Annual report 2012-13

Annual report 2012-13

Annual Report – October 2013

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Throughout 2012-13 the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) continued to extend its research and disseminate evidence to increase understanding of the factors that affect family wellbeing in Australia. AIFS research is designed to inform government policies and practices directed towards supporting families in all their forms - wherever they live and whatever the characteristics of their communities.

To this end, the Institute has continued to publish research findings that are rigorous, informative and policy-relevant, with uptake of AIFS published material during this period being at its highest in the Institute's 33-year history. The Institute's expertise has continued to strengthen in a range of research methodologies, including longitudinal studies, program evaluation and mixed-methods approaches involving both qualitative and quantitative methods.

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1. Director's review

Throughout 2012-13 the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) continued to extend its research and disseminate evidence to increase understanding of the factors that affect family wellbeing in Australia. AIFS research is designed to inform government policies and practices directed towards supporting families in all their forms - wherever they live and whatever the characteristics of their communities.

To this end, the Institute has continued to publish research findings that are rigorous, informative and policy-relevant, with uptake of AIFS published material during this period being at its highest in the Institute's 33-year history. The Institute's expertise has continued to strengthen in a range of research methodologies, including longitudinal studies, program evaluation and mixed-methods approaches involving both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Strategic and Research Directions 2012-15

The new directions for AIFS research, launched in July 2012, represent key opportunities for undertaking research and reviews of research findings on family wellbeing over the next three years. Four key directions were identified through a consultative process with internal and external stakeholders, and these are:

  • family change, functioning and wellbeing - including the tension between stability and change, and the effects of transition points on families;
  • social and economic participation for families - family access to resources and how to best support and sustain them, particularly during times of economic uncertainty or change;
  • child and family safety - preventing and responding to abuse, neglect and violence against children and adults;
  • services to support families - services that support and sustain both families who are undergoing times of vulnerability, transition and change, and those (the majority) who function effectively and demonstrate resilience.

These areas of research offer value by responding to the needs of governments and community sector organisations. They provide a platform for prioritising projects by the Institute, promoting important partnership activities and encouraging the exchange of information about existing and emerging issues for Australian families. As such, the directions guide further research and dissemination on a range of family-related issues that are on the horizon for Australia.

Expertise

The Institute has demonstrated continual extension of its expertise in a range of subject specialisations and methodologies. Strong partnerships have again proven to be essential to the Institute's success throughout the year. Maintaining a collaborative approach to the projects undertaken has ensured the quality and relevance of the research products while also presenting opportunities for future work in areas relevant to AIFS. As in previous years, priority is placed on accessing the expertise of a wide range of partner organisations.

The Institute maintained its strong quality assurance processes through the peer review of reports, presentations and articles about research findings and regular collaboration and consultation with research partners and advisors. Ethical clearance also continued to be required for all primary research projects involving people, prior to commencement of fieldwork. The AIFS Ethics Committee assessed 17 ethics applications for new, revised or extended research projects during the financial year, all in line with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans. This approach continued to ensure that AIFS research meets the highest ethical standards.

Methodologies

The Institute's more than 30 years of experience in researching the factors affecting family wellbeing in Australia has seen continual evolution in a range of research methodologies. In the 2012-13 financial year, AIFS undertook:

  • primary research - survey design involving qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods research; and
  • secondary research - analyses of existing datasets to link complex and multiple waves of data.

Specialist capability

During 2012-13 the Institute continued to extend its specialist skills in longitudinal research, program evaluation and analyses of large-scale datasets.

Longitudinal research

By following the same sample of people over time, longitudinal research provides powerful data that make it possible to identify and better understand the pathways people take through life and the causal mechanisms that underpin them. These valuable datasets make it possible to investigate trajectories in people's lives and the long-term patterns and effects of experiences, situations and circumstances on people's lives. The rich information collected through longitudinal studies is a prime source of evidence for enhancing understanding and to inform long-term policy-making.

AIFS expertise and experience in longitudinal research in 2012-13 included:

  • Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC);
  • Australian Temperament Project (ATP);
  • Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants;
  • Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families (LSSF);
  • Stronger Families in Australia (SFIA);
  • Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care; and
  • Pathways of Care: The Longitudinal Study of Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC).
Program evaluation

Evaluating government programs assists policy-makers by providing unbiased information about the efficacy of a program for the Australian community. The Institute's experience in providing objective analysis, based on comprehensive research data, has proven valuable in informing decisions about the success of, and potential improvements for, various government programs.

