Our completed research

Research projects

Child Aware Approaches - Dissemination of principles and good practice examples

The aim of this project, commissioned by the Department of Social Services, will be to create a good practice guide or guides to child aware approaches. The guide/s will provide a set of key child aware principles that can inform program logic, policy and procedures and monitoring and evaluation activities.

The guide is relevant for organisation managers, service providers and practitioners working in the child and family welfare sectors. The key principles and good/promising practice examples included in the guide help to clarify and/or endorse why child aware approaches are needed, the scope and breadth of child aware approaches and similarities and differences in approaches in a variety of settings.

Read the final report: The good practice guide to Child Aware Approaches: Keeping children safe and well

Evaluation of programs and services

CFCA staff work in partnership with agencies in the design, development and implementation of evaluation plans, and provide information and resources to support efforts to assess client outcomes and improve program and service delivery.

We have worked with the following agencies:

  • Berry Street, VIC
  • The Australian Childhood Foundation, VIC
  • Interrelate Family Centres, NSW/QLD
  • Uniting Communities, SA

Current evidence for the social and economic benefits arising from family and relationship service provision.

Family Relationship Services Australia, the national peak body for family relationship and support services, commissioned the CFCA information exchange to analyse the available evidence that demonstrates social and economic benefits that flow from family and relationship services delivered by FRSA member organisations. The review focused on preventative and early intervention family and relationship services.

The literature search was limited to the last five years, with the exception of major family and relationship programs or milestone reports or reviews, which were included back to 1995. It contained primarily national content but also included significant programs and reports from countries such as New Zealand, UK, USA and Canada. In addition, supplementary material on cost-benefit analyses and social indicators was also accessed. Supplementary information from the sector itself, such as key program evaluations, was also included.

An analysis of economic benefits was based on the cost to government of inaction. The measure of social benefits was based on established child development and child wellbeing indicators (which included elements of broader family wellbeing).

A report was submitted to FRSA in November, and the research was presented at the FRSA Conference in Darwin, November 13-15, 2012.

All Children Being Safe Program Evaluation

Members of the CFCA information exchange worked with researchers at the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), University of New South Wales, to conduct an evaluation of specific components of the Family Support Program (FSP). In particular, CFCA information exchange staff conducted an evaluation of the All Children Being Safe Program, which is a school-based education program for primary school children piloted in a number of schools in Tamworth, New South Wales in 2011-2012.

Specialist Practice Resources

The Victorian Government, Department of Human Services commissioned the Australian Institute of Family Studies to complete a series of Specialist Practice Resources. These resources support the Best Interests Case Practice Model by providing specialist guidance and advice on specific issues or client groups. One of the key features of the resources is that they incorporate contemporary knowledge and research understanding of the subject matter and adopt an evidence-informed approach to practice.

Specialist practice resources were completed on the following topics and issues:

  1. Cumulative harm
  2. Infants and their families
  3. Children with problem sexual behaviours and their families
  4. Adolescents with sexually abusive behaviours
  5. Adolescents and their families
  6. Children and their families
  7. Families with multiple and complex needs

Evidence-based interventions for the wellbeing of children and young people in WA

The Commissioner for Children and Young People, Western Australia, commissioned this project, which aims to document evidence-based programs and services that are considered to demonstrate best or most promising practice in addressing wellbeing issues for children and young people (0-18 years) in Western Australia and nationally. CFCA information exchange staff undertook an extensive literature review to identify relevant programs and services that could be evaluated for effectiveness and replicability.

The project commenced in May 2011 and the final report was provided to the Commissioner on 13 October 2011. The report outlines roughly 60 key programs and services under each of the eight broad ARACY domains that affect the wellbeing of children and young people:

  1. Material wellbeing: including poverty and homelessness.
  2. Health and safety: including immunisation, injury, accidents, physical illness, chronic illness, poor diet, physical inactivity, obesity and child maltreatment.
  3. Education: including pre-school, primary and secondary education.
  4. Peer and family relationships: including parent–child relationships, peer and peer group relations and friendships.
  5. Behaviours and risks: including substance abuse, violence, sexualised behaviours, teen pregnancy, suicide, bullying, theft, truancy and risky driving behaviours.
  6. Subjective wellbeing: primarily concerning mental health.
  7. Participation: including community participation, voluntary work, social inclusion, sporting activities and culture.
  8. Environment: including environmental impact, pollution, conservation, recreation and facilities.

The wellbeing report is available on the CCYP WA website.

Protecting Australia's Children: Research and Evaluation Register

A searchable database of Australian research and evaluation undertaken during the 1995-2010 period.

