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 review of Australian Government funding of parenting intervention research
This article, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, investigates the funding awarded by Australian government research agencies for research focused on parenting interventions. The article focused on the period from 2011 to 2020. Results are detailed in the report.
A review of the literature on key elements of effective organisational collaboration involving non-government organisations
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).
Alcohol-related harm in families and alcohol consumption during COVID-19
Child Family Community Australia has released this paper investigating alcohol-related harm in families and reviewing available evidence on alcohol consumption from March to July 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions were in place. The scoping review found an increase in alcohol consumption among those reporting higher levels of stress and among women aged 36-50. The paper concludes with a review of harm minimisation interventions and strategies to strengthen the health and wellbeing of families.
Australian legal definitions: When is a child in need of protection?
This Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) resource sheet provides a legislative definition of ‘a child in need of protection’, with the aim of illuminating the point at which statutory services intervene to protect the child. It brings together the legislative definitions of ‘a child in need of protection’ across Australia’s states and territories, and highlights commonalities and variations across jurisdictions. While definitions vary slightly, the components that indicate ‘a child in need of protection’ are generally consistent.
The NSW Legislative Council has released a report on childhood overweight and obesity. It details the structural factors that help determine a child’s weight, and provides compelling recommendations related to urban planning, cost and accessibility of organised sport and food labelling.
Parental mental illness affects roughly 23% of Australian children. In light of this statistic, Response Ability has developed a fact sheet that outlines the ways in which parenting capacity may be impacted, and the social and emotional implications for children. The resource provides tips and guidelines for educators to help prevent children of parents with a mental illness from experiencing learning and development difficulties. Educators and teachers are identified as key contact points through which children and families can access mental health support.
Children’s television viewing and multi-screen behaviour: Analysis of 2005–16
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a report looking at Children’s television viewing and multi-screen behaviour. It provides insights into viewing practices and habits of Australian children, and information about parental attitudes, including content concerns. Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to monitor or limit their children’s viewing, as the number of media devices they have access to increase.
Co-Design for Authentic Participation and Family Centred-Practice: Penny Hagen
OPEN organised this Knowledge Building workshop where Dr. Penny Hagen from the Auckland Co-design Lab shared approaches that are participatory, gentle and respectful in order to bring less privileged perspectives to the surface in complex conversations.
Compliance with and enforcement of family law parenting orders: Views of professionals and judicial officers
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has released this report examining the factors that influence non-compliance with parenting orders. The report contains findings from the first of a four-part research program and draws on the survey responses of 343 professionals who work with separated parents and interviews with judicial officers. A key finding was that non-compliance arises from a complex range of factors including family violence and safety concerns, child-related issues, circumstances where parents’ behaviour is seen as particularly difficult, orders that are seen as unworkable, and the existence of a contravention regime that is widely regarded as ineffective.
Contexts of disadvantage: Implications for child outcomes
This report uses data from the first five waves of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) to examine the links between family, neighbourhood and school level disadvantage and children’s cognitive and social outcomes. It found that to experience any one of family, neighbourhood or school level disadvantage is detrimental to a child’s cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes. The LSAC data suggests that much of the association between disadvantage and child cognitive outcomes can be explained by the incidental influence of disadvantage on the home environment, especially on the amount of time and effort spent by parents on activities that stimulate children’s cognitive abilities.
Core care conditions for children and families: Implications for integrated child and family services
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.
Counting the cost to families: Assessing childcare affordability in Australia
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 Impact Report: Responding to the needs of children and families
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.
Do childhood experiences of parental separation lead to homelessness?
This Melbourne Institute paper examines the relationship between parental separation and homelessness using Journey’s Home (JH), a dataset of disadvantaged Australians. The study finds a substantial causal effect between parental separation and entry into homelessness, particularly if the separation occurred before the respondent was 12 years old. The findings suggest that adolescent girls are more robust to parental separations than adolescent boys and that the effects of parental separations are larger when the parents were formally married.