During 2012-13, AIFS undertook a range of program evaluations, including:

  • the Australian Government Department of Human Service's (DHS) Case Coordination Trial;
  • co-ordinated family dispute resolution in family violence trials; and
  • Indigenous justice prevention and diversion programs.
Analyses of datasets

Making use of existing datasets, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) Census data and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, is a relatively efficient means of providing in-depth analysis of information related to families in Australia and their wellbeing. AIFS makes use of these external datasets, as well as data from LSAC, the LSSF and the ATP.

The benefits of large longitudinal samples include the reliability of the data and the ability to see how information inter-relates over time. In 2012-13, the Institute analysed datasets from LSAC, HILDA, the Census and other ABS surveys to address questions relating to topics such as: family-related life events, housing, work and family life balance, school attendance, relationships between children and their separated parents, patterns of labour force participation, and trends in family formations.

All of the work undertaken by AIFS during 2012-13 fell within the parameters of the four key research directions.

Selected research projects in 2012-13

During the reporting period, our expert teams worked on 43 research projects, including the following.

Growing Up In Australia

In partnership with the ABS, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and a consortium of university academic advisors, five waves of data have been collected from approximately 10,000 households involved in LSAC. The data continued to provide valuable insight into the paths Australian children and their families take through life, thanks in no small part to the ongoing involvement of the voluntary study participants. The strong retention rate for the study ensures the value and veracity of the data that have been analysed to produce the LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2012 and develop concepts and supporting evidence for the latest ABC TV documentary in the "Life" series, Life At 7.

Australian Temperament Project

This flagship study was established 30 years ago to assist in understanding childhood temperament - that is, each individual's way of reacting to their social surroundings - and its effect on behaviours throughout life. This study has shown how temperament affects social, emotional and behavioural development. A commemorative publication was released to mark the occasion of reaching this milestone and it highlighted its groundbreaking contribution to policy over the years, including teenage alcohol use, risky driving behaviours and civic participation. Notably, this study has led the way in moving beyond a focus on negative outcomes to including contributions on healthy development.

Building a New Life in Australia

Significant work on the development of the Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants was undertaken in the 2012-13 financial year. It is a five-year project, commissioned by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Data collection commenced in 2013 and this substantial research project will provide valuable insight into how humanitarian migrants are settling into a new life in Australia.

Family law

Family law continues to be an integral part of the work undertaken by AIFS. Two key studies commissioned by the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) - the LSSF and the Survey of Recently Separated Parents - provide data that are valuable in monitoring and identifying factors contributing to stability or change for families facing relationship breakdown and re-formation. Issues analysed include the quality of inter-parental relations, parenting arrangements, care-time arrangements, parenting decision-making, child support liability and compliance, and parents' perceptions of their child's wellbeing.

Past Adoption Experiences

This valuable project provided evidence about the service and support needs of people affected by past adoption policies and practices. It helped to identify the need for, and the form of, the National Apology for Forced Adoptions delivered by the then Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard, in Canberra on 21 March 2013. The project was completed in August 2012; however, activity continues around communicating the findings at meetings and conferences and through special interest publications. The findings from this research project continue to attract attention.

Australian Gambling Research Centre

The passage of the National Gambling Reform Act 2012 in November 2012 established the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) at AIFS from 1 July 2013. The centre aims to complement the work of a range of gambling research organisations, to provide a mechanism for drawing together the evidence and for identifying areas where there is inconsistent or insufficient data.

In preparation for the AGRC to commence operation, the Institute began logistical, recruitment and initial consultative processes. As well, an Expert Advisory Group was appointed in May to provide advice on the research agenda for the AGRC and on building national research capacity to better understand gambling, including the harms of problem gambling. The Expert Advisory Group comprises members with a diversity of experience relevant to gambling research, addiction, and their effects on families and family breakdown, from community, industry and social policy perspectives.

Disseminating evidence

A key part of the Institute's charter is to disseminate the findings of research relevant to family wellbeing to policy-makers, practitioners, researchers and the broader Australian community.

Information exchanges

A valuable means of communicating research findings has been through the Institute's information exchanges (or clearinghouses).

Child Family Community Australia

The Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange provides a key focus for the dissemination of research from AIFS and other organisations to policy-makers and practitioners. Throughout 2012-13, researchers in the CFCA information exchange synthesised and disseminated research findings of particular relevance to their professional clients in the areas of protecting children, supporting families and strengthening communities. The use of electronic communication mechanisms - such as the online publication of papers, facts sheets and short articles; the use of email alerts and social networking tools; and providing access to online seminars (webinars) - continues to work effectively for these time-poor clients. Of particular note is the popularity of webinars as a dissemination tool, with more than 1,400 participants from over 600 Australian sites involved in six webinars during the year. Further details on the operation of the CFCA information exchange.

Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault

The Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA) continued to work towards improving responses to and reducing the incidence of adult sexual violence. ACSSA collects and disseminates current information and research on sexual assault to practitioners, policy-makers and others working in the sexual assault sector. Use of ACSSA as a resource continued to grow throughout the year, including nearly 300,000 downloads of publications from the website, and more than 1,500 people now subscribed to its monthly email alerts. Further information on the operation of ACSSA in 2012-13.

Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

AIFS researchers continued to provide specialist analysis and synthesis research skills for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, which is led by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). AIFS researchers developed papers on a range of issues relevant to Indigenous wellbeing and the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) Closing the Gap reform agenda. These topics included developing housing strategies that improve Indigenous health outcomes, supporting healthy communities, and applying effective approaches to community development and family violence. Further information on AIFS Closing the Gap activity.

Families Week 2013

The Institute again took the opportunity to participate very actively in National Families Week, with the release of Families Working Together: Getting the Balance Right. This publication was the second in a new series of short papers, Australian Family Trends. It generated considerable community and media interest as it drew on ABS Census and HILDA data to highlight the challenges that many families face in finding the balance between the hours spent in paid work and the time spent with family and friends, in community activities and looking after their own health and wellbeing.

Events

AIFS Conference

The 2012 AIFS Conference, held in July 2012, was the Institute's most successful conference to date. More than 520 registrations were received from all Australian states and territories, as well as from ten other countries. Participants were primarily from research organisations, community service and non-government providers, and government departments and agencies. The three-day program included three keynote addresses, 145 oral presentations, 52 poster presentations and three panel sessions. Further detail on the AIFS conference.

Changing Places policy forum

In November 2013, AIFS hosted the Changing Places policy forum, an event designed to provide an opportunity for government policy-makers, researchers and community sector workers to discuss place-based intervention policies. The event fostered a rich discussion to help advance policy thinking around place-based interventions.

This event was also a remarkable demonstration of inter-agency collaboration and commitment between the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), FaHCSIA, DHS, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. For more information on the Changing Places policy forum.

Seminar series

The Institute's monthly seminar series also provided opportunities for information sharing. Throughout 2012-13, the seminars continued to attract eminent speakers keen to present their research findings to policy-makers, researchers and practitioners. Eleven seminars were presented in this series during the financial year, with a total of 648 people attending in person or accessing the seminars as webinar participants. Further value is derived by providing transcriptions and audio recordings of the seminars on the Institute's website. List of the Seminar series topics and speakers.

Uptake of published material

The primary means for disseminating the Institute's research is through its publications. In 2012-13 AIFS produced 115 publications and reports, including five major research reports. Primarily, these were distributed electronically via the website (about 2.7 million publication downloads), demonstrating the breadth of interest and uptake of information published by the Institute.

The number of printed copies of publications increased slightly this year due to the considerable community interest in the findings from the Past Adoptions Experiences study.

Relationships

Throughout 2012-13, the Institute continued to develop relationships with other organisations focused on family wellbeing in Australia and elsewhere.

Relationships with commissioning bodies - particularly Australian Government and state government agencies - are essential to the ongoing effectiveness of the Institute's work and longevity. A complete list of funding bodies.

The development of relationships with other organisations undertaking longitudinal research in family-related areas has provided opportunities for AIFS to benchmark and harmonise our research with other international bodies. These relationships also provide potential future opportunities for undertaking comparative work, particularly with other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Managing our organisation

Importantly, the Institute continued to manage its resources with the transparency and high standard of governance appropriate to an independent research organisation that utilises public funds and has responsibilities under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act). The oversight from the Institute's Risk Assessment and Audit Committee continues to be an essential part of our operation, along with the procurement procedures, finance rules and Australian Public Service (APS) Values and Employment Principles.

Diversity

The finalisation and implementation of the Institute's Reconciliation Action Plan from July 2012 has provided opportunities to increase the level of understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures (see Social inclusion outcomes). As well, the Institute is a party to FaHCSIA's Agency Multicultural Plan, which provides opportunities to welcome further diversity into the Institute.

Finances

In the 2012-13 financial year, AIFS operated with $3,403,000 of government appropriation and $9,768,254 of other revenue (primarily from contracted research). As detailed in the financial statements, the Institute incurred a budget deficit for the financial year 2012-13 of $232,799. This deficit is made up of the depreciation expense for 2012-13 of $363,677. After adjusting for this item, AIFS would have reported a surplus of $130,878.

Advisory Council

The Institute's Advisory Council continued to provide a highly valuable contribution to the success of the Institute and its activities throughout 2012-13. Chaired by Rev. the Hon. Professor Brian Howe AO, the council has provided advice on a range of strategic matters and supported the Institute's activities in a variety of ways, including personal attendance at AIFS events.

