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

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.

Design, Implement, Evaluate

NHRMC National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) – Updated 2018

Safety and wellbeing, Evaluation, Practice Tool

High quality data can help us understand if we are on track, and if clients are benefiting as they would like to. If you are responsible for collecting data for evaluation there is lots to consider, including respecting client confidentiality, being cautious of potential power imbalances and accommodating for diverse literacy levels. Ensuring that methods and tools are fit for purpose and our processes are ethical is essential. Become familiar with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) – Updated 2018.

Northern Territory Royal Commission

Safety and wellbeing

The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory has tabled its final report, exposing systemic failures. The report shows that children in detention in the NT have been subject to verbal abuse, physical control and humiliation, including being denied access to basic human needs such as water, food and the use of toilets. A new Children’s Court, implementation of an early intervention family support program, and a Commission for Children and Young People are key elements of a comprehensive reform agenda outlined in the report. Read the report here.

Out of the shadows: What’s next in transforming the Victorian family violence sector?

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing

Tanya Corrie, of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, discusses the Victorian government’s commitment to eliminating violence against women in Victoria in light of the state budget. This opinion piece provides a summary of the areas that the government will target spending. Corrie applauds the focus on prevention and early intervention, and suggests that Victoria’s family violence reform could be an example for other states.

Oversight and regulatory mechanisms aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse: Understanding current evidence of efficacy

Safety and wellbeing, Child maltreatment

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a new research report that finds Australian oversight bodies have inconsistent scope and powers in protecting children from sexual abuse in institutions. Researchers examine several oversight bodies, including Ombudsman’s offices, children’s commissions and advocacy and guardianship agencies. The report highlights the localised factors and resource constraints that influence capacity to implement oversight powers and priority areas for oversight.

Playgroups in Australia: Building the evidence base

Early years, Safety and wellbeing

This suite of resources is intended to assist in the development of high-quality and consistent playgroups. It outlines nine key principles underpinning high quality playgroups. They provide an evidence-informed framework with which playgroups can be developed based on the local families’ and community’s needs. Most importantly, playgroups should be child-focused, child-inclusive and developmentally appropriate.

Policy roundtable – Emerging patterns in place-based approaches: International perspectives

Safety and wellbeing

The Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital has released a summary report of the emerging patterns in place-based approaches to child welfare. It highlights the need to invest in place-based interventions as a strategy for improving outcomes for children living in disadvantaged locations. It focuses on replicable learnings from researchers and practitioners in place-based programs across the UK, US and Australia.


Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Developing a health, wellbeing and safety evaluation framework for Aboriginal Victorians

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, OPEN Symposium 2019

In this presentation, Gabrielle Johnson (VACCA) and Prof. Margaret Kelaher (University of Melbourne) discuss their development of an Aboriginal-led, Aboriginal health, wellbeing and safety evaluation framework on behalf of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The framework foregrounds Aboriginal-defined measures of success for family violence, health, wellbeing and child safety – which align strongly with the principle of self-determination. The inclusion of Aboriginal voices in the development this framework means that the priorities of Aboriginal people will be addressed in forthcoming evaluations.

Preventing adolescent relationship abuse and promoting healthy relationships

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, Practice Tool

This paper from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse looks at the issue of violence and abuse in adolescent relationships. Psychological and emotional abuse are shown to be the most common forms of violence among this demographic. School and community based violence prevention programs have an important role to play in supporting young people to build healthy relationships. The report suggests that school curricula and community prevention models need to work alongside one another to create change in relation to violent behaviour in adolescent relationships.

Prioritising Possibilities for Child and Family Health: An Agenda to Address Adverse Childhood Experiences and Foster the Social and Emotional Roots of Well-being in Pediatrics

Early years, Safety and wellbeing

This paper takes a comprehensive look at the evidence relating to the negative health effects of adverse childhood experiences. Findings highlight the central role of positive family relationships, promoting resilience and establishing community partnerships in addressing adverse childhood experiences. The paper calls on key decision-makers, practitioners and community members to refocus on relationships and the regulation of emotion as a means of achieving overall health and wellbeing for children.

