Presentation @ OPEN Forum – Redefining excellence: Mobilising knowledge and improving quality

Evidence Informed Practice, Conference presentation

In this presentation, MaryAnn Notarianni outlines the journey of the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (the Centre) in supporting the child and youth mental health sector to mobilise knowledge and improve quality to meet child and youth mental health needs across the province.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Effectiveness outcomes for young children and mothers in an intensive service for vulnerable families

Early years, Families and parenting, Conference presentation

In this presentation, Renee O'Donnell (Monash University) and Andrea Dunbar (MacKillop Family Services) discussed their evaluation of the Cradle to Kinder program in three locations across Victoria. Cradle to Kinder is an intensive maternal support program for disadvantaged young mothers (under 25 years), designed to support positive parenting and improve child safety and developmental outcomes in families where there is an elevated risk of child removal.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Group work for women to heal and find viable alternatives to violence

Family Violence, Conference presentation

Paula Anderson (Baptcare) and Margaret Kertesz (University of Melbourne) discuss the development of the +SHIFT group work program for women using force against their intimate partners and children – a challenging issue given the complex trauma histories of these women. The program uses a “healing place” approach to support women to reflect on how violence has influenced their parenting strategies and the wellbeing of their children. Formative data indicates that participants recognise how use of force has negatively impacted their parenting, mother/child relationships and family functioning.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Taking research evidence from one complex system to another

Families and parenting, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Conference presentation

In this keynote address, Eileen Munro (Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics) discusses the challenges of translating research evidence from one system to another - with particular reference to her work in reviewing child protection practices in English local authorities.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – “Cultivating the Soil”: Co-design and collective impact for system change

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Conference presentation

Heidi Tucker (Anchor Inc.), Meg Beilken (Brighter Futures) and Dylan Langley (Brighter Futures Youth Ambassador Group) discuss the Brighter Futures Transformation Pilot: Learning for Life through Community Connection. The pilot utilised co-design and collective impact to create an enabling environment for innovation and systems change. The presenters discuss the importance of youth participation and collaborative efforts to improve outcomes for young people in out-of-home care.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Building the evidence base of Aboriginal programs and practices to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and families

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Evaluation, Evidence Informed Practice, Conference presentation

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 – Caring Life: technology solution for creating life stories

Families and parenting, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Conference presentation

Jonathan Finch, Anthony Denahy and Emma Stirling (OzChild) discuss the development of CaringLife: an online platform and app that provides a private, safe and secure system for agencies, carers and children to upload photos, videos and important mementos during a child’s time in out-of-home care that are stored securely in perpetuity and can follow them throughout their care journey. The Pilot Program has demonstrated high levels of engagement and has been evaluated as having significant therapeutic and identity benefits.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Continuing care: collaborative youth participation practice with young people and leaving care services

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Conference presentation

In this presentation, Jade Purtell (Monash University) and Ralph Salera (Salvation Army) discussed their evaluation of the Westcare Continuing Care program. The evaluation focused on the effectiveness of support provided to young people leaving care, and to their foster or residential carers. The evaluation was also supported by youth participation, as The Youth Advocates Group (TYAG) provided feedback on service improvements.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Developing a health, wellbeing and safety evaluation framework for Aboriginal Victorians

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, Conference presentation

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 – Emerging Leaders Program for young people with disability

Disability, Young People, Conference presentation

Simon Green and Haley Zilberberg (Youth Disability Advocacy Service) discuss their development of their Emerging Young Leaders Program for young people aged 14 to 20 who identified as having disability. With the NDIS changing how people with disability engage with society, accessible and inclusive practice is key to ensuring organisations can deliver safely and effectively. Feedback from participants, and their teachers and parents confirms that this program has created positive opportunities for people with disabilities to develop themselves.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Family engagement using social media

Families and parenting, Client Engagement, Conference presentation

In this presentation, Casey Hepburn and Jenny Fairbairn from the Queen Elizabeth Centre (QEC) discussed their design and implementation of a new Client Engagement Framework.The new Framework focuses on using social media to engage clients and involved three components: QEC Video Stories, a Client Online Panel and a Client Advisory Group.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Keeping Safe Together: Children seen and heard

