#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.

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.

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 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).

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.

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.

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.

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

Safety and wellbeing, Young People, Technology

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.

Child Abuse Royal Commission’s Final Report

Safety and wellbeing

On 15 December 2017, the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was delivered to the Governor-General of Australia and released. The Royal Commission’s Final Report comprises of 17 volumes and includes a total of 189 new recommendations, many of which are aimed at making institutions safer for children.

This resource sheet provides an overview of the statistics on child deaths resulting from abuse and neglect, and information on the recording of child deaths in Australia. In 2015-16 in Victoria, the Department of Health and Human Services referred 38 cases of children (an increase of 59% from the previous year) who had died and were known to child protection up to 12 months before their death to the commission for inquiry. Common causes of death included non-accidental trauma and self-harm.

This literature review explores the relationship between child poverty in New Zealand and the impact that poverty can have on the mental health of a child or young person, or later as an adult. It provides an overview of the extent and nature of child mental health and poverty in New Zealand, and the links between the two. The literature review shows that mental health conditions among children and adolescents can be reduced by addressing severe and persistent poverty, particularly during the early years of a child’s life.

This updated resource sheet provides a snapshot of the rates of involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection and out-of-home care. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be the subject of substantiated reports of harm or risk of harm. Further, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care. The experience of poverty, assimilation policies, intergenerational trauma and discrimination is discussed in relation to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Child protection system.

Child sexual abuse in Australian institutional contexts 2008-13: Findings from administrative data

Safety and wellbeing

The purpose of this project is to identify the data holdings that currently exist on present-day allegations of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts in Australia. It aims to extract from the available data, important insights about the nature extent of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts. Data from each state and territory are examined and it is found that police data was the most useful source of information to explore the nature and extent of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts.

Child sexual abuse in institutional contexts: The reliability of police data, nature and allegations reported to police, and factors driving reporting rates

Early years, Safety and wellbeing

This research undertaken for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse aims to determine the nature of reports to police concerning institutional child sexual abuse (ICSA), and the drivers behind different reporting rates in different Australian jurisdictions. Findings included that ICSA accounts for approximately 5% of all child sexual abuse in all jurisdictions, for male and female victims; and schools were overwhelmingly the most common institutional context for reported ICSA.

Child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church: An interpretive review of the literature and public inquiry reports

Safety and wellbeing

This research project conducted by RMIT University reviews the literature concerning child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia and elsewhere, including 26 prominent international and Australian inquiry reports. The study suggests that mandatory celibacy and a culture of secrecy created by popes and bishops were major factors that contributed to such high rates of child abuse within the Catholic Church.

Children and Families Research Strategy 2017 – 2019

Families and parenting, Safety and wellbeing

This document highlights some of the challenges faced by the children and families services system and provides directions and steps for reform. Front-line staff, researchers and policy makers will be pivotal in designing and implementing programs and strategies to support families and children, based on the best available evidence.

Monash University’s Gender and Family Violence Program has produced a research brief on the topic of coercive control. This briefing paper brings together research regarding coercive control to support prevention and intervention efforts. Coercive control is understood as a gendered pattern of behaviour using the tactics of intimidation, control and degradation to take away the victim’s freedom. This paper offers brief recommendations for practice as these relate to police and criminal justice responses.

Collective impact: Evidence and implications for practice

Safety and wellbeing

This paper explores the collective impact framework and its ability to create transformational change on complex social issues. It provides an overview of the development of collective impact in Australia, drawing on case studies to demonstrate the promise of place-based, collaborative initiatives. The collective impact framework has resonated with practitioners and communities both in Australia and abroad, however, the evidence base for collective impact is still growing.

Commissioning cost-effective services for promotion of mental health and wellbeing and prevention of mental ill-health

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

A report released by Public Health England looks at mental health intervention models and programs, and their associated costs and benefits. The interventions considered include school based programs to prevent bullying and those aimed at preventing depression in children and young people. One program examined was the KiVA program, a school-based anti-bullying program used in the majority of schools in Finland. The program was found to be particularly effective in reducing cyber bullying.

Concepts of community: Young people’s concerns, views and experiences

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, low income

This report presents the findings from Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2016 with respondents grouped according to whether they lived in low, moderate or high socio‐economic status (SES) areas across Australia. The report compares the views and experiences of young people from the three SES areas in relation to selected topics. The three most principal issues identified in the survey were alcohol and drugs (24.5%), equity and discrimination (23.2%), and mental health (17.6%). The findings of the survey can inform the development of policies and programs for young people, especially those from low SES areas.

This resource sheet is designed to inform service providers and practitioners about corporal punishment research and legislation. It outlines recent research literature (from 2000 to 2016) and discusses the use and impact of corporal punishment on children. It explores the factors that influence the use of corporal punishment and provides a summary of alternative disciplinary techniques. Finally, it summarises current legislation regarding the use of corporal punishment as a means of disciplining children in Australia.

Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This article examines the prevalence of traditional bullying and cyberbullying in adolescents in England, and assesses its relative effects on mental well-being. The research finds that face-to-face bullying remains most common among teenagers, and that cyberbullying is unlikely to provide a source for new victims. Rather, it is a new avenue for victimisation for those already experiencing traditional forms of bullying.

A new report published by ANROWS examines the impact of inter-parental conflict (IPC) and domestic and family violence (DFV) on parenting and parent–child relationships. The report shows that emotional abuse is a serious issue in family breakdowns, and those women at the more extreme end of family violence are experiencing multiple and overlapping types of abuse, including emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. The report also found a relationship between the presence of family violence and parenting capacity, satisfaction with parent-child relationships, and child wellbeing. The report concludes with key recommendations to improve policy and practice.

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.

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-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.

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.

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, Practice Tool, Young People

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

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.

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.

