#JusticeSolutions Tour: Expanding the conversation

Safety and wellbeing

Earlier this year, senior leaders from Jesuit Social Services (JSS) undertook an international study tour to explore innovative and effective youth justice practices in Germany, Norway, Spain, the US and UK. JSS has recently released its report, which provides an overview of key themes and approaches observed abroad, and how these might be incorporated in Australia. It explores models of prevention and diversion through to detention and reintegration. JSS advocates for evidence-based approaches that maximise chances of rehabilitation and, ultimately, a safe community.

10 Years On: Global Progress & Delay in Ending Violence against Children – The Rhetoric & the Reality

The International NGO Council on Violence against Children has published a report focused on violence that affects children across the globe. This report comments on the many forms of violence perpetrated against children, including child detention rates, child marriage, and physical violence and punishment. It calls on the global community to address the root causes of violence and promote a culture of respect for the rights of the child.

20-year outcomes in adolescents who self-harm: A population-based cohort study

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This Victorian study investigates whether young people who self-harm are at increased risk of psychosocial problems later in life. The study followed a sample of almost 2000 Victorian school children from the age of 14 until the age of 35. Anxiety, illicit drug use, and social disadvantage were more common at age 35 among participants who had self-harmed during their teenage years. The study calls for a response from multiple sectors to address the underlying risk factors that contribute to life-long health and social problems.

2017 State of the Family Report – The meaning of home

Families and parenting, Family Violence

The Meaning of Home is Anglicare Australia's 17th State of the Family report. It explores the qualities of a home and its importance to the people Anglicare works with. It is a collection of articles and portraits on the different dimensions and interpretations of home. Many of the stories included in the report describe the struggle of finding a home; from children who have experienced family violence in their home, to new parents who are just learning how to create a nurturing home for their children.

7th SNAICC National Conference – Bring Them Home: Securing the rights of our children

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

This short article summarises some of the major themes of the SNAICC Conference held in Canberra last month, which focused on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to grow up safe, healthy and strong in their families and communities. Major themes include self-determination and healing for intergenerational trauma. The summary includes a suite of supporting resources for services providing support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee has published a report on body image and the impact it has on the wellbeing of children and young people. The Committee presents recommendations to government, highlighting the integral role that education plays in promoting positive body image. Other recommendations include the commissioning of research to address current gaps in the evidence base and the development of resources to support the challenges faced by young men, LGBT+ youth, ethnic minorities, and young people with disabilities.

A Conversation in Gender Equality

The Australian Human Rights Commission launched 'Conversations in Gender Equality' on International Women’s day. Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, consulted with more 1000 people from every state and territory in Australia to build a comprehensive picture of women’s experiences of gender inequality Participants in the consultation come from a diverse range of communities and with a variety of life experiences. Key themes discussed include negative attitudes and everyday sexism, women’s economic security, violence against women, and living in rural, regional and remote areas. The report aims to raise awareness of gender inequality throughout Australia and to shed light on the everyday struggles women experience across many life domains.

A critical review of the early childhood literature

Early years

AIFS has produced a critical review of the leading evidence on the value of preschool for three year olds, Indigenous children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The report includes literature from Australia, as well as the UK, US, Canada and Europe. The international evidence has consistently shown that the most disadvantaged children have the most to gain from high quality early childhood programs. The review showcases seven high quality early childhood programs that have been rigorously evaluated and offer opportunities to promote healthy child development in Australia.

A digital world for all? Findings from a programme of digital inclusion for vulnerable young people across the UK

Education

Carnegie Trust UK has published a report exploring digital exclusion among young people. It is often assumed that young people are ‘digital natives’, however, a large number of young people do not possess even basic digital skills. Findings from across the UK show that young people who are at points of transition in their life (unemployed, homeless, in care) are most at risk of being digitally excluded. Digital literacy must be actively and passively developed through ongoing access, support and training. This report provides four in depth case studies of projects engaging with groups of vulnerable young people to help develop their digital skills.

A familiar face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents

Family Violence

Close to three-quarters of the world’s children aged two to four years old experience physical or verbal violence, or both, by their caregivers at home, according to a new UNICEF report. The report sheds light on four specific forms of violence: violent discipline and exposure to domestic abuse during early childhood; violence at school; violent deaths among adolescents; and sexual violence in childhood and adolescence. The research found that as many as 15 million girls worldwide aged 15 to 19 years old have been raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime. It is recommended that a national approach to preventing violence against children should address systemic societal beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate the problem, in any setting, including in the home, school, and community.

