What works to improve young children’s social, emotional and behavioural wellbeing?

Children, Evidence Review, Health and Wellbeing, Intervention programs, Report

Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) and Emerging Minds have released this rapid evidence review identifying prevention and early intervention programs that effectively improve the social, emotional and behavioural health of children under 5 years of age at risk of poor outcomes. The review found that parenting programs are promising due to their ability to address multiple risk factors and their likely capacity to be delivered flexibly according to the needs and preferences of families and practitioners. The findings provide guidance for practitioners regarding which programs are most effective to address different types of risk factors.

Where is the village? Care leaver early parenting, social isolation and surveillance bias

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Journal article, Young People, Journal article

This article, published in the International Journal on Child Maltreatment, investigates care leaver early parenting in Victoria, Australia. The researchers interviewed service providers to gather insight into the factors that lead to a high prevalence of early parenting among care leavers, and the services that are available and necessary to assist young parents and their children. The study found that care leavers experience unique challenges arising from their care experience that impact their means to safely raise children, necessitating improved transition supports and parenting supports.

While you wait: Suggestions for service providers to support children and their families who are on waiting lists

Families and parenting, Mental Health, Children, Tool/toolkit

This short article from Emerging Minds offers advice for practitioners on how to support families and children while they are on the waiting list for specialist assessment or care for mental health issues. This piece was inspired by research into barriers and facilitators to early childhood mental health pathways in the Barwon region in southwest Victoria. One of the barriers identified was long wait times for appointments, and the following practices were suggested by professionals interviewed for this research.

Who are the persistently NEET young people?

Safety and wellbeing, Report

This research focuses on young people not in education, employment or training (NEET). It seeks to identify who falls into this group and for what reasons. The main characteristics associated with being persistently NEET are early school leaving and having children; particularly under the age of 20.The study suggests that Vocational Education and Training can provide an important pathway for some persistently NEET young people to gain meaningful and long-term employment.

Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre has released a paper that examines how the accommodation needs of unaccompanied children aged under 16 have been articulated and addressed across a number of Australian jurisdictions. The paper follows from an earlier release of ‘Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania’, which found that highly vulnerable teens struggle to find safe accommodation, and that a completed circle of care was needed to ensure they do not fall through the cracks. This iteration explores the policy, programs and services offered in other Australian states and territories which address the shortage of medium and long-term care for older children unable to return home.

This report by the Centre for Social Impact and National Australia Bank measures financial exclusion and resilience in Australia. Based on a nationwide survey of over 2000 people, key findings show that access to financial products and services has gotten worse, but understanding of and confidence in using financial services and products has increased. People living in very short-term rentals, born in a non-English speaking country, and with a mental illness were more likely to be in severe financial stress. The report calls for a concerted cross-sectoral response to improve financial resilience in Australia.

Women’s Input into a Trauma-informed Systems Model of Care in Health Settings: The WITH study: Key findings and future directions

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This ANROWS report presents a summary of the findings from the Women’s Input into a Trauma-informed systems model of care in Health settings (the WITH Study) and the implications for policy and practice. Based in Victoria and New South Wales, the study aims to inform our understanding of how to effectively promote and embed a trauma-informed organisational model of care that is responsive to the needs of women. The report identifies a range of factors that influence the implementation of a trauma-informed model of care, including workforce training and support, and improved information systems, among others.

Women’s specialist domestic and family violence services: Their responses and practices with and for Aboriginal women

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence

This report presents research undertaken with three women’s Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) specialist services. The focus is on the ways services respond to the culturally and context specific needs of Aboriginal women. It also explores how Indigenous women themselves (as workers, clients and community members) have acted to shape and influence the approaches of women’s specialist services. The review found no single voice among Aboriginal activists and academics, however, there is a recognisable appreciation for the vital role Aboriginal people have to play in leading or supporting new services for Aboriginal people.

Working together to keep children and families safe: Strategies for developing collaborative competence

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing, Tool/toolkit

This practice paper from AIFS focuses on improving cross-sectoral relationships between child protection and child and family welfare practitioners, who are often required to work together to keep children and families safe. This paper offers tips and techniques to build practitioners’ collaborative competence; that is, their skills in developing and sustaining effective cross-sectoral relationships in the many and varied circumstances of daily practice.

