The good practice guide to Child Aware Approaches: Keeping children safe and well
- What is the purpose of this paper?
- What are Child Aware Approaches?
- Why are Child Aware Approaches important?
- A. Child Aware Approaches are family-sensitive
- B. Child Aware Approaches are child-inclusive
- C. Child Aware Approaches are strengths-based
- D. Child Aware Approaches are collaborative
- E. Child Aware Approaches are culturally competent
The Australian Government committed $5.7 million in 2011-12 to the breakthrough Child Aware Approaches grant round as an early investment in the Second Action Plan of the National Framework. The grant round also supported outcomes from the national mental health reform of 2012-22 and the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.
The Child Aware Approaches grant round was announced on 30 March 2012 and aimed to promote better understanding of the relationship between child abuse and neglect and risk factors such as domestic and family violence, parental mental illness and sexual abuse, recognising that substance abuse issues may intersect with these risks.
The goal of the Child Aware Approaches grant round was to secure better outcomes for children by focusing on holistic prevention and early intervention strategies to reduce the effects of the experience of, exposure to or risk of exposure to, these risk factors.
Through the grant round, the Australian Government provided 43 organisations working in the community across Australia with a one-off grant of up to $200,000.
- supported organisations to build and promote the evidence base about the intersections between risk factors for child abuse and neglect; and
- assisted organisations providing services to children and young people exposed to these risk factors to develop, adopt or enhance good practice responses.
The grant round supported projects in each state and territory across a broad range of sectors. Organisations that received these grants included those providing services in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, disability, prisons, women's safety and family and children's support.
The Child Aware Approaches grant round delivered a range of practical and innovative resources and information for providers and practitioners working with vulnerable children and families.
Promising practices and innovative resources from the Child Aware Approaches grant round were showcased at the inaugural, national Child Aware Approaches Conference hosted by Families Australia in Melbourne, 11-12 April 2013. Sponsored by the Australian Government, the conference brought together over 300 participants from non-government, government and research sectors. The conference provided an opportunity to advance thinking, showcase promising and innovative practice, and help to chart future directions. Information from the conference is available at <www.childaware.org.au>.
Child Aware Approaches builds on Building Capacity, Building Bridges (BCBB), a key early intervention and prevention action introduced under the First Action Plan 2009-12 of the National Framework. BCBB delivered training and workshops in "child and family sensitive practice" to boost the capacity of community sector workers to identify and respond early to at-risk children and families. BCBB also equipped practitioners and service providers with the knowledge and skills to work collaboratively to ensure children were at the centre of services and supports for adults and families.
Building on the success of the grant round and inaugural conference, work is progressing on other Child Aware Approaches projects, including this Good Practice Guide to Child Aware Approaches and the establishment of Child Aware local communities and child aware organisations to promote and embed grassroots approaches more broadly across civil society. The 2014 Child Aware Approaches Conferences was held from 31 March to 1 April 2014, with another national conference scheduled for 2015.
A qualitative study was undertaken to explore the "grassroots" themes and meanings underpinning the practical application of Child Aware Approaches. This "bottom-up" approach was extended upon and enhanced with a "top-down" review of previous relevant literature and significant input from the Child Aware Approaches Reference Group. The methodology for the study is outlined below.
- Thematic analysis: A thematic analysis was conducted in order to identify the central topics and ideas expressed by Child Aware Approaches grant recipients and conference participants. This analysis focused on two sets of documents: (a) presentation papers from the 2013 Child Aware Approaches Conference; and (b) project reports completed by the organisations funded under the DSS (formerly FaHCSIA) Child Aware Approaches Initiative (see Appendix 3 for a listing of the 43 funded projects). First, each document was coded for key words or phrases (e.g., "Indigenous", "alcohol and other drugs service", "interagency collaboration"). Second, these codes were grouped to identify broad themes (i.e., "family-sensitive", "child-inclusive', "strengths-based", "collaborative", and "culturally competent").
- Literature search: A literature search was undertaken to identify both practice-based and theoretical literature (including "grey" literature) pertaining to each theme. The search generally focused on Australian literature, though particularly pertinent international literature was considered.
- Development of child-aware principles: The literature identified in the search was analysed in order to identify key components of each theme. These key components were then translated into practical, action-based statements, or principles, with relevance to the Australian service sector. These principles were further developed and refined in consultation with the Child Aware Reference Group.
