Community Based Prevention of Violence Against Women and Their Children: A Toolkit for Practitioners

Family Violence

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

Education, Evidence Informed Practice

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

Education, Early years, Collaboration

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

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.

Connections Activity – Hope-filled Engagement Tool

Young People, Client Engagement, Tool/toolkit

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

Education, Evidence Informed Practice

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

Education, Disability, Families and parenting

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.

Core care conditions for children and families: Implications for integrated child and family services

Families and parenting, Report, Children, Research, Report

This report from the Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute reviews the evidence on the core needs of children and families, the conditions required for parents to meet these needs, and how well these needs are being met. The research then integrates these findings into a framework that can be used to inform service delivery.

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 cost to families: Assessing childcare affordability in Australia

Families and parenting, Report, Children, Data, Report

This report from the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy at Victoria University reviews the available data on expenditure and affordability of childcare in Australia and analyses this to determine how much families are spending. The report finds that childcare is unaffordable for around 386,000 Australian families.

Counting the costs of lost opportunity in Australian education

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

Technology, COVID-19, Report

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 community sector impact survey

COVID-19, Report

This report from Our Community draws on survey data from 2020 and 2021 to investigate what was happening for the Australian community sector during the pandemic. The study found that while demand decreased in the early period of the pandemic, services are now experiencing increased demand, particularly in the areas of family violence, homelessness, food relief and childcare services.

COVID-19 Impact Report: Responding to the needs of children and families

Families and parenting, COVID-19, Report

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

Client Engagement, COVID-19, Database

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

Education

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.

Creating Learning Environments for Youth – Introduction

Evaluation, Young People, Video

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.

Critical interpretive synthesis: Child protection involvement for families with domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues, and mental health issues

Family Violence, Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Report, Child Protection, Report

This report by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) explores the occurrence, overlap or interrelationships between domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues and mental health issues in Australian families involved in the child protection system. A critical interpretive synthesis of the academic and grey literature found significant weaknesses in the evidence base. The study concluded that further research is needed to understand these interactions in the Australian context.

Crossover Children: Examining Initial Criminal Justice System Contact Among Child Protection- Involved Youth

Youth Justice, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

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.

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

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.

Data snapshot – Child witnesses of family violence: An examination of Victoria Police family violence data

Family Violence, Young People, Children

This report from the Crime Statistics Agency examines the prevalence and outcomes of witnessing family violence for children aged 0-17 in Victoria. It found that over a five-year-period in Victoria, 109,356 family violence incidents occurred with at least one child witness present. Of those child witnesses, over two-thirds were aged 9 years or younger. In 2018-19, over a third of incidents took place in the lowest ranking socio-economic areas in Victoria.

Dead ends: How our social security system is failing people with partial capacity to work

Disability, Employment, Report

This report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and Western Sydney University examines the development of the partial capacity to work classification and its impact on the lives of individuals and their households. The report finds that the partial capacity to work category is failing many people experiencing vulnerability, necessitating urgent reform, and contains eight recommendations for change.

Developing holistic integrated early learning services for young children and families experiencing socio-economic vulnerability

Evidence-Based Program, Report, Children, Research, Family Services, Report

The Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has released this report investigating the role that integrated child and family centres play in meeting the needs of children and families and reviewing what has been learned about the key elements of effective services for families experiencing vulnerability. The research identifies the core features of integrated child and family centres and examines how each element can be implemented effectively.

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

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

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.

Evaluate

DHHS Centre for Evaluation and Research – Evaluation Guide

Evaluation, Tool/toolkit

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.

Do academic preschools yield stronger benefits? Cognitive emphasis, dosage, and early learning

Education

The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology has published a US study documenting the benefits of ‘academic’ preschool programs that emphasise language, pre-literacy and math concepts. The benefits were sustained throughout kindergarten, and were especially strong for African-American children attending at least 20 hours per week. This study offers important insights into the ideal amount of time spent in preschool, and the types of classroom activities that may support cognitive development.

Do childhood experiences of parental separation lead to homelessness?

Families and parenting, Out of Home Care (OOHC), Poverty

This Melbourne Institute paper examines the relationship between parental separation and homelessness using Journey’s Home (JH), a dataset of disadvantaged Australians. The study finds a substantial causal effect between parental separation and entry into homelessness, particularly if the separation occurred before the respondent was 12 years old. The findings suggest that adolescent girls are more robust to parental separations than adolescent boys and that the effects of parental separations are larger when the parents were formally married.

Does money affect children’s outcomes? An update

Families and parenting, low income

A report by the London School of Economics provides an update to Does Money Affect Children’s Outcomes? A Systematic Review (2013). It provides further supporting evidence that money in itself is important for children’s cognitive development, physical health and educational achievement, distinct from other factors such as parental education. The authors found that poorer children have worse outcomes in part because they are poor and not only because of other factors that are associated with low income. The study found that reducing income poverty and inequality is likely to have a significant impact on children’s environment and on their development.

Doing good business: A resource for researchers about conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children about family violence.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence, Tool/toolkit

This research tool, prepared by staff at the ACU Institute of Child Protection Studies (ICPS) is designed for people who may be interested in funding or conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children on the topic of family violence. Its guidance is informed by the views of Indigenous researchers, research ethics committee members, Elders and senior community members, service providers, parents and young people from remote, rural, regional and urban Australia.

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.

