ANROWS has released this report containing a detailed examination of the relationship between economic insecurity and intimate partner violence (IPV) and investigates whether risk factors relating to economic insecurity have been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The research found that, consistent with other Australian and international research, there was clear evidence that the acute economic stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic were associated with the onset and escalation of IPV.
Economic volatility in childhood and subsequent adolescent mental health problems: a longitudinal population-based study of adolescents
The aim of this paper was to explore the relationship between exposure to low family income during childhood, and symptoms of mental health problems in adolescence. By using a range of outcome measures, the researchers determined that exposure to poverty in childhood was found to be associated with most mental health problems in adolescence, suggesting the need for targeted early interventions to support families to overcome poverty.
Educate Australia fair? Education inequality in Australia
New research from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre assesses the extent to which Australians are afforded equal opportunity through education, according to key demographics. The report identifies stark contrasts between the most and least disadvantaged in families in Australia. For example, Aboriginal children are 40% less likely to finish high school than non-Aboriginal children, and children born in remote Australia are one third as likely to go to university, compared to children born in a major city.
Education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
In 2007, the Commonwealth, states and territories agreed to work towards ‘closing the gap’ in various domains of Indigenous disadvantage. This audit assesses whether Queensland is reducing the gap in education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The audit findings show that the Department of Education and Training (DET) has improved Year 12 attainment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. However, this has not been translated into improvement in employment rates for young people. The audit describes DETs ongoing challenges to improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and highlights the centrality of community involvement and cultural recognition in schools.
Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators provides comprehensive data on the state of education around the world. The publication examines quality of learning outcomes; provides information about the financial and human resources invested in education; access and participation in education; and the learning environment and organisation of schools. The report includes all 35 OECD countries and a number of partner countries These indicators can be compared internationally and used to assist governments to develop more effective and equitable education systems.
Education Endowment Foundation – Teaching and Learning Toolkit
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is an independent charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. This resource features evidence summaries, tools, projects and case studies.
Educational engagement of children and young people in out of home care in NSW
This report from the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (ACWA) gives a snapshot of the level of engagement in education of children and young people in out-of-home care in New South Wales. Children living in OOHC experience higher levels of educational disengagement. One in five school-aged children and young people in care are absent from school at any given time and one in three school-aged children and young people in care did not have an Individual Education Plan.
Educational opportunity for all: Overcoming inequality throughout the life course
According to a new OECD report, too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds are falling behind in education and being disadvantaged in the future job market. Only a few OECD countries offer people from disadvantaged backgrounds equal opportunity to succeed as their more well-off peers, including Japan, Korea and the Netherlands. To address this level of inequality, investment in good quality early childhood education and care is needed, especially for children from disadvantaged families.
Educators’ understanding of young children’s typical and problematic sexual behaviour and their training in this area
A new research report investigating primary school teachers’ experiences with children's problematic sexual behaviours has been released. The report reveals that many teachers feel that they need more support and training to identify and respond to problematic sexual behaviour in children. Eighty-nine per cent of teachers surveyed felt there should be a specific course to better prepare them for these incidences.
This Learning Policy Institute report details key elements of effective professional development programs. It offers robust descriptions of high-quality programs to inform education leaders and policymakers who want to use professional development to improve student learning outcomes.
Effectively engaging stakeholders and the public in developing violence prevention messages
This study explores the ways in which stakeholders and the wider public can be effectively engaged when developing and communicating violence prevention messages. It emphasises the need for clear and consistent messaging, and evidence informed approach informed by past experiences.
The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office has released this report examining the Department of Education and Training’s (DET) management of the Navigator Program and assessing whether the delivery of the program is effectively re-engaging students in education and achieving outcomes for students. The audit found that DET is unable to demonstrate the effectiveness or equitable delivery of Navigator. The report makes four recommendations.
Effects of child maltreatment, cumulative victimisation experiences, and proximal life stress on adult crime and antisocial behaviour
New research funded by the US Department of Justice seeks to understand the processes through which child abuse leads to antisocial and criminal behaviour in later life. Participants were drawn from the Lehigh Longitudinal Study, one of the longest running national studies examining the long-term effects of child abuse and neglect. Results showed that childhood abuse increased the risk of adulthood crime by promoting antisocial behaviour during childhood and adolescence, followed by the formation of relationships with antisocial partners and peers in adulthood.
