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.

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

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

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

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, Practice Tool

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 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.

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.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a bulletin looking at the numbers and rates of young people aged 10 and over who were in youth detention in Australia due to their involvement, or alleged involvement, in crime. There were 964 young people in youth detention on an average night in the June quarter 2017, the majority being male (91%), aged 10–17 (84%) and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (53%). While the rates of young people in detention on an average night decreased over the four year period in New South Wales, Western Australia and The Australian Capital Territory, the rate has increased in Victoria.

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 2014–15

Youth Justice

This bulletin presents data on the numbers and rates of young people who are in contact with the youth justice system in Australia across 2014–15. It examines recent trends in supervision, and characteristics of those young people under community supervision or detention. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and males are significantly overrepresented in the youth justice system. However, the overall number of young offenders in Victoria aged between 10 and 19 years has declined over the past decade.

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.

Youth Justice Review and Strategy: Meeting needs and reducing offending

Youth Justice

The Victorian Government has released a comprehensive independent review of the Victorian Youth Justice System. The review provides a detailed account of the young people who are currently in the Victorian youth justice system, and the significant challenges currently facing the system. Currently, the reviewers note, just 1 per cent of youth justice investment is allocated to early intervention programs and 3 per cent to court-based diversion and restorative justice. The review highlights the need to draw on the evidence base and refocus on the needs of young offenders, and their rehabilitation.

Design, Implement, Evaluate

Youth Leading Community Change: An Evaluation Toolkit

Evaluation, Practice Tool, Young People

This practical toolkit is designed to engage young people to evaluate and measure the impact of youth projects. It has been developed by Evaluation Access using resources and activities from Girl Scouts of the United States of America, the National 4-H Council, and the National FFA Organization. There are a number of creative activities and handouts to support young people to plan, develop, and implement community projects.

Mission Australia’s Youth Mental Health and Homelessness Report presents findings from the Mission Australia Youth Survey. It shows that poor family functioning and serious mental illness are factors that significantly impact the risk of homelessness for young Australians aged 15-19 years. Findings include those with a probable serious mental illness are 3.5 times more likely to have spent time away from home than those without a probable serious mental illness.

Evaluate

Youth-Adult Partnership in Evaluation: A Resource Guide For Translating Research Into Practice

Evaluation, Practice Tool, Young People

This guide has a series of “tip sheets” that identify practical ways to conduct a youth-adult partnership evaluation project. The tip sheets talk about various “leverage points” or those key processes and moments in implementation that can influence the outcomes of projects. It also provides tips on creating a culture of evaluation in an organisation, developing the right evaluation questions and practical and youth-friendly data collection/analysis strategies.

‘Whatever it takes’: Access for women with disabilities to domestic and family violence services: Key findings and future directions

Disability, Family Violence

This ANROWS paper aims to help tertiary services respond more effectively to the needs of women with disabilities. Drawing upon the experiences of women with disabilities who have used domestic and family violence services, and a survey of service providers, the report sets out a number of recommendations. Recommendations include greater promotion of access, cross sector collaboration and inclusion of the views and experiences of women with a disability and experiencing family violence in service design.