Safe and Sound: Creating safe residential care services for children and young people

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing

This Research to Practice issue explores options for the development of safe residential services for children and young people, and discusses the factors preventing them from seeking support for safety concerns. It also includes strategies for preventing harm and responding to safety concerns. The paper emphasises the importance of building trust between the young person and residential staff.

Safe and Sound: The safety concerns of young people in residential care

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

The most recent Institute of Child Protection Studies Research to Practice issue explores the factors leading to children and young people’s vulnerability in residential care, what children and young people think about safety in the context of residential care, and their interpersonal safety concerns. The key safety concerns reported by the young people in residential care include bullying and harassment, sexual harassment or assault, and witnessing violence and self-harm.

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.

School Attitudes Assessment Survey-Revised

Education, Journal article, Tool/toolkit

This article describes the School Attitudes Assessment Survey - Revised (SAAS-R). This survey is a validated instrument used to measure the attitudes of adolescents toward school and teachers as well as their goal-valuation, motivation and academic self-perceptions. It is also used to explore below average academic achievement in high school students.

School-based Depression and Anxiety Prevention Programs for Young People: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Education, Mental Health

This paper investigates the effectiveness of school-based programs in preventing depression and anxiety in young people. It is particularly interested in the validity of embedding mental health prevention programs into the school curriculum. This paper highlights the need for improvements in access to mental health prevention services for young people, opposed to treatment after the fact.

Screen time: What’s happening in our homes?

Young People, Technology

The latest Australian Child Health Poll has found that two-thirds of primary school-aged children and one-third of pre-schoolers now own their own tablet or smartphone. The report describes the links between increasing screen time and childhood issues such as lack of physical activity, disrupted sleep patterns and family conflict. The report highlights the important roles that healthcare providers, schools and policymakers alike, can have in helping children navigate this complex technological age.

Seeking help for domestic violence: exploring rural women’s coping experiences – Key findings and future directions

Family Violence

Australia's National Research Organisation For Women's Safety (ANROWS) has released a report presenting the results of a study examining the experiences of women seeking assistance for domestic and family violence in regional, rural, and remote areas in Australia. The qualitative study found that geographical isolation was only a factor for women who lived on isolated properties outside the regional centre. However, geographical isolation was identified as a key challenge for family violence practitioners, as it significantly shaped an agency’s ability to respond.

Self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people aged 14-15 years old

Mental Health, Young People

New research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has measured the rates of self-harm and suicidal behaviour among Australian teenagers. The Australia-wide study found that 10 per cent of 14-15 year-olds reported that they had self-harmed in the previous 12 months and 5 per cent had attempted suicide. The study examined the factors linked to self-harm and found some teens were more at risk than others, including those who are same-sex attracted or experiencing depression or anxiety.

Self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people aged 14-15 years old

Safety and wellbeing

This AIFS report provides a comprehensive, analytical discussion of self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people among a particular cohort in Australia. It explores the prevalence rates of self-harm and suicidal behaviour among 14–15 year olds, the risk factors associated with self-harm and the extent to which poor socio-emotional health earlier in life is associated with self-harm and suicidal behaviour. The findings highlight that interventions and preventive strategies should take place at both individual and school levels, particularly identifying those who are more likely to attempt suicide.

Seminar: The impact of telehealth during COVID-19 and beyond

Evaluation, Technology, Webinar

This online seminar from the Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence (CERE) and DHHS looks at the impact of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. This seminar features multiple presentations, covering the topics of performing rapid evaluations of telehealth, telehealth for Indigenous health and rural healthcare delivery and how to embed telehealth in the healthcare system.

