This keynote by Tom McBride was given at an event co-hosted by CFECFW and Berry Street. It discusses the formation of the Early Intervention Foundation in the UK, and gives an overview of their purpose, evidence standards and how they approach early intervention work across a range of areas.

The effects of pornography on children and young people

Safety and wellbeing, Report

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has released a report looking at the impact of exposure to and consumption of online pornography on children and young people. The report synthesises the existing research to draw out consistent themes and identify promising approaches to addressing the harms of online pornography.

The Australian government has released a short guide for educators and other practitioners working with young people on how to highlight and dismantle stereotypes and language that is potentially damaging to both genders. The guide points out that phrases like ‘boys will be boys’ can normalise aggression and teach girls to expect to be treated in this way. The guide is part of a wider campaign that aims to change attitudes surrounding domestic violence and gender equality.

The first thousand days: An evidence paper

Early years

A report by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute examines the impact of early experiences on different aspects of development and functioning, including health and wellbeing, mental health, social functioning and cognitive development. The report finds disadvantage can be passed down through the generations at a cellular level. New evidence included in the report underscores the significance of the first thousand days, and of the need to reform policies, practices and systems in response.

The first year of Covid-19: Initial outcomes of our collective care for low-income children in Aotearoa New Zealand

Poverty, Report, Children, COVID-19, Data, New Zealand, Report

Child Poverty Action Group has released this report reviewing available data sources to determine the impacts of the pandemic and government action/inaction on low-income children in New Zealand. A key finding is that tamariki Māori were 2.5 to 3 times more likely than Pākehā (white) children to have been pushed into poverty in the year prior to March 2021. The report concludes that structural investments by government are needed to ensure the long-term wellbeing of children and their families and must centre Māori guidance.

The Hard Road: National economic & social impact survey 2017

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

The Salvation Army has released the findings from its sixth annual Economic and Social Impact Survey (ESIS). The national survey explores the challenges experienced by those who access the Salvation Army’s Emergency Relief (ER) services. It shows that the top three day-to-day challenges faced by individuals and families include being able to afford enough food to eat, managing mental health and emotional wellbeing, and managing financial stress. Homelessness and housing stress were also important themes that emerged from the study, with 44% of respondents having moved house at least three times in the past 12 months and 66% experiencing extreme housing stress.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey

Families and parenting

The latest report of the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey has been released by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. The annual report explores seven topics: family life; economic wellbeing; labour market outcomes; retirement; gambling; young home-owners and; attitudes to marriage, parenting and work. The longitudinal study aims to tell the stories of the same group of Australians over the course of their lives. Among other findings, the cost of childcare was shown to have a profound impact on families in recent years, with costs increasing by 104 per cent for single income families and 75 per cent for couples since 2002.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey: Selected findings from waves 1 to 19

Report, Data, Survey, Economic Wellbeing, Family Life, Report

The Melbourne Institute has released the 16th annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey report. The data and findings are presented using the following topics: households and family life, household economic wellbeing, the labour market, unpaid work, housing mobility, psychological distress, retirement, time stress, self-control, and attitudes towards marriage, parenting and work. A key finding is that women continue to do more unpaid work than men, however the gap has reduced since 2002.

The impact of childhood abuse: What can we learn from neuroscience?

This article from the UK National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) discusses the theory of latent vulnerability and how a new clinical tool could help children’s mental health. The article summarises the concept of ‘latent vulnerability’ based on research relating to abuse and neglect affect brain functioning. A preventative clinical approach is discussed, as it offers a framework through which we can identify and assist children at risk of health issues in the future.

The impacts of child sexual abuse: A rapid evidence assessment

Child maltreatment

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published a summary report of the existing evidence for the impact of child sexual abuse. The report shows that child sexual abuse is associated with an increased risk of negative outcomes in all areas of victims and survivors’ lives, and can play out at any stage of the survivor’s life. The report also highlights some gaps in the existing literature, including the impact of child sexual assault on older survivors, minority ethnic groups, and on lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people.