A report by the London School of Economics provides an update to Does Money Affect Children’s Outcomes? A Systematic Review (2013). It provides further supporting evidence that money in itself is important for children’s cognitive development, physical health and educational achievement, distinct from other factors such as parental education. The authors found that poorer children have worse outcomes in part because they are poor and not only because of other factors that are associated with low income. The study found that reducing income poverty and inequality is likely to have a significant impact on children’s environment and on their development.
A new report published by ANROWS examines the impact of inter-parental conflict (IPC) and domestic and family violence (DFV) on parenting and parent–child relationships. The report shows that emotional abuse is a serious issue in family breakdowns, and those women at the more extreme end of family violence are experiencing multiple and overlapping types of abuse, including emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. The report also found a relationship between the presence of family violence and parenting capacity, satisfaction with parent-child relationships, and child wellbeing. The report concludes with key recommendations to improve policy and practice.
Estimation of National, Regional, and Global Prevalence of Alcohol Use During Pregnancy and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
This research project aimed to estimate the global prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in the general population. It finds that alcohol use during pregnancy is relatively common and that Europe has particularly high rates of women who consume alcohol during pregnancy, and consequently, the highest rate of FAS. The paper provides a discussion of the social and cultural factors that may influence the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy, and suggests that more effective prevention strategies be targeted towards particular at-risk populations.
Evidence and Innovation for Wellbeing in complex settings: Dr. Penny Hagen and Angie Tangaere
OPEN organised this Knowledge Building Workshop led by Dr. Penny Hagen, from Auckland Co-design Lab and Angie Tangaere, The Southern Initiative, where they talked about privilege and power. Their approach encourages us to flip where the expertise lies and be social innovation agents who need to be ‘in service’ of the change that the families want.
Executive Summary: Parent engagement and participation approaches in child protection
This piece provides an executive summary of a longer literature review on parent engagement and participation approaches conducted by CFECFW in partnership with the University of Melbourne. The findings of this review contribute to the work of the Voice of Parents, a two-year project led by the Centre, supported by Gandel Philanthropy and Equity Trustees. The Voice of Parents continues the Centre’s commitment to promoting client voice and learning from those with lived experience to achieve better outcomes for children and support parents in their critical role in their child’s life.
Families in Australia survey – Towards COVID normal: Report no. 2 – Employment & work-family balance in 2020
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
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.
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.
Fathers who use violence: Options for safe practice where there is ongoing contact with children
In situations of family violence, women and children are not always in a position to separate from an abusive partner. Separation itself may cause increased violence, homelessness or poverty. This paper explores strategies for working with families where fathers who use violence continue to have contact with the children. Whole of family approaches that engage each member of the family are discussed as having an important role to play in promoting the wellbeing and safety of all involved.
Frameworks for supporting Client Participation in Victoria
The Victorian Government has several frameworks that support organisations in their consideration and implementation of a client participation process. This document, published by CFECFW, explains how these government frameworks support organisations in embedding the client voice in practice, as well the opportunities and challenges in these frameworks for participatory processes.
These publications from the Department of Health and Human Services share the complexities of work with children, youth and families and some of the innovative practice approaches being used to address them. This is an annual publication shining a spotlight on examples of good practice and the variety of practice approaches available.
How to help parents find the right parenting support for them
This guide from Emerging Minds is designed to assist practitioners in having
conversations with parents regarding the sources of their
parenting information and support. It aims to help you
and the parent identify what type of support the parent
is seeking (their motivation) and the most appropriate
sources for this support. Ultimately, it will help you build
a parent’s capacity to access the best quality information
or support to suit their needs.
Identifying early intervention and prevention pathways for child protection concerns raised in pregnancy
This research project seeks to understand the concerns and identify the risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect during pregnancy. It highlights two clear target groups for child abuse prevention and early intervention efforts in pregnancy: first time parents who have their own histories of abuse or neglect as children; and parents who had at least one child who was known to child protection. These families have the most to gain from early intervention and prevention efforts.
