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

Child maltreatment

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.

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, Report

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 PIPA project: Positive Interventions for Perpetrators of Adolescent violence in the home (AVITH)

Youth Justice, Family Violence, Report

This report from ANROWS contributes to an understanding of adolescent violence in the home (AVITH) and explores the development of a considered systemic response. It is drawn from a 2 year study that included a literature review, stakeholder engagement, interviews and focus groups with practitioners and reviews of 385 legal case files to examine the legal responses to AVITH in three jurisdictions: Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Towards an adaptive education system in Australia

Education, Report

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.

Tri-Peaks Literature Review on Effective Collaboration Between Non-Government organisations

Families and parenting, Collaboration, Interagency Collaboration, Literature Review

This summary report from the Tri-Peaks Initiative highlights the key elements of effective collaboration between non-government organisations. It summarises the key enablers to collaboration, as well as the barriers that prevent collaboration (and some of the possible solutions to these). It also outlines the literature on how to measure the impact of these collaborations on the lives outcomes for children, young people and families. The Tri-Peaks Initiative is a collaboration between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CFECFW), Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VADA) and the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA).

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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Safety and wellbeing

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

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, Families and parenting

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

Families and parenting, Mental Health

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.

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.

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.

Unpacking the theory and practice of system change

Early years, Collaboration, Conference presentation

These webinar slides, developed by Kerry Graham for ARACY, outline the theory and practice of system change - including why it is needed and where are the best points to intervene. While this webinar was held in preparation for the 2020 National Early Years summit, the slides will provide a useful introduction to the key concepts of systems change (incorporating some great explanatory images) for a wider audience in child and family services. 

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: 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.

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

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing

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

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.

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.

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

Families and parenting, Mental Health, low income

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?

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Families and parenting

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

Early years, Out of Home Care (OOHC)

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, Report

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

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

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

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

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

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

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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence

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 keep children and families safe: Strategies for developing collaborative competence

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

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

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

Out of Home Care (OOHC), 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’.

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

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, Young People, Technology

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 Service Users from Refugee Backgrounds: Their Perspectives on Barriers to Accessing Australian Mental Health Services

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Mental Health, Young People

This article examines the barriers to accessing mental health services from the perspective of young people with a refugee background. To improve understanding of the issues, researchers interviewed 16 young people with a refugee background who had been in contact with mental health services in Australia. Factors such as Unfamiliarity with the service system, social exclusion and stigma are discussed as potential barriers to accessing mental health services.

This guide from Youth Power explains how to measure youth engagement, and why this is an important part of working with young people. It also discusses a number of specific indicators of youth engagement, and links to tools that can help you measure these.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has released updated fact sheets on Victoria’s Youth Justice System. The fact sheets look at the backgrounds of young people in the justice system, and highlight the disproportionate number of young people from rural and regional areas or from Indigenous backgrounds being incarcerated. Indeed, an Indigenous young person in Victoria aged 10–17 was 13 times as likely as a non-Indigenous young person to be under youth justice supervision.

Youth Justice in Australia 2015–16

Youth Justice, Young People

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a report on youth justice, presenting youth justice data for the period 2015-16. The report is accompanied by eight fact sheets, profiling youth justice supervision in each state and territory. Interestingly, the rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day was lowest in Victoria at 14 per 10,000. The report also highlights that around 5,500 young people were under supervision in 2015–16, down from almost 7,000 in 2011–12. Young Indigenous people were 17 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be under supervision on an average day.