The journey to evidence: Adopting evidence-based programs in an Australian child welfare organization

Evidence-Based Program, Children, Case Study, Journal article, Case Study

This article published in Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance outlines a case study on the adoption and implementation of evidence-based programs by OzChild. The case study draws on interviews with organisational leaders and managers to identify strategies, decision-making processes and challenges faced during the adoption of evidence-based programs.

The lifelong health and wellbeing trajectories of people who have been in care: Findings from the Looked-after Children Grown Up Project

Report, Data, Kinship Care, Report

This report from Amanda Sacker and colleagues investigates inequalities in outcomes among adults with care experience by examining health and social functioning in mid-life using longitudinal data from the Office for National Statistics. The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that kinship care was associated with better outcomes in adulthood than foster care.

The management of disclosure in children’s accounts of domestic violence: Practices of telling and not telling

Family Violence

This paper considers the reflections of children and young people on their experiences of disclosing domestic violence. It draws from interviews with 107 children and young people across Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK. The accounts included in the report highlight the constraints placed on children and young people’s capacity for articulation and self-expression, and the creative ways that they have been able to disclose what is happening within their families. Importantly, it emphasises children’s capacity for agency in situations of domestic violence.

The New Work Smarts: Thriving in the new work order

Youth Justice

The Foundation for Young Australians has released a report exploring the changing face of work. Drivers such as automation, flexible work arrangements and globalisation mean that the skills required by workers in the future will be very different from those of today. The report predicts that 77 per cent more time will be spent using science and mathematics skills, and that skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and digital literacy will be critical. The report suggests that Australia’s education system, from preschool through to higher education, needs to adapt to adequately prepare young people for work.

The opportunities, risks and possibilities of social impact investment for housing and homelessness

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing

This report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) investigates the opportunities and risks for social impact investments to improve housing and homelessness outcomes. It examines alternative finance models and presents case studies of social impact investment. The report highlights that the social impact investment market is still in its infancy and consequently the evidence base is limited.

The paradigm shifters: Entrepreneurial learning in schools

Education, Report

This Mitchell Institute report presents the background, design and findings from an innovative initiative called The paradigm shifters: Entrepreneurial learning in schools. It draws together international evidence to develop an understanding entrepreneurial education and its benefits. Global and digital transformations are creating both challenges and opportunities in terms of changing the way we learn, and creating new possibilities for students. This report showcases the Australian schools that are already adapting approaches to education to ensure that students access the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in an increasingly complex education and employment environment.

The pathways between natural disasters and violence against children: A systematic review

Family Violence, Children, Evidence Based Decision Making, Journal article, Literature Review

This article, published in BMC Health, examines the pathways between natural disasters and violence against children using a systematic review process. The study found five pathways between natural disasters and violence against children, including: environmentally induced changes in supervision, accompaniment, and child separation; transgression of social norms in post-disaster behaviour; economic stress; negative coping with stress; and insecure shelter and living conditions. The findings are intended to inform targeted prevention services.

The PIPA project: Positive Interventions for Perpetrators of Adolescent violence in the home (AVITH)

Youth Justice, Family Violence, Report

This report from ANROWS contributes to an understanding of adolescent violence in the home (AVITH) and explores the development of a considered systemic response. It is drawn from a 2 year study that included a literature review, stakeholder engagement, interviews and focus groups with practitioners and reviews of 385 legal case files to examine the legal responses to AVITH in three jurisdictions: Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.

The place of kindness: Combating loneliness and building stronger communities

Safety and wellbeing

This is not a traditional research project though draws on relevant evidence. The Carnegie UK Trust, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has launched a report looking at how we can encourage kinder communities. The Trusts worked with seven community organisations in Scotland to test what could be done to encourage kindness in communities. The report includes powerful examples of kindness affecting change and supporting the wellbeing of communities and individuals alike.