A future for all children addressing: Child poverty in Australia

Poverty

This ACOSS briefing paper calls on the Australian government to refocus on reducing child poverty in Australia. The most recent ACOSS Poverty in Australia report (2016) found that of the three million people living in poverty in Australia, 731,000 were children, representing 17 per cent of children under the age of 15. This number has increased by 2 percent over the past decade. The paper offers recommendations to the Federal government, such as increasing the Newstart Allowance and improving supports for single parent households.

A growing industry: A snapshot of Victoria’s community sector charities

Disability, Safety and wellbeing

A new VCOSS report measures the size and scale of the Victorian community sector and its contribution to Victoria’s economy and society. Data comes from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s (ACNC) 2015 Annual Information Statement. The Victorian community sector is growing and is expected to employ many more people in coming years. This is due to population growth, an aging population and the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Design, Evaluate

A Guided Tour Through: Measuring Outcomes [video resource]

Evaluation, Practice Tool, Video

The Expert Panel Project Team at AIFS have published this instructional video to guide you through measuring for outcomes. It explain why and how we want to measure outcomes to demonstrate impact in child and family services. This video also guides you how to choose which short, medium and long term outcomes to measure given limited resources.

Design, Implement, Evaluate

A guided tour through: program logic models [video resource]

Practice Tool, Video

The Expert Panel Project Team at AIFS have published this instructional video to guide you through program logic models. It guides you step-by-step through the terminology of program logic models, and how to build your own model, including writing a problem statement, understanding inputs and outputs, and identifying short, medium and long term outcomes.

A National Comparison of Carer Screening, Assessment, Selection and Training and Support in Foster Care, Kinship and Residential Care

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

A new report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse examines carer recruitment, training and support policies and processes in Australia that aim to enhance the safety of children in out-of-home care (OOHC) and prevent sexual abuse. The research found that considerable attention is paid to the issue of child sexual abuse in OOHC. However, a number of significant barriers to preventing child sexual abuse are identified, including difficulties in attracting and retaining quality foster carers, a limited pool of residential care workers and high staff turnover. Another key issue highlighted by the research was the challenge of providing training and support to carers who live in rural and remote areas.

A National System for Domestic and Family Violence Death Review

This report identifies the steps needed to expand domestic and family death review mechanisms to all Australian jurisdictions and ensure that recommendations made to Federal Government agencies in death review processes are actioned.

A Picture of ACT’s Children and Young People 2016

This is the sixth annual report outlining how children and young people in the ACT are tracking against key indicators such as physical health and wellbeing and development in the early years. Notably, the number of children enrolled in a preschool program has increased by more than 35 per cent over three years, and the rate of young people charged with a criminal offence has almost halved since 2011.

A rapid review of sources of evidence on the views, experiences and perceptions of children in care and care leavers

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing

New research for the Children’s Commissioner for England, undertaken by the National Children’s Bureau and Research in Practice, has collated evidence reflecting the voice of children in care and care leavers regarding their experiences of the care system. This report suggests that practitioners and policy makers have much to learn from existing evidence and the voices of young people in care to help inform their practice. The report contains a number of useful examples of good practice, illustrated in short case studies.

A review of the literature on social and emotional learning for students ages 3–8: Characteristics of effective social and emotional learning programs

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process by which children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, maintain relationships, and make responsible decisions. This series of four reports explores the benefits of SEL in the early years, and identifies the characteristics of SEL interventions that lead to positive outcomes in the school environment. It provides helpful strategies for school staff and teachers to foster a positive classroom environment and support social and emotional competence in their students.

A team effort: Preventing violence against women through sport

Family Violence

Sport has great potential to influence social change and prevent violence against women by creating inclusive, equitable, healthy and safe environments for men and women, boys and girls. This evidence guide collates the academic literature and research evidence regarding sport as a setting for the prevention of violence against women. It provides a summary of current prevention initiatives, and draws from an analysis of these and the wider literature to outline 10 key elements of promising practice in sport settings.

A ‘Situational Approach’ to Mental Health Literacy in Australia: Redefining mental health literacy to empower communities for preventative mental health

This paper argues for a paradigm shift for effective suicide prevention in Australia. It takes a situational approach to mental health literacy, which represents a significant departure from the current medical framework and its emphasis on illness. The situational approach to mental health literacy is concerned with the continuum of challenging life events and human experiences across the life course, and normalising human distress. It encourages constructive and non-pathologising responses to mental health issues amongst mental health practitioners and other professionals.