Sentencing breaches of Family Violence Intervention Orders and Safety Notices: Third monitoring report

Family Violence, Report, Report

The Sentencing Advisory Council has released this report examining breaches of Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIOs) and Family Violence Safety Notices (FVSNs) in Victoria between 2010 and 2020 and how breaches were sentenced. The report found that there were 631,000 FVSNs, interim FVIOs and final FVIOs issued, 317,000 recorded breaches (by 84,000 people) and 113,000 sentenced breaches (by 39,000 people). The most common sentencing outcomes were imprisonment (26%), community orders (24%) and fines (21%). The report examines trends in FVIOs, FVSNs and sentencing since the introduction of the family violence reforms.

Sentencing Breaches of Family Violence Intervention Orders and Safety Notices: Third Monitoring Report

Family Violence

The Sentencing Advisory Council has released this report examining breaches of Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIOs) and Family Violence Safety Notices (FVSNs) in Victoria between 2010 and 2020 and how breaches were sentenced. The report examines trends in FVIOs, FVSNs and sentencing since the introduction of the family violence reforms.

Services, support and life outcomes for autistic Australians

Report, Autism, Report

The Senate Select Committee on Autism has released its report investigating the services, support and life outcomes for autistic Australians. The inquiry found that life outcomes for autistic Australians are poor and there is a compelling need for change to address the discrimination and service access difficulties faced by people with autism and their families. The report makes 81 recommendations.

Showing the light: Supporting young parents with experience of the care system

Families and parenting, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report, Report

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) has released this report aiming to increase understanding of the needs of young parents with experience of the care system and to identify how they can best be supported. The study identifies effective intervention opportunities to either prevent early pregnancy, or to support young care leavers to parent successfully. The report contains a summary of the needs of young parents, the opportunities available to reduce the incidence of intergenerational interaction with the child protection system, and evidence-informed principles and strategies for working with young parenting care leavers.

Single-sex schooling and achievement outcomes

Education

Analysis of NAPLAN numeracy and reading data shows that that separating the genders does not provide a greater value-add over time in comparison to coeducational schools. Author Dr Katherine Dix explains that there is an ongoing debate about the benefits of single-sex schools in terms of student achievement. This analysis shows the gap in educational achievement between single-sex and coeducational schools narrowing over time.

Slow down and listen: Improving children’s and young people’s safety during periods of violence, separation and reunification

Family Violence, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

This brief provides young people’s accounts of their experiences of violence and reunification and what they need to be safe and feel safe as they journey towards recovery. It aims to inform practice and highlights ways that the needs of children and young people might be central to responses to families experiencing violence. It draws from interviews with young people who participated in a study conducted by researchers from the Australian Centre for Child Protection, the Positive Futures Research Collaboration and the Schools of Social Work from the University of South Australia and Curtin University.

Social and economic impacts of implementing the voluntary earlier school starting age

Education

A report from the Secretary of the Department of Education in Tasmania discusses the opportunity to lower the school entry age to three years of age. The report examines the potential impact of the change to the early childhood education and care sector and presents mitigation strategies to ensure sustainable service delivery for families. Upon review of the evidence, the Tasmanian Minister for Education is advised to maintain the school entry age of five, while funding the delivery and evaluation of the Working Together for 3 Year Olds – a targeted pre-school initiative.

The House of Representatives Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety has released its report investigating the range of online harms faced by Australians on social media and other online platforms and the impacts of these harms on wellbeing. It makes 26 recommendations.

Socioeconomic gaps in early childhood experiences: 1998 to 2010

Education, Early years, low income

Using two nationally representative data sets, this study compares the early life experiences of kindergarteners in 1998 and 2010 in the United States. The study finds that young children in the 2010 cohort were exposed to more books and reading in the home, have more access to educational games on computers, and engage more with their parents, both inside and outside of the home, than the 1990 cohort. This is true for both lower-income and higher-income families.