The power of teacher expectations

Education

This analysis of survey data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), conducted by the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, investigates the effects of differences in teacher expectations on students’ likelihood of completing college. It finds that teacher expectations matter significantly, with college completion rates systematically higher for students whose teachers had higher expectations for them. The data also reveals clear disparities in the expectations that teachers have for students of different races.

Child abuse and neglect can take many different forms. This resource sheet discusses the different forms that child abuse and neglect may take, including physical abuse, neglect, emotional maltreatment, exposure to family violence, and sexual abuse. There are significant gaps in Australian research into the prevalence of the different forms of child abuse and neglect, and to date; there has been no comprehensive, nationwide study into its prevalence. To try and fill this knowledge gap, the paper provides a review of ten Australian studies that have examined the prevalence of child maltreatment in its different forms.

The road to adulthood: Aligning child welfare practice with adolescent brain development

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This paper published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the most recent research on adolescent brain development, and how to address issues of trauma and racism in the lives of young people in care. Particularly with this vulnerable cohort, practitioners must have an understanding of the role of trauma and racism in shaping their life experiences. Further, they must be equipped with effective strategies for helping young people to make sense of their experiences and develop strategies for healing and growth. This paper provides recommendations for child welfare professionals, carers and systems to utilise this research to work effectively with youth living in, or leaving care.

The same four walls: Isolation, separation and lockdowns in the Victorian Youth Justice System

Young People, Child maltreatment

This inquiry undertaken by Victoria’s Commission for Children and Young People considers the use of isolation, separation and lockdown practices in Victorian youth justice facilities. The review highlights issues of understaffing, poor transparency and extensive use of restrictive practices, particularly in the period between February 2015 and July 2016. The report makes a series of recommendations to improve practices, including adequate response to mental health needs, sufficient staffing, and compliance with policy and legislation design to protect children.

Three Principles to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families: 2021 Update

Early years, Families and parenting, Report

This report from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University outlines three key design principles that policymakers and practitioners in many different sectors can use to improve outcomes for children and families. To be maximally effective, policies and services should: 1. Support responsive relationships for children and adults. 2. Strengthen core skills for planning, adapting, and achieving goals. 3. Reduce sources of stress in the lives of children and families. The report explains why these three principles are important, and how to translate these into effective policy design.

Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania

Families and parenting, Young People

This report from the Social Action and Research Centre, Anglicare Tasmania, explores young people’s high level of vulnerability as a key social justice issue facing Tasmania. Drawing on the narratives of young people, service providers and government services, this paper brings to the fore the experiences of young people (10-17 years old) who have lived through extreme hardship, unstable home lives and complex trauma. The report includes recommendations for key changes to how the experiences and needs of young people are both represented and responded to.

Towards an adaptive education system in Australia

Education, Report

In its new discussion paper, the Grattan Institute argues that we need to rethink the ways that we are teaching students, supporting teachers and running schools. It argues that we need to create an education system that adapts and improves over time, and supports the translation of a growing body of research about what works best, into daily classroom practice. It proposes six ways Australia can make its education system more adaptive, thereby improving outcomes for children.

Trajectories in Online Child Sexual Exploitation Offending in Australia

Safety and wellbeing, Report

This study looks at data relating to a sample of offenders convicted of online child sexual exploitation offences. It aims to discover if and how online forms of child sexual exploitation and offline child sexual exploitation are linked. The majority of offenders included in this study committed only online offences, although in a small number of cases there was a correlation between exploitative material, grooming and contact offending. This work is an important first step in understanding the nature of online child exploitation and how it relates to other forms of abuse.

Transitioning to adulthood from out-of-home care: Independence or interdependence?

Safety and wellbeing, Young People, Children

This newly released report from CREATE Foundation examines young people’s views of life in care across Australia. A total of 325 young people were interviewed or completed a survey. The data identified five major challenges: support for transitioning, issues with caseworkers, issues with carers, placement stability and safety, and involvement in decision making.

