It’s not our difference that is the disability: Impact of COVID-19 in Australia on children and young people with disability, and their families

Disability, Families and parenting, Young People, Report, Children, Literature Review, Report, Literature Review

ARACY has released this report outlining the results of a literature review on the impacts of COVID-19 on children with disability and their families in Australia, and findings from two policy roundtables. The review found that the pandemic exacerbated many of the problems already faced by families with disability, with children younger than school-age being the most negatively affected.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released this report synthesising the views of children, young people and families who were consulted to inform the first five-year action plans of Safe and Supported: The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021-2031. Participants identified housing, mental health and help with basic needs as the most important supports to help children, young people and families to be safe. The report contains 55 recommended actions.

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.

The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) has released its audit report on the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) kinship care model. The audit examined whether DFFH is supporting timely, stable and quality kinship placements through the model. Results and 12 recommendations that were found are detailed in the report.

Learning through COVID-19: Maximising educational outcomes for Australia’s children and young people experiencing disadvantage – Pillar 3 report

Education, Young People, Evidence-Based Program, Children, COVID-19, Report

This report from the University of Queensland builds on two previous reports in a series exploring the impact of COVID-19 on learning to present evidence-based options for action to address disadvantage. Evidence-based interventions and programs were identified across core actions within four priority Action Areas: student mental health, wellbeing and hope; future role of teachers, schools and communities; digital equity; and protections for the most vulnerable students. The researchers assessed 65 programs for implementation readiness in the Australian context. The findings reveal key evidence gaps and the report urges government to take action in 16 areas.

Life, disrupted: Young people, education and employment before and after COVID-19

Education, Young People, COVID-19, Employment, Report

The Monash University Centre for Youth Policy and Education Practice has released this report exploring the relationship between education and work and the contextual factors that shape education and work for young people in Australia. The report finds that the disruptions caused by the pandemic have magnified existing social issues, such as job insecurity, erosion of worker rights and shifting career identities, which have led to significant challenges for young people. The report discusses the implications of these social issues for educational providers.

Locked out: Vaccination discrimination for children and young people with disability

Disability, Young People, Report, Children, COVID-19, Case Study, Vaccination, Report, Case Study

This report from the Public Service Research Group at the University of New South Wales and Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) used survey data to investigate the COVID-19 vaccination experiences of children and young people with disability. The study found that 62 per cent of respondents were parents or carers who experienced difficulties and barriers in vaccinating their child or children with disability. The report concludes that support to make sure that children with disability can access an appropriate vaccination experience is crucial to prevent high levels of severe disease.

Making Young Minds Matter: Reshaping support services for young people in the new parliament

Mental Health, Young People

ResPublica has published a report about improving mental health services for children and young people in the UK. The report proposes three pillars to underpin the design and delivery of support services offered to vulnerable children and young people: early intervention and prevention; collaboration between all relevant stakeholders; and the active participation of young people in shaping the support that they need. These principles may be used to inform the work of government and community organisations, to secure better outcomes for children in care, experiencing mental health issues or facing any other barriers to their wellbeing and success.

Measuring what matters: Drawing on a participatory wellbeing framework and existing data to assess child wellbeing outcomes over time

Poverty, Young People, Children, low income, Health and Wellbeing

This article from the Centre for Social Research and Methods illustrates the effect of applying a wellbeing participatory framework – focused on key areas that children indicate as having value to themselves – to an existing dataset on child wellbeing. Results showed some areas of concern for children and young people in Australia and details how policies should be changed as a result.

New ways for our families: Designing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practice framework and system responses to address the impacts of domestic and family violence on children and young people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence, Young People, Children, Child Protection, Domestic Violence, Report

This report from Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) is the first of two reports that will explore how services and systems can better respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV) who come to the attention of child protection systems. The evidence review found that the voices of Aboriginal children are largely silent in the literature despite the extensive impacts of DFV on their lives and that this concerning outcome is driven by a service system focused on adults.

OPEN Research/Policy Snapshot: Children and young people on the edge of care, out of home and alone

Families and parenting, Young People, Homelessness, OPEN Resource

This resource highlights the key findings, recommendations and takeaways from this July 2020 report by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence. The report explores the inadequacies of existing service provisions for children and young people aged 10-16 years who do not qualify for statutory removal but who cannot remain at home due to family conflict.

Our youth, our way: Inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the Victorian youth justice system

Youth Justice, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Young People, Report, Adolescents, Report

The Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP) has released its report examining the lived experience of Aboriginal young people who have had contact with Victoria’s youth justice system and the factors that contribute to their overrepresentation. CCYP found that the continuing legacy of colonisation, the stolen generation and structural and institutional racism play a significant role in the over-representation of Aboriginal young people in the youth justice system. The report makes 75 recommendations.

