Effectively engaging stakeholders and the public in developing violence prevention messages

Family Violence, Evidence Informed Practice

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.

Effects of child maltreatment, cumulative victimisation experiences, and proximal life stress on adult crime and antisocial behaviour

Early years, Child maltreatment

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

Poverty, Safety and wellbeing

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

Family Violence

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

Child maltreatment

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

Report, Review, Child Protection, Report

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

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Report, Literature Review

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

Education, Report

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.

Engaging Young people in Evaluation

Evaluation, Young People, Video

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

Early years, Families and parenting, Alcohol and Other Drugs

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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

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

Evaluation, COVID-19, Blog

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

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

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.

Everyone deserves to be happy and safe

Safety and wellbeing

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

Families and parenting, Evidence Informed Practice, Conference presentation

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.

Evidence to Action Note: What risk factors are associated with being placed in out-of-home care?

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

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.

Evidence-based policy making for youth wellbeing

Safety and wellbeing

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

Families and parenting, Literature Review

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

Mental Health, Young People, Gender, Report

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

Education

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.

Factors influencing therapy use following a disclosure of child sexual abuse

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

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

Families and parenting, Report, Report

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

Families and parenting, COVID-19, Report

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

Education

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.

Family Matters No. 99: Research to results

Evidence Informed Practice

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

Families and parenting, Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing

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

Young People, Client Engagement, Tool/toolkit

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

Evaluation, Report, Family Services, Child Protection, Report

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

Report, Research, Homelessness, Data, Inquiry, Recommendations, Report

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

Early years, Safety and wellbeing

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.

Five Year Mental Health Youth Report

Mental Health, Young People

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.

Follow up of selected 2014–15 performance audits: Additional school costs for families

Education

Victorian Auditor-General's Office (VAGO) has released a follow up audit report on ‘Additional school costs for families’, focusing on whether DET and government schools are managing parent education costs economically, efficiently and effectively. The report identifies some improvements since the initial findings from 2014-15, however, it also found inconsistent compliance with the new Parent Payment Policy and suggests that more needs to be done to address the underlying economic and efficiency issues identified in the 2015 audit.

Forced Adoption Support Services: Establishing and building networks

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing, Collaboration

This resource aims to guide Forced Adoption Support Services (FASS) on best practice approaches to building networks. Local networks are important to creating a continuum of care for those affected by forced adoption and family separation. The paper outlines the service types that are integral to meeting the needs of those affected by forced adoption, and provides practical tools to promote collaboration with practitioners from the broader health and mental health sectors whose primary role is not post-adoption support.

Foster and kinship carer recruitment and retention: Encouraging and sustaining quality care to improve outcomes for children and young people in care.

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Evidence Informed Practice

Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Child Protection Studies (ICPS) has released a qualitative study aimed at identifying new and effective approaches to the recruitment, support and retention of kinship and foster carers. The report identifies some of the key approaches currently being used across Australia’s states and territories. The report shows that there is growing recognition that different approaches are required to find and support kinship carers, opposed to foster carers.

Frameworks for supporting Client Participation in Victoria

Families and parenting, Report

The Victorian Government has several frameworks that support organisations in their consideration and implementation of a client participation process. This document, published by CFECFW, explains how these government frameworks support organisations in embedding the client voice in practice, as well the opportunities and challenges in these frameworks for participatory processes.

Free from Violence: Victoria’s Strategy to prevent family violence

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, Evidence-Based Program

The Victorian Government has launched the next step to build a state free from violence, with the release of a Primary Prevention Strategy as part of the Family Violence Rolling Action Plan. The strategy focuses on the social structures, norms and practices that prevent or reduce the risk of violence. The strategy outlines a plan to develop more evidence-based programs and to establish the first Victorian Prevention Agency.

Friendships for all: A ‘how to’ guide to help children in care have more opportunities to make friends

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing, Young People, Handbook

Children in care often find it difficult to make and keep friends due to multiple home and family disruptions. This how-to guide by The Children's Society guides practitioners on how they can help children in care to build and maintain friendships - which can improve their wellbeing and reduce their isolation.

Funding effective implementation of evidence-based programs in child welfare

Safety and wellbeing, Evidence-Based Program

This briefing paper proposes eight strategies to help child welfare agency administrators and partners fund and sustain evidence-based programs that benefit children and families. The paper includes accounts from agency leaders in nine jurisdictions across the United States. It is clear that for child welfare agencies to be successful, adequate and well-directed planning and resource allocation are critical at every stage of the intervention.

Generation stalled: Young, underemployed and living precariously in Australia

Young People, low income

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has published an analysis of youth employment trends in Australia, which uncovers some concerning statistics. Youth underemployment is now the highest it has been since 1978 when the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) first started collecting the data, reaching 18 per cent in early 2017. The report shows that 650,000 young people in total were unemployed or underemployed in February 2017.

Girls future – Our future: The Invergowrie Foundation STEM report

Education

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is important in developing young people’s skills for the future of work. This report examines the reasons that girls have not pursued study and careers in STEM to the same extent as their male peers and recommends initiatives to encourage girls’ participation in these subjects at school. The report is based on a comprehensive review of the international literature, and consultations with representatives from education, government, and industry.

Good Practice Guide: Managing complaints involving human rights

Quick Guide

The Victorian Ombudsman has compiled a good practice guide to help employees effectively manage complaints related to human rights. The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) is an Act of the Victorian Parliament that sets out the rights and freedoms shared by everyone in Victoria and protected by law. This guide outlines important roles and responsibilities under the charter, and explains how organisations can integrate transparent and accessible complaint processes. It also emphasises that an effective human rights culture is not simply about handling complaints, but taking a human rights approach to all work.

These publications from the Department of Health and Human Services share the complexities of work with children, youth and families and some of the innovative practice approaches being used to address them. This is an annual publication shining a spotlight on examples of good practice and the variety of practice approaches available.

Gray Poehnell – ‘A Better Story’ Presentation

Young People, Conference presentation

This presentation - part of a workshop delivered by Gray Poehnell - shows how we can help disadvantaged young people to craft a better life story through hope-filled engagement. This is an important method for engaging hard to reach young people, and can help them to think about their career options as a part of their broader life story.