Domestic and family violence protection orders in Australia: An investigation of information-sharing and enforcement with a focus on interstate orders

Family Violence, Report

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has released a report summarising the findings of research undertaken by the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research regarding the enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DPVOs). Inconsistencies and competing interests at the intersections of domestic and family violence, child protection, and family law remain a barrier to effective implementation and enforcement of DVPOs.

Dropping off the edge 2021: Persistent and multilayered disadvantage in Australia

Report, Disadvantaged Communities, Report

This report from Jesuit Social Services is the fifth in a series of reports measuring indicators of disadvantage in communities across Australia. It examines where disadvantage is concentrated, how various forms of disadvantage overlap and how this multilayered disadvantage becomes persistent. The study found that disadvantage is concentrated in a small number of communities across Australia. In Victoria, 5 per cent of locations accounted for 29 percent of the most disadvantaged positions across all indicators.

Early Years Transitions: Supporting children and families at risk of experiencing vulnerability: Rapid literature review

Education

This literature review conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) seeks to understand how Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services, professionals and teachers can support children in key transitions stages, particularly their entry into primary school. The review focuses on the transition support needs of children affected by trauma, children living in out of home care (OOHC) and children with a refugee background. It presents the most recent research to shed light on best practice. It highlights the importance of forging meaningful partnerships and providing ongoing support for the professional development of ECEC professionals and teachers.

Early Years transitions: Supporting children and families at risk of experiencing vulnerability: Rapid literature review

Education

The Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) engaged the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and Brotherhood of St Laurence to conduct a literature review on supporting children and families at risk of experiencing vulnerability during their transitions from home, out-of-home care or other programs into early childhood education and care (ECEC) services and school. The review focuses on the needs of children who have experienced trauma, children living in out-of-home care, refugee children and children experiencing intergenerational poverty. The report recommends stronger collaboration between a range of services, such as health and welfare services, ECEC institutions and schools.

Economic Abuse between Intimate Partners in Australia: Prevalence, Health Status, Disability and Financial Stress

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, low income

Economic abuse is a form of domestic violence that has a significant impact on the health and financial wellbeing of victims. However, economic abuse between intimate partners remains a largely under-researched topic in Australia. This study aims to provide a national picture of the prevalence of economic abuse within the general population by determining the prevalence by age and gender, and identifying associated risk factors. The study found financial stress and disability to be significant indicators of economic abuse in the home.

Economic volatility in childhood and subsequent adolescent mental health problems: a longitudinal population-based study of adolescents

Mental Health, Poverty

The aim of this paper was to explore the relationship between exposure to low family income during childhood, and symptoms of mental health problems in adolescence. By using a range of outcome measures, the researchers determined that exposure to poverty in childhood was found to be associated with most mental health problems in adolescence, suggesting the need for targeted early interventions to support families to overcome poverty.

Educate Australia fair? Education inequality in Australia

Education

New research from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre assesses the extent to which Australians are afforded equal opportunity through education, according to key demographics. The report identifies stark contrasts between the most and least disadvantaged in families in Australia. For example, Aboriginal children are 40% less likely to finish high school than non-Aboriginal children, and children born in remote Australia are one third as likely to go to university, compared to children born in a major city.

Education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Education

In 2007, the Commonwealth, states and territories agreed to work towards ‘closing the gap’ in various domains of Indigenous disadvantage. This audit assesses whether Queensland is reducing the gap in education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The audit findings show that the Department of Education and Training (DET) has improved Year 12 attainment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. However, this has not been translated into improvement in employment rates for young people. The audit describes DETs ongoing challenges to improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and highlights the centrality of community involvement and cultural recognition in schools.

Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators provides comprehensive data on the state of education around the world. The publication examines quality of learning outcomes; provides information about the financial and human resources invested in education; access and participation in education; and the learning environment and organisation of schools. The report includes all 35 OECD countries and a number of partner countries These indicators can be compared internationally and used to assist governments to develop more effective and equitable education systems.

Education Endowment Foundation – Teaching and Learning Toolkit

Education, Tool/toolkit

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is an independent charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. This resource features evidence summaries, tools, projects and case studies.

Educational engagement of children and young people in out of home care in NSW

Education

This report from the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (ACWA) gives a snapshot of the level of engagement in education of children and young people in out-of-home care in New South Wales. Children living in OOHC experience higher levels of educational disengagement. One in five school-aged children and young people in care are absent from school at any given time and one in three school-aged children and young people in care did not have an Individual Education Plan.

Educational opportunity for all: Overcoming inequality throughout the life course

Education, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Report

According to a new OECD report, too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds are falling behind in education and being disadvantaged in the future job market. Only a few OECD countries offer people from disadvantaged backgrounds equal opportunity to succeed as their more well-off peers, including Japan, Korea and the Netherlands. To address this level of inequality, investment in good quality early childhood education and care is needed, especially for children from disadvantaged families.

Educators’ understanding of young children’s typical and problematic sexual behaviour and their training in this area

Education

A new research report investigating primary school teachers’ experiences with children's problematic sexual behaviours has been released. The report reveals that many teachers feel that they need more support and training to identify and respond to problematic sexual behaviour in children. Eighty-nine per cent of teachers surveyed felt there should be a specific course to better prepare them for these incidences.

Effective teacher professional development

Education

This Learning Policy Institute report details key elements of effective professional development programs. It offers robust descriptions of high-quality programs to inform education leaders and policymakers who want to use professional development to improve student learning outcomes.