Keeping Australian children safe: What works?

Keeping Australian children safe: What works?

31 July 2012

The National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 is a substantial investment in protecting Australia's children from child abuse and neglect.

Whether such an investment delivers real outcomes for families and communities in keeping their children safe remains a key question.

To understand more about the extent and effectiveness of child protection programs and services, an audit of Australian research projects was commissioned to explore topics relating to the protection of Australian children.

The purpose of the Protecting Australia’s children research audit (1995–2010) was to identify, describe and disseminate information about Australian research projects undertaken during the 1995–2010 period.

The audit covered a broad range of topics that reflects the six supporting outcomes outlined in the National Framework – from universal preventative initiatives through to statutory child protection and out-of-home care. A specific aim of the audit was to identify gaps, duplication and areas for development in relation to those outcomes. Another was to identify priorities for future research and data collection.

The findings of the audit demonstrate a clear need for further research to help fill a range of gaps identified in the existing body of evidence. They include content gaps (such as community education and kinship care), population group gaps (children with a disability, culturally and linguistically diverse families, adolescents and Indigenous Australians), methodological gaps and data gaps.

To assist in collecting further information to help reduce these gaps, the Protecting Australia’s Children: Research and Evaluation Register was launched in September 2011. The register was conceived as a “living resource” rather than an “archival record” to help provide a more accurate reflection of the scope of child protection research in Australia.

The register provides researchers with information about current and past research projects, and policy-makers and practitioners with an evidence base to inform the planning and delivery of services.

It is a key resource for professionals to understand how their investment in child protection is being realised, and has the potential to make a significant contribution to improving outcomes for children and families in Australia.

The register is now widely used (over 1,300 projects are currently listed), easily accessible and provides an incentive for researchers to promote their research to the child protection and family services sector.

Researchers and program evaluators are encouraged to submit their own research and project evaluations to the register.

To submit a project to the register or to update an existing project, see – Protecting Australia’s Children: Research and Evaluation Register.

References:

Council of Australian Governments. (2009) Protecting children is everyone’s business: National framework for protecting Australia’s children 2009–2020. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

McDonald, M., Higgins, D., Valentine, K., & Lamont, A. (2011) Protecting Australia’s children research audit (1995–2010): Final report. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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Authors

Shaun Lohoar

Shaun Lohoar is a Senior Research Officer at CFCA.

Child Family Community Australia

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