Community influences on wellbeing

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

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Family and neighborhood socioeconomic status and temperament development from childhood to adolescence.

Strickhouser J and Sutin A
Journal of Personality v. 88 no. 3 Jun 2020: 515-529
This article investigates whether children's temperament is associated with the socioeconomic status of their family and local neighbourhood. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), the article looks at the development of temperament across childhood and adolescence from the age of 4/5 to 15/16 years of age. Overall, the findings indicate that children from families and neighbourhoods with lower neighbourhood socioeconomic status tend to have lower sociability, higher reactivity, and lower persistence - in childhood and into adolescence.

Living environment: the effects of physical and social environments on the health and wellbeing of children and young people : discussion paper

Western Australia. Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People
Subiaco, WA : Commissioner for Children and Young People, 2019.
This paper highlights how the physical and social community environment is a key influence on children and young people's health and wellbeing. It briefly discusses research from Western Australia, Australia, and overseas on the impact of such factors as community relationships, neighbourhood safety, green space, pollution, accessibility and transport, social exclusion, the built environment, housing quality, urban sprawl, high-rise apartment living, and overcrowding. The paper presents findings from an unpublished review undertaken by Dr Carmen Lawrence for the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Western Australia.

Reducing inequities in early childhood mental health : how might the neighborhood built environment help close the gap? A systematic search and critical review.

Alderton A, Villanueva K, O'Connor M, Boulange C and Badland H
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health v. 16 no. 9 2019: Article 1516
This article reviews the literature on the association between the neighbourhood built environment and young children's mental health. It examines quantitative studies on such factors as access to or quantity of public open space and social infrastructure. The review finds only limited evidence at this stage, with few studies looking into the aspect of positive mental health functioning. Further research is required to address these gaps.

Money matters - but so do people : children's views and experiences of living in a 'disadvantaged' community.

Bessell S
Children and Youth Services Review v. 97 Feb 2019: 59-66
This article explores children's views on what makes a strong and supportive community. Surveys were held with 108 children aged 8-12 years old. The findings highlight that though family poverty and inadequate public infrastructure can have a negative impact on children, strong and supportive relationships also play a significant positive role. The findings have implications for community development initiatives.

Helping communities improve child development outcomes : the importance of governance in the Kids in Communities Study (KiCS).

Robinson R, Findlay T and Woolcock G
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 43 no. 3 Sep 2018: 52-61
The Kids in Community Study (KiCS) aims to learn more about the influence of community-level factors on early child development. This article focuses on one of the domains under study, the factor of local governance. It investigates the influence of local governance on child developmental outcomes, using KiCS data from two adjacent suburbs in Victoria that have different outcomes despite very similar socioeconomic profiles and the same local government policy environment. This article is based on a presentation given at the 2018 Australasian Journal of Early Childhood Research Symposium, held in Brisbane in February 2018.

Foundational community factors (FCFS) for early childhood development: a report on the Kids In Communities Study

Goldfeld S, Villanueva K, Lee J, Robinson R, Moriarty A, Peel D, Tanton R, Giles-Corti B, Woolcock G, Brinkman S and Katz I
Parkville, Vic. : Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, 2018.
Research on early childhood development has mostly focused on individual, family, and school factors, largely ignoring community level influences. Drawing on the findings of the Kids in Communities Study (KICS), this report identifies a series of promising foundational community factors for early childhood development - the possible 'key ingredients' for creating healthy communities that support young children's development. KICS investigated the potential influence of several community-level factors on developmental outcomes, as measured by the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), from the domains of the physical environment, social environment, socio-economic factors, access to services, and governance. It aimed to identify the factors that are consistently related to better outcomes for children and determine which are the most measurable and modifiable. These foundational factors require further testing but provide some key focus areas for those considering local place-based initiatives. The promising factors are: income, highest level of schooling, gentrification, housing affordability, housing tenure and stability, public housing, housing density, stigma, service reputation of primary schools, perceived early childhood education and care availability, perceived crime, historical events, and local decision-making.

Adjustment of refugee children and adolescents in Australia : outcomes from wave three of the Building a New Life in Australia study.