Promoting Community-Led Responses to Violence Against Immigrant and Refugee Women in Metropolitan and Regional Australia. The ASPIRE Project: Key Findings and Future Directions

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Safety and wellbeing

ANROWS has released a state of knowledge paper exploring the nature of violence against immigrant and refugee women in Victoria and Tasmania. The report focuses on patterns of help-seeking and access to services. A number of challenges such as language barriers, cultural and social isolation and visa restrictions are faced by immigrant and refugee women and contribute to their experience of family violence. The report provides recommendations to policy-makers and practitioners to better prevent and respond to violence against immigrant and refugee women.

Quick review series: Protecting children during the COVID-19 pandemic

Safety and wellbeing, COVID-19

This quick review from CFECFW looks at a webinar from the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action. The webinar discusses the protection of children during COVID-19 pandemic and shares lessons learnt from the child protection Ebola response. It also highlights key priorities and the way forward in the coming months.

Remote data collection on violence against children during COVID-19: A conversation with experts on research priorities, measurement and ethics (Part 2)

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, Child maltreatment

Part two of his two part report from UNICEF presents a conversation with experts on research priorities, measurement and ethics for collecting data with these vulnerable groups. This is framed in the context of COVID-19, which may lead to an increased risk of violence as a result of compounding structural, interpersonal and individual-level risk factors - including the increased economic strain placed on families, stay-at-home orders, school closures and other COVID-19 response measures.

The Commonwealth Government has recently released its annual Report on Government Services (ROGS). In January the volumes on performance monitoring, community services (aged care, disability, child protection and youth justice), housing and homelessness, justice, emergency management were released, with the remaining volumes on health, child care, education and training due for release in February. ROGS provides comparative data across jurisdictions for the purposes of service improvement. ‘Improving child development’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to ensure Australia’s children are safe and well. Nationally, in 2015, 22% of children were developmentally vulnerable on one or more Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) domains, while 11.1 per cent of children were developmentally vulnerable on two or more AEDC domains. The number of children identified as being developmentally vulnerable on two or more AECD domains represents a slight increase on the 2012 figure of 10.8% while the percentage of children developmentally vulnerable on one or more AEDC domain/s remains the same as in 2012 (22%).

Reporting the Health and Development of Children in Rural and Remote Australia

Poverty, Safety and wellbeing

This review by the Centre for Community Child Health contributes to the knowledge base of the profile of children residing in rural and remote Australia, with particular attention to developmental outcomes and social determinants of health. It found that children in remote and regional areas are more likely to experience poverty, live in unemployed households in single parent families with low educational engagement, who are also more likely to be socially isolated and Indigenous. This review will inform a more systematic approach to improving access to health services and health outcomes for children living in rural and remote Australia.

Reporting the health and development of children in rural and remote Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Safety and wellbeing

A new report highlights the rapidly growing disparity between city and rural children’s developmental health. The report emphasises the developmental, behavioural and mental health needs of children aged 0-12 years of age, and the current gaps in the provision of appropriate health services for children and families. Aboriginal children are significantly more likely than their non-Indigenous peers to live in remote and rural areas, and are have greater exposure to adverse conditions and lack of services in these areas.

Responding to adverse childhood experiences with HOPE: health outcomes from positive experiences

Early years, Safety and wellbeing

This article introduces a framework called “HOPE: Health Outcomes From Positive Experiences.” The HOPE framework focuses on the need to actively promote positive childhood experiences that contribute to child wellbeing and development. The data presented demonstrates the powerful contribution of positive relationships and experiences to the development of healthy children.

Safe and Sound: Creating safe residential care services for children and young people

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing

This Research to Practice issue explores options for the development of safe residential services for children and young people, and discusses the factors preventing them from seeking support for safety concerns. It also includes strategies for preventing harm and responding to safety concerns. The paper emphasises the importance of building trust between the young person and residential staff.