Evaluate

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Services: Evaluation Readiness Toolkit

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Evaluation

This new toolkit from SNAICC gives fantastic guidance on designing and measuring for outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family services. It compiles an insightful list of 21 key outcomes for this sector, drawn from the 8 key principles of The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Services Wellbeing Framework. It also features a detailed, yet accessible, step-by-step guide to help you develop a theory of change to support and measure for outcomes. This toolkit centres on evaluation work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family services, but its clear and concise explanation of how to use outcomes, an outcomes framework, and a theory of change will be relevant and useful to many workers across the wider child and family services sector.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and child sexual abuse in institutional contexts

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a new research report that suggests a strong connection to culture can help protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from sexual abuse in institutions. The paper argues that culture can help children develop their identities, foster positive self-esteem and resilience, and strengthen family and community supports.

Addressing the decline in sport participation in secondary schools

Safety and wellbeing

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has released a research report detailing the decline in sport participation of young people between 13-17 years old. It explores the barriers to participation and interventions that can address the decline in participation. This report presents an overview of the ASC Youth Participation Research Project, which provides recommendations on how Australian young people can be engaged in sport and physical activity in secondary school.

Adolescent service change and the edge of care

The Rees Centre has published a report that looks at nine projects funded through the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme (UK), which directly targeted adolescents at the ‘edge of care’. The analysis makes suggestions for services that aim to reduce the number of young people entering care, and improve outcomes for those living in care. Common components of a successful program included multi-professional staff development, a focus on building positive relationships with families, and strong leadership and management on the ground.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released the latest data on adoptions of Australian children and children from overseas. It includes national trends, as well as characteristics of adopted children, their parents and adoptive families. In 2016–17, 315 adoptions were recorded as finalised; an increase of 13% from the previous year. The report showed that 78 per cent of adopted children were Australian, with all inter-country adopted children coming from Asia.

Alcohol/Drug-Involved Family Violence in Australia: Final report

Alcohol/Drug-Involved Family Violence in Australia (ADIVA) has set out to investigate the links between family violence and alcohol and other drug (AOD) use in Australia. It draws on data from an Australia wide personal safety survey and police attendance data. Findings show that alcohol was involved in 29% of family violence incidences, and that 12% of family violence incidents were drug-related. Significant challenges include the intergenerational nature of the cycle of violence, and the impact of trauma on children. The paper makes recommendations that would address AOD use in repeat offenders.

All tapped out: Touchscreen interactivity and young children’s word learning

Education

A report in Frontiers in Psychology has examined the effectiveness of touchscreens for children’s learning and the impact on family life. The study explores how children of preschool age interact with touchscreens, and how different types of screen interactions affect their ability to learn language.

Identify, Design, Implement, Evaluate

Alliance for Useful Evidence – resources

Evidence Informed Practice

This website hosts a range of research and publications relating to how evidence can be used to improve public health outcomes, including introductions to 'standards of evidence'.

Analysis of Claims of Child Sexual Abuse Made With Respect To Catholic Church Institutions in Australia

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

This Royal Commission report examines data on the extent of claims of child sexual abuse made against Catholic Church personnel. Of the 201 Catholic Church authorities surveyed, 93 (46%) reported having received one or more claims of child sexual abuse. Claims that related to orphanages or residential facilities had the highest average duration of the alleged child sexual abuse (3.7 years). This is the most substantial dataset released to date about the extent of child sex abuse within the Australian Catholic Church.

Annual alcohol poll 2017: Attitudes and behaviours

This report by The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education summarises findings of the 2017 nation-wide survey that explored community attitudes towards alcohol. For the first time, Australians were asked in 2017 if they thought there was a link between alcohol and family violence. Ninety-two percent of Australians believe that there is a link between the two, and 80% indicate that they think governments should be doing more to address the role that alcohol plays in family violence.

ANROWS special collection: violence against women in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

In acknowledgment of National Reconciliation Week, ANROWS has launched a special collection of resources that can be used as a starting point for people looking for information about issues and challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and women in particular. It synthesises Australian and International literature and program evaluations to establish what is known about what works to prevent violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia.

