Corporate Plan: 2021/22 to 2024/25


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Corporate publication

August 2021

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Message from the Director

I am pleased to present the corporate plan for the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), which will guide our work over the next four years.

We are the Australian Government's key research body about family wellbeing, including the harms caused by gambling.

Families are neither static nor homogenous. They are evolving all the time: making choices about how they live and organise their lives within the context of prevailing social and economic trends. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the world can be turned upside down by a virus, yet families and their imperative to care for one another remains constant. Listening to families, in all their diversity, is critical to understanding what works best for them. This is a key focus for the Institute as we launch into a new strategy.

We are witnessing a number of trends that are affecting families. For example, discussions about how to organise the often competing responsibilities of household work, child care and paid work in the family home. Prominent public conversations about the harmful impacts of family violence and coercive control. Families with strong ties to their country of origin, and the different cultural norms they carry with them to Australia. Separations caused by restrictions on international travel. Adult children delaying leaving home or boomeranging back to live with their parents (sometimes with their own families in tow). Increased longevity and community expectations about being able to age in place. These trends are affecting families and therefore are influencing our research. They also are an important prompt for us to ask whether we could be telling the stories of what matters to families more effectively.

We are at a significant point in the story of AIFS. We have closed off our Strategic Directions 2016-21. This five-year plan was significant, as it established many of the foundations that will allow us to pursue the ambitions in our next five-year strategy, including:

  • building a high-performance culture
  • defining a theory of change and pathway to impact
  • shifting to outcomes performance reporting
  • improving our infrastructure and IT systems
  • grounding our work in the principles of knowledge translation.

We are kicking off our new AIFS Strategy 2021-26 this year. Our focus for the duration of the new strategy will be to tell the stories of families and put that knowledge into the hands of those who make decisions that improve families' lives. This focus will require us to deepen and reinvigorate our collaboration with families in all their diversity. Ultimately, we want families themselves to better inform and shape our research and priorities.

Putting families at the centre of our work means we will be able to amplify what matters to them, and the evidence we produce will have greater impact.

Our major priorities this year are:

  • Defining our research agenda to articulate the themes, priorities and research questions that will shape our work for the next five years.
  • Developing a research model that considers the frameworks, capabilities, policies, resources and standards to deliver on our strategy.
  • Delivering the AIFS Conference in June 2022 to connect sectors, researchers, policy makers and practitioners with the latest knowledge and insights about families, focused on the conference theme of 'putting families at the centre'.
  • Implementing two rounds of the new Families in Australia Survey for insights and analysis about what matters to families in the way they care for each other, work, learn and participate in their communities.
  • Developing the Wave 10 data collection for Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to capture the experience of this cohort and their families as they transition into adulthood, and out of their teenage years.
  • Finalising the evaluations of two pilot studies in the family law system funded under the Australian Government's Women's Economic Security Package.
  • Undertaking a pilot study for a National Gambling Reporting System (NGRS) to identify and monitor emerging trends in gambling participation and related harms in Australia.
  • Developing an options paper on the future of Ten to Men: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health.
  • Knowledge translation and impact: Capability development among our staff to better tell the stories that matter most to families and increase the uptake of evidence.
  • Finalising the redevelopment of our website: To make evidence easier to find, and easier to apply in practice.

I am excited about the launch of our new strategy and this next chapter of AIFS, which has a proud 40-year history of research about Australian families. I value the relationships we have with our funders, research partners, stakeholders, advisory bodies and collaborators, and look forward to taking them on our journey over the next five years. I'm confident that our staff have the curiosity, commitment and courage to ask hard questions and do their very best work for, and with, families. Working together with families, we'll ensure that decision makers have the evidence to improve the wellbeing of families, children and their communities.


Andrew Whitecross 
Acting Director, Australian Institute of Family Studies


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