This resource sheet presents a snapshot of data describing child protection activity in Australia. It looks at the figures from each state and territory, including the number of investigated and substantiated reports of harm, the most common types of substantiated reports, and characteristics of children who are the subjects of reports.
From journal articles to Quick Guides and webinars, you will find tools and information to support your work.
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.
Child Maltreatment and Adult Living Standards at 50 Years
Child maltreatment is a significant social welfare problem. This study examines the links between child maltreatment and adult socioeconomic outcomes, and uncovers the range of overlapping and compounding factors that influence outcomes in later life.
Child poverty and mental health: A literature review
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.
Child Protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children
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
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
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
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.
Child sexual exploitation: How public health can support prevention and intervention
Public Health England (PHE) has released a literature search identifying the most up to date international research about effective interventions to prevent child sexual exploitation. The paper presents a comprehensive list of the latest research, with a brief description of each study. This literature search will be useful for research teams to use as a guide to recent literature on child sexual abuse, and practitioners and other groups interested in these themes.
Childcare Use and Its Role in Indigenous Child Development: Evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children in Australia
This paper uses data from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children to map patterns of childcare use and its effects on the learning and development of Indigenous children. The authors maintain that relatively disadvantaged children might benefit from attending childcare, but suggests that future research should investigate whether the quality of early childhood education is associated with positive cognitive outcomes for Indigenous children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Childcare, Mobility Decisions and ‘Staggered’ Migration
This paper explores how the uncertainty related to long-term migration affects migrants’ decisions about their children and care. The paper draws data from in-depth interviews with Asian migrants living in Australia who have experienced ‘staggered’ migration. Participants dealt with three key decisions in relation to their children and care: whether to bring their children to Australia; whether to leave their children at home or send them back home; and, whether to leave Australia as a family and move back home with their children. Feelings of temporariness and uncertainty were common in these households.
The NSW Legislative Council has released a report on childhood overweight and obesity. It details the structural factors that help determine a child’s weight, and provides compelling recommendations related to urban planning, cost and accessibility of organised sport and food labelling.
Children and Families Evidence: Findings from Six Evidence Gap Maps
This report was developed in collaboration with Melbourne University and identifies gaps in published literature pertaining to 5 key focus areas; Aboriginal children and families, out of home care, high-risk young people, trauma-informed practice, children with disabilities and their families and family violence.
With the continually increasing collection of ‘big data’ across the globe, the protection of children’s’ rights is becoming increasingly complex and challenging. In this report, UNICEF calls for a greater appreciation of the links between children’s rights, ethics and data collection. Though the collection of big data presents many opportunities, the international community must address any concerns about how to protect and respect fundamental rights, particularly those of vulnerable children.
This report by the Tasmanian Commissioner for Children and Young People, Mark Morrissey, presents findings aimed at improving the wellbeing of children and young people living in out of home care. Although he found that the 1,100 children in state care were ‘generally experiencing acceptable outcomes’, he also identifies a number of issues with the system. Morrissey presents seven recommendations to improve the OOHC system in Tasmania.
Children and young people’s mental health —the role of education
Schools have a significant role in promoting and protecting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. The UK Health and Education Select Committees have published findings from their joint inquiry into the role of education in promoting emotional wellbeing in children and young people in the UK. The report recommends a whole of school approach to embed the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in school culture. It is also important that teachers receive training in mental health issues and how to respond to them.
The latest issue of Children Australia includes a range of articles about social work practice and children experiencing vulnerability, including articles about the leadership of young people in family violence prevention, the engagement of refugee families in early childhood services, and the therapeutic supports required for child to recover from family violence.
Parental mental illness affects roughly 23% of Australian children. In light of this statistic, Response Ability has developed a fact sheet that outlines the ways in which parenting capacity may be impacted, and the social and emotional implications for children. The resource provides tips and guidelines for educators to help prevent children of parents with a mental illness from experiencing learning and development difficulties. Educators and teachers are identified as key contact points through which children and families can access mental health support.
Children’s social care innovation programme: Final evaluation report
The UK Department for Education has published an overview of the evaluation of the children’s social care innovation program in England 2014 to 2016. The report includes findings from project evaluations that show reductions in children entering care, children living in residential care and increased reunification with birth families. From these evaluations, a number of recommendations for best practice emerge, including the adoption of a family focused, strengths-based approach that supports families to take responsibility for their own lives; multi-professional teams including workers in family violence, mental health and drug and alcohol; and a ‘key worker’ to provide consistency.