Effects of poverty on interacting biological systems underlying child development
The experience of poverty in early childhood can have far-reaching impacts on children’s health and development. Children experiencing poverty are often exposed to multiple risk factors, which interact to shape their neurocognitive development. This paper explores the complex interaction of risk factors such as malnutrition and psychological stress, and the ways in which they can effect neural development and functioning.
Emerging evidence, insights and lessons: News media and the primary prevention of violence against women and their children
This report from Our Watch explores the role that media can play in preventing violence against women and children. It highlights the link between media reporting and community attitudes towards violence against women, and the tendency for news media to blame victims. The report suggests a number of practices that could improve the situation for women and children, including training for journalists and students and cross sector collaboration.
Empirical guidance on the effects of child sexual abuse on memory and complainants’ evidence
New research describes how memory can affect child sexual abuse prosecutions. This report summarises research findings that ‘common sense’ beliefs about memory, often held by police, lawyers, judges, juries and community members, has not been consistent with scientific knowledge about memory. The research is intended to contribute to the development of guidance for lawyers, magistrates, judges, juries and police.
Enabling the public health approach to protecting children
The Productivity Commission has released this paper, the second in their What Works reviews, investigating what is known about systems that enable a public health approach to protecting children. A key finding of the review is that developing a learning process which encourages continuous improvement and assists the child protection workforce to handle uncertainty is an important feature of the commissioning process for government when seeking to deliver an effective public health approach.
Enabling young people’s participation in residential care decision-making
This brief from the Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care discusses what is needed to create genuine participation for young people in residential care. It discusses why youth participation is important and beneficial for designing services, programs and policies in this setting. It also covers a number of different models for participation, and implications for practitioners and organisations in using these approaches.
Engaging Students: Creating Classrooms that Improve Learning
The Grattan Institute's Engaging students: Creating classrooms that improve learning examines the hidden problem of student disengagement in Australian schools, reporting that as many as 40% of Australia’s school students are unproductive in a given year. The report draws on a number of major Australian studies from the past 10 years, finding that though classrooms are not out of control, many students are not engaged in learning. The paper offers a number of classroom level and system wide recommendations to improve student engagement. Teacher support is identified as a significant factor in improving student engagement, with a number of recommendations relating to teacher training and mentoring. Also important is the targeting of disadvantaged schools, where student engagement is lowest.
Watch Dr. Kim Sabo Flores talking about her work, where she emphasises that best youth programs do not just build on youth’s strengths or assets. Instead they supply them with opportunities to explore entirely new ways of being in the world, to create new roles, new attitudes, and new actions. In this video, she also talks about creative activities to involve young people in evaluation.
Estimation of National, Regional, and Global Prevalence of Alcohol Use During Pregnancy and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
This research project aimed to estimate the global prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in the general population. It finds that alcohol use during pregnancy is relatively common and that Europe has particularly high rates of women who consume alcohol during pregnancy, and consequently, the highest rate of FAS. The paper provides a discussion of the social and cultural factors that may influence the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy, and suggests that more effective prevention strategies be targeted towards particular at-risk populations.
Evaluating the outcomes of programs for Indigenous families and communities
This is a practitioner resource by Stewart Muir and Adam Dean outlining some of the key considerations for organisations who are thinking about evaluating the outcomes or impact of a program for Indigenous families or communities.
Evaluating the Outcomes of Programs for Indigenous Families and Communities
This practitioner resource outlines some key considerations for community sector organisations and service providers who are involved in evaluating the outcomes of programs involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families or communities. The resource highlights the need for meaningful participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all stages of evaluation, including planning and design.
Evaluation Implications of the Coronavirus Global Health Pandemic Emergency
This blog from Blue Marble Evaluation reflects on how we should approach evaluation during the COVID-19 emergency. It highlights the importance of adapting to developmental evaluation practices, pursuing systematic thinking and working collaboratively with others to produce high quality data during this challenging and fascinating period.
