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.

VPS Evaluation Network Lunch and Learn Session: Lived experience/client voice in evaluation

Evaluation, Client Engagement, Client Experience, Webinar

This webinar from the Victorian Public Service Evaluation Network 'Lunch and Learn' series featured presentations from Helen Casey (Department of Justice and Community Safety) and Jacqueline Storey and Sharika Jeyakumar (Victoria Legal Aid) speaking about the importance of lived experience and client voice in their evaluation practice, with a focus on family violence as a case study for their reflections. Click the external link to view a video recording of this session, or use the download link to access the presentation slides.

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.

While you wait: Suggestions for service providers to support children and their families who are on waiting lists

Families and parenting, Mental Health, Children, Tool/toolkit

This short article from Emerging Minds offers advice for practitioners on how to support families and children while they are on the waiting list for specialist assessment or care for mental health issues. This piece was inspired by research into barriers and facilitators to early childhood mental health pathways in the Barwon region in southwest Victoria. One of the barriers identified was long wait times for appointments, and the following practices were suggested by professionals interviewed for this research.

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.

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.

Youth Leading Community Change: An Evaluation Toolkit

Evaluation, Young People, Tool/toolkit

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.

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

Evaluation, Young People, Tool/toolkit

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.

“Your behaviour has consequences”: Children and young people’s perspectives on reparation with their fathers after domestic violence

Family Violence, Journal article

This paper from Katie Lamb, Cathy Humphreys and Kelsey Hegarty (University of Melbourne) presents findings from qualitative research undertaken in Australia with children and young people who have experienced domestic violence aged 9 to 19 years. It explores children and young people's perspectives on fathering in the context of domestic violence as well as the key messages they believe fathers who attend a program to address their violence need to know. This paper will focus on some of the findings of the study, with a particular focus on the issue of reparation which was identified as a strong theme in children and young people's accounts.