Children’s television viewing and multi-screen behaviour: Analysis of 2005–16
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a report looking at Children’s television viewing and multi-screen behaviour. It provides insights into viewing practices and habits of Australian children, and information about parental attitudes, including content concerns. Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to monitor or limit their children’s viewing, as the number of media devices they have access to increase.
Clear Horizon offers a range of tools and resources specific to monitoring and evaluation to measure the impact and achievement of project outcomes. These include the Most Significant Change Technique and Collaborative Outcomes Reporting.
The Prime Minister has delivered the ninth annual report addressing the Closing the Gap targets. The report recognises that changes are on the way; however, Australia is failing on six out of seven key measures. A new target for Indigenous 4 year olds enrolled in early childhood education is 95 per cent by 2025. The data shows that in 2015, 87% of all Indigenous children were enrolled in early childhood education the year before full-time school. Though improvements have been made in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students, this target is not on track. Last year, 640 more children needed to read at the Year 3 benchmark to halve the gap. We must look at the evidence to find effective solutions and focus on empowering and building the capacity of local communities.
Co-Design for Authentic Participation and Family Centred-Practice: Penny Hagen
OPEN organised this Knowledge Building workshop where Dr. Penny Hagen from the Auckland Co-design Lab shared approaches that are participatory, gentle and respectful in order to bring less privileged perspectives to the surface in complex conversations.
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.
Collaboration and co-design when evaluating intergenerational trauma projects
This brief article outlines how co-design and collaboration shapes the work of the Healing Foundation. It explores how concepts of collaboration and co-design fit with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and provides a list of further resources for those who want to know more about best practice in this area.
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
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.
Community Based Prevention of Violence Against Women and Their Children: A Toolkit for Practitioners
Ourwatch has launched an evidence-based toolkit for practitioners and community service organisations to engage their community to prevent violence against women. It addresses the gendered drivers of violence against women and provides a suite of strategies to help practitioners respond to them. The toolkit encourages a tailored approach to prevention that is community driven and specific.
Community schools: An evidence-based strategy for equitable school improvement
A recent review of research studies and evaluations has shown that community schools can be successful in improving school outcomes and childhood learning. This is found to be particularly true in schools with a high level of poverty. This brief, prepared by the Learning Policy Institute and the National Education Policy Center, highlights the benefits of community schools partnering with local agencies and government to provide an integrated and holistic approach to academics, health and community development.
Comparative perspectives on family day care: Structure, regulation and research gaps
Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) commissioned the Social Policy Research Centre to examine the regulations and funding processes surrounding family day care in New Zealand and the UK. By examining international examples of funding and regulation for ECEC, Australia can gain insight into how it can design its own family day care services to be more flexible and of a higher quality. The report notes a lack of information available about the kinds of integrated and innovative practices currently in place in Australia. In light of this, the report proposes a research agenda for Australian family day care.
Concepts of community: Young people’s concerns, views and experiences
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.
In this activity young people are encouraged to fill in the page with words or pictures identifying different points of connection at various levels. This will open up conversations about a young person’s place in the world and encourage them to see themselves as one part of a connected network of support. If a young person doesn’t have strong connections in “Family”, they may be led to see that they do have connections elsewhere – perhaps via a connection to nature, culture, or a particular worker or friend.
Considering culture: Building the best evidence-based practices for children of color
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has produced a case study that examines the role of culture in establishing effective, evidence-based programs in African-American communities. The report suggests ways in which organisations can apply evidence-based practices and introduce innovative approaches and programs that respond to the needs of African-Americans. It emphasises that programs which are effective for one group might not be so for another. Success is dependent upon having a strong understanding of the unique cultural environment and on incorporating this understanding into the design and implementation stages of a program. This will also support community buy-in at the early stages of a community program or intervention.
Contexts of disadvantage: Implications for child outcomes
This report uses data from the first five waves of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) to examine the links between family, neighbourhood and school level disadvantage and children’s cognitive and social outcomes. It found that to experience any one of family, neighbourhood or school level disadvantage is detrimental to a child’s cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes. The LSAC data suggests that much of the association between disadvantage and child cognitive outcomes can be explained by the incidental influence of disadvantage on the home environment, especially on the amount of time and effort spent by parents on activities that stimulate children’s cognitive abilities.
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.
WEstjustice has launched their 'Couch Surfing Limbo' report which explores the challenges faced by young couch surfers. Common challenges experienced by this group include exploitation, abuse, and the complexities of navigating a predominantly adult homelessness service system. The report also provides insight into the issues faced by couch providers – the informal carers that look after young couch surfers in their homes.
