The Excuse Interpreter

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 first thousand days: An evidence paper

Early years

A report by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute examines the impact of early experiences on different aspects of development and functioning, including health and wellbeing, mental health, social functioning and cognitive development. The report finds disadvantage can be passed down through the generations at a cellular level. New evidence included in the report underscores the significance of the first thousand days, and of the need to reform policies, practices and systems in response.

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 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey

Families and parenting

The latest report of the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey has been released by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. The annual report explores seven topics: family life; economic wellbeing; labour market outcomes; retirement; gambling; young home-owners and; attitudes to marriage, parenting and work. The longitudinal study aims to tell the stories of the same group of Australians over the course of their lives. Among other findings, the cost of childcare was shown to have a profound impact on families in recent years, with costs increasing by 104 per cent for single income families and 75 per cent for couples since 2002.

The impact of childhood abuse: What can we learn from neuroscience?

This article from the UK National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) discusses the theory of latent vulnerability and how a new clinical tool could help children’s mental health. The article summarises the concept of ‘latent vulnerability’ based on research relating to abuse and neglect affect brain functioning. A preventative clinical approach is discussed, as it offers a framework through which we can identify and assist children at risk of health issues in the future.

The impacts of child sexual abuse: A rapid evidence assessment

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published a summary report of the existing evidence for the impact of child sexual abuse. The report shows that child sexual abuse is associated with an increased risk of negative outcomes in all areas of victims and survivors’ lives, and can play out at any stage of the survivor’s life. The report also highlights some gaps in the existing literature, including the impact of child sexual assault on older survivors, minority ethnic groups, and on lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people.

The management of disclosure in children’s accounts of domestic violence: Practices of telling and not telling

Family Violence

This paper considers the reflections of children and young people on their experiences of disclosing domestic violence. It draws from interviews with 107 children and young people across Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK. The accounts included in the report highlight the constraints placed on children and young people’s capacity for articulation and self-expression, and the creative ways that they have been able to disclose what is happening within their families. Importantly, it emphasises children’s capacity for agency in situations of domestic violence.

Implement

The National Implementation Research Network’s Active Implementation Hub

Webinar

The National Implementation Research Network offers a variety of tools, publications and information on implementation including webinars and print outs to aid the implementation process.

The New Work Smarts: Thriving in the new work order

Youth Justice

The Foundation for Young Australians has released a report exploring the changing face of work. Drivers such as automation, flexible work arrangements and globalisation mean that the skills required by workers in the future will be very different from those of today. The report predicts that 77 per cent more time will be spent using science and mathematics skills, and that skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and digital literacy will be critical. The report suggests that Australia’s education system, from preschool through to higher education, needs to adapt to adequately prepare young people for work.

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 paradigm shifters: Entrepreneurial learning in schools

Education

This Mitchell Institute report presents the background, design and findings from an innovative initiative called The paradigm shifters: Entrepreneurial learning in schools. It draws together international evidence to develop an understanding entrepreneurial education and its benefits. Global and digital transformations are creating both challenges and opportunities in terms of changing the way we learn, and creating new possibilities for students. This report showcases the Australian schools that are already adapting approaches to education to ensure that students access the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in an increasingly complex education and employment environment.

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.

The power of teacher expectations

Education

This analysis of survey data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), conducted by the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, investigates the effects of differences in teacher expectations on students’ likelihood of completing college. It finds that teacher expectations matter significantly, with college completion rates systematically higher for students whose teachers had higher expectations for them. The data also reveals clear disparities in the expectations that teachers have for students of different races.

The prevalence of child abuse and neglect

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.

Design

The Problem Solver’s Toolkit

Practice Tool

This toolkit from the Red Cross provides a series of best practice tools for use in designing a range of products, services and experiences. The tools are evidence based and can be used at any stage in the journey to better outcomes.

The road to adulthood: Aligning child welfare practice with adolescent brain development

Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This paper published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the most recent research on adolescent brain development, and how to address issues of trauma and racism in the lives of young people in care. Particularly with this vulnerable cohort, practitioners must have an understanding of the role of trauma and racism in shaping their life experiences. Further, they must be equipped with effective strategies for helping young people to make sense of their experiences and develop strategies for healing and growth. This paper provides recommendations for child welfare professionals, carers and systems to utilise this research to work effectively with youth living in, or leaving care.