Tri-Peaks Literature Review on Effective Collaboration Between Non-Government organisations

Families and parenting, Collaboration, Interagency Collaboration, Literature Review

This summary report from the Tri-Peaks Initiative highlights the key elements of effective collaboration between non-government organisations. It summarises the key enablers to collaboration, as well as the barriers that prevent collaboration (and some of the possible solutions to these). It also outlines the literature on how to measure the impact of these collaborations on the lives outcomes for children, young people and families. The Tri-Peaks Initiative 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).

Tri-peaks webinar: Voice Of The Client Framework And Implementation Tool

Client Engagement, Client Experience, Conference presentation

In this webinar Sarah Bendall (DFFH) gave an overview of the Client voice framework for community services and how it helps to ensure the quality and safety of community services for everybody, every time. This webinar also included a panel of representatives from across community services who are passionate about client voice and will share some practical examples and ideas about how to engage clients well.

Understanding and applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child placement principle: A resource for legislation, policy, and program development

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Safety and wellbeing

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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Families and parenting

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.

Understanding Bullying: From School to the Workplace

Education

This online book outlines what is currently known about schools as settings for bullying and school-based interventions. It considers the different ways in which students cope with bullying and reflects on the role of parents and teachers in helping to combat bullying within this context.

Understanding child outcomes within a multiple risk model: examining parental incarceration

Families and parenting, Mental Health

Research has shown that parental incarceration has a significant impact on child outcomes. This study aims to develop a more nuanced understanding of risk and how it manifests itself in outcomes for children and families. It suggests that risk factors such as parental incarceration should not be considered in isolation. Other factors such as parental mental illness are shown to be significant indicators of negative outcomes for children. The complex ways in which these risk factors interact have significant implications for policy and practice, particularly in relation to case management services intended to address ongoing needs.

Understanding safeguarding practices for children with disability when engaging with organisations

Disability

People with a disability are considered one of the groups most vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. This Practitioner Resource discusses safeguarding strategies to prevent abuse and neglect of children with disabilities. It calls for comprehensive change on cultural, institutional and policy levels to ensure the rights to protection for children and young people with a disability are realised and sustained.

A new study from Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) attempts to quantify the value of unpaid work in Australia. The report values Australia’s unpaid economy at $2.2 trillion. Childcare makes up the largest proportion of unpaid work at 24.6 percent. Women complete 76% of childcare and 72% of unpaid work. Women also undertake 67% of domestic work, 69% of care of adults and 57% of volunteering. Assigning a value to unpaid childcare – valued at more than $345bn in Australia – is an important step in encouraging governments and employers to factor it into their planning.

UNICEF Toolkit: Useful Tools for Engaging Young People in Participatory Evaluation

Evaluation, Young People, Tool/toolkit

UNICEF developed this toolkit in 2005 to increase young people's participation in evaluation of projects in Europe and Central Asia. There are a number of evaluation tools/methods with ethical and practical guidelines to engage children and young people. There are also a number of energizers and ice-breakers to facilitate group sessions with children and young people where they can safely voice their opinions. Each tool and activity has a detailed set of instructions to guide the facilitator through the process.

Unpacking the Man Box: What is the impact of the Man Box attitudes on young Australian men’s behaviours and well-being?

Family Violence, Young People, Report

This study from Jesuit Social Services quantifies the unique influence of young men’s personal endorsement of the 'Man Box' masculinity pillars on different areas of their lives including mental health, substance use, relationships and violent/bullying behaviour. This is the second stage of this research, and involved surveying a large sample of 1,000 young men aged 18-30. The findings show how endorsement of hyper-masculine norms can effect young men's behaviours and life outcomes, and makes several recommendations for future research and policy in this area.

Unpacking the theory and practice of system change

Early years, Collaboration, Conference presentation

These webinar slides, developed by Kerry Graham for ARACY, outline the theory and practice of system change - including why it is needed and where are the best points to intervene. While this webinar was held in preparation for the 2020 National Early Years summit, the slides will provide a useful introduction to the key concepts of systems change (incorporating some great explanatory images) for a wider audience in child and family services. 