Spaceless violence: Women’s experiences of technology-facilitated domestic violence in regional, rural and remote areas

Report, Women, Intimate partner violence, Rural Areas, Report

The Australian Institute of Criminology has released this paper examining the impact of technology-facilitated violence on victim-survivors of intimate partner violence in regional, rural or remote areas of Australia who are socially or geographically isolated. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 13 victim-survivors, each of whom emphasised that the technology-facilitated abuse to which they were subjected profoundly affected their wellbeing. The research found that technology was incorporated into perpetrators’ control and intimidation tactics, often extending and exacerbating the abuse these women experienced both pre- and post-separation and their geographical isolation created a barrier to help-seeking.

Spatial variation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s access to 4 types of maternal health services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Report

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.

Speaking Out About Youth Justice: The Views of WA Children and Young People

Youth Justice, Young People, Report

The Commissioner for Children and Young People in WA has released a report detailing the experiences of young people who have been in contact with the youth justice system. Along with their personal stories, the young people included in the study share what they think would support them in the community to break the cycle of reoffending. The 92 young people involved in the study communicated the belief that offending could be prevented by making appropriate supports and services available. Key supports included positive role models, living in a safe and stable home, participating in education or employment, being involved in community activities and being supported to deal with personal challenges and behavioural issues. For a large number of young offenders, the role models, family supports and other safety nets many of us take for granted are not present.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released this paper examining how the wellbeing of children from disadvantaged backgrounds compares to their peers from more advantaged backgrounds, and relative to OECD countries. The study uses key comparative indicators to highlight how children from low SES backgrounds face poorer outcomes across many of the aspects of wellbeing. Outcomes are detailed in the report.

State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action

Families and parenting

MenCare has launched the 2017 State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action report. The report draws from nearly 100 research studies from across the globe, to uncover those factors that have delayed progress toward global gender equality. The report is a global call to action, asking every country to set a national goal of men and boys completing half of the unpaid care work.

Identify, Design, Evaluate

Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)

Education, Mental Health, Tool/toolkit

The SDQ is a well validated and population-normed instrument which assesses in respect of emotional problems, peer problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and prosocial behaviour. Learn more about the SDQ...

Strengthening prevention and early intervention services for families into the future

Families and parenting, Safety and wellbeing

This report prepared by Deakin University and Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) investigates the potential of the family and relationships sector to take a stronger prevention and early intervention approach. Substance abuse and antisocial behaviour were among the eight priority health and social problems identified as potentially preventable through the delivery of family and relationship services. The report recommends a national action plan to increase prevention and early intervention service delivery.

Strong carers, stronger children – Victorian Carer Strategy: Findings of the home-based carer census

Report, Children, Research, Data, Carers, Policy, Report

Ernst & Young Sweeney has released this report outlining the findings of a census of home-based carers that aimed to increase understanding of the profile of carers in Victoria and their experiences and needs. The study shows that more than nine in ten carers are confident in their ability to provide care and over four-fifths are confident to support children to maintain cultural connection. The insights gained from this research can assist with improvements to policy and practice to better support carers and children.

Strong families, safe kids: family violence response and prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence, Report

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.

Success, retention, and completion of care leaver students in Australian higher education

Education, Report, Care Leavers, Report

This report from researchers at Latrobe University and Federation University Australia examines the access, geo-demographic profile, course selection, success, retention, and completion rates of care leavers across the two universities. The study found that a whole of life cycle approach to supporting care-experienced students is needed to address the compounding disadvantages they often face. The report noted that the outreach and recruitment strategies adopted by La Trobe University and Federation University Australia, supported by the Raising Expectations program – which is led by the Centre in partnership with the two universities and Swinburne University – show the potential to increase enrolments dramatically through targeted actions. The researchers make eight recommendations.

Supporting all children to thrive: The importance of equity in early childhood education

Education, Report, Children, Report

The Front Project has released this report analysing Australian Early Development Census data to examine the locations and circumstances of children assessed as developmentally vulnerable in 2021. The study found that access to developmental support in the form of high-quality early education and care is inequitable for children based on where they live and their cultural background. The report proposes a range of policy interventions to address this issue.