Lau W, Silove D, Edwards B, Forbes D, Bryant R, McFarlane A, Hadzi-Pavlovic D, Steel Z, Nickerson A, Van Hooff M, Felmingham K, Cowlishaw S, Alkemade N, Karta D and O'Donnell M
BMC Medicine v. 16 2018: Article 157
This article examines how well refugee children and adolescents are adjusting to life in Australia. Caregivers of 694 refugee children aged 5-17 years old were asked about family structure and parenting style, local community and neighbourhood environment, and children's physical health and activity, school absenteeism and achievement, peer relations, and social and emotional adjustment, 2-3 years after arrival. Data was taken from Wave 3 of the Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) study. The findings indicate the majority of these children and young people are adjusting well: however, implications for targeting prevention, screening and intervention efforts are also briefly discussed.

A macro-level approach to assess the early developmental vulnerabilities of children in Australia : a local government area-based analysis.

Biswas R and Kabir E
Children and Youth Services Review v. 93 Oct 2018: 161-169
This article investigates the impact of local socioeconomic factors on children's early developmental vulnerability, at the Local Government Area level. It models district factors such as proportion of low-income families, welfare dependent families, single parent families, participation of women in the labor market, availability of home Internet, and unemployment, and the proportion of vulnerable children in the area. The findings reveal that the association between socioeconomic factors and children's developmental vulnerability is seen not just at a household level, but at a macro, Local Government Area level too.

Risk and protective factors in early childhood: an ecological perspective

Legge E
Subiaco, WA : CoLab, Telethon Kids Institute, 2018
"Early childhood development occurs within the context of multiple environments, with a vast range of factors in these environments exerting influence on different aspects of a child's development. This Evidence Report discusses the potential for the characteristics of these environments to increase the risk of a young child experiencing poor developmental outcomes or, alternatively, to enable protection from the impact of adversity. An Ecological Framework of Child Development is outlined, and the key factors influencing development in a child's immediate contexts are summarised, including: the prenatal environment, the family and home environment, and early childhood education and care. This Evidence Report then considers the influence of broader contexts on early childhood development including: neighbourhoods and communities, cultural and political systems, and process of development over time. Finally, we summarise the Ecological Approach to early childhood interventions."

Place, jobs, peers and the teenage years: exposure effects and intergenerational mobility

Deutscher N
Indooroopilly, Qld : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2018.
Why do children growing up in some areas do better than those growing up elsewhere? This paper investigates the impact of place on a child's income in early adulthood, by comparing children who remained in a neighbourhood with those who moved away. Are their economic outcomes similar to the children they left behind or the children they joined, and does the age they moved have an impact? The paper uses data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. It finds that where a child grows up has a causal effect on adult income, most significantly for location during adolescence. Two of the potential explanations are also briefly considered, including the fact that spending more years in a place in adolescence lifts the probability of entering the associated local labour market.

Place, jobs, peers and the importance of the teenage years: exposure effects and intergenerational mobility

Deutscher N
Australia : Nathan Deutscher, 2018.
Research has found that where one grows up has impacts on later life outcomes. This paper provides new insights into how this association works. It uses intergenerational tax data to compare the incomes of taxpayers born between 1978 and 1991 and their parents, siblings, and peers, and whether they moved away from the area in childhood. The study finds that where a child grows up does have a causal effect on their adult income, though mostly in the teenage years. Data is taken from the Australian Taxation Office, with some analysis also of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey.

Relationship between the neighbourhood built environment and early child development.

Christian H, Ball S, Zubrick S, Brinkman S, Turrell G, Boruff B and Foster S
Health & Place v. 48 Nov 2017: 90-101
Several studies have shown an association between child development and the built environment, such as housing density, traffic exposure, access to local services, parks and playgrounds, and the outdoor home environment. This article adds to the evidence by analysing population-level data. It links data on developmental vulnerability from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) with objective measures of the natural and built environment, limited to 149 Local Communities in Perth, Western Australia. 23,395 children, aged 5 years old, were included in the study. The study found that socio-demographic factors were more strongly associated with child developmental vulnerability than aspects of the neighbourhood physical environment. However, after adjusting for area-level socio-demographic factors, a greater amount of home yard space and lower levels of traffic exposure were associated with reduced developmental vulnerability on social-emotional domains.

Children, families and communities.

Grace R, Hodge K and McMahon C
South Melbourne, Vic. : Oxford University Press, 2017.
This textbook explores the interconnectedness of children, families and communities in Australia. Chapters include: child development in context; research about and with children, families, and communities; children with developmental disability; advanced development; cultural belonging and being at home in Australia; family as the primary context of children's development; challenging contexts for contemporary Australian families; interconnections between family, child care and education; children and technology in a smart device world; active outdoor play; relationships with peers; child protection and out-of-home care; Australian Aboriginal and Torres strait islander children and families; early education and child care policy in Australia; children in fragile contexts: an international perspective on early childhood in emergency and disaster situations; and effective policy to support children, families and communities.