Evaluation of the Brighter Futures Transformation Pilot
This evaluation report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, examines The Brighter Futures Transformation Pilot (BFTP). This pilot was funded for two years from July 2018 to June 2020, and aimed to improve outcomes for young people with an experience of out-of-home care. The pilot responded to a need, identified through earlier work of the Area Partnership, for changing how the leaving care system worked with young people.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has published a report looking at effects of child sexual abuse carried out in the UK using online technologies. Drawing on interviews and questionnaires with a group of young people aged 15-19, the report shows that technology can give perpetrators of abuse easier access to young people than they have in the offline world. The online medium lowers young people’s inhibitions and opens up opportunities for emotional or image –related blackmail. Importantly, the focus of this research is to capture young people’s direct perceptions, views and feelings about the impact of online abuse.
Evidence and Innovation for Wellbeing in complex settings: Dr. Penny Hagen and Angie Tangaere
OPEN organised this Knowledge Building Workshop led by Dr. Penny Hagen, from Auckland Co-design Lab and Angie Tangaere, The Southern Initiative, where they talked about privilege and power. Their approach encourages us to flip where the expertise lies and be social innovation agents who need to be ‘in service’ of the change that the families want.
This short video from the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health provides a general overview of evidence informed practice and its three pillars; research evidence, practice expertise and client experience.
Evidence to Action Note: What risk factors are associated with being placed in out-of-home care?
This evidence to action note from the NSW Department of Communities and Justice summarises the findings of the NSW Child Development Study, which examined 17 risk factors to see if they could accurately predict whether a child would enter out-of-home care (OOHC) by the age of 13-14 years. The study identified six risk factors that can jointly classify children with an OOHC placement with 95% accuracy. This summary note discusses the implications of these findings for policy and practice.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released a report exploring how national governments can develop comprehensive policy frameworks that better respond to young peoples’ needs and aspirations. This report provides analytical tools and policy guidance, based on rigorous evidence and international good practices, to help countries improve their youth-focused policies and programs. It emphasises the need to identify and focus policies on the most disadvantaged youth, calling for a more targeted policy response.
Executive Summary: Parent engagement and participation approaches in child protection
This piece provides an executive summary of a longer literature review on parent engagement and participation approaches conducted by CFECFW in partnership with the University of Melbourne. The findings of this review contribute to the work of the Voice of Parents, a two-year project led by the Centre, supported by Gandel Philanthropy and Equity Trustees. The Voice of Parents continues the Centre’s commitment to promoting client voice and learning from those with lived experience to achieve better outcomes for children and support parents in their critical role in their child’s life.
Exploring the decline in wellbeing for Australian girls
The Commissioner for Children and Young People Western Australia has released this report reviewing the current evidence on girls’ wellbeing to understand the reasons for the wellbeing gap between male and female young people. It was found that gender stereotypes, driven in part by increasing social media usage, affect self-esteem, low engagement in physical activity, reduced feelings of safety and independence, and decreased sense of belonging for girls. The report calls for urgent action to improve girls’ wellbeing outcomes.
Exploring the impact of community hubs on school readiness
The Royal Children’s Hospital has published a report summarising the impact of community hubs on school readiness. It focuses on migrant and refugee children who are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable than other groups. The strengths of the model include relationship-building practices, family engagement, an early start to transition, and tailored services to better meet the needs of children and families.
Exploring the onset, duration and temporal ordering of adverse childhood experiences in young people adjudicated for sexual offences: A longitudinal qualitative study
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has released this report examining the timing, placement and temporal ordering of adverse early developmental experiences in young people aged 10-17 years adjudicated for sexual offences. The case files of 400 young people adjudicated between 2004 and 2018 were reviewed and the 20 files with the highest prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were selected for analysis. The study found that ACEs tended to co-occur, commence early in life and persist for many years for these young people, providing insights into opportunities for early interventions.
This companion review to the above paper from Child Family Community Australia seeks to identify factors that may influence either engagement with therapy or the completion of therapy following a disclosure of child sexual abuse. The review found that parental attitudes about therapy affect engagement rates and parental involvement in therapy was a consistent factor in therapy completion. It also identified the need for more Australian research in this area.
Families in Australia survey – Towards COVID normal: Report no. 2 – Employment & work-family balance in 2020
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has released this report examining families’ experiences of work at the end of 2020. A key finding was that mothers were more likely to make work arrangements that allow for the care of children with 57% of employed partnered mothers and 9% of employed partnered fathers using part-time work to help care for children.
