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
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
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.
Webinar: Using Indigenous research methodologies to end domestic and family violence
ANROWS is hosting a panel discussion featuring First Nations researchers in domestic and family violence. The webinar delves into the utilisation of Indigenous research methodologies to shape culturally appropriate policy and practice responses.
Welfare-to-work interventions and their effects on the mental and physical health of lone parents and their children
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.
What contributes to placement moves in out-of-home care?
Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) has released this scoping review of local and international evidence examining the factors that influence placement moves for children in out-of-home care. Factors found to increase the risk of a placement move include the age at which a child first enters care and the presence of externalising behaviour. CFCA found kinship care to be a factor that reduces the risk of placement moves. The paper identifies a lack of evidence on factors influencing placement moves relating specifically to Aboriginal children.
What have we learned about good social work systems and practice?
The Rees Centre has published a report looking at what we have learned from the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme (UK) about good social work systems and practice in children’s social care. The report examines 17 social work projects and their impacts on families and children. Key components of good social work practice included the skills and confidence to work directly with families, the ability to engage the whole family, and cultural competence.
What is known about the placement and outcomes of siblings in foster care: An international literature review
This report has been published by the Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, University of Oxford. It synthesises the findings from studies that have examined factors associated with the decisions to place children together with, or apart from, siblings. It considers the evidence of a range of outcomes for joint or separate foster placements.
What works in effective Indigenous community-managed programs and organisations
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
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.
Which programs reduce maltreatment and improve safety for vulnerable children?
The Western Sydney University review of 25 programs on reducing maltreatment of vulnerable children identified effective models and common components, such as flexible engagement, relationship-building, parental capacity development, and strong case management, providing valuable insights for practitioners.
While you wait: Suggestions for service providers to support children and their families who are on waiting lists
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.
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.
Who cares? Supported accommodation for unaccompanied children
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.
Who uses domestic, family, and sexual violence, how, and why?
The Queensland University of Technology report addresses domestic, family, and sexual violence, focusing on perpetrator-related aspects often overlooked in national data. It explores risk factors, behaviour patterns, self-report data, and research gaps, providing valuable insights to guide prevention and reduction efforts effectively.
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
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
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
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
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.
WRAP around families experiencing AVITH: Towards a collaborative service response
ANROWS conducted a study on the WRAP around families project, which aimed to create a framework for addressing adolescent family violence. The study identified practice and system challenges, as well as emerging promising practices in the sector. This research is relevant to practitioners working with families affected by adolescent violence and provides valuable insights for improving interventions and support.
You can’t live without it: Girls’ rights in a digital world
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.
You can’t pour from an empty cup: Strengthening our service and systems responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people who experience domestic and family violence
This ANROWS research report aims to develop a culturally safe practice framework for professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families experiencing domestic violence. It highlights the need for improved responses to intergenerational trauma and greater focus on healing to reduce distress among children and young people. The report is valuable for practitioners seeking to enhance their support with trauma-informed and culturally responsive approaches.
Young people under youth justice supervision and their interaction with the child protection system 2020–21
Linked data analysis by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that over 50% of youth justice-involved young people had previous contact with the child protection system. Additionally, 1 in 4 detained young people had prior experience in out-of-home care. This underscores the interconnectedness of these systems and the need for comprehensive support.
Young people with acquired brain injury: Preventing entrenchment in the criminal justice system
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 people’s perspectives on online hate, unwanted sexual content, and ‘unrealistic’ body- and appearance-related content: Implications for resilience and digital citizenship
This article, published in MDPI, explores the perspectives of young people in England aged 13 to 21 in relation to online harms and how they respond to harmful content. The study found many ways young people interact with the online world and what this means for resilience-building approaches.
Young Service Users from Refugee Backgrounds: Their Perspectives on Barriers to Accessing Australian Mental Health Services
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
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.
Young, in love and in danger: Teen domestic violence and abuse in Tasmania
Anglicare Tasmania's report addresses the experiences of adolescent girls under 18 facing intimate partner violence. It includes firsthand accounts from 17 teen girls, explores the social context, prevalence, impacts, and offers prevention and response recommendations.
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.
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.
The latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare presents data on young people under youth justice supervision in 2021-2022. It highlights significant variations in supervision rates across states and territories. The report provides valuable insights into youth justice supervision in the Australian and international contexts. Relevant for practitioners in the field of youth justice and policy.
Youth Justice Review and Strategy: Meeting needs and reducing offending
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
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 Work Matters Social Return on Investment Study
This Youth Affairs Council Victoria and Deloitte Access Economics report collaboratively gathered insights into the monetary and social impacts of youth work programs in Victoria. This report strengthens the evidence of the collective impact of youth work programs in Victoria.
Youth Work Matters Social Return on Investment Study
The Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to conduct a social and economic return on investment (SROI) to understand the impact of youth work in Victoria and strengthen the evidence base to inform policy decisions. The report covers mental health and wellbeing, education and employment, housing, and interaction with the justice system, and highlights the crucial role that youth work plays in improving the lives of young people in Victoria.
Youth-Adult Partnership in Evaluation: A Resource Guide For Translating Research Into Practice
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.
Youthlaw Legal Pod Program – Summary of evaluation findings
This poster reports on Youthlaw's Legal Pod program, a unique initiative that brings together pro-bono private lawyers to provide legal advice and support to young people leaving care for upto 3 years. OPEN completed the evaluation for this project and reported some excellent outcomes and benefits.
This report from the National Disability Insurance Agency describes the findings of a study on participant experiences, including major barriers and enablers to community participation. A mix-methods approach was used with participants, families and carers and frontline staff. Findings are detailed in the report.
‘I Had to Take a Casual Contract and Work One Day a Week’: Students’ experiences of lengthy university placements as drivers of precarity
This article, published in Work, Employment and Society, presents the results of a survey of social work students at an Australian university who undertook a lengthy unpaid placement as part of their study. The study shows that these students faced increased workforce precarity and it also created major restrictions on their ability to work while studying. Further findings are detailed in this article.
‘It’s hell’: How inadequate income support is causing harm
ACOSS's report on rising living costs for Australians on income support reveals worsened mental health, increased suicidal ideation, inadequate nutrition and healthcare access, and housing challenges. This has implications for practitioners working with vulnerable populations, emphasising the need for improved income support and addressing related health and social issues.
‘No more excuses’: Primary prevention of violence against women with disability
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
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.