Out of sight: Systemic inquiry into children and young people who are absent or missing from residential care

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

The Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP) has released this systemic inquiry report into children and young people who are absent or missing from residential care in Victoria. The report investigates prevalence, patterns and characteristics of young people, the factors that contribute to their absence, and the harms experienced while absent from care. The report found that deficiencies in the current model of residential care are key factors driving absence from care, with young people feeling unsafe and/or seeking needed connection elsewhere. The report makes 18 recommendations.

The Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) is the first large-scale prospective longitudinal study of children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC) in Australia. Information on safety, permanency and wellbeing will be collected from various sources. The child developmental domains of interest are physical health, socio-emotional wellbeing and cognitive/learning ability. This interactive webpage provides an overview of several elements of the study, including videos, methods and updates.

Pathways, engagement and transitions: Initial post-school transitions among young people experiencing disadvantage

Education, Young People, Report

This Smith Family report, from an ongoing longitudinal study, looks at young people's experience of disadvantage during the post-school transition period. This report provides insight into factors and circumstances affecting work and study pathways for young people who experience disadvantages.

Peer victimisation, depressive symptoms, and substance use: A longitudinal analysis

Mental Health, Young People, Alcohol and Other Drugs

A new study led by the University of Delaware found that children who are bullied in fifth grade are more likely to suffer from depression in seventh grade, and have a greater likelihood of using alcohol, marijuana or tobacco in tenth grade. The study shows the long term impact of peer victimisation experiences in early adolescence, which affects mental health and substance use in later life.

Power of Image: A report into the influence of images and videos in young people’s digital lives

Young People, Report

The UK Safer Internet Centre has undertaken research exploring the role of images and videos in young people’s digital lives and the influence this can have on their self-esteem, behaviour and emotions. The findings show the pervasiveness of video and image sharing among young people, the positive role it can have, and the accompanying risks that this digital culture presents. Eighty per cent of participants reported that they had been inspired by an image to do something positive. However, a significant number of young people have had negative experiences of the digital world. Twenty-two per cent of 8-17 year olds reported that someone has posted an image or video to bully them.

Preliminary Findings and Recommendations for the Brighter Futures Transformation Pilot: Summary Re

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

This report examines the Brighter Futures Transformation Pilot, that took place from 2018-2020. This Preliminary Findings and Recommendations Report was commissioned to highlight and identify the impact of the Pilot’s work and establish direction prior to the end of the funding cycle.

Preparing young people for the future of work

Education, Young People

The Mitchell Institute has brought together a group of education practitioners, government leaders and policy experts to consider the challenge of improving young people’s transitions into employment. Young Australians are studying for longer than ever before but are disengaged and struggling to secure long-term employment. The unemployment rate of young people (15-24 year olds) averaged 12.7 per cent in 2016. The authors argue that young people are entering a competitive, global job market that requires a different set of skills from the skills emphasised in Australia’s education system.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – “Cultivating the Soil”: Co-design and collective impact for system change

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Conference presentation

Heidi Tucker (Anchor Inc.), Meg Beilken (Brighter Futures) and Dylan Langley (Brighter Futures Youth Ambassador Group) discuss the Brighter Futures Transformation Pilot: Learning for Life through Community Connection. The pilot utilised co-design and collective impact to create an enabling environment for innovation and systems change. The presenters discuss the importance of youth participation and collaborative efforts to improve outcomes for young people in out-of-home care.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Continuing care: collaborative youth participation practice with young people and leaving care services

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Conference presentation

In this presentation, Jade Purtell (Monash University) and Ralph Salera (Salvation Army) discussed their evaluation of the Westcare Continuing Care program. The evaluation focused on the effectiveness of support provided to young people leaving care, and to their foster or residential carers. The evaluation was also supported by youth participation, as The Youth Advocates Group (TYAG) provided feedback on service improvements.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Emerging Leaders Program for young people with disability

Disability, Young People, Conference presentation

Simon Green and Haley Zilberberg (Youth Disability Advocacy Service) discuss their development of their Emerging Young Leaders Program for young people aged 14 to 20 who identified as having disability. With the NDIS changing how people with disability engage with society, accessible and inclusive practice is key to ensuring organisations can deliver safely and effectively. Feedback from participants, and their teachers and parents confirms that this program has created positive opportunities for people with disabilities to develop themselves.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Panel: Participatory practice at the coalface: Working collaboratively with young people

Young People, Conference presentation

A panel event discussing the key ingredients to successful youth participation practice. Hosted by Sam Champion (Youth Affairs Council of Victoria), and featuring: Siobhán McCann (Commission for Children and Young People), Cathy Carnovale (Create Foundation), Lauren Oliver (Berry Street), Brittany Witnish (Youth Advisor, Master of Social Work and lived experience consultant), Jade Purtell (Researcher and Youth Participation Consultant) & Jenna Bolinger (Researcher)

Promising Practice Guide: Improving the Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Severe and Complex Mental Health Needs

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Mental Health, Young People, Report

This promising practice guide from Orygen draws on an emerging, yet disparate, evidence-base about promising practices aimed at improving the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. It aims to support service providers, commissioners, and policy-makers to adopt strengths-based, equitable and culturally responsive approaches that better meet the needs of this high-risk population.