Identifying the key components of a ‘whole family’ intervention for families experiencing domestic violence and abuse
This article in the Journal of Gender-Based Violence outlines the shift in knowledge and practice that is driving new approaches to domestic violence and abuse. As the name implies, whole family approaches aim to engage with all family members living with domestic violence rather than focusing only on women as victims. This article describes findings from an evaluation of a pilot in one town in Northern England over 18 months. The pilot shows how, in a children’s social care setting, where additional resources and organisational support are made available, practice can be shifted away from a blaming approach to one that emphasises the potential for recovery and change for all family members. The article is available free of charge until the end of June.
Impact of maternal age on children coming into contact with the child protection system
The New South Wales (NSW) Department of Communities and Justice has released this Evidence to Action Note investigating the impact of maternal age on the likelihood a child will be known to the NSW child protection system. The department used linked child protection and Australian Bureau of Statistics data to conduct the analysis. It found that young maternal age is a risk factor for child protection, with these families more likely than average to be in contact with the system until the maternal age of 27.
This collection of infographics published by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University features accessible infographics accompanied by explanations and links to further resources. These resources will be particularly relevant to practitioners working directly with families and children, as they explain a number of related concepts- including toxic stress, executive function and ACEs (adverse childhood experiences). These infographics can help you identify how these issues might be effecting families, and some approaches you might use to improve their outcomes.
Inquiry into children affected by parental incarceration
The Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee have tabled this inquiry in the Victorian Parliament and are awaiting a response from Government. The final report considered parental incarceration, the impacts on children, methods of reducing harm caused to children, government response, increasing children and families’ voices and experiences in the situation, and supports in Victoria for children affected by parental incarceration.
Inquiry report – ParentsNext: Examination of Social Security (Parenting payment participation requirements–class of persons) Instrument 2021
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has released the report of its inquiry into the Social Security (Parenting payment participation requirements–class of persons) Instrument 2021. The Committee found that mandatory participation in ParentsNext, which can result in the suspension or cancelation of a parent’s social security payment, limits the rights of the child, and recommends that the program be made voluntary.
Inter-parental relationships, conflict and the impacts of poverty
The Early Intervention Foundation has published research exploring the role of parental relationships in families experiencing poverty. The study looks at 13 interventions across the UK aimed at addressing inter-parental conflict to improve child outcomes. It highlights the greater psychological stress that can be experienced by families under economic stress or in poverty, and how this can affect long term outcomes for children. The report argues that embedding relationship support in mainstream services, such as children’s centres or within early intervention systems, has the potential to improve access for families who could benefit most from these interventions.
It’s not our difference that is the disability: Impact of COVID-19 in Australia on children and young people with disability, and their families
ARACY has released this report outlining the results of a literature review on the impacts of COVID-19 on children with disability and their families in Australia, and findings from two policy roundtables. The review found that the pandemic exacerbated many of the problems already faced by families with disability, with children younger than school-age being the most negatively affected.
The School of Social Science at the University of Queensland released this report in December 2021. The report details an empirical study of Keeping Families Together, a supportive housing pilot project for families with a young child experiencing multiple vulnerabilities. The project assisted 20 families and the study found that all families exited homelessness in to housing with 95 per cent maintaining their housing for the duration of the 12-month pilot. The project also achieved reduced interactions with child safety and 31 per cent of families with children in out-of-home care had children returned. The study identified a range of success factors.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has released this report synthesising the views of children, young people and families who were consulted to inform the first five-year action plans of Safe and Supported: The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021-2031. Participants identified housing, mental health and help with basic needs as the most important supports to help children, young people and families to be safe. The report contains 55 recommended actions.
The Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll has surveyed a sample of 1980 parents of children aged 0-18 years. The findings show that many Australian parents struggle to make healthy food choices for their children for a range of reasons. Many parents find it difficult to know which foods are healthy, particularly when it comes to added sugar. Other barriers to healthy eating habits include preparation time and cost. Parents could benefit from additional resources to help them in making healthy and cost effective meals for their families.