Design, Evaluate

ARPNet Dilly Bag: a practical field guide and research tools for use by Aboriginal research practitioners in Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Practice Tool

This is a practical guide to participatory and other research tools for Aboriginal research practitioners. It was developed by a network of Aboriginal Research Practitioners in the Top End who want to use participatory tools that enable participants to better understand why and what is being done.

Assessing the different dimensions and degrees of risk of child sexual abuse in institutions

This Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse report explores the factors related to institutional child abuse. It identifies four dimensions of risk factors in an institutional setting; situational, vulnerability, propensity and institutional risks. It examines to what extent various risk factors might be more concentrated within some institutions or activities than others.

Australia’s welfare 2017 is the 13th biennial welfare report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). This comprehensive report provides an overview of the wellbeing of Australians, examining a wide range of areas such as children youth and families, education and employment, and ageing, disability and informal care. Findings relating to children and young people show that the number of out of home care placements is climbing, while the number of young people under youth justice supervision is on the decline.

Australian children growing up with opportunity

Early years

This paper discusses trends related to access to formal childcare in Australia and the impact that attendance has on childhood development. It focuses on the impacts of childcare and preschool for disadvantaged groups in particular, noting the evidence that childcare may have greater positive impacts on child outcomes for disadvantaged groups. Nonetheless, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are much less likely to access formal childcare. The article provides recommendations to improve policy and reduce inequality of opportunity.

Reconciliation Australia has released its biennial Australian Reconciliation Barometer. The report offers a snapshot of attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the broader Australian community. Almost all Australians (97% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and 89% Australians in the general community) believe their relationship is important. Though there have been significant strides towards reconciliation challenges persist. In the six months prior to the survey, 46% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experienced at least one form of racial prejudice. The report makes recommendations to government, community and individuals to make reconciliation a reality, including investment in public anti-racism campaigns and constitutional recognition.

Barriers and facilitators to childhood obesity prevention among culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Victoria, Australia

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Safety and wellbeing

This study looks at the barriers and enablers to the engagement of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community members in childhood obesity prevention programs in Victoria. Recommendations include system, and community level responses to address barriers such as low levels of health literacy, junk food advertising to children and cultural and language barriers to accessing health programs.

Behind the Screen: Online child exploitation in Australia

Anti-slavery Australia has released a report bringing together national data and case studies to provide a snapshot of online child exploitation in Australia. The report shows that new technologies and ease of access to the internet have resulted in the proliferation of child exploitation materials available online. The study emphasises the need for common language and streamlined national and international frameworks and cooperation to combat this challenge.

Being Present: An exploratory study on the use of mindfulness in early childhood

Early years, Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This small US study looks at the types of mindfulness practices currently being used in an early childhood education setting to promote a sense of wellbeing in children. Many teachers reported that they use meditation and mindfulness when the children in their classroom were restless or stressed. The majority of teachers included in the study reported that using mindfulness practices resulted in positive behavioural and physical outcomes in their early childhood classrooms.

Beyond borders: How to make the global compacts on migration and refugees work for uprooted children

Youth Justice

The rights, protection and wellbeing of migrant and refugee children should be central commitments of global migration policies, UNICEF has said in a new report. The report outlines best practice for children’s care and protection, and includes case studies of governments and communities working to support and integrate them and their families. Key themes include keeping families together, keeping refugee and migrant children learning, and combatting discrimination. The case studies are diverse, spanning across country income levels, and can be replicated in different contexts around the world.

Bridging the divide: Supporting children and young people in their middle years

Early years

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (Good Shepherd) undertook this research to highlight some of the unique challenges faced by children and young people in their ‘middle years’ (between the ages of 8 – 12 years). The middle years are a critical time of development and change. Children can face difficulties transitioning from primary to high school, caring for parents or younger siblings, being subject to inappropriate sexualisation and sexual exploitation, and being denied the opportunity to have meaningful input into decisions that affect their lives. Good Shepherd makes recommendations to government, schools and the community sector to ensure that we are better able to meet the needs of children and young people in their middle years.

Bright futures: Spotlight on the wellbeing of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)

This report from VicHealth discusses issues that affect the wellbeing of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. The report finds that migrant and refugee students are less likely to find full-time employment after graduation (45%) compared with Australian-born students (69%) due to racial discrimination, lack of understanding of the local job market and overseas skills and qualifications not being recognised. The research shows that refugee and young migrant communities also bring with them many unique qualities, such as global networks, new ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit, which can enrich Australian society.