Self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people aged 14-15 years old

Safety and wellbeing

This AIFS report provides a comprehensive, analytical discussion of self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people among a particular cohort in Australia. It explores the prevalence rates of self-harm and suicidal behaviour among 14–15 year olds, the risk factors associated with self-harm and the extent to which poor socio-emotional health earlier in life is associated with self-harm and suicidal behaviour. The findings highlight that interventions and preventive strategies should take place at both individual and school levels, particularly identifying those who are more likely to attempt suicide.

Strengthening prevention and early intervention services for families into the future

Families and parenting, Safety and wellbeing

This report prepared by Deakin University and Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) investigates the potential of the family and relationships sector to take a stronger prevention and early intervention approach. Substance abuse and antisocial behaviour were among the eight priority health and social problems identified as potentially preventable through the delivery of family and relationship services. The report recommends a national action plan to increase prevention and early intervention service delivery.

Supporting vulnerable households to achieve their housing goals: The role of impact investment

Safety and wellbeing

This report from Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute (AHURI) was released as part of an inquiry into social impact investment (SII) for improving housing and homelessness outcomes. It discusses the real and perceived opportunities and risks of social impact investment for Australia’s housing and homelessness policies. SII has become an increasing focus of governments as a funding solution to entrenched social problems, such as homelessness. While there is much promise with various SII models, there needs to be further investigation of the benefits flowing from this approach in comparison to existing social service delivery models.

Supporting Youth in Foster Care: Research-Based Policy Recommendations for Executive and Legislative Officials in 2017

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

Child Trends has compiled the evidence relating to youth in foster care in this policy brief. A review of the evidence highlights the importance of education, health services and supports extending beyond the age of 18 to children and young people living in care. Three core recommendations are made to policymakers.

The effects of pornography on children and young people

Safety and wellbeing

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has released a report looking at the impact of exposure to and consumption of online pornography on children and young people. The report synthesises the existing research to draw out consistent themes and identify promising approaches to addressing the harms of online pornography.

The Australian government has released a short guide for educators and other practitioners working with young people on how to highlight and dismantle stereotypes and language that is potentially damaging to both genders. The guide points out that phrases like ‘boys will be boys’ can normalise aggression and teach girls to expect to be treated in this way. The guide is part of a wider campaign that aims to change attitudes surrounding domestic violence and gender equality.

The Hard Road: National economic & social impact survey 2017

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

The Salvation Army has released the findings from its sixth annual Economic and Social Impact Survey (ESIS). The national survey explores the challenges experienced by those who access the Salvation Army’s Emergency Relief (ER) services. It shows that the top three day-to-day challenges faced by individuals and families include being able to afford enough food to eat, managing mental health and emotional wellbeing, and managing financial stress. Homelessness and housing stress were also important themes that emerged from the study, with 44% of respondents having moved house at least three times in the past 12 months and 66% experiencing extreme housing stress.

The opportunities, risks and possibilities of social impact investment for housing and homelessness

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing

This report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) investigates the opportunities and risks for social impact investments to improve housing and homelessness outcomes. It examines alternative finance models and presents case studies of social impact investment. The report highlights that the social impact investment market is still in its infancy and consequently the evidence base is limited.

The place of kindness: Combating loneliness and building stronger communities

Safety and wellbeing

This is not a traditional research project though draws on relevant evidence. The Carnegie UK Trust, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has launched a report looking at how we can encourage kinder communities. The Trusts worked with seven community organisations in Scotland to test what could be done to encourage kindness in communities. The report includes powerful examples of kindness affecting change and supporting the wellbeing of communities and individuals alike.

Child abuse and neglect can take many different forms. This resource sheet discusses the different forms that child abuse and neglect may take, including physical abuse, neglect, emotional maltreatment, exposure to family violence, and sexual abuse. There are significant gaps in Australian research into the prevalence of the different forms of child abuse and neglect, and to date; there has been no comprehensive, nationwide study into its prevalence. To try and fill this knowledge gap, the paper provides a review of ten Australian studies that have examined the prevalence of child maltreatment in its different forms.