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

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 Tools of the Mind curriculum for improving self-regulation in early childhood

Education

Tools of the Mind is an early childhood education curriculum that aims to promote children’s self-regulation and academic skills. It is being increasingly implemented in classrooms in the US, Canada and Chile but has a mixed evidence base. This Campbell systematic review aims to synthesise the evidence on the effectiveness of the curriculum in promoting children’s self-regulation and academic skills. It found positive but small effects for the program, mainly in relation to children’s maths skills.

Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania

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.

Towards an adaptive education system in Australia

Education

In its new discussion paper, the Grattan Institute argues that we need to rethink the ways that we are teaching students, supporting teachers and running schools. It argues that we need to create an education system that adapts and improves over time, and supports the translation of a growing body of research about what works best, into daily classroom practice. It proposes six ways Australia can make its education system more adaptive, thereby improving outcomes for children.

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

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.

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

Understanding and applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) is the first in a new series of resources being produced by SNAICC to support better implementation of the ATSICPP. The paper provides a definition of the five core elements of the ATSICPP and guidance on a best-practice approach to implementing its full intent. It is designed primarily for professionals engaged in legislation, policy and program design. The resource has been informed by the work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Group for the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

Understanding Bullying: From School to the Workplace

Education

This online book outlines what is currently known about schools as settings for bullying and school-based interventions. It considers the different ways in which students cope with bullying and reflects on the role of parents and teachers in helping to combat bullying within this context.

Understanding child outcomes within a multiple risk model: examining parental incarceration

Research has shown that parental incarceration has a significant impact on child outcomes. This study aims to develop a more nuanced understanding of risk and how it manifests itself in outcomes for children and families. It suggests that risk factors such as parental incarceration should not be considered in isolation. Other factors such as parental mental illness are shown to be significant indicators of negative outcomes for children. The complex ways in which these risk factors interact have significant implications for policy and practice, particularly in relation to case management services intended to address ongoing needs.

Understanding safeguarding practices for children with disability when engaging with organisations

Disability

People with a disability are considered one of the groups most vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. This Practitioner Resource discusses safeguarding strategies to prevent abuse and neglect of children with disabilities. It calls for comprehensive change on cultural, institutional and policy levels to ensure the rights to protection for children and young people with a disability are realised and sustained.

Understanding the Unpaid Economy

A new study from Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) attempts to quantify the value of unpaid work in Australia. The report values Australia’s unpaid economy at $2.2 trillion. Childcare makes up the largest proportion of unpaid work at 24.6 percent. Women complete 76% of childcare and 72% of unpaid work. Women also undertake 67% of domestic work, 69% of care of adults and 57% of volunteering. Assigning a value to unpaid childcare – valued at more than $345bn in Australia – is an important step in encouraging governments and employers to factor it into their planning.

Design, Evaluate

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

Evaluation, Practice Tool, Young People

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.

In this seminar, Professor John Lynch and Dr Rhiannon Pilkington from the University of Adelaide discuss recent large-scale data projects in South Australia and Victoria that have informed child protection policy and practice.Professor Lynch explains how big data and epidemiology can be used to inform government, non-government and community organisations to answer important policy questions.

Victorian Ombudsman Report: An Investigation into Children Transferred From the Youth Justice System to the Adult Prison System (2013)

Youth Justice

In 2013, George Brouwer tabled a report investigating the transfer of children from the youth justice system to the adult prison system. This report was released largely in response to the high number of transfers from youth justice to the adult corrections system in July – August 2012. The increase was shown to be connected to the nature of offending shifting from property-based offences to violent crime, and detainees committing acts in order to be transferred. This report noted the increasingly complex and violent cases in youth justice, and that the system was struggling even then to meet these complex needs.

