers, clients and community members) have acted to shape and influence the approaches of women’s specialist services. The review found no single voice among Aboriginal activists and academics, however, there is a recognisable appreciation for the vital role Aboriginal people have to play in leading or supporting new services for Aboriginal people.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has released updated fact sheets on Victoria’s Youth Justice System. The fact sheets look at the backgrounds of young people in the justice system, and highlight the disproportionate number of young people from rural and regional areas or from Indigenous backgrounds being incarcerated. Indeed, an Indigenous young person in Victoria aged 10–17 was 13 times as likely as a non-Indigenous young person to be under youth justice supervision.