Family Violence, Conference presentation

In this presentation, Anneliese Spiteri-Staines (University of Melbourne) and Patrizia Favorito (Women's Health West) discussed the development and evaluation of the Keeping Safe Together program, which focuses on families effected by domestic and family violence that are still living together or in regular contact. In this pilot program, everyone in the family is eligible for a service and is supported: mother, father, and the children.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Panel: Participatory practice at the coalface: Working collaboratively with young people

Young People, Conference presentation

A panel event discussing the key ingredients to successful youth participation practice. Hosted by Sam Champion (Youth Affairs Council of Victoria), and featuring: Siobhán McCann (Commission for Children and Young People), Cathy Carnovale (Create Foundation), Lauren Oliver (Berry Street), Brittany Witnish (Youth Advisor, Master of Social Work and lived experience consultant), Jade Purtell (Researcher and Youth Participation Consultant) & Jenna Bolinger (Researcher)

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – The Common Elements Approach: Trialling an innovative approach to embedding evidence at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Service

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Evidence Informed Practice, Conference presentation

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.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – The STACY project: Keeping children visible working with parental mental health and substance misuse in the context of family violence

Families and parenting, Family Violence, Mental Health, Conference presentation

Lucy Healey (University of Melbourne) and Rosie Carr (Uniting ReGen) discuss The STACY Project, which focuses on improving collaborative working with families living with family violence, where children’s wellbeing is impacted by intersecting parental issues of mental health and substance misuse. It utilises the Safe & Together™ Model to work with all family members, including child and adult victim/survivors and perpetrators. This project revealed the challenge of keeping the focus of care on both the children’s needs and on the family violence occurring.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Who is Casey Jones? Engaging children in problem solving

Families and parenting, Client Engagement, Conference presentation

In this presentation, Casey Howden (Kids First) explores how to bring children to the centre of our work. By using a strengths-based, child-centred approach, children can tell us who they are – and how we can partner with them to achieve positive outcomes. So, who is Casey Jones? Casey Jones is the name of a child’s favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and the bridge that enabled practitioners to join with this child and his mother. Casey Jones sparked a positive transition by shifting the focus from what might fail, to what might work.

Preventing adolescent relationship abuse and promoting healthy relationships

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, Practice Tool

This paper from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse looks at the issue of violence and abuse in adolescent relationships. Psychological and emotional abuse are shown to be the most common forms of violence among this demographic. School and community based violence prevention programs have an important role to play in supporting young people to build healthy relationships. The report suggests that school curricula and community prevention models need to work alongside one another to create change in relation to violent behaviour in adolescent relationships.

Preventing Bullying and Cyberbullying: Research-Based Policy Recommendations for Executive and Legislative Officials in 2017


Child Trends has compiled the evidence relating to bullying and cyberbullying to guide policy development. It is argued that bullying prevention strategies need to move away from more punitive measures and school exclusion to address the root causes of the problem. To address bullying effectively, the whole school community should be involved in the planning and implementation of anti-bullying strategies that are context specific.

Prevention of child abuse and neglect

Early years

Produced in partnership with the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN), this Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) resource provides an overview of prevention of child abuse and neglect, with a focus on primary prevention. In particular, it details actions that can be undertaken at the community level to prevent child abuse and neglect before it happens.

Prevention of violence against women and safer pathways to services for migrant and refugee communities

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Family Violence, Report

This report from ANROWS covers research insights from the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Projects with Action Research (CALD PAR) initiative. In determining 'what works', researchers found that an intersectional and culturally safe approach to prevention and safer pathways work empowers CALD groups and individuals. This approach centres their voices and brings together communities and services to reduce violence.

Prioritising Possibilities for Child and Family Health: An Agenda to Address Adverse Childhood Experiences and Foster the Social and Emotional Roots of Well-being in Pediatrics

Early years, Safety and wellbeing

This paper takes a comprehensive look at the evidence relating to the negative health effects of adverse childhood experiences. Findings highlight the central role of positive family relationships, promoting resilience and establishing community partnerships in addressing adverse childhood experiences. The paper calls on key decision-makers, practitioners and community members to refocus on relationships and the regulation of emotion as a means of achieving overall health and wellbeing for children.

