Safe and supportive families and communities for children: A synopsis and critique of Australian research

Safe and supportive families and communities for children: A synopsis and critique of Australian research

Lalitha Nair

CFCA Paper No. 1 — March 2012
Safe and supportive families and communities for children: A synopsis and critique of Australian research

This paper reviews the research on building safe and supportive families and communities for children in Australia. Based on assessments of 22 research and evaluation reports, it examines the evidence base in the areas of:

  • community attitudes and awareness of child safety;
  • parenting and family support; and
  • child-friendly communities.

The paper synthesises the findings and discusses the implications for future research. The reports were identified in the research audit, Protecting Australia's Children Research Audit, 1995-2010.

Key messages

The importance of community involvement and responsibility to ensure the safety of children cannot be overstated.

Locally relevant and targeted programs are effective in responding to the needs of families as they can develop a better understanding of the situation and hence have a greater potential to respond effectively to issues.

Collaboration and integrated program planning and delivery between various service sectors, such as education, health, employment and other community services, can be an efficient and cost-effective way to achieve the best possible outcomes for families and communities.

Policy-makers and practitioners need to focus on inter-related risk factors for children in the family and community which include parental attitudes, social conditions such as poverty and unemployment, relationship issues, substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health, punitive parenting and social isolation.

Participation of children in research and decision-making in matters concerning them is important in an accurate assessment of their needs and would also promote children's self-esteem, connectivity and sense of wellbeing.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Lalitha Nair is a Research Officer with the Child Family Community Australia information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The author would like to thank Myfanwy McDonald, Jacqui Stewart, Shaun Lohoar, Elly Robinson and Rhys Price-Robertson for their comments and feedback.

Publication details

CFCA Paper
No. 1
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, March 2012.
17 pp.

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PACRA Register

The Protecting Australia's Children: Research and Evaluation Register is a searchable database of 944 research and evaluation projects related to protecting children. A range of filtering options enable easy access to relevant Australian research conducted between 2011 and 2015.

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