Protection through participation: Involving children in child-safe organisations

Early years, Young People

This practitioner resource considers the nature and benefits of meaningful youth participation in child safety measures. It looks at tools and strategies that can help practitioners to talk to children about their own safety and some of the ways that institutions can respond. The resource highlights the need for organisation-wide commitment to children's participation for this to be successful.

This document developed by the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health outlines a number of principles and practices for engaging with young people. These were co-developed with a youth advisory group and seek to ensure a high quality of client engagement and service.

Racism, racial discrimination and child and youth health: A rapid evidence synthesis

Young People, Report, Children, Data, Racism, Report, Database

Australian National University and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute have prepared this rapid evidence synthesis on racism and child and youth health. The report finds that children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of racism, including differential access to socioeconomic resources, increased exposure to risk factors for poor health, and by affecting behaviour and physiological and psychological wellbeing in ways that compromise health outcomes.

Design

Rapid Case Study: Youth Leadership Program – Centre for Multicultural Youth

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Mental Health, Young People, Client Engagement, OPEN Resource

This case study sheds a light on the Youth Leadership Program Area at Centre for Multicultural Youth. It talks about principles and values which respect the views and abilities of young people from diverse backgrounds, and has transferable lessons for all kinds of youth participation models.

Reaching potential: Experiences of young people with significant intellectual disability

Disability, Young People, Report, Report

This report from Social Ventures Australia investigates the experiences of young people with intellectual disability, focusing on those with more significant support needs. The study identified six themes: rich and diverse aspirations, a meaningful life of education, work and community participation, a secure future, a robust disability service system, healthy living, and community attitudes. The report identifies system gaps that are driving challenges for young people with intellectual disability and uses case studies to elevate their perspectives with the aim of driving systems change.

Screen time: What’s happening in our homes?

Young People, Technology

The latest Australian Child Health Poll has found that two-thirds of primary school-aged children and one-third of pre-schoolers now own their own tablet or smartphone. The report describes the links between increasing screen time and childhood issues such as lack of physical activity, disrupted sleep patterns and family conflict. The report highlights the important roles that healthcare providers, schools and policymakers alike, can have in helping children navigate this complex technological age.

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

Mental Health, Young People

New research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has measured the rates of self-harm and suicidal behaviour among Australian teenagers. The Australia-wide study found that 10 per cent of 14-15 year-olds reported that they had self-harmed in the previous 12 months and 5 per cent had attempted suicide. The study examined the factors linked to self-harm and found some teens were more at risk than others, including those who are same-sex attracted or experiencing depression or anxiety.

Speaking Out About Youth Justice: The Views of WA Children and Young People

Youth Justice, Young People, Report

The Commissioner for Children and Young People in WA has released a report detailing the experiences of young people who have been in contact with the youth justice system. Along with their personal stories, the young people included in the study share what they think would support them in the community to break the cycle of reoffending. The 92 young people involved in the study communicated the belief that offending could be prevented by making appropriate supports and services available. Key supports included positive role models, living in a safe and stable home, participating in education or employment, being involved in community activities and being supported to deal with personal challenges and behavioural issues. For a large number of young offenders, the role models, family supports and other safety nets many of us take for granted are not present.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released this paper examining how the wellbeing of children from disadvantaged backgrounds compares to their peers from more advantaged backgrounds, and relative to OECD countries. The study uses key comparative indicators to highlight how children from low SES backgrounds face poorer outcomes across many of the aspects of wellbeing. Outcomes are detailed in the report.

Identify, Design

Supporting the journey: issues in co-creating a sensitive narrative of the child’s identity and experience ‘in care’

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Client Engagement, Evidence Informed Practice, Children, Report

This 'Who Am I?' workshop report talks about the importance of capturing the perspectives of children and young people who are actively involved in the constructing their record while ‘in care’, and the process of collaboration between them and professionals. The idea was to understand the principles underpinning record-keeping and archival programs; and unpack the factors which enable or create barriers to effective practice for front line workers, managers and organisations providing out of home care.

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) has released this report containing results from the first 12 months of the ei Pulse wellbeing check-in tool. The ei Pulse tool uses an app to track Australian student’s wellbeing in real time. Once a week, students aged 10 years and over are asked how they are feeling and are then asked a selection of five evidence-based questions from a pool of 130 wellbeing questions. The report found that on average, 66 per cent of students felt ‘positive’ or ‘great’ each week, however 42 per cent said they worry a lot about mistakes they make. The tool is intended to improve student’s wellbeing literacy and the findings will allow schools to engage in continuous improvement to better support student wellbeing.