Prioritising safety at home report: 2017 survey results about domestic violence and renting in NSW

Family Violence

Women’s Legal Services NSW (WLSNSW) has recently released the Prioritising Safety at Home report which details experiences of domestic violence and renting in NSW from a 2017 WLSNSW survey. Drawing on data from the survey, the report’s authors argue that tenancy laws in NSW need to better support people experiencing domestic violence. Indeed, the report showed that 98% of participants had to leave their rental home because of domestic violence, and over half did not report the violence to the police.

Problem sexual behaviours and sexually abusive behaviours in Australian children and young people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

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.

Problematic and harmful sexual behaviours of children in schools

Education, Early years

The Royal Commission into Institutional Reponses to Child Sexual Abuse has released the Report of Case Study 45 -Problematic and harmful sexual behaviours of children in schools. The institutions publicly examined in this case were Trinity Grammar School, The King’s School and Shalom Christian College. The report inquired into the systems, policies, procedures and practices for responding to allegations of problematic or harmful sexual behaviours of children within those schools.

Productivity Commission: Report on government services

Policy Recommendations, Report

Part F of the Report on Government Services 2023 focuses on Community Services and assesses the performance of government child protective services. It provides updated data on key indicators including rates of kinship placements, government expenditure, and investigation response times.

Program Snapshots – Co-design with young people

This is a summary of a discussion held with Berry Street on 10/12/2021. Alice Lockrey from Berry Street discussed the importance of having young people co-design the services that are built for them.

Program Snapshots – Creative therapies via telehealth

This is a summary of a discussion held with Berry Street on 10/12/2021. Kate Richards from Berry Street discussed how the team at Berry Street have incorporated art therapy into their AVITH service delivery.

Program Snapshots – Initial Assessment Processes

This is a summary of a discussion held with Peninsula Health on 10/02/2022. Simon Bescoby and Christine Blakey of Peninsula Health discussed initial screening and assessment processes of the Keeping Families Safe program.

Promising Practice Guide: Improving the Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Severe and Complex Mental Health Needs

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Mental Health, Young People, Report

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.

Promoting Community-Led Responses to Violence Against Immigrant and Refugee Women in Metropolitan and Regional Australia. The ASPIRE Project: Key Findings and Future Directions

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Safety and wellbeing

ANROWS has released a state of knowledge paper exploring the nature of violence against immigrant and refugee women in Victoria and Tasmania. The report focuses on patterns of help-seeking and access to services. A number of challenges such as language barriers, cultural and social isolation and visa restrictions are faced by immigrant and refugee women and contribute to their experience of family violence. The report provides recommendations to policy-makers and practitioners to better prevent and respond to violence against immigrant and refugee women.

Promoting social and emotional learning in preschool: programs and practices that work

Education, Early years

In this brief, Pennsylvania State University summarises what is known about effective preschool social-emotional learning (SEL) programs and practices based on recent research studies. The studies presented in the brief support the use of SEL programs in preschool, with evidence of positive impacts on children’s development of SEL skills, their engagement with learning, interpersonal relationships and educational achievement. The paper identifies critical factors for success, such as supportive teacher-child interactions and effective engagement with parents.

Protecting Australia’s Children: Research and Evaluation Register, 2011-2015

Evaluation, Child maltreatment, Database

Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), the Protecting Australia's Children: Research and Evaluation Register is a searchable database of 943 research and evaluation projects conducted between 2011 and 2015. The Register provides a range of filtering options to enable easy access to recent research in the area of child protection.

Protection through participation: Involving children in child-safe organisations

Early years, Young People

This practitioner resource considers the nature and benefits of meaningful youth participation in child safety measures. It looks at tools and strategies that can help practitioners to talk to children about their own safety and some of the ways that institutions can respond. The resource highlights the need for organisation-wide commitment to children's participation for this to be successful.

Purpose, intent and adequacy of the Disability Support Pension

Report, Inquiry, Disability Support, Report

The Senate Community Affairs References Committee has released its inquiry report on the purpose, intent and adequacy of the Disability Support Pension (DSP). The committee found serious flaws with the DSP, its underlying policy framework, the way that it is administered, and how applicants are able to access it. The report makes 30 recommendations.