In this seminar, Professor John Lynch and Dr Rhiannon Pilkington from the University of Adelaide discuss recent large-scale data projects in South Australia and Victoria that have informed child protection policy and practice.Professor Lynch explains how big data and epidemiology can be used to inform government, non-government and community organisations to answer important policy questions.

Valuing Australia’s community sector: Better contracting for capacity, sustainability and impact

Report, Community Services, Focus Groups, Report

This report from the University of NSW Sydney, commissioned by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), draws on focus groups with 35 sector leaders to examine the experiences of the community services sector during early 2021. A key finding was that, despite their essential work being recognised during the pandemic, organisations continue to experience financial insecurity that constrains their capacity to make a difference.

Victorian Ombudsman Report: Youth Justice Facilities at the Grevillea Unit of Barwon Prison, Malmsbury and Parkville (2017)

Youth Justice

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass recently released a report on Victoria’s youth justice facilities in Malmsbury, Parkville and the Grevillea Unit at Barwon Prison. The report details the deterioration of conditions at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre in November and December of 2016, including young people being kept in their rooms up to 23 hours per day, beds without mattresses or bedding, and no toilet paper or clean clothing. The conditions at Grevillea Youth Justice Centre are equally concerning, with reports of an excessive amount of time in lockdown, limited or zero access to visitors, and lack of information provided to young people about their transfer. The Ombudsman highlights staff shortages and overcrowding as contributing to the failure of these facilities. The report calls on the Victorian government to focus on long-term reform and the rehabilitation of these young people.

Violence against Women in Australia: An Overview of Research and Approaches to Primary Prevention

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing

VicHealth has released a paper synthesising the most up-to-date research examining violence against women in Australia and its prevention. It presents data relating to the prevalence of violence against women, the related health, social and economic repercussions, and contemporary responses to violence against women. The paper is strongly focused on the evidence relating to primary prevention with examples of promising approaches.

VPS Evaluation Network Lunch and Learn Session: Lived experience/client voice in evaluation

Evaluation, Client Engagement, Client Experience, Webinar

This webinar from the Victorian Public Service Evaluation Network 'Lunch and Learn' series featured presentations from Helen Casey (Department of Justice and Community Safety) and Jacqueline Storey and Sharika Jeyakumar (Victoria Legal Aid) speaking about the importance of lived experience and client voice in their evaluation practice, with a focus on family violence as a case study for their reflections. Click the external link to view a video recording of this session, or use the download link to access the presentation slides.

Vulnerable birth mothers and recurrent care proceedings

Early years

The Nuffield Foundation has published a summary report looking at vulnerable birth mothers in England who have had their children repeatedly removed from their care. Findings found that of the sample of 354 mothers: 66% of mothers had experienced neglect in their childhood; 52% suffered physical abuse; 53% were sexually abused and 54% of the mothers had spent time in out of home care as a child. More often than not, these mothers have experienced significant and overlapping adverse experiences in their own childhoods.

Webinar: Preparing young people to leave care during COVID-19

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

This webinar from Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) explored the potential impact of COVID-19 on young care leavers, and strategies to strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing. It reflected on past CFCA presentations and current responses in considering what may help support young care leavers during this pandemic. Recognising the increased risks of social isolation and psychological stress, presenters discussed strategies to strengthen young people’s social capital and improve their social and emotional wellbeing.

Welfare-to-work interventions and their effects on the mental and physical health of lone parents and their children

Families and parenting, Mental Health, low income

A new Cochrane Review has been released, reviewing large welfare-to-work studies conducted in the US with the aim of uncovering their health effects. It examines a series of welfare-to-work studies, comparing the health outcomes for single parents who were in welfare-to-work interventions with single parents who were not. Although some policy makers have traditionally argued that welfare-to-work policies have positive health benefits, the findings of this review indicate that there is likely to be little to no effect on health.