Outlook for 2013-14

The Institute's prospects for the next financial year are positive. Throughout the current year, the foundations have been laid for addressing the priorities outlined in the Research Directions 2012-15. These include the extension of the Institute's suite of longitudinal studies through collaborative relationships across the Australian Government and with the states and territories. The major longitudinal initiative, Building a New Life in Australia, will yield its first set of data in 2013-14, while the newly established Australian Gambling Research Centre will provide contemporary data on the prevalence of problem gambling, and offers the prospect of tracking, longitudinally, the pathways those at risk take into, and out of, problem gambling.

Exploration into other priority areas for research identified in the Research Directions - such as on defence force members, veterans and their families - are coming to fruition, with closer collaborative relationships being developed with key Australian Government departments. There will also be clearer focus on the implications for families of demographic change and population ageing, including further work on disadvantage across the lifespan, and an emphasis on the role and experiences of grandparents and carers, among other topics. With the establishment in 2012 of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, AIFS will also have an increased focus on prevention approaches and effective therapeutic responses for victim/survivors of such abuse.

The Institute will continue to conduct this research with academic rigour, within budget and on schedule.

Finally, new platforms for dissemination will extend the Institute's capacity for knowledge transfer and information exchange. Wider reach and continued increase in the use of the Institute's work are confidently expected in 2013-14.

Concluding remarks

The 2012-13 financial year was remarkable for the Institute, as we made significant contributions to matters of great relevance to the Australian community. These strategically important issues for Australia, and the Government, included the settlement of humanitarian refugees into the community; child abuse and neglect, particularly in the context of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; and the needs of people affected by past adoption policies and practices. All of these fitted in well with the Strategic and Research Directions identified earlier in the year.

Forty-three research projects were underway or completed during the 2012-13 financial year, through the contributions of a total of 90 research and corporate staff. The proportion of researchers with postgraduate qualifications remained at a steady 59% in this reporting period.

The influence of the Institute's work on the Australian community continues to grow; our work not only informs policy development and evaluation but also helps to explain family life and wellbeing to Australians. The Institute is well positioned and we are looking forward to continuing our key research activities, growing our capacity and capability, and extending our reach through increased levels of national and international collaborations and by sharing information through our conferences, seminars, publications, website and media engagement.

Professor Alan Hayes AM
Director, Australian Institute of Family Studies

2. Agency overview

Role and functions

The Institute aims to increase understanding of factors affecting how Australian families function by conducting research and communicating findings to policy-makers, service providers, researchers and the broader community.

The AIFS Strategic Directions and Research Directions documents set the framework for its research activities and guide the research undertaken, including commissioned projects. The Institute facilitates and communicates research findings through its research publications, conferences, websites, information exchanges, information services, presentations, seminars and webinars, representation and through mass media.

The Strategic Directions 2012-15 came into effect on 1 July 2012. The plan outlines the roles and functions of the Institute for this annual reporting period. The key strategic objectives are:

  • undertaking high-quality impartial research relating to the wellbeing of families in Australia;
  • sharing the information and transferring our knowledge;
  • valuing and developing our relationships; and
  • managing our organisation.

Organisational structure

The Director is responsible for providing overall leadership of the Institute. He is supported by two Deputy Directors - Deputy Director (Research) and Deputy Director (Corporate & Strategy) - and an Assistant Director (Research), who work together to lead a team of managers responsible for the day-to-day work of the Institute in meeting its strategic objectives (see Figure 2.1).

The Deputy Director (Research) is responsible for the Institute's research program, which includes a wide range of research, evaluation and dissemination projects focusing on policy- and practice-relevant issues affecting families in Australia. This role is complemented by the Assistant Director (Research).

The Deputy Director (Corporate and Strategy) is responsible for the management of services to support the Institute's research activity, including human, financial and physical resources, information and communications technology, communication services and corporate governance.

Research managers oversee teams of research staff who work on a range of commissioned and internally initiated projects, including three information exchanges - the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, the Child Family Community Australia information exchange and the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse - and seven longitudinal studies.

The Corporate and Strategy area supports the Institute's research activities by providing administrative and specialist functions such as library, website, publishing, finance, information technology, external relations and human resources services.

Figure 2.1 AIFS organisational structure as at 30 June 2013

Outcome and program structure

In this reporting period, the Institute operated within the Australian Government's outcome and output framework published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2012-13 (PBS). The Institute has a single planned outcome:

  • Outcome 1 - Increased understanding of factors affecting how families function by conducting research and communicating findings to policy-makers, service providers and the broader community.

All Institute activities have been directed to achieving this outcome. Key performance indicators, detailed in Chapter 3, measure output deliverables.

The Institute's research and communications performance is detailed in Chapter 3, its management accountability performance in Chapter 4, and its financial statements in Chapter 5.