Trajectories in Online Child Sexual Exploitation Offending in Australia

Safety and wellbeing, Report

This study looks at data relating to a sample of offenders convicted of online child sexual exploitation offences. It aims to discover if and how online forms of child sexual exploitation and offline child sexual exploitation are linked. The majority of offenders included in this study committed only online offences, although in a small number of cases there was a correlation between exploitative material, grooming and contact offending. This work is an important first step in understanding the nature of online child exploitation and how it relates to other forms of abuse.

Understanding and applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child placement principle: A resource for legislation, policy, and program development

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Safety and wellbeing

To support the implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, SNAICC is producing a series of resources. The first is a guide to understanding and applying the principle, including definitions of the core elements and guidance on the best-practice approach to implementing them. The resource draws on the research evidence base and on the guidance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in the child and family services sector.

The Victorian Government has released a multicultural policy statement, Victorian. And proud of it. The statement recognises the success of Victoria’s immigrant history and celebrates the new communities that have settled here. It includes a series of initiatives to encourage Victorians – from diverse circumstances and cultural backgrounds – to contribute and belong in our community.

Violence against Women in Australia: An Overview of Research and Approaches to Primary Prevention

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing

VicHealth has released a paper synthesising the most up-to-date research examining violence against women in Australia and its prevention. It presents data relating to the prevalence of violence against women, the related health, social and economic repercussions, and contemporary responses to violence against women. The paper is strongly focused on the evidence relating to primary prevention with examples of promising approaches.

Who are the persistently NEET young people?

Safety and wellbeing

This research focuses on young people not in education, employment or training (NEET). It seeks to identify who falls into this group and for what reasons. The main characteristics associated with being persistently NEET are early school leaving and having children; particularly under the age of 20.The study suggests that Vocational Education and Training can provide an important pathway for some persistently NEET young people to gain meaningful and long-term employment.

Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre has released a paper that examines how the accommodation needs of unaccompanied children aged under 16 have been articulated and addressed across a number of Australian jurisdictions. The paper follows from an earlier release of ‘Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania’, which found that highly vulnerable teens struggle to find safe accommodation, and that a completed circle of care was needed to ensure they do not fall through the cracks. This iteration explores the policy, programs and services offered in other Australian states and territories which address the shortage of medium and long-term care for older children unable to return home.

This report by the Centre for Social Impact and National Australia Bank measures financial exclusion and resilience in Australia. Based on a nationwide survey of over 2000 people, key findings show that access to financial products and services has gotten worse, but understanding of and confidence in using financial services and products has increased. People living in very short-term rentals, born in a non-English speaking country, and with a mental illness were more likely to be in severe financial stress. The report calls for a concerted cross-sectoral response to improve financial resilience in Australia.

Women’s Input into a Trauma-informed Systems Model of Care in Health Settings: The WITH study: Key findings and future directions

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This ANROWS report presents a summary of the findings from the Women’s Input into a Trauma-informed systems model of care in Health settings (the WITH Study) and the implications for policy and practice. Based in Victoria and New South Wales, the study aims to inform our understanding of how to effectively promote and embed a trauma-informed organisational model of care that is responsive to the needs of women. The report identifies a range of factors that influence the implementation of a trauma-informed model of care, including workforce training and support, and improved information systems, among others.

Working together to keep children and families safe: Strategies for developing collaborative competence

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Safety and wellbeing, Practice Tool

This practice paper from AIFS focuses on improving cross-sectoral relationships between child protection and child and family welfare practitioners, who are often required to work together to keep children and families safe. This paper offers tips and techniques to build practitioners’ collaborative competence; that is, their skills in developing and sustaining effective cross-sectoral relationships in the many and varied circumstances of daily practice.

The Inner North West Primary Care Partnership has led the development of a Workplace Family Violence Policy Template. Workplaces have a role to play in raising awareness about family violence, and creating a workplace culture that promotes safe, equitable and respectful gender relations. A comprehensive workplace family violence policy is a valuable tool to respond appropriately to family violence and communicate a whole of workplace commitment to preventing it. The template aims to support organisations to develop and implement family violence policies within their own workplaces.