Contexts of disadvantage

Warren D and Edwards B
Canberra, ACT : Dept. of Social Services, 2017.
Growing up in poor households or poor neighbourhoods or attending a disadvantaged school have all been found to be independently associated with poorer child outcomes, but the mechanisms behind these 'contexts of disadvantage' are less well understood. This paper adds to the research by examining the associations between family, neighbourhood, and school level disadvantage and children's cognitive and social outcomes, utilising data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). The analysis finds that the experience of any one of these types of disadvantage is detrimental, but furthermore, different types of disadvantage have stronger influences at different times during childhood. For example, in the early years of childhood, the influence of family disadvantage is stronger than that of neighbourhood disadvantage. However, the relationship between disadvantage and child outcomes is more complex and varied than merely a simple association, with implications for policy and intervention.

Role of positive parenting in the association between neighborhood social disadvantage and brain development across adolescence.

Whittle S, Vijayakumar N, Simmons J, Dennison M, Schwartz O, Pantelis C, Sheeber L, Byrne M and Allen N
JAMA Psychiatry v. 74 no. 8 2017: 824-832
This article investigates whether growing up in a disadvantaged neighbourhood has a negative effects on young people's brain development, and whether positive parenting provides a buffer. Data is taken from a longitudinal study held from 2004 to 2012 in Melbourne, Victoria, with participants aged 11 to 20 years old. Magnetic resonance imaging scans were undertaken in early, middle, and late adolescence, and data on parent and neighbourhood disadvantage were also collected, as well as observations of positive maternal parenting behaviours. The study finds that growing up in a disadvantaged neighbourhood may have negative effects on children's brain development, but for males, at least, positive parenting negated these effects.

A study of four natural disasters in Australia: how the human response to fire, flood and cyclone contributes to community resilience and recovery

Moreton M
This thesis investigates how community members can help their community recover after a natural disaster. It presents learnings from interviews with 10 formal leaders of disaster recovery and 112 community members from four separate rural or regional communities affected by the natural disasters of fire, flood and cyclone between 2006 and 2013 in eastern Australia. The thesis aimed to explore whether community led disaster recovery and community resilience is a reality in Australia, by investigating whether community leadership exists or emerges from within disaster affected communities, whether community members lead or take action to ensure that their community is able to adapt after a natural disaster, how this community recovery process is experienced and understood by those most affected by it, and what lessons can be learned by listening to and understanding the experiences of affected communities. The findings reveal what occurs within disaster affected communities, the factors that support or hinder the process of community recovery, and the significant contribution of community actions and activities in strengthening and supporting community resilience and recovery after natural disaster. Participants were from communities affected by the 2013 bushfire in the Warrumbungle's National Park near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, the 2013 bushfires in the Dunalley and the Tasman Peninsular in Tasmania, the 2011 severe flooding of the Lockyer Valley in Queensland, and, the 2006 Cyclone Larry and the 2011 Cyclone Yasi, which both hit the Cassowary Coast of Queensland.

Poor mental health: the links between child poverty and mental health problems

Ayre D
London : Children's Society, 2016.
This report adds to what is known about the relationship between growing up in poverty and children's mental health, and makes recommendations for British government intervention. In particular, the report focuses on the role of low income, debt, and poor and inadequate housing. It draws on a review of the literature and British policy, as well as new analysis of the Understanding Society dataset, a survey of specialist mental health services, and focus groups with children aged 9 to 16 with direct experience of living in poverty and with mental health issues. Sections include: Methodology; Definitions of mental health and poverty; Evidence of the links between poverty and children's emotional well-being and mental health; Low income and mental health; The effect of problem debt on children's mental health; The effect of poor housing and disadvantaged communities on children's mental health; Policy context; Addressing the links between child poverty and mental health problems through schools; and Recommendations.

The economic cost of the social impact of natural disasters

Deloitte Access Economics, Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities
Australia : Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities, 2016
This report is one of a series commissioned by the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities on the full impact of natural disasters on communities and the economy and the extent to which expenditure on mitigation and resilience measures is effective. This report investigates the economic cost of the social impacts following natural disasters - not just tangible costs like damage and disruption, but intangible costs such as death, injury and impacts on wellbeing, relationships, and connectedness. Indeed, though social impacts are complex, interrelated, and difficult to quantify, there is clear evidence they account for a substantial part of the total economic cost of natural disasters. The report concludes with recommendations in the form of strategies to help to reduce the long term impacts and costs of future natural disasters, re-affirming those made throughout the series.