Healing Foundation Report – Looking Where the Light Is: creating and restoring safety and healing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Safety and wellbeing

This report from the Healing Foundation offers a cultural framework for addressing child sexual abuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It views sexual abuse holistically exploring impacts on children, families and communities as well as exploring processes for healing, wellbeing and safety.

Healthy beginnings: Applying all our health

Safety and wellbeing, Practice Tool

Public Health England (PHE) has updated their Healthy beginnings guidance sheet to include the most up to date research about neurological development, including the impact of stress and anxiety in pregnancy, and the importance of bonding and attachment. It provides snapshots of information about important periods such as pregnancy and the early weeks of life, as well as examples of good practice in service delivery.

Help-seeking Needs and Gaps for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

Safety and wellbeing, Report

This report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse explores the service needs and help-seeking behaviours of professionals, parents and community members in relation to child sexual abuse. The report evaluates the effectiveness of existing services that respond to the needs of these groups and makes suggestions for improvement. It concludes that there are limited programs and services targeted to these particular groups, and those that do exist are not well coordinated. It also suggests that programs are often unregulated, under-evaluated and that there is a lack of understanding of child sexual-abuse related issues within the community. A whole of community response and a focus on primary prevention would do much to improve our response to child sexual abuse.

Helping young children who have experienced trauma: Policies and strategies for early care and education

Education, Youth Justice, Early years, Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, Practice Tool

This National Centre for Children in Poverty (NCCP) paper presents an overview of early childhood trauma, the impact it has on young children and brain development and promising strategies for trauma-informed care in early care and education. Along with high quality programming, strong policy is crucial to meeting the emotional and early learning needs of children who have experienced trauma. The NCCP makes a series of recommendations to better support access to quality, trauma-informed early care and education.

Inpatient care for children and adolescents with mental disorders

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This Evidence Check from the Sax Institute synthesises the best available research evidence about when inpatient care is the most effective and appropriate form of care for children and adolescents with moderate to severe mental disorders. Indicators such as risk of self-harm or suicide, poor physical health and family-related characteristics are considered. The report emphasises that developing a comprehensive range of mental health services for children and adolescents should be an important policy focus for Australia.

Action for Children in partnership with the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness has released a report exploring the impact of loneliness in children, young people and families. The study shows some people who are more at risk of experiencing loneliness, such as young carers who often feel isolated from their peers, and children in care who have moved away from their family networks. The report looks at the kinds of strategies that can be put in place for those children and young people – from what individuals can do to how government can ensure provide the most effective services into the future.

Anglicare has released its Jobs Availability Snapshot, which examines the experiences of people with significant barriers to work. It shows that in May 2017, just 15 per cent of all advertised jobs were at the entry-level, a decrease from 22 per cent in 2006. The report also highlights diminishing work security. The number of underemployed Australians increased from 875,200 in 2016 to 1.1 million in 2017. The Snapshot includes a breakdown of State and Territory figures, and finds that there is no jurisdiction in the Australia where there is sufficient suitable jobs for the number of people looking for them. The report then examines job creation programs that promise to improve the prospects for people with significant barriers to work.

This Kids Helpline Australia report outlines the issues affecting children and young people in Australia. In 2016, counsellors responded to over 3,400 contacts each week from children and young people seeking information, support or counselling. The impact of technology continues to create innovation but also concerns about safety. There has been a 151% growth in young people using WebChat over five years.

Labour income, social transfers and child poverty

Safety and wellbeing

The Swedish Institute for Social Research has published a paper on the variation in living standards of the poorest fifth of children in rich nations. It examines the ‘income packages’ of disadvantaged families with children in those countries and shows the relative impact of different policy interventions on the living standards of disadvantaged children.

Low income and poverty dynamics: Implications for child outcomes

Poverty, Safety and wellbeing

This report uses data from the first five waves of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) to examine the association between childhood poverty and a range of children’s developmental outcomes. It indicates a strong negative association between poverty and children’s developmental outcomes. Improved understanding of the mechanisms of this relationship will help determine the most effective way to improve the life chances of children who experience financial disadvantage.

Maltreatment Risk among Children with Disabilities

Disability, Safety and wellbeing, Journal article

Researchers analysed data relating to 524,534 children born in Western Australia during 1990-2010 for the study, Maltreatment Risk among Children with Disabilities. The findings show that children with disabilities are at increased risk of child maltreatment. While children with disabilities make up 10.4% of the total WA population, they account for 1 in 4 maltreatment allegations and 1 in 3 substantiated allegations. This study contributes to the knowledge base about the range of issues faced by children in the child protection system and highlights the need for interagency collaboration to ensure children’s complex needs are met.

Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect

Safety and wellbeing

This AIFS information sheet focuses on the legal provisions requiring specified people to report suspected abuse and neglect to government child protection services in Australia. It focuses on the key features and differences between the state and territory laws regarding who must report and what must be reported.

Measuring Success in the Family and Relationship Sector for the Wellbeing of Children, Families and Communities

Families and parenting, Safety and wellbeing

This E-journal of peer-reviewed papers from the annual Family Relationships and Services Australia (FRSA) National Conference presents five articles on a wide range of concepts that influence ‘success’ in the family sector, and how these might be better measured. The first two papers focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, the third on the first 1000 days, the fourth on relationship breakdown and the fifth on workforce preparedness in the sector.

New minimum income for healthy living budget standards for low-paid and unemployed Australians

Safety and wellbeing, low income

The UNSW Social Policy Research Centre has revealed how much Australians need to earn in order to enjoy a healthy standard of living. Among other findings, the report shows that The Newstart Allowance received by people looking for work falls below the minimum income required to achieve a basic standard of living. The largest single cost to families was identified as housing, which in all family types exceeded the 30 per cent benchmark that identifies families facing housing stress.