Protecting Australia's Children: Research and Evaluation Register

Indigenous led approaches to Indigenous child abuse and neglect

Through this research, the National Child Protection Clearinghouse aimed to explore the Canadian experience of implementing Indigenous led child welfare services in two Canadian provinces. Interview data was analysed, and categorised into five areas of interest for Australia, in terms of considerations for implementing Indigenous-led child protection services. These were: considerations of what a truly Indigenous-led approach constitutes, capacity requirements, the level of responsibility desired by Indigenous communities, funding models, and trust.

Measuring child maltreatment: A comparison of prevalence rates in Canada and Australia

A review of Canadian child maltreatment prevalence studies was undertaken in order to compare best estimates with those reported in Australia. The review was undertaken to add to the existing evidence base for evaluating the efficacy of the child protection system in Australia. Sound epidemiological data is required in order to understand where, how often and to whom child maltreatment is occurring. An international comparison could aid in understanding possible strengths and weaknesses in the Australian child protection system.

The review found limited Canadian studies, several of which suffered from methodological issues, so meaningful comparisons were not possible. Some tentative findings were reported. Canadians tended to report higher levels of physical abuse and lower levels of child sexual abuse than Australians.

The main finding of the review was that further research, utilising psychometrically sound and standardised measures, is required if rates of child maltreatment are to be understood and meaningful comparisons regarding the efficacy of the Australian child protection system are to be made.

Please contact us if you would like a copy of this report.

Identification of cultural and linguistic background of families involved with the child protection system in Australia

The aim of this project was to assess the issues facing culturally and linguistically diverse people within child protection and identify the advantages and disadvantages of identification of cultural and linguistic background of families involved in the child protection services.

The results indicated that people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds face numerous types of discrimination within the child protection services. The majority of respondents also believed that the advantages of identification of cultural and linguistic background far outweighed any disadvantages.

The project concluded that identification of cultural and linguistic background of children and families within the child protection services would be beneficial in decreasing discrimination experienced by culturally and linguistically diverse families. Such identification would also aid in understanding the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse families and would aid the development of culturally responsive services.

Please contact us if you would like a copy of this report.

The feasibility of using internet communication technologies in child protection practice

This study explored the feasibility of utilizing Internet Communication Technologies (such as Skype video chat) to augment the delivery of child protection services within Australia. Two chief constraints, time and distance, had been identified in literature as significantly affecting the ability of social and welfare workers to deliver services within Australia. The research investigated whether or not the use of Internet Communication Technologies could help mitigate the effects of these constraints on the delivery of child protection services within Australia, with a specific focus on enhancing the prospects of delivering child-centered services.

The most important findings of the study were concerned with the ability of Internet Communication Technologies to augment existing child-centered practice; participants theorized that Internet chat could provide children and young people with a more comfortable and open avenue for communication with their case workers.

The study found that deployment of Internet Communications Technologies within child protection practice would be of benefit to young people, as long as certain considerations, such as the proper formulation of policy, were taken into account.

Please contact us if you would like a copy of this report.

NCPASS Review of Data Comparability Project

Commencing in 2007, this project examined rates of statutory child protection activity across Australian jurisdictions. Specifically, the project aimed to:

  • Analyse differences in rates per 1000 children across jurisdictions, and the differences in rates over time within jurisdictions
  • Identify and assess factors that may explain differences in rates across jurisdictions and within jurisdictions over time

Holzer, P., and Bromfield, L. (2008). NCPASS Comparability of child protection data: Project report. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Research Utilisation Project

In 2006 and 2007, a two-stage survey was undertaken to examine the barriers and facilitators of research use by policy makers, practitioners and other professionals in the Australian child and family welfare sector. The findings from this project are described in the report:

Holzer, P., Lewig, K., Bromfield, L. M., & Arney, F. (2007). Research use in the Australian child and family welfare sector. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Other papers developed based on this findings from this project include:

Holzer, P.H. (2007). The research utilisation project: Facilitating research informed policy and practice. Child Abuse Prevention Newsletter, 15(2), pp. 4-5. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Holzer, P.H., Lewig, K., Arney, F., & Bromfield, L.M. (2007). The research utilisation project: Facilitating research informed policy and practice. ARACY Network: Knowledge Brokering Workshop, Benevolent Society, Sydney.

Arney, F., & Bromfield, L. (2008). Integrating strategies for delivering evidence-informed practice. Beyond the Rhetoric: Evidence-informed practice workshop, Dartington Research in Practice, Dartington, UK.

Arney, F., & Bromfield, L. (2008). A road map: Developing a national child protection research agenda. Child Abuse Prevention Issues No. 28, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

CDSMAC National Approach for Child Protection Project

Commencing in 2006, this project examined at a high-level the similarities and differences in child protection across Australian jurisdictions. The main objectives of the project were:

  • to identify if there was a common approach across Australian jurisdictions in responding to the risks and protective needs of children and families
  • to provide high-level descriptions of key processes and approaches to the delivery of child protection services across Australia.