Families in Australia Survey: Life During COVID-19
The AIFS Life during COVID-19 survey ran from May 1 to June 9 2020 and had 7,306 participants from around Australia. It was the first survey in the Families in Australia Survey series. The aim was to understand how Australian families coped with the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the greatest health, social and economic challenges in history. The findings in this report are drawn from our first analyses of the survey data. Later reports will add to, and expand on, these findings.
Family and community predictors of comorbid language, socioemotional and behavior problems at school entry
The University of Warwick has produced a longitudinal study on language and problem/prosocial behaviour in the early years. The report examines the association between language, gender and behavioural, social and emotional difficulties and prosocial behaviour during the toddler years and at school entry. It shows that children growing up in families experiencing multiple, complex needs are at risk of experiencing developmental difficulties that are likely to affect their experiences at school. The early identification of these children provides an opportunity for professionals to arrange timely interventions that improve health and learning outcomes.
The most recent issue of Family Matters presents a range of articles based on research presented at the AIFS Conference 2016: “Research to Results – Using evidence to improve outcomes for families”. The collection of articles discuss how evidence is being used to inform practice in the current policy and program context, and the importance of quality research to improving the lives of children and family members. Authors explore research in areas of school achievement, Indigenous program evaluation and supported playgroups for vulnerable young families, among others.
Issue 99 of Family Matters builds on the 2016 Australian Institute of Family Services (AIFS) Conference theme of ‘research to results’. It discusses current debates in Australia about the use of evidence to improve policy and practice in child and family services. It explores issues in the sector from different perspectives, providing a voice to all those affected by the pressing debates. In addition to articles from researchers and experts, the edition contains a series of ‘practitioner perspectives’ on the use of evidence, and departmental updates on significant child and families programs.
Fathers who use violence: Options for safe practice where there is ongoing contact with children
In situations of family violence, women and children are not always in a position to separate from an abusive partner. Separation itself may cause increased violence, homelessness or poverty. This paper explores strategies for working with families where fathers who use violence continue to have contact with the children. Whole of family approaches that engage each member of the family are discussed as having an important role to play in promoting the wellbeing and safety of all involved.
Favourite Things Activity – Hope-filled Engagement Tool
An alternative to starting with the question, “What subjects are you good at in school”, recognising that for many disconnected young people this can trigger feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Instead, the activity encourages young people to simply reflect on things they like, not necessarily things they are good at or activities with a strong careers focus or pathway. This helps the young person with the practitioner to open up stories and reflection about favourite things, activities, people, and draw out useful stories and experiences that demonstrate skill, character, connection and competency.
Final evaluation of Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS) pilot
RMIT University has released this report evaluating the IFAS pilot program delivered by Victoria Legal Aid. IFAS provides non-legal advocacy and support to parents and primary carers who are involved in the investigation stage of the child protection system with the primary aim of diverting families from the child protection system. The evaluation found a high level of satisfaction among clients and estimates that 20 per cent of clients are diverted from court. A cost-benefit analysis found that around $3.52 is saved by the Victorian Government for every $1 spent on IFAS.
Final report: Inquiry into homelessness in Australia
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has released its final report into homelessness in Australia. The inquiry examined the causes of and contributing factors to homelessness, opportunities for early intervention to prevent homelessness, support services for Australians experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, and governance and funding arrangements. The report makes 35 recommendations.
Financing mechanisms for reducing adversity and enhancing resilience through implementation of primary prevention
Funding for primary prevention initiatives reducing childhood adversity is highly fragmented across multiple government agencies and the private and philanthropic sectors. This paper reviews the existing mechanisms for funding interventions to reduce adverse childhood experiences and explores emerging and innovative financing methods, such as pay-for-success contracts.
Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute have collaborated to produce a report on youth mental health. The report presents findings from youth survey data collected between 2012- 2016, and comments on the psychological stress experienced by young people and their help-seeking behaviour. One significant finding included in the report was that one in four young people (aged 15-19) who responded to the survey met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness (PSMI)and that PSMI has increased among young people over the past 5 years, particularly among females. The risk of mental health issues is greater in Indigenous groups than non-Indigenous groups. This report shows that more targeted investment is needed to address the concerning levels of mental health issues amongst young Australians.