3. Report on performance

In order to achieve its single planned outcome - to increase understanding of factors affecting how families function by conducting research and communicating findings to policy-makers, service providers and the broader community - the Institute:

  • conducts high-quality research relevant to policy and practice on a broad range of issues regarding families in Australia;
  • expands the national knowledge base of factors affecting families through collaborative partnerships;
  • increases the effectiveness of communications to foster greater understanding about factors that affect families; and
  • builds organisational capacity to achieve research and communication objectives.

AIFS Research Directions

The Institute's research program during the reporting period was structured around the four research directions established under the AIFS Research Directions 2012-15:

  • family change, functioning and wellbeing;
  • social and economic participation for families;
  • child and family safety; and
  • services to support families.

The majority of the Institute's research projects relate to more than one research direction. A summary of the projects and how they relate to these directions is provided in Table 3.3.

The Institute conducts its research to deliver information that is:

  • rigorous, high-quality and credible;
  • relevant to current and emerging policy, professional, research and community interests relating to family functioning and wellbeing;
  • responsive, timely and targeted in its delivery; and
  • communicated to all stakeholders.

Research activities are either initiated by the Institute or commissioned by an external body. Institute-initiated research is generally funded from the budget appropriation.

Research projects conducted by the Institute range in scale and type, and include:

  • research projects that provide evidence relating to current and emerging social policy issues;
  • major evaluations and reviews of government policies and programs;
  • longitudinal studies that provide valuable data on children and their families;
  • specialist advisory services commissioned by government agencies; and
  • information exchanges that identify, collect, evaluate and synthesise research resources about a specialist field and communicate that information to policy and practice professionals.

A detailed description of the Institute's research projects.

Deliverables

The Institute achieves its planned outcome by delivering research and communication services.

Research outputs include projects involving a range of data collection and analytical methods, as well as longitudinal studies and analyses of other major datasets, literature reviews and submissions to government inquiries.

Communication activities include information exchange activities, publications, conferences and seminars, web-based content, and library help desk and bibliographic services. The communication activities deliver research findings to three broad groups:

  • policy-makers, to inform the development and review of policies and programs affecting families;
  • service providers, to improve professional practice that supports families; and
  • the research and general communities, to raise understanding and knowledge of family functioning.

Table 3.1 shows the deliverables for 2012-13 and the estimated trends for 2013-14 to 2015-16.

Table 3.1: Deliverable indicators: Actual (2012-13) and trends (2013-14 to 2015-16)
Deliverable indicator Target Actual Trends
2012-13 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Number of research outputs and publications 90 115 100 100 100
Number of conferences, seminars and forums hosted 10 17 10 10 10
Number of presentations given by AIFS 100 96 80 100 80
Number of library help desk inquiry responses 440 367 400 400 400
Number of bibliographic records generated 1,200 2,525 1,200 1,200 1,200

The first deliverable - research outputs and publications - is the core deliverable for the Institute. In addition to the growth in the number of outputs in 2012-13, there was a significant increase in the length and depth of individual publications. For example, The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Annual Statistical Report 2012 was 50% longer than the previous edition, and five of the publications released were major research reports involving substantial research and production time. The Research Report series included, for example, the 279-page report from the National Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices. Publications in the Research Report series totalled more than ten times the number of pages published in that series in the previous financial year.

The second deliverable identifies the number of conferences, seminars and other communication events hosted. In 2012-13, AIFS exceeded its planned number of events. These additional events included the delivery of the Changing Places forum and CFCA online conferencing (webinar) events.

The number of presentations given by AIFS personnel was slightly lower than planned for the year; however, the achievement is nevertheless a valuable indication of the value of AIFS work and the high standing of its research specialists. Compared to the previous reporting period, the number of presentations increased from 44, primarily due to presentations made at the AIFS Conference in July 2012.

The number of library help desk enquiries is expected to remain steady, or perhaps decline, as the Institute continues to make its findings readily available, in accessible formats, through its online presence.

The deliverable regarding bibliographic records is an indication of the level of publishing in the Institute's sphere of operation. These records provide a description of material related to family studies that have been published by AIFS or others, and help to provide a valuable reference resource for researchers in this field. For further details, see the report on Library and Information Services.

Key performance indicators

The Institute's research and communication performance is measured against seven key performance indicators (KPIs). New performance indicators were introduced for the 2012-13 financial year, providing a more accurate indication of the Institute's performance. Combined, the performance indicators signal the contribution of the Institute's research activities and the effectiveness of its communication activities.

Table 3.2 shows the key performance indicators for 2010-11 to 2012-13 and the estimated trends for the next three years.