Family income and child cognitive and noncognitive development in Australia : does money matter?

Khanam R and Nghiem S
Demography v. 53 no. 3 Jun 2016: 597-621
This article investigates whether money has an impact on children's wellbeing and behaviour. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, it compares parental income and children's development and considers whether this is mediated by any other factors, such as parental stress and health, parenting style, and neighborhood characteristics. The study found that though children from wealthier backgrounds tend to do better at school, they're not any happier or better behaved than children from less-privileged families.

Can the neighborhood built environment make a difference in children's development? Building the research agenda to create evidence for place-based children's policy.

Villanueva K, Badland H, Kvalsvig A, O'Connor M, Christian H, Woolcock G, Giles-Corti B and Goldfeld S
Academic Pediatrics v. 16 no. 1 Jan/Feb 2016: 10-19
Child development is determined by a combination of factors, including individual, family, and school environments. However, less attention has been paid in research and policy to the local neighbourhood built environment. This article draws attention to this gap and highlights the need to explore the effect of neighbourhoods - including neighbourhood destinations, green spaces, interaction with nature, traffic exposure, and housing density - on child development in order to inform urban design policies that help reduce child developmental vulnerability.

Community factors influencing child and adolescent depression : a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Stirling K, Toumbourou J and Rowland B
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry v. 49 no. 10 Oct 2015: 869-886
Though many studies have investigated individual and family risk and protective factors for depression in children and young people, less is known about community-level factors. This article adds to the research with a systematic review of the Australian and international literature to identify community risk and protective factors for this age group, such as neighbourhood disadvantage, safety, immigrant concentration, community connectedness, and remote areas.

The effects of exposure to better neighborhoods on children: new evidence from the Moving to Opportunity experiment

Chetty R, Hendren N and Katz L
Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2015.
"The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment offered randomly selected families living in high-poverty housing projects housing vouchers to move to lower-poverty neighborhoods. We present new evidence on the impacts of MTO on children's long-term outcomes using administrative data from tax returns. We find that moving to a lower-poverty neighborhood significantly improves college attendance rates and earnings for children who were young (below age 13) when their families moved. These children also live in better neighborhoods themselves as adults and are less likely to become single parents. The treatment effects are substantial: children whose families take up an experimental voucher to move to a lower-poverty area when they are less than 13 years old have an annual income that is $3,477 (31%) higher on average relative to a mean of $11,270 in the control group in their mid-twenties. In contrast, the same moves have, if anything, negative long-term impacts on children who are more than 13 years old when their families move, perhaps because of disruption effects. The gains from moving fall with the age when children move, consistent with recent evidence that the duration of exposure to a better environment during childhood is a key determinant of an individual's long-term outcomes. The findings imply that offering families with young children living in high-poverty housing projects vouchers to move to lower-poverty neighborhoods may reduce the intergenerational persistence of poverty and ultimately generate positive returns for taxpayers."--Author abstract.

Greener neighbourhoods, slimmer children? Evidence from 4423 participants aged 6 to 13 years in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.

Sanders T, Feng X, Fahey P, Lonsdale C and Astell-Burt T
International Journal of Obesity v. 39 no. 8 2015: 1224-1229
There is a growing belief that green space - such as parks - help prevent obesity. This article adds to the growing research on this topic with an assessment of the degree of association between neighbourhood green space and trajectories in body mass index (BMI) across childhood. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), for children aged from 6 to 13 years old. The different impact for boys and girls is also discussed.

The influence of the neighborhood physical environment on early child health and development : a review and call for research.

Christian H, Zubrick S, Foster S, Giles-Corti B, Bull F, Wood L, Knuiman M, Brinkman S, Houghton S and Boruff B
Health & Place v. 33 May 2015: 25-36
This article reviews the evidence on the association between child health and development and the physical outdoor environment - namely, the home outdoor area or yard, neighbourhood green spaces, and the neighbourhood built environment - including housing density and amenity. In particular, it examines the impact on the developmental domains of physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, and language and cognitive skills in young children aged 0-7 years old. Studies from Australia and overseas are reviewed

Neighbourhood effects influencing early childhood development : conceptual model and trial indicator measurement methodologies from the Kids in Communities Study.