Quality is key in early childhood education in Australia


This report from the Mitchell Institute highlights the importance of providing quality early childhood education to Australian children. It shows that children who have the most to gain from high quality services— such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds—are less likely to access services than children from higher socio-economic families. A review of the evidence shows that quality in early learning is driven by educators who can provide effective learning opportunities (through explicit teaching of skills and concepts) and sustained and reciprocal interactions.

Quality of School Life – Adventure (Motivation) subscale (QSL)

Education, Journal article, Tool/toolkit

The QSL measures primary-school-aged students’ perceptions towards school against three dimensions, 1) general satisfaction with school 2) commitment to school work 3) attitudes towards teachers. Learn more about the QSL

This document developed by the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health outlines a number of principles and practices for engaging with young people. These were co-developed with a youth advisory group and seek to ensure a high quality of client engagement and service.

Quick Review Series – Telehealth

Technology, Literature Review

This quick review from CFECFW provides an overview of Telehealth as a well-established telepractice. It explores the potential of other telepractices being used currently in Victoria during COVID-19 and how well the telehealth model might be adapted to the social services or other community services.

Quick review series: Protecting children during the COVID-19 pandemic

Safety and wellbeing, COVID-19, Literature Review

This quick review from CFECFW looks at a webinar from the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action. The webinar discusses the protection of children during COVID-19 pandemic and shares lessons learnt from the child protection Ebola response. It also highlights key priorities and the way forward in the coming months.

In this ‘Kids Count’ policy report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the intersection of children, opportunity, race and immigration. It explores the significant barriers facing children in immigrant families, and offers recommendations to help children in immigrant families gain the stability, economic resources and opportunities they need to thrive. The 2017 policy report considers the early care and education needs of children in immigrant families, and the importance of keeping the family together.

Racism, racial discrimination and child and youth health: A rapid evidence synthesis

Young People, Report, Children, Data, Racism, Report, Database

Australian National University and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute have prepared this rapid evidence synthesis on racism and child and youth health. The report finds that children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of racism, including differential access to socioeconomic resources, increased exposure to risk factors for poor health, and by affecting behaviour and physiological and psychological wellbeing in ways that compromise health outcomes.


Rapid Case Study: Youth Leadership Program – Centre for Multicultural Youth

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Mental Health, Young People, Client Engagement, OPEN Resource

This case study sheds a light on the Youth Leadership Program Area at Centre for Multicultural Youth. It talks about principles and values which respect the views and abilities of young people from diverse backgrounds, and has transferable lessons for all kinds of youth participation models.


Rates of therapy use following a disclosure of child sexual abuse

Children, Literature Review, Therapy, Child Sexual Abuse, Literature Review

Child Family Community Australia has released this paper presenting findings from a systematic literature review on the rates of therapy referral, engagement and completion following a disclosure of child sexual abuse to police or child protection. The review found that many children are not receiving the benefits of therapy due to non-referral, not engaging when they are referred or non-completion. It also identified the need for data collection and increased research attention in this area.

Reaching potential: Experiences of young people with significant intellectual disability

Disability, Young People, Report, Report

This report from Social Ventures Australia investigates the experiences of young people with intellectual disability, focusing on those with more significant support needs. The study identified six themes: rich and diverse aspirations, a meaningful life of education, work and community participation, a secure future, a robust disability service system, healthy living, and community attitudes. The report identifies system gaps that are driving challenges for young people with intellectual disability and uses case studies to elevate their perspectives with the aim of driving systems change.

RECOVER – Reconnecting mothers and children after family violence: The child-parent psychotherapy pilot

Families and parenting, Evidence-Based Program, Report, Children, Intimate partner violence, Report

This report from ANROWS explores the feasibility of implementing child-parent psychotherapy (CPP), an evidence-based dyadic intervention, in the Australian context for children and their mothers affected by IPV. The state of knowledge review completed for this report identified very few evidence-based preventive treatments for mothers and children affected by IPV, especially in Australia. An evaluation of a pilot of CPP in Australia found that the program could be implemented under certain conditions and was highly acceptable to participants despite a range of identified implementation barriers. While there was evidence of some early outcomes, larger sample sizes and fully trained therapists are needed to assess effectiveness.