Table 3.2: Key performance indicators: Actuals (2010-11 to 2012-13) and trends (2013-14 to 2015-16)
Key performance indicator Actuals Target Actuals Trends
2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Number of commissioning bodies 21 20 20 20 20 20 20
Number of research projects 45 43 42 43 42 42 42
Number of longitudinal studies - - 5 7 5 5 5
Number of publications distributed and downloaded (millions) 2.23 2.71 1.8 2.69 1.8 1.8 1.8
Total attendance at AIFS conferences, seminars and forums - - 750 1,709 550 750 550
Number of media mentions 3,556 2,606 2,800 4,611 2,300 2,800 2,300
% of research personnel with postgraduate qualifications - 59% 55% 59% 55% 55% 55%

Research

The number of commissioning bodies is indicative of the spread of research undertaken in the broad area of family wellbeing. This also helps to indicate that the Institute is not reliant on a single source of income. In 2012-13, the Institute was commissioned by 20 organisations to undertake research projects, above and beyond appropriation-funded research activity, which matches the number from the previous financial year and the target. Read in conjunction with the financial tables, it can be noted that commissioned work accounted for 70% of the Institute's income.

The Institute undertook 43 research projects during the reporting period. This just exceeds the target and points to the commissioning bodies' decisions to seek timely, arms-length, impartial research on policy-relevant topics. This KPI is reliant on the ongoing financial capacity of other bodies to commission research from the Institute. Any risk is managed through budget monitoring and business development processes.

An indication of the Institute's capability and readiness to undertake high-quality research is the proportion of researchers with postgraduate qualifications. In 2012-13, 59% of researchers at the Institute held postgraduate qualifications, which is the same as the previous year and is above the target of 55%.

The Institute was involved in seven longitudinal studies during the reporting period:

  • Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children;
  • Australian Temperament Project;
  • Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants;
  • Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families;
  • Stronger Families in Australia Study Extension;
  • Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study of Leaving Care; and
  • Pathways of Care: The Longitudinal Study of Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care.

The number of longitudinal studies has been included because they are significant contributors to a strong evidence base for policy-makers and practitioners. The nature of longitudinal studies also requires a longer term commitment of resources by funding and partner bodies, as the same group of respondents are followed over a number of years. The value that longitudinal studies bring is the large body of data that can be analysed to answer a range of policy- and practice-relevant questions with confidence and reliability.

Communication

The number of AIFS publications distributed and downloaded indicates the uptake of the Institute's published findings. In 2012-13, it exceeded the expected 1.8 million downloads by 50%, which is reflective of the level of interest in research into family wellbeing and the credibility of the Institute as a reliable source of high-quality data and analyses. Key areas of activity include child protection information and fact sheets providing snapshots of Australian family trends.

Attendance at AIFS events, such as conferences and seminars, continued to increase in 2012-13. Careful attention to covering a range of policy- and practice-relevant topics through these events has assisted in broadening their appeal. Furthermore, the increased availability and uptake of webinar technology has helped to make seminars available to people outside the Melbourne area. The popularity of this innovation is attested to by the very large number of participants (1,709) compared to the target of 750. Further detail on these activities.

The number of media mentions is an indication of the Institute's communication of research findings to the broader Australian community. Continued interest from online, print, television and radio journalists provides a conduit for reaching Australian families. In 2012-13, online news coverage was the strongest medium for AIFS (see also Media coverage).

Social inclusion outcomes

The Institute has no mandatory reporting requirements against the Government's strategic change indicators. However, its research continues to contribute to the evidence base that may be used by other agencies to advance social inclusion outcomes in Australia. For example, in this reporting period, research was conducted on humanitarian migrants, new income management schemes, early childhood education, past adoption experiences, work-family balance, children and young people in out-of-home care, separated families, and sexual assault. Other activities continue the focus on place-based disadvantage, including work on the challenges confronting young parents in such locations, and on issues around workforce participation for people who are vulnerable due to the effects of intergenerational disadvantage.

The Institute is also a partner in the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, which is a source of evidence-based resources on overcoming disadvantage among Indigenous Australians.