Supporting all children to thrive: The importance of equity in early childhood education

Education, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Children, Child Development

The Front Project has released this report analysing Australian Early Development Census data to examine the locations and circumstances of children assessed as developmentally vulnerable in 2021. The study details many results as well as proposes a range of policy interventions to address issues found.

This Institute of Child Protection Studies Research to Practice issue explores the challenges faced by refugee families living in Australia and the formal supports that are available to them. The paper draws on in-depth interviews with families from a refugee background, and a national survey of government funded service providers supporting refugee families. It paints a picture of the networks, relationships and resources used by refugee families and the implications for policy and service delivery. Connecting children and young people, building culturally safe services and communication across service sectors are among some of the recommendations made.

Identify, Design

Supporting the journey: issues in co-creating a sensitive narrative of the child’s identity and experience ‘in care’

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

This 'Who Am I?' workshop report talks about the importance of capturing the perspectives of children and young people who are actively involved in the constructing their record while ‘in care’, and the process of collaboration between them and professionals. The idea was to understand the principles underpinning record-keeping and archival programs; and unpack the factors which enable or create barriers to effective practice for front line workers, managers and organisations providing out of home care.

Supporting the Roadmap for Reform: Evidence-Informed Practice

Families and parenting, Report

This report gives an overview of evidence informed practice to facilitate a shift from outputs to outcomes based service delivery. It examines the sources of evidence-informed practice and provides a methodology for developing a Menu of evidence-informed practices and programs.

Supporting vulnerable households to achieve their housing goals: The role of impact investment

Safety and wellbeing, Report

This report from Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute (AHURI) was released as part of an inquiry into social impact investment (SII) for improving housing and homelessness outcomes. It discusses the real and perceived opportunities and risks of social impact investment for Australia’s housing and homelessness policies. SII has become an increasing focus of governments as a funding solution to entrenched social problems, such as homelessness. While there is much promise with various SII models, there needs to be further investigation of the benefits flowing from this approach in comparison to existing social service delivery models.

Supporting women and children experiencing family and domestic violence: The Zonta House impact report

Family Violence, Report, Children, Research, Women, Report

Zonta House is an organisation offering holistic services across nine service arms, based in Perth. The Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia has released this report analysing the impact of Zonta House programs and services for women and children experiencing family violence. The report found that these services contributed to breaking the cycle of family violence for the majority of women, while also supporting improvements in wellbeing more broadly.

Supporting young people transitioning from foster care: Findings from a national survey

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

Child Trends has released a report exploring the ways in which states and communities need to support young people who are in foster care or who have recently transitioned out of foster care as they enter adulthood. Extending foster care beyond 18 years of age is one of the key strategies used by states to support young people through their period of transition. Housing was a key challenge for young people leaving care.

Survey Report on Child and Family Service Worker Experiences of Engaging Birth Parents

Families and parenting, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

The survey asked professionals a range of questions about their views on how birth parents are currently engaged with child and family welfare organisations in Victoria. The findings add to the growing body of evidence on engaging with birth parents in the child and family service sector, providing further context to the barriers and facilitators of effective engagement for Victorian parents, practitioners, organisations and service systems.

Swift, certain and fair approaches to sentencing family violence offenders

Family Violence, Report

This report by the Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) outlines the common elements for accommodating ‘swift and certain justice’ approaches to family violence offenders in Victoria’s sentencing regime. Recommendations relate to human rights, accountability of family violence perpetrators, and information sharing between agencies. The SAC found insufficient evidence that a ‘swift, certain and fair’ approach to sentencing and sentence management of family violence offenders would be effective or appropriate in Victoria, and such an approach should not be implemented

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) has released this report containing results from the first 12 months of the ei Pulse wellbeing check-in tool. The ei Pulse tool uses an app to track Australian student’s wellbeing in real time. Once a week, students aged 10 years and over are asked how they are feeling and are then asked a selection of five evidence-based questions from a pool of 130 wellbeing questions. The report found that on average, 66 per cent of students felt ‘positive’ or ‘great’ each week, however 42 per cent said they worry a lot about mistakes they make. The tool is intended to improve student’s wellbeing literacy and the findings will allow schools to engage in continuous improvement to better support student wellbeing.