Victorian Ombudsman Report: Youth Justice Facilities at the Grevillea Unit of Barwon Prison, Malmsbury and Parkville (2017)

Youth Justice

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass recently released a report on Victoria’s youth justice facilities in Malmsbury, Parkville and the Grevillea Unit at Barwon Prison. The report details the deterioration of conditions at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre in November and December of 2016, including young people being kept in their rooms up to 23 hours per day, beds without mattresses or bedding, and no toilet paper or clean clothing. The conditions at Grevillea Youth Justice Centre are equally concerning, with reports of an excessive amount of time in lockdown, limited or zero access to visitors, and lack of information provided to young people about their transfer. The Ombudsman highlights staff shortages and overcrowding as contributing to the failure of these facilities. The report calls on the Victorian government to focus on long-term reform and the rehabilitation of these young people.

Victorian. And Proud of it.

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

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.

Vulnerable birth mothers and recurrent care proceedings

Early years

The Nuffield Foundation has published a summary report looking at vulnerable birth mothers in England who have had their children repeatedly removed from their care. Findings found that of the sample of 354 mothers: 66% of mothers had experienced neglect in their childhood; 52% suffered physical abuse; 53% were sexually abused and 54% of the mothers had spent time in out of home care as a child. More often than not, these mothers have experienced significant and overlapping adverse experiences in their own childhoods.

Welfare-to-work interventions and their effects on the mental and physical health of lone parents and their children

A new Cochrane Review has been released, reviewing large welfare-to-work studies conducted in the US with the aim of uncovering their health effects. It examines a series of welfare-to-work studies, comparing the health outcomes for single parents who were in welfare-to-work interventions with single parents who were not. Although some policy makers have traditionally argued that welfare-to-work policies have positive health benefits, the findings of this review indicate that there is likely to be little to no effect on health.

What have we learned about good social work systems and practice?

The Rees Centre has published a report looking at what we have learned from the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme (UK) about good social work systems and practice in children’s social care. The report examines 17 social work projects and their impacts on families and children. Key components of good social work practice included the skills and confidence to work directly with families, the ability to engage the whole family, and cultural competence.

What is known about the placement and outcomes of siblings in foster care: An international literature review

This report has been published by the Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, University of Oxford. It synthesises the findings from studies that have examined factors associated with the decisions to place children together with, or apart from, siblings. It considers the evidence of a range of outcomes for joint or separate foster placements.

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

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.

Women’s specialist domestic and family violence services: Their responses and practices with and for Aboriginal women

This report presents research undertaken with three women’s Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) specialist services. The focus is on the ways services respond to the culturally and context specific needs of Aboriginal women. It also explores how Indigenous women themselves (as workers, clients and community members) have acted to shape and influence the approaches of women’s specialist services. The review found no single voice among Aboriginal activists and academics, however, there is a recognisable appreciation for the vital role Aboriginal people have to play in leading or supporting new services for Aboriginal people.

Working together to support children and families: Key findings from the Practice First evaluation

Practice First is a child protection service delivery model introduced by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) in 2012. The model aimed to improve systems, practices and culture relating to assessment, decision-making and support of children reported at risk of significant harm (ROSH). This snapshot provides a summary of the findings from the formal evaluation of Practice First. The evaluation found that Practice First has enabled a shift in organisational culture towards more child-centred practice and improved engagement with children, carers and agencies.

The Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights has released three new publications to assist practitioners to provide culturally appropriate services and respond to the distinct concerns that may be held by young Muslim children. There are two booklets specific to workers: ‘Caring for Muslim children in out-of-home care’ and ‘Caring for Muslim children in foster care’.

Workplace Family Violence: Policy Template

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.

You can’t live without it: Girls’ rights in a digital world

Plan International have released findings from a survey of 1,002 young people aged 11-18 in the UK, exploring girls’ access to their rights in the digital space, and whether current rights frameworks adequately protect them. It finds that 48% of girls have experienced some form of harassment or abuse on social media and 73% have taken specific actions to avoid being criticised online. The report provides recommendations for improving the situation for young people experiencing online harassment.

Young people in Child Protection and Under Youth Justice Supervision 2014-15

Youth Justice

This report presents information on young people aged 10–17 who were involved in the child protection system and subject to youth justice supervision at some time during 2014–15, based on data from the linked child protection and youth justice supervision data collection.