In addition, during the reporting period, the Institute implemented several key actions outlined in its Reconciliation Action Plan 2012-14. These included acknowledging in staff email signatures the traditional custodians of the country in which the AIFS office is located, revising event planning guidelines, displaying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at reception, and celebrating Reconciliation Week with a cultural history walk for staff, led by a Wurundjeri elder. Fulfilling these key actions highlights the Institute's commitment to recognising the histories, cultures and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Report on performance - Research activities

Table 3.3: Index of Institute research projects and relevance to research directions, 2012-13
Project Family change, functioning and wellbeing Social and economic participation for families Child and family safety Services to support families
Research projects        
Access to Early Childhood Education and Care Services X X   X
Australian Gambling Research Centre X XX X XX
Australian Temperament Project XX X X  
Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care   X XX XX
Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants XX XX X X
Child Aware Approaches Good Practice and Principles Guide X X XX XX
Child Protection Developments X X XX  
Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives: Key Learnings Project X XX    
Driving Behaviour Study XX   X  
Evaluation of New Income Management in the Northern Territory X XX X X
Evaluation of the Case Coordination Trial X XX   XX
Evaluation of the Child Care Flexibility Trials X X XX XX
Review of Child Protection Income Management in Western Australia XX XX XX XX
Evaluation of the Cradle to Kinder and Aboriginal Cradle to Kinder Programs X X XX XX
Family Attitudes and Values XX XX X  
Family Law: Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution in Family Violence Cases Evaluation Study XX   XX XX
Family Law Developments X X X X
Family Law: Independent Children's Lawyer Study X   X X
Family Pathways: Survey of Recently Separated Parents X X X X
Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families X X X X
Family Trends and Transitions XX XX    
Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children X X X X
Indigenous Child and Family Resources Portal X X XX XX
Indigenous Justice Program Evaluation: Diversion Programs X XX XX X
Indigenous Promising Practice Profiles X X XX XX
Labour Market Issues for Families XX XX    
A New Legal Frontier? The Role of Social Networking Services and Mobile Phone Technology in Facilitating Sexual Violence     XX  
Past Adoption Experiences: National Research Study on Service Responses X X X  
Pathways of Care: The Longitudinal Study of Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care X   XX X
Prevention and Early Intervention in Child Sexual Abuse     X X
Protective Behaviours Pilot Evaluation X   XX X
Research and Evaluation Collaboration: Australian Childhood Foundation X X X XX
Research and Evaluation Collaboration: CatholicCare Archdiocese Melbourne X X X XX
Research and Evaluation Collaboration: Interrelate Family Centres X X X XX
Socio-Economic Disparities Among Older and Younger Women in NSW   XX    
Families Research Capacity Building XX XX X  
Stronger Families in Australia Study Extension X X   XX
Therapeutic Needs of Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: Implications for Service Provision X X X X
Victim-Focused Court Practice Reforms in Sexual Assault Matters     XX  
Young Parents and Their Children in Australia X XX   X
Clearinghouses and information exchanges        
Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault   X XX X
Child Family Community Australia XX X XX XX
Closing the Gap Clearinghouse X X X X

Note: The "X" indicates the AIFS directions to which each project is related and the degree of relevance.

Details of research activities

Access to Early Childhood Education and Care Services

Project duration June 2011 - December 2013
Funding source(s) DEEWR

The purpose of this project is to undertake research to identify gaps in access to and participation in preschool programs by Australian children aged 4-5 years old.

There have been two phases to the project. Phase 1 was completed in 2011-12, and the report based on this work was released in April 2013. This phase had the following objectives: (a) review how "access" to preschool services is conceptualised and defined; (b) identify the issues and factors that affect access to preschool services; and (c) document and provide recommendations on how access to preschool services can be measured beyond broad performance indicators. The research involved a review of Australian and international literature; consultations across Australia with key government and non-government stakeholders; and analyses of Australian datasets that provide information about the participation of children in early childhood education in the year prior to full-time schooling.

Phase 2 was conducted in 2012-13, with the final project report submitted in June 2013. This phase involved conducting qualitative interviews with parents in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. The key research questions examined were: (a) How is participation affected by different delivery systems; that is, school-based systems, community-based systems, long-day-care-based systems, integrated services, and specialised/targeted services? (b) What are the key factors that influence the reasons why a family does or does not access early childhood education services (or other relevant services) for their children generally and for specific cohorts? and (c) Are there any views from participants in the study on how to overcome barriers to accessing early childhood education?

The Phase 1 research report was published in April 2013. It is intended that a publication will also be prepared from the Phase 2 report, for release in 2013-14.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Publication of final Phase 1 research report on access to early childhood education Research Report released in April 2013 Improved understanding of access to early childhood education
Completion of Phase 2 qualitative research and submission of final report Final report for Phase 2 submitted in June 2013

Publication(s) and report(s)

Baxter, J., & Hand, K. (2013). Access to early childhood education in Australia (AIFS Research Report No. 24). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/resreport24>.

Hand, K., Baxter, J., Sweid, R., Bluett-Boyd, N., & Price-Robertson, R. (2013). Access to early childhood education in Australia: Insights from a qualitative study. Final project report to DEEWR. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Presentation(s)

Hand, K., & Baxter, J. A. (2012, 27 July). The meaning and measurement of access to early childhood education in Australia. 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.