Working together to support children and families: Key findings from the Practice First evaluation

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Evaluation

Practice First is a child protection service delivery model introduced by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) in 2012. The model aimed to improve systems, practices and culture relating to assessment, decision-making and support of children reported at risk of significant harm (ROSH). This snapshot provides a summary of the findings from the formal evaluation of Practice First. The evaluation found that Practice First has enabled a shift in organisational culture towards more child-centred practice and improved engagement with children, carers and agencies.

The Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights has released three new publications to assist practitioners to provide culturally appropriate services and respond to the distinct concerns that may be held by young Muslim children. There are two booklets specific to workers: ‘Caring for Muslim children in out-of-home care’ and ‘Caring for Muslim children in foster care’.

The Inner North West Primary Care Partnership has led the development of a Workplace Family Violence Policy Template. Workplaces have a role to play in raising awareness about family violence, and creating a workplace culture that promotes safe, equitable and respectful gender relations. A comprehensive workplace family violence policy is a valuable tool to respond appropriately to family violence and communicate a whole of workplace commitment to preventing it. The template aims to support organisations to develop and implement family violence policies within their own workplaces.

You can’t live without it: Girls’ rights in a digital world

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, Young People, Technology

Plan International have released findings from a survey of 1,002 young people aged 11-18 in the UK, exploring girls’ access to their rights in the digital space, and whether current rights frameworks adequately protect them. It finds that 48% of girls have experienced some form of harassment or abuse on social media and 73% have taken specific actions to avoid being criticised online. The report provides recommendations for improving the situation for young people experiencing online harassment.

Young people with acquired brain injury: Preventing entrenchment in the criminal justice system

Youth Justice, Young People, Health and Wellbeing

AIC has released this paper investigating whether young people with acquired brain injury (ABI) are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and looking at how the system responds to their needs. The study found that young people with ABI are very likely to be overrepresented, however the true extent is unclear due to low levels of diagnosis and identification. Further findings and proposals are detailed in the report.

Young Service Users from Refugee Backgrounds: Their Perspectives on Barriers to Accessing Australian Mental Health Services

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Mental Health, Young People

This article examines the barriers to accessing mental health services from the perspective of young people with a refugee background. To improve understanding of the issues, researchers interviewed 16 young people with a refugee background who had been in contact with mental health services in Australia. Factors such as Unfamiliarity with the service system, social exclusion and stigma are discussed as potential barriers to accessing mental health services.

Young voices of the pandemic: Youth survey COVID-19 report 2020

Young People, Report, COVID-19, Report

Mission Australia has released this report analysing the qualitative data from the 2020 youth survey for young people who cited COVID-19 as the biggest issue they had been facing. The analysis found that the areas of most concern for these young people were COVID’s impact on education, isolation and mental health.

This guide from Youth Power explains how to measure youth engagement, and why this is an important part of working with young people. It also discusses a number of specific indicators of youth engagement, and links to tools that can help you measure these.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has released updated fact sheets on Victoria’s Youth Justice System. The fact sheets look at the backgrounds of young people in the justice system, and highlight the disproportionate number of young people from rural and regional areas or from Indigenous backgrounds being incarcerated. Indeed, an Indigenous young person in Victoria aged 10–17 was 13 times as likely as a non-Indigenous young person to be under youth justice supervision.

Youth Justice in Australia 2015–16

Youth Justice, Young People

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a report on youth justice, presenting youth justice data for the period 2015-16. The report is accompanied by eight fact sheets, profiling youth justice supervision in each state and territory. Interestingly, the rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day was lowest in Victoria at 14 per 10,000. The report also highlights that around 5,500 young people were under supervision in 2015–16, down from almost 7,000 in 2011–12. Young Indigenous people were 17 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be under supervision on an average day.

Youth Justice Review and Strategy: Meeting needs and reducing offending

Youth Justice

The Victorian Government has released a comprehensive independent review of the Victorian Youth Justice System. The review provides a detailed account of the young people who are currently in the Victorian youth justice system, and the significant challenges currently facing the system. Currently, the reviewers note, just 1 per cent of youth justice investment is allocated to early intervention programs and 3 per cent to court-based diversion and restorative justice. The review highlights the need to draw on the evidence base and refocus on the needs of young offenders, and their rehabilitation.

Youth Leading Community Change: An Evaluation Toolkit

Evaluation, Young People, Tool/toolkit

This practical toolkit is designed to engage young people to evaluate and measure the impact of youth projects. It has been developed by Evaluation Access using resources and activities from Girl Scouts of the United States of America, the National 4-H Council, and the National FFA Organization. There are a number of creative activities and handouts to support young people to plan, develop, and implement community projects.