Bromfield, L.M., and Holzer, P.J. (2008). A National Approach for Child Protection: Project Report. A report to the Community and Disability Services Ministers' Advisory Council (CDSMAC). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Bromfield, L.M. and Holzer, P.J. (2008). Protecting Australian children: Analysis of challenges and strategic directions, CDSMC National Approach for Child Protection Project. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

National comparison of statutory child protection training

This research aims to identify commonalities and differences across Australian jurisdictions in the training of statutory child protection workers.

Bromfield, L. M. (2006). The Australasian Statutory Child Protection Learning and Development Group. Child Abuse Prevention Newsletter, 14(2), 11-12, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Bromfield, L. M., and Ryan, R. (2007). National comparison of statutory child protection entry level training. Children, Communities and Families Australia, 2(1), 59-72.

Indigenous Out-of-Home Care (OOHC) project

This project, commissioned by the Australian Council of Children and Parenting (ACCAP), identifies best practice for Indigenous out-of-home care through:

  1. a national and international literature review, Richardson, N., Bromfield, L., & Higgins, D. (2005). The recruitment, retention, and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander foster carers: a literature review, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  2. nation-wide consultations with Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Associations and other key stakeholders, and focus groups with carers, children/young people in care, and care-leavers. Higgins, D., Bromfield, L., & Richardson, N. (2005). Enhancing out-of-home care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

In 2006-07, the Clearinghouse in collaboration with the Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) completed a series of papers summarising the key themes that emerged from these reports. They were published as 7 summary papers, in which we identify Strengths and Barriers in recruiting, assessing, training, and supporting carers of Indigenous children. Bromfield, L., Higgins, J., Higgins, D., & Richardson, N. (2007). Promising practices in out-of-home care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers and young people: strengths and barriers, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

In addition, a series of 4 booklets were developed Profiling Promising Practice in out-of-home care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their carers. Higgins, J., & Butler, N. (2007). Promising practices in out-of-home care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers, children and young people: profiling promising programs, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Neighbourhood effects research program

Using data from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to investigate the impact of neighbourhood on children's outcomes, this research is being undertaken in collaboration with researchers from other areas of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Edwards, B., & Bromfield, L. M. (2009). Neighborhood influences on young children’s conduct problems and pro-social behavior: Evidence from an Australian national sample. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 317–324.

National Child Protection Research Audit

With assistance from the University of South Australia, we produced an audit of research being conducted in the areas of child protection, child maltreatment and child abuse prevention.

Higgins, D., Adams, R., Bromfield, L., Richardson, N., & S Aldana, M. (2005). National audit of Australian child protection research 1995-2004.

Literature Review for Community Services Ministers Advisory Council (CSMAC) National Foster Care Working Group

In 2004, Cashmore and Ainsworth undertook an Audit of Australian out-of-home care research, focusing on appropriate research projects. With results gained from the Audit by Cashmore and Ainsworth, this literature review to contributed to the National Plan for Foster Children by identifying international literature in areas determined in the audit as containing research gaps and by determining implications of findings for Australia.

Bromfield, B., Higgins, D., Osborn, A., Panozzo, S., & Richardson, N. (2005). Out-of-home care in Australia: messages from research. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

This review was updated and published in the Child Abuse Prevention Issues series:
Bromfield, L. M., and Osborn, A. (2007). 'Getting the big picture': A synopsis and critique of Australian out-of-home care research. Child Abuse Prevention Issues, 26, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Literature Review and Research Report for Community Services Ministers Advisory Council (CSMAC) Child-Safe Organisations Working Group

The aim of the project was to provide a substantial literature report on risk factors for child maltreatment, risk assessment tools for use in child related employment screening, and data on abuse of children within organisations.

Beyer, L., Higgins, D. and Bromfield, L.M. (2005). Understanding organisational risk factors for child maltreatment: a review of the literature. by Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

This review was updated and published in the Child Abuse Prevention Issues series:
Irenyi, M., Bromfield, L. M., Beyer, L. and Higgins, D. (2006). 'Child maltreatment in organisations: risk factors and strategies for prevention. Child Abuse Prevention Issues, 25. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Indigenous Community Development Evaluation

Following on from the successful contract that the Stronger Families Learning Exchange (SFLEX) had in 2004 to write up Early Learnings from community development projects funded by Telstra Foundation, the National Child Protection Clearinghouse will evaluated 14 Indigenous community development projects.

Higgins, D. (Ed) (2005). Early learnings: Indigenous community development projects. Research Report. v.2, Telstra Foundation.

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