- Case studies: The Child Aware Approaches conference papers and project reports were analysed to find programs or resources that exemplified the key philosophies and principles. The analysis was reliant on documentation provided by the organisations delivering the projects. There was limited capacity to verify the documentation provided against organisational practice or proposed practice. Further, the assessment of the projects was based solely on the documentation provided to AIFS by DSS. Programs were chosen if they had been formally evaluated and shown to be effective, and/or highlighted multiple aspects of Child Aware Approaches (e.g., child-inclusive, family-sensitive and involved collaboration). The aim of providing case studies was to highlight the diversity of innovative and creative ways in which Child Aware Approaches principles have been applied in a variety of settings and situations. The programs and resources profiled are not a definitive list, but rather provide examples that demonstrate different components of Child Aware Approaches. Many other organisations are engaging in good and/or innovative practice that may be highlighted in future publications or on the CFCA website <www.aifs.gov.au/cfca>. The programs and resources detailed in the case studies in this report were current at the time of the 2013 Child Aware Approaches Conference.
- Consultation with the Child Aware Approaches Reference Group: Consultation with the Child Aware Reference Group occurred throughout the life of the current project. A list of Reference Group members is included in the Acknowledgements section of this paper.
Forty-three projects were funded under the first round of Child Aware Approaches funding. The projects are listed here, along with links to project websites if available.
|State||Organisation Name||Project URL|
|ACT||Marymead Child and Family Centre||N/A|
|NSW||National Children's and Youth Law Centre||N/A|
|NSW||Adults Surviving Child Abuse||<www.blueknot.org.au>|
|NSW||Good Beginnings Australia||N/A|
|NSW||OnTrack Community Programs Ltd||<www.otcp.com.au/be-breathe-believe-a-family-resilience-program>|
|NSW||Royal Far West
|NSW||The Disability Trust||N/A|
|NSW||Gunnedah Family Support Inc.||N/A|
|NT||Menzies School of Health Research||N/A|
|NT||Relationships Australia Northern Territory (PDF 4.5 MB)||<www.nt.relationships.org.au/resources/publications/ra-alice-springs-brochure>|
|Qld||Micah Projects Inc.||<www.micahprojects.org.au/services/innovation-research-and-evaluation-unit/
|Qld||Save the Children Australia||N/A|
|Qld||Women's Legal Service Inc.||Training package, Safe After Separation: Addressing Abuse of Children on Contact, is available by contacting WLS: <www.wlsq.org.au/contact-us>|
|Qld||Young Parents Program Inc.||<www.youngparentsprogram.org.au>|
|SA||UnitingCare Wesley Country SA||<www.ucwcsa.org.au>|
|SA||Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association Ltd||<www.copmi.com.au/professionals/professional-tools/child-aware-supervision.html>|
|SA||Inclusive Directions Inc.||N/A|
|SA||National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (PDF 1.3 MB)||<nceta.flinders.edu.au/files/2713/6615/8232/EN488_2013_White.pdf>|
|SA||Baptist Care (SA) Inc.||N/A|
|Tas.||The Salvation Army Tasmania||<www.salvationarmy.org.au/en/Find-Us/Tasmania/Safe-from-the-Start-Project>|
|Tas.||Sexual Assault Support Service Inc. (SASS)||N/A|
|Vic.||Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC)||
Meeting the Needs of Our Children: Effective Community Controlled Family Strategies That Prevent and Respond to Family Violence:
|Vic.||Hanover Welfare Services||<www.acu.edu.au/about_acu/faculties,_institutes_and_centres/centres/
|Vic.||Women's Health Goulburn North East (PDF 1.1 MB)||<www.whealth.com.au/documents/publications
|Vic.||Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF)||N/A|
|Vic.||Berry Street (PDF 534 KB)||<www.nwhn.net.au/admin/file/content101/c6/SRMP%20Presentation.pdf>|
|Vic.||Child Wise Ltd||N/A|
|Vic.||The Bouverie Centre (PDF 206 KB)||<www.bouverie.org.au/images/uploads/Bouverie_Centre_Guidelines_for_trauma-informed_family_sensitive_practice_in_adult_health_services.pdf>|
|Vic.||Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health Inc. (ACPMH)||Final report, Approaches Targeting Outcomes for Children Exposed to Trauma Arising From Abuse and Neglect: Evidence, Practice, and Implications, can be obtained by contacting Winnie Lau|
|Vic.||Children's Protection Society||N/A|
|Vic.||Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights (formerly the Islamic Women's Welfare Council of Victoria)||N/A|
|WA||Parkerville Children and Youth Care (Inc.)||N/A|
|WA||Patricia Giles Centre (PDF 1.3 MB)||<patgilescentre.org.au/about-pgc/resources/pgc-childrens-counselling-service.pdf>|
|WA||Extra Edge Community Services Inc.||<eecs.org.au/programs/child-aware-prison-program/>|
|WA||Ruah Community Services||N/A|
|WA||The Halo Leadership Development Agency Inc.||N/A|