Keeping children safe online: a literature review

Safety and wellbeing, Technology, Literature Review

The purpose of this literature review is to better understand how children and young people engage with the digital world. It highlights best available research on key online trends, emerging issues and their implications for children and young people. This paper provides a background for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers conducting research, or developing programs, online courses and policies that take a systems approach to the issue.

The School of Social Science at the University of Queensland released this report in December 2021. The report details an empirical study of Keeping Families Together, a supportive housing pilot project for families with a young child experiencing multiple vulnerabilities. The project assisted 20 families and the study found that all families exited homelessness in to housing with 95 per cent maintaining their housing for the duration of the 12-month pilot. The project also achieved reduced interactions with child safety and 31 per cent of families with children in out-of-home care had children returned. The study identified a range of success factors.

Keeping Queensland’s children more than safe: Review of the foster care system

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

In September 2016, the Premier of Queensland requested the Queensland Family and Child Commission to undertake a review of the 'blue card' system, the approval and monitoring processes for foster carers, and pressure points in child protection service delivery. This report sets out the findings and recommendations relating to the Queensland foster care system. The report identifies opportunities to build public confidence, strengthen carer assessment, improve approval and renewal processes, and strengthen safeguards for children in care.


Key Factors For Implementation


This tool by the Ontario Centre for Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health helps to comprehensively assess both the internal and external factors that may impact implementation.

Kids and food: Challenges families face

Families and parenting, Report

The Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll has surveyed a sample of 1980 parents of children aged 0-18 years. The findings show that many Australian parents struggle to make healthy food choices for their children for a range of reasons. Many parents find it difficult to know which foods are healthy, particularly when it comes to added sugar. Other barriers to healthy eating habits include preparation time and cost. Parents could benefit from additional resources to help them in making healthy and cost effective meals for their families.

Kids at the Crossroads: Evidence and Policy to Mitigate the Effects of COVID-19

COVID-19, Report

This report from ARACY and UNICEF brings together the first six months of research from their Knowledge Acceleration Hub. It makes evidence-based policy recommendations on how to mitigate negative the effects of COVID-19 on children. This resource outlines what decision-makers need to know to make the best choices for Australia’s children and young people and for the future of the nation as a whole.

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 Australian Securities and Investment Commission has developed Knowing Growing Showing; a resource that supports teachers to engage students in financial literacy by connecting with and building upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and community values, world views and lived experiences. The resource is applied in three learning stages: Knowing - what is money?; Growing - money, you and community; Showing - money and enterprise. The resource is aligned to the Australian teaching curriculum, and offers a flexible approach to teaching. It can be adapted for use with cultural groups other than First Australians.

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.

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.

Leaving care planning: What are the views of young people in out-of-home care? – March 2021 – Evidence to Action Note

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

This Evidence to Action Note provides an overview of what young people think about the leaving care support they receive, with findings drawn from two surveys, the 2018 NSW OOHC Survey and the NSW Residential Care Survey.

Lessons learned from Term 2 remote and flexible learning

Education, Technology, COVID-19, Report

These three reports (an independent analysis, Parliamentary secretary report and report on focus groups) have been released from the Victorian Government about the experience of remote and flexible learning in Term 2 for students, teachers and families during coronavirus (COVID-19). The reports were informed by more than 3600 submissions from teachers, parents, students and education experts as part of a community consultation process. The reports provide insight from government, independent and Catholic schools into the experiences of students, teachers and educators who had to quickly adapt in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lessons to be learned in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019-20: Final report

Safety and wellbeing, Children, Bushfire Season, Report

The Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee has released its final report investigating lessons relating to the preparation and planning for, response to and recovery efforts following the 2019-20 Australian bushfire season. It contains a number of findings in relation to children and recommends the implementation of nationally consistent Child Friendly Spaces in evacuation, relief and recovery centres. The report makes 16 recommendations.

Identify, Design, Implement, Evaluate

Life Changes Trust Evaluation Toolkit

Evaluation, Tool/toolkit

The Life Changes Trust Evaluation Toolkit provides a range of resources across the journey to better outcomes including creating a theory of change and program logic, designing an evaluation and methods for collecting data.

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.

Listening to the Voices of Children and Young People Harmed by Fathers Who Choose Violence: An interview with Professor Cathy Humphreys and Dr. Katie Lamb

Family Violence, Podcast

This episode from the Partnered with a Survivor podcast, features an interview with Professor Cathy Humphreys and Dr. Katie Lamb from the University of Melbourne about their participatory research with children and young people who have experienced family violence from their fathers. This episode features their reflections as researchers, and also shares one of the digital stories developed by a young person as part of this project.