Goldfeld S, Woolcock G, Katz I, Tanton R, Brinkman S, O'Connor E, Mathews T and Giles-Corti B
Social Indicators Research v. 120 no. 1 Jan 2015: 197-212
This article presents a conceptual model of how neighbourhoods influence early childhood development. The model provides a new conceptual framework for classifying neighbourhood effects by synthesising disparate but related areas of research. The model was developed around five interconnected domains - physical, social, service, socio-economic, and governance - which were tested and refined with data from the Kids in Communities Study.

Services and support for families and whanau in Christchurch: focus groups research and Maori focus group research

SuPERU (New Zealand), New Zealand. Families Commission, Opinions Market Research Ltd
Wellington N.Z. : Families Commission/Superu, 2014.
The research explores the impact of the Christchurch earthquake disaster on family wellbeing and the kinds of services, support, and information that local families need to maintain resilience and aid their psychosocial recovery. This document consists of 2 reports: the first report documents the findings of focus groups with families of Christchurch and service provider, the second report concentrates on focus groups with Maori whanau and Maori service providers. The small focus groups were drawn from families who were currently experiencing one or more stressors as a result of the earthquakes, such as housing, education, relationship, mental health, financial, or parenting issues.

Does violent crime deter physical activity?

Janke K, Propper C and Shields M
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2013.
"Crime has been argued to have important externalities. We investigate the relationship between violent crime and an important type of behaviour: individuals' participation in their local area through walking and physical activity. We use a sample of nearly 1 million people residing in over 320 small areas in England between 2005 and 2011. We show that concerns about personal safety co-move with police recorded violent crime. To identify the causal effect of recorded violent crime on walking and other physical activity we control for individual-level characteristics, non-time varying local authority effects, national time effects and local authority-specific trends. In addition, we exploit a natural experiment that caused a sudden increase in crime - the 2011 England riots - to identify the causal impact of a large exogenous crime shock on physical activity in a triple difference framework. Our results show a substantive deterrent effect of local area violent crime on walking, pointing to important effects of violent crime on non-victims. The adverse effect of an increase in local area violent crime from the 25th to the 75th percentile on walking is equivalent in size to a 6oC fall in average minimum temperature."

The power of developmental assets in building behavioral adjustment among youth exposed to community violence: a multidisciplinary longitudinal study of resilience : final technical report

Jain S and Cohen A
Rockville, MD : National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 2012
"Researchers and practitioners have repeatedly noted substantial variation in the behavioral functioning of youth exposed to community violence. Several studies across fields have documented the detrimental effects of exposure to violence, while other studies have considered how developmental assets promote positive youth development. However, few have examined the lives of the many youth who demonstrate resilience (that is, positive adjustment despite risk) and hardly any have examined how developmental assets may shape resilient trajectories into adulthood for youth exposed to violence. What resources and relationships can high-risk youth leverage to tip the balance from vulnerability in favor of resilience? We used generalized estimating equations, a multivariable technique appropriate for longitudinal and clustered data, to examine multilevel longitudinal data from 1,114 youth ages 11-16 from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN). We considered whether baseline family, peer and neighborhood-level protective factors predicted behavioral adjustment 3-7 years later, among youth who were victims of, witnesses of, or unexposed to violence, controlling for individual and neighborhood-level risks."

Parenting on a low income: topic report.

Mountney K
Edinburgh : Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2012
The experience of living on low incomes and in poverty is almost always overwhelmingly negative, impacting on adults and children's lives in a variety of ways. This literature reviews examines the research on parenting on a low income. Topics include: impacts of low income on families, how do parents on low incomes manage?, work and care, low-income neighbourhoods, impact of the current economic climate, how is poverty measured in the UK?, why do some families experience poverty?, who is most at risk of living in poverty?, the additional costs of disability, and understanding low income and family life. The report also includes British statistics on poverty and additional information on the impact on families affected by disability. This review was conducted by the About Families project to help inform voluntary and public sector agencies in the development of services.

Changing contexts of play : losses and opportunities.

Wyver S, Tranter P, Bundy A and Naughton G
Bowes, Jennifer, ed. Grace, Rebekah, ed. Hodge, Kerry, ed. Children, families and communities : contexts and consequences. 4th ed. South Melbourne, Vic. : Oxford University Press, 2012. 9780195576740: 162-175
This textbook explores child development and the interconnectedness of children, families and communities in Australia. This chapter looks at play in modern Australia, including new and reduced opportunities for play due to urban design, emerging technology, and parent safety concerns, and the implications for physical health. The chapter concludes with exercises for students.
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