Te Mātātaki 2021: Findings from the 2019/2020 survey of tamariki and rangatahi in care

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

This report from Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) in New Zealand seeks to better understand the experiences of tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) in care. A census approach was used to conduct the survey so that all tamariki and rangatahi between 10 and 17 years of age who had been in care for more than 31 days had the opportunity to participate, resulting in a participation rate of 84 per cent. A key finding was that 97 per cent indicated that the adults they live with look after them well, with 81 per cent indicating that this was all of the time. Based on the feedback, priority areas for action are identified.

Technology-facilitated abuse: A survey of support services stakeholders

Report, Research, Abuse, Support Workers, Report

This report from Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) explores the extent and nature of, and responses to, technology-facilitated abuse in Australia. Drawing on the results of a national survey of 338 support services workers, the report finds that technology-facilitated abuse is a prevalent and growing issue that presents significant barriers to help-seeking. A range of implications for policy and practice are outlined, including the need for training to improve service responses.

This Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) analysis presents an overview of teens' employment, by age and gender. This includes when and how often teens are working, in what types of employment and the income they receive for their employment. At 14-15 years old, almost 40% had worked in the previous year, with more girls employed (42%) compared to boys (36%).

Telepractice in family work study: The pixelated experiences of workers and managers

Report, Case Study, Family Workers, Report, Case Study

This report from Southern Cross University explores the experiences of family workers and managers engaged in telepractice to develop understanding of family work using online technologies. The study finds that telepractice offers a range of benefits and drawbacks for clients and the workforce, suggesting it is suited to use within a suite of practice methods rather than as a replacement for face-to-face engagement.

Temporary Migration and Family Violence: An analysis of victimisation, vulnerability and support

Family Violence, Report

This report details findings from research on the experiences of family violence among migrant women living in Australia on temporary visas. It is the first major study in Australia exploring the intersection of migration status and family violence. The report explores specific issues such as the ways that migration status can be leveraged in the family violence context and the range of exploitative practices that occur, including trafficking and slavery-like situations of violence. The report offers recommendations to address gaps in protection and support of this vulnerable population.

Tensions in the therapeutic relationship: Emotional labour in the response to child abuse and neglect in primary healthcare

Journal article, Case Study, Child Abuse, Healthcare, Journal article, Case Study

This study, published in BMC Primary Care, sought to understand how GPs and nurses experience the response to child abuse in primary healthcare. The study found that mandatory reporting obligations created significant emotional labour at the internal, organisational and systemic levels as participants struggled to maintain the therapeutic relationship. The article concludes with strategies that can be employed to reduce the labour burden, which can also be applied by other workforces with mandatory reporting obligations.

The association between paternal and adolescent depressive symptoms: Evidence from two population-based cohorts

Mental Health

Researchers at the University College London (UCL) have published a study looking at the link between paternal and adolescent depressive symptoms. The study of 14,000 families in the UK and Ireland show an association between depressive symptoms in fathers and depressive symptoms in their adolescent children. Currently, interventions for preventing adolescent depression focus largely on mothers. This research challenges this approach and suggests that treating depression in both parents is important to the mental health of their children.

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) Toolkit

Evaluation, Tool/toolkit

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) has a range of useful tools for co-design including a webinar exploring what is human centred design, and what does it take to do well?

The career aspirations of young adolescent boys and girls

Education

This Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) publication describes the types of jobs adolescents at age 14–15 would like to have in the future. Consistent with previous studies, the AIFS found marked gender differences in career aspirations. The career aspirations are consistent with gender stereotypes, and the gendered nature of subject selection in school. The paper offers a discussion of the implications arising from the research and highlights the integral role of school staff and parents in providing support for young people as they make plans for their future careers.