Counting the costs of lost opportunity in Australian education
This Mitchell Institute report estimates the economic and social costs linked to early school leaving and not being actively engaged in work and study in the year after completing Year 12. The costs related to disconnection from education affect not only career aspirations, prospects and income, but also influences decision-making in relation to parenting, health and citizenship. The cost to taxpayers of having 38,000 19-year-olds – about one in four – not achieving their Year 12 certificate is estimated to be $315 million each year and more than $12.6 billion across a lifetime.
Covid-19 and early intervention: Evidence, challenges and risks relating to virtual and digital delivery
This report from the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) sets out the evidence on virtual and digital delivery of interventions across a range of relevant domains, highlights the challenges and risks associated with remote delivery methods, and provides the findings from an EIF survey asking intervention developers and providers about their response to the Covid-19 crisis. It is intended to support the sector as it rapidly adapts to the constraints on delivery imposed by widespread social distancing and lockdown.
COVID-19 Impact Report: Responding to the needs of children and families
This impact report from CFECFW is based on a review of data gathered by the CFECFW during the period March-June 2020, sometimes called the ‘first wave’ of the coronavirus in Victoria. During the four months covered by this report, CSOs across Victoria demonstrated their ability to respond quickly to the unprecedented challenges facing their clients and workers by implementing creative solutions and workarounds in the face of restrictions on face to face engagement. This report also highlights the challenges experienced by families and workers, the ‘pragmatic problem-solving’ of our CSOs as they transformed their service delivery models, and the lessons learned.
COVID-19 Information and Resources for Engagement Professionals
This collection of articles and presentations from the International Association for Public Participation provide advice and strategies for engaging the community during COVID-19. It focuses particularly on how to use digital methods of engagement in place of face to face contact, which may be useful for those who are wanting to collect data or conduct interviews during this period, as well as those seeking more general advice on how to maintain safe and connected service delivery.
CREATE has produced a Position Paper on Transitioning from Care, calling for governments to listen to young people about their care experiences and their suggestions for improvement. It presents data from a range of sources that illustrate the experiences of young people transitioning from care, their life outcomes and the effectiveness of targeted services for these young people, such as the Go your Own Way project.
Creating Engaging Schools for all Children and Young People: What Works
This VCOSS report aims to improve school and student engagement in Victoria. It presents a number of successful examples of engaging schools, and offers seven ‘principles of school engagement’ that can help create an engaging and supportive school culture. Along with school specific examples of good practice in Victoria, the report also acknowledges the system-wide changes needed to support an engaging and inclusive school environment.
Watch Dr. Kim Sabo Flores, a youth participatory evaluation expert based in the US, talking about the need to create environments which ignite learning and development in young people.
Crossover Children: Examining Initial Criminal Justice System Contact Among Child Protection- Involved Youth
This article is part of a series of reports and articles seeking to understand the circumstances that lead to children and young people becoming ‘cross-over kids’; involved in both the child protection and criminal justice systems. It looks at cross-over children’s initial charges.
Cultural Competency from Better Evaluation
Evaluators may come across situations where they have to work in a cultural context other than of their own. Culturally competent evaluators not only respect the cultures represented in the evaluation but recognize their own ‘culturally based assumptions’; take into account the ‘differing world view of evaluation stakeholders and target communities’ and select culturally appropriate evaluation options and strategies.
Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study
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.
This overview from Better Evaluation looks at the basics of Developmental Evaluation. Developmental Evaluation is an approach that can be used effectively when there is no clear model to evaluate due to a complex and dynamic environment - such as a global health emergency like COVID-19. This resource outlines the basics of this approach and how it can be utilised to develop a continuous improvement loop that supports innovation and adaptation in a changing environment.
Developments to strengthen systems for child protection across Australia
This Australian Institute of family studies (AIFS) paper outlines the latest changes within Australian child protection systems. It draws on a survey completed by child protection departments across Australia on change and reform planned or underway since July 2010.The key challenges faced by Australia’s child protection system include insufficient capacity to meet the quantity and complexity of cases in statutory child protection and out-of-home care (OOHC), failure to improve outcomes for children in OOHC and the over-representation of Aboriginal children in statutory child protection and OOHC.
This guide from the Department of Health and Human Services (2017) is designed to support staff in the planning and commissioning of an evaluation. It is suitable for anyone responsible for program development, implementation or evaluation.