Talking About My Generation: Australians 18–25 years old

Young People, Client Voice, Report

The Australian Human Rights Commission's report provides insights from discussions with young people aged 18-25 on financial management, social conduct, mental health, and social media. It highlights a generational gap and is relevant for practitioners working with young people.

Te Mātātaki 2021: Findings from the 2019/2020 survey of tamariki and rangatahi in care

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

This report from Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) in New Zealand seeks to better understand the experiences of tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) in care. A census approach was used to conduct the survey so that all tamariki and rangatahi between 10 and 17 years of age who had been in care for more than 31 days had the opportunity to participate, resulting in a participation rate of 84 per cent. A key finding was that 97 per cent indicated that the adults they live with look after them well, with 81 per cent indicating that this was all of the time. Based on the feedback, priority areas for action are identified.

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 inclusion of LGBTQI+ students across education systems: An overview

Education, Young People, Policy, LGBTIQ+, Student Wellbeing, Health and Wellbeing

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released this report seeking to understand the challenges experienced by LGBTQI+ students and examining supportive educational policies and programs across OECD countries. This report had many findings and also identified seven practices that contribute to the wellbeing of LGBTQI+ students.

The same four walls: Isolation, separation and lockdowns in the Victorian Youth Justice System

Young People, Child maltreatment

This inquiry undertaken by Victoria’s Commission for Children and Young People considers the use of isolation, separation and lockdown practices in Victorian youth justice facilities. The review highlights issues of understaffing, poor transparency and extensive use of restrictive practices, particularly in the period between February 2015 and July 2016. The report makes a series of recommendations to improve practices, including adequate response to mental health needs, sufficient staffing, and compliance with policy and legislation design to protect children.

The voices of children and young people in out-of-home care 2021

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Young People, Client Experience, Children, Care Leavers

This report from the New South Wales Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People presents the experiences of 99 children and young people aged between 6-24 years old who spent time in the out-of-home care system in NSW. It covers their experiences of entering the care system and their education, health, and wellbeing; exiting the care system; and the advice they would provide to government. Further results are detailed in the report.

Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania

Families and parenting, Young People

This report from the Social Action and Research Centre, Anglicare Tasmania, explores young people’s high level of vulnerability as a key social justice issue facing Tasmania. Drawing on the narratives of young people, service providers and government services, this paper brings to the fore the experiences of young people (10-17 years old) who have lived through extreme hardship, unstable home lives and complex trauma. The report includes recommendations for key changes to how the experiences and needs of young people are both represented and responded to.

Toward a socio-ecological understanding of adolescent violence in the home by young people with disability: A conceptual review

Disability, Young People, Adolescents, AVITH, Adolescent violence in the home, Autism

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has released this report aiming to create a clearer conceptualisation of adolescent violence in the home (AVITH) and young people with disability to inform effective service responses. The review identifies six critical gaps in the evidence base and the impacts of this.

Transitioning to adulthood from out-of-home care: Independence or interdependence?

Safety and wellbeing, Young People, Children

This newly released report from CREATE Foundation examines young people’s views of life in care across Australia. A total of 325 young people were interviewed or completed a survey. The data identified five major challenges: support for transitioning, issues with caseworkers, issues with carers, placement stability and safety, and involvement in decision making.

UNICEF Toolkit: Useful Tools for Engaging Young People in Participatory Evaluation

Evaluation, Young People, Tool/toolkit

UNICEF developed this toolkit in 2005 to increase young people's participation in evaluation of projects in Europe and Central Asia. There are a number of evaluation tools/methods with ethical and practical guidelines to engage children and young people. There are also a number of energizers and ice-breakers to facilitate group sessions with children and young people where they can safely voice their opinions. Each tool and activity has a detailed set of instructions to guide the facilitator through the process.

Unpacking the Man Box: What is the impact of the Man Box attitudes on young Australian men’s behaviours and well-being?

Family Violence, Young People, Report

This study from Jesuit Social Services quantifies the unique influence of young men’s personal endorsement of the 'Man Box' masculinity pillars on different areas of their lives including mental health, substance use, relationships and violent/bullying behaviour. This is the second stage of this research, and involved surveying a large sample of 1,000 young men aged 18-30. The findings show how endorsement of hyper-masculine norms can effect young men's behaviours and life outcomes, and makes several recommendations for future research and policy in this area.

Webinar: Preparing young people to leave care during COVID-19

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

This webinar from Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) explored the potential impact of COVID-19 on young care leavers, and strategies to strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing. It reflected on past CFCA presentations and current responses in considering what may help support young care leavers during this pandemic. Recognising the increased risks of social isolation and psychological stress, presenters discussed strategies to strengthen young people’s social capital and improve their social and emotional wellbeing.