Literature Review: Telehealth & Telepractice

Technology, COVID-19, Literature Review

This literature review from CFECFW examines the existing research on telehealth and telepractice. It will be useful to anyone who is seeking to understand what effective telepractice looks like. It covers the definition of telehealth/telepractice, its prevalence and models, research findings on its impact and effectiveness, and its applicability to working with children.

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.

Many fathers are working long hours and have schedules that are not family-friendly. This research summary presents Australian children's views of their fathers' work and family time, including how much time they get to spend with their dad and whether they enjoy the time they spend together. The study showed that 35% of children considered that their father works too much.

Long ignored, adolescent family violence needs our attention

Family Violence

This short article discusses the detrimental effects that adolescent family violence has on the health and wellbeing of families. Adolescent family violence is distinct because it is violence perpetrated by young people against family members, and can carry and stigma and shame with it. It is a complex form of family violence and, to date, has had limited research in the Australian context.

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.

Main findings from the kContact trial of a contact intervention to support parents with children in out-of-home care

Out of Home Care (OOHC), Report

This summary report from Ass. Prof Stephanie Taplin and Dr Aino Suomi at Australian Catholic University covers the main findings of the kContact study. This study is the largest trial to date testing the effectiveness of a contact intervention (the kContact Pratice Model) in the out-of-home care context. The main component of the kContact Practice Model consisted of the key workers contacting parents before and after each contact visit to provide them with support. This support helped parents clarify their concerns and expectations about contact, and provided practical and emotional support for the next visit with the study child.

Making Australia the best place in the world to be a parent

Early years, Families and parenting, Report

This report from The Parenthood uses modelling by Equity Economics to recommend increased investment in universal childcare, parental leave, family-friendly workplaces and early education programs in order to improve lifelong outcomes for all Australian children and their families. The linked webpage features the full report, as well as a summary, factsheet and video recording of the report launch.

Making the grade: A progress report and next steps for Integrated Student Supports

Education, Mental Health, Report

Integrated Student Supports (ISS) models in schools recognise that students’ unmet non-academic needs can undermine their academic success. ISS offers specific services and supports to students and their families, such as housing assistance mental health services, to build a foundation for academic success. This review synthesises the existing evidence relating to the ISS approach to schooling. Several strong evaluations show support for the ISS model, highlighting flow-on effects for long-term family outcomes.

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.

Maltreatment and Delinquency: Examining the Contexts of Offending Amongst Child Protection-Involved Children

Youth Justice, Family Violence, 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’ who involved in both the child protection and criminal justice systems.

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.

Maternal age and family circumstances of firstborn children

Early years, Families and parenting

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) Annual Statistical Report investigates whether maternal age influences the financial and parenting experiences of the family across the child’s first 10 years of life. Women having their first child in their early 20s or teenage years were more likely than those having their first child later in life, to experience disadvantage. Areas of increased disadvantage included living without a partner, low income and a higher chance of unemployment.

Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2017

low income, Technology

The Australian digital inclusion index (ADII) has been created to measure the level of digital inclusion across the Australian population, and monitor this level over time. Among its key findings, the report highlights that Australians with low levels of income, education, and employment are all significantly less digitally included.

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.

Mental health and suicide prevention: Final report

Mental Health, Report, Suicide Prevention, Report

The House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has released the final report of its inquiry into mental health and suicide prevention. The report assessed the current landscape, reviewed the recommendations already before the Australian Government, and examined the gaps. Key areas of focus included COVID-19 and recent natural disasters, accessibility, virtual mental health care, workforce, funding, building the evidence base, and social determinants of health and wellbeing. The report makes 44 recommendations.

Migrant and refugee women in Australia: The safety and security study

Family Violence, Report, Data, Women, Migrants, Refugees, Report

The Harmony Alliance and Monash University have released this report investigating migrant and refugee women’s safety with a focus on family violence, help-seeking and trust in institutions, and employment. Survey data from 1,392 migrant and refugee women across Australia shows that 33 per cent of respondents had experienced family violence, and among respondents who were employed in 2019, 10 per cent lost their jobs due to COVID-19. The report includes implications for policy and practice.