Mission Australia’s Youth Mental Health and Homelessness Report presents findings from the Mission Australia Youth Survey. It shows that poor family functioning and serious mental illness are factors that significantly impact the risk of homelessness for young Australians aged 15-19 years. Findings include those with a probable serious mental illness are 3.5 times more likely to have spent time away from home than those without a probable serious mental illness.

Mission Australia has released the 20th annual report in a series exploring the values, aspirations and concerns of young people in Australia. The 2021 survey received 20,207 responses from young people aged 15-19 years. The study found that young people consider COVID-19, the environment, and equity and discrimination as the key issues Australia needs to address.

Youth-Adult Partnership in Evaluation: A Resource Guide For Translating Research Into Practice

Evaluation, Young People, Tool/toolkit

This guide has a series of “tip sheets” that identify practical ways to conduct a youth-adult partnership evaluation project. The tip sheets talk about various “leverage points” or those key processes and moments in implementation that can influence the outcomes of projects. It also provides tips on creating a culture of evaluation in an organisation, developing the right evaluation questions and practical and youth-friendly data collection/analysis strategies.

‘No more excuses’: Primary prevention of violence against women with disability

Disability, Report, Violence against women, Report

The University of Melbourne has released this report investigating the current state of knowledge on the extent and nature of violence against women with disability in Australia, and on ‘what works’ to prevent violence from happening. The study found that the evidence base on ‘what works’ is small. Disability service settings, disability support workers and educational settings were identified by women with disability as the settings with the most promise for primary prevention action.

‘Supported, educated and understood’: ReachOut’s impact on the wellbeing of young people living in regional, rural and remote Australia

Mental Health, Young People, Rural, Support Services, Report

This report from ReachOut Australia evaluates the effectiveness of ReachOut’s tailored and targetd support services for regional, rural and remote young people and assesses whether it has contributed to improvements in their mental health and wellbeing. The research found that young people perceive support from ReachOut to be relevant, engaging and validating. It also found that the support provides a space to connect with other rural young people and plays a role in enabling young people to take further action to support their mental health.

‘Whatever it takes’: Access for women with disabilities to domestic and family violence services: Key findings and future directions

Disability, Family Violence

This ANROWS paper aims to help tertiary services respond more effectively to the needs of women with disabilities. Drawing upon the experiences of women with disabilities who have used domestic and family violence services, and a survey of service providers, the report sets out a number of recommendations. Recommendations include greater promotion of access, cross sector collaboration and inclusion of the views and experiences of women with a disability and experiencing family violence in service design.

‘You going to uni?’ Exploring how people from regional, rural and remote areas navigate into and through higher education

Education, Report, Student Wellbeing, Regional Rural and Remote Areas, Report

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin University and the University of Wollongong have released this report investigating risks to university completion for students from regional, rural and remote locations of Australia. Drawing on interviews and surveys with university students, the study found that key enablers of university completion included individual strengths and qualities, strong networks of support from family and community, and belongingness and connectedness.

“It depends on what the definition of domestic violence is”: How young Australians conceptualise domestic violence and abuse

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, Young People, Children, Abuse, Domestic Violence

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has released this report exploring young people’s understandings of domestic violence, which builds upon insights gained from the 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey. Many new insights and findings were found and are detailed in this report.

“They thought it was safe – but it wasn’t”: Recognising children’s rights as a means of securing children’s safety in Australia’s family law system

Family Violence, Client Experience, Children, Adolescents, Family Law

This report from the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University outlines the findings of a multiple case study project with adult victim-survivors of family violence whose parents went to court when they were children. The study found many common themes and includes recommendations to minimise harm to children in family courts, underpinned by a child right’s approach.

“Your behaviour has consequences”: Children and young people’s perspectives on reparation with their fathers after domestic violence

Family Violence, Journal article

This paper from Katie Lamb, Cathy Humphreys and Kelsey Hegarty (University of Melbourne) presents findings from qualitative research undertaken in Australia with children and young people who have experienced domestic violence aged 9 to 19 years. It explores children and young people's perspectives on fathering in the context of domestic violence as well as the key messages they believe fathers who attend a program to address their violence need to know. This paper will focus on some of the findings of the study, with a particular focus on the issue of reparation which was identified as a strong theme in children and young people's accounts.