Many fathers are working long hours and have schedules that are not family-friendly. This research summary presents Australian children's views of their fathers' work and family time, including how much time they get to spend with their dad and whether they enjoy the time they spend together. The study showed that 35% of children considered that their father works too much.
Making Australia the best place in the world to be a parent
This report from The Parenthood uses modelling by Equity Economics to recommend increased investment in universal childcare, parental leave, family-friendly workplaces and early education programs in order to improve lifelong outcomes for all Australian children and their families. The linked webpage features the full report, as well as a summary, factsheet and video recording of the report launch.
Maternal age and family circumstances of firstborn children
The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) Annual Statistical Report investigates whether maternal age influences the financial and parenting experiences of the family across the child’s first 10 years of life.
Women having their first child in their early 20s or teenage years were more likely than those having their first child later in life, to experience disadvantage. Areas of increased disadvantage included living without a partner, low income and a higher chance of unemployment.
Measuring Success in the Family and Relationship Sector for the Wellbeing of Children, Families and Communities
This E-journal of peer-reviewed papers from the annual Family Relationships and Services Australia (FRSA) National Conference presents five articles on a wide range of concepts that influence ‘success’ in the family sector, and how these might be better measured. The first two papers focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, the third on the first 1000 days, the fourth on relationship breakdown and the fifth on workforce preparedness in the sector.
Mental health resources: an A-Z index for professionals
This collection from raisingchildren.net.au brings together articles, videos and guides related to mental health support for children and families. Organised from A to Z and by topic area, this is a great starting point for professionals working with families where either a parent of a child needs support.
Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) Pilot: Evaluation report
This report presents findings from an evaluation of the Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) pilot, an emerging multi-disciplinary approach to responding to children and families affected by abuse in Western Australia. The approach aims to provide a holistic response to allegations of severe child abuse. It includes bringing multidisciplinary teams together in local communities in a more effective way, and timely connection of children and families to support services. The study shows that the co-location of child abuse interviewers, child protection officers, child advocates and therapeutic services within a child friendly setting had significant benefits for children and families.
This collection of multimedia resources published by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University features short, accessible videos that explore how to support children's development. These videos will be particularly relevant to practitioners working directly with families, as they cover various methods and tools for building parental capacity and promoting children's wellbeing and learning, including through the use of evidence based programs.
New parents, new possibilities: Family violence prevention for LGBTIQ+ parented families
This report from the Centre for Family Research and Evaluation presents the results of a family violence prevention action research project focused on the transition to parenthood for LGBTIQ+ parents. A key finding from the research was that assumptions that family violence only occurs within heterosexual relationships has led to a lack of family violence screening for LGBTIQ+ parents.
NHMRC report on the evidence: Promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life
The National Health and Medical Research Council presents an analysis of the programs and services offered to parents of young babies, provided in pregnancy or the first year of life. The paper is particularly interested in those interventions that influence infant social and emotional wellbeing. The report claims that education and support programs for parents, and programs, designed to foster a healthy bond between baby and parent, have shown encouraging results. However, there is need for further research to identify which programs are most effective in giving babies the best start in their emotional and social life.
OPEN Rapid Case Study-Service Integration Program-Jewish Care
This rapid case study showcases the work of the Service Coordination Program at Jewish Care, an ethno-specific organisation. The program uses culturally aware and trauma-informed support to cater to the diverse needs Jewish community members (generally under 65 years old) experiencing social and/or structural disadvantage.
OPEN Rapid Case Study-Tarrengower Prison Family Video Visits Pilot Program-VACRO
This rapid case study talks about a Family Video Visit Program by VACRO which facilitated a virtual connection between children and their incarcerated mothers. The program relieved children from the stress of visiting a prison and helped maintain the parent-child bond. This supported mothers in their reintegration journey after leaving the prison.
OPEN Rapid Case Study: Early Years Program-Brotherhood of St Laurence
This case study sheds light on a early years program which takes a culturally responsive approach to work with families from refugee and migrant backgrounds. It focuses on building connections and providing confidence to parents to support their children.