More than ‘just convenient care’: What the research tells us about equitable access to outside school hours care

Children, School, Report, Literature Review

Griffith University has released this report exploring the benefits, image and workforce of outside school hours care (OSHC) and the partnership between OSHC and schools. The literature review identified that OSHC has a low status in Australian society despite its important role in supporting the development and wellbeing of children. The report makes 13 recommendations.

Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) Pilot: Evaluation report

Families and parenting, Child maltreatment

This report presents findings from an evaluation of the Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) pilot, an emerging multi-disciplinary approach to responding to children and families affected by abuse in Western Australia. The approach aims to provide a holistic response to allegations of severe child abuse. It includes bringing multidisciplinary teams together in local communities in a more effective way, and timely connection of children and families to support services. The study shows that the co-location of child abuse interviewers, child protection officers, child advocates and therapeutic services within a child friendly setting had significant benefits for children and families.

Multimedia Resources for Child Development

Families and parenting, Video, Database

This collection of multimedia resources published by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University features short, accessible videos that explore how to support children's development. These videos will be particularly relevant to practitioners working directly with families, as they cover various methods and tools for building parental capacity and promoting children's wellbeing and learning, including through the use of evidence based programs.

My Hero is You, Storybook for Children on COVID-19

COVID-19, Tool/toolkit

This book was a project developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), supported by global, regional and country based experts from Member Agencies, in addition to parents, caregivers, teachers and children in 104 countries. It was developed based a global survey to assess children’s mental health and psychosocial needs during the COVID-19 outbreak - and is available in multiple different languages.


National Implementation Research Network – Active Implementation Hub

Tool/toolkit, Database

The National Implementation Research Network offers a variety of tools, publications and information on implementation science including e-learning modules and downloadable checklists to aid the implementation process.

National Social Housing Survey: A summary of national results 2016

low income

This report presents a national summary of the results of the 2016 National Social Housing Survey (NSHS). It reports findings from public housing, community housing and state-owned and -managed Indigenous housing tenants. The report shows that the majority of tenants are satisfied with the services provided to them, with community housing tenants the most satisfied. Tenants report a range of benefits from living in social housing and the majority believe that they are living in homes of an acceptable standard.

National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Mental Health, Tool/toolkit

During this year’s World Mental Health Week, the Federal Government launched a framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health. This framework sets out a comprehensive and culturally appropriate guide to inform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing reforms. The framework is vital to the healing and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who continue to experience greater levels of mental health issues than the broader population.

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.

New parents, new possibilities: Family violence prevention for LGBTIQ+ parented families

Families and parenting, LGBTIQ+, Report

This report from the Centre for Family Research and Evaluation presents the results of a family violence prevention action research project focused on the transition to parenthood for LGBTIQ+ parents. A key finding from the research was that assumptions that family violence only occurs within heterosexual relationships has led to a lack of family violence screening for LGBTIQ+ parents.

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand has released this report examining a cohort of people they have deemed ‘the new vulnerable’. This group experienced negative employment impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic that affected their household finances, resulting in many seeking support services for the very first time. Survey and interview data found that despite the level of need, this cohort found it difficult to seek support, with some respondents expressing reticence because they believed there were others in greater need. The findings suggest that levels of need are likely to persist for some time and attention must focus on addressing barriers to service access.

NHMRC report on the evidence: Promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life

Early years, Families and parenting, Mental Health

The National Health and Medical Research Council presents an analysis of the programs and services offered to parents of young babies, provided in pregnancy or the first year of life. The paper is particularly interested in those interventions that influence infant social and emotional wellbeing. The report claims that education and support programs for parents, and programs, designed to foster a healthy bond between baby and parent, have shown encouraging results. However, there is need for further research to identify which programs are most effective in giving babies the best start in their emotional and social life.

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

Safety and wellbeing, Evaluation, Tool/toolkit

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.

No Child Should Grow Up Like This: Identifying Long Term Outcomes of Forgotten Australians, Child Migrants and the Stolen Generations

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Out of Home Care (OOHC)

The University of NSW has published a report on the challenges faced by members of the ‘Forgotten Australians’ (children born in Australia who were placed in ‘care’ in the twentieth century), child migrants, and the Stolen Generations. The two year study engaged 700 participants who grew up in the care system between 1930 and 1989. Participants describe the suffering they faced in their out of home care placements and the kinds of support and protection they needed growing up. Participants also describe the ongoing challenges they face due to their experiences in care. It is hoped that in bringing these experiences to light, we can better anticipate the needs of children and young people in out-of-home care today.