Hand, K., & Baxter, J. A. (2013, 27 February). Access to early childhood education. Early Childhood Management Services Annual General Meeting, Melbourne.

Australian Gambling Research Centre

Project duration July 2013 - (ongoing)
Funding source(s) Appropriation; FaHCSIA

The Australian Gambling Research Centre was announced in November 2012 to be established at AIFS under the National Gambling Reform Act 2012. Work began towards the end of the reporting period to set up the centre to commence formal operations on 1 July 2013. It has been established to complement the work of other research organisations working in this field and will be a mechanism for drawing together the available evidence and identifying areas of inconsistent or insufficient data. The research agenda will be forward-thinking and will be geared towards creating tangible outcomes for the Australian community. Its findings will provide evidence that:

  • can be translated into practical policy and programs to assist people affected by problem gambling; and
  • inform policy and program development to help prevent problem gambling.

Section 196 of the Act expands the functions of the Director of the Institute to include:

  1. undertaking or commissioning research into, or producing data and statistics about:
    1. the harm caused by gambling to problem gamblers, the families and communities of problem gamblers, and those at risk of experiencing that harm;
    2. measures that may be undertaken to reduce that harm;
    3. recreational gambling; and
  2. increasing the capability and capacity of researchers to conduct the research and produce the data and statistics referred to in paragraph (a).

An Expert Advisory Group has been established to advise the Director in relation to:

  • strategic directions and research plans and programs; and
  • strategies for increasing the capability and capacity of researchers to conduct research into, or produce data and statistics about, gambling.

Funding has been provided by the Australian Government to facilitate the establishment of the centre. Additional funding has been provided by FaHCSIA to conduct a review of three pre-commitment features in relation to electronic gaming machine gambling: limit-setting, transaction history statements and self-exclusion. Information from these reviews will contribute to a broader pre-commitment research project being conducted by FaHCSIA.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Establishment of the centre Staffing appointments
Consultations with key stakeholders
Discussion paper on possible research directions prepared for Director and Expert Advisory Group
Centre ready to commence formal operation on 1 July 2013
Appointment of Expert Advisory Group 8 members appointed
First meeting organised
Expert Advisory Group appointed
Tender for review of gambling pre-commitment features to be undertaken June-October 2013 Initial project planning and liaison with FaHCSIA Information on gambling pre-commitment features to contribute to broader FaHCSIA project

Presentation(s)

Hayes, A. (2013, 14 June). The Australian Gambling Research Centre: Progress, prospects and possibilities, Australia and New Zealand Casino and Gaming Regulators Conference, Adelaide.

Australian Temperament Project

Project duration 1983- (ongoing)
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Partner organisation(s) University of Melbourne; Deakin University; Royal Children's Hospital
Related project(s) Driving Behaviour Study

The Australian Temperament Project is a longitudinal study following the psychosocial adjustment of a large community sample of Victorian children from infancy into adulthood. It investigates the contribution of personal, family, peer and broader environmental factors to adjustment and wellbeing.

The ATP began in 1983 with the recruitment of 2,443 Victorian infants and their families from Maternal and Child Health Centres. Fifteen waves of data collection have been completed over the first 28 years of life, predominantly via mail surveys. Parents, maternal and child health nurses, teachers, and, from the age of 11 years onwards, the young people themselves have acted as informants. Two-thirds of the original participants continue to be involved in the study.

The Institute has housed and managed the ATP since 2000, in conjunction with researchers from the Royal Children's Hospital, the University of Melbourne and Deakin University. While continuing to maintain an active role in the strategic management of the project and analysis of project data, the Institute has been negotiating a stronger role for its university partners in the day-to-day management of the ATP.

The ATP celebrated its 30th anniversary in May 2013. A brief publication highlighting key findings from the ATP's first 30 years was prepared to coincide with the project's 30th anniversary. The report was launched at a celebration for study members and researchers in Melbourne on 19 May.

Dissemination of study findings continued to be a major focus in 2012-13. In addition to the commemorative report, six journal articles reporting ATP findings were published within the reporting period. These covered such diverse topics as cannabis use and depression; positive development and psychopathology; and the longitudinal prediction of anxiety, alcohol-related harms and school bonding.

An invited journal article examining factors that interrupt the continuity from school bullying to adjustment difficulties in later life was also prepared for a special issue of the Journal of School Violence that will be published in the second half of 2013. This paper builds on previous work the ATP team published in a special issue of Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health in 2011. The special issue will feature papers from a number of Australian and international longitudinal studies and is being edited by leading criminologists from the University of Cambridge. This research formed part of a keynote presentation at the No2Bullying Conference in Queensland in May 2013.

During the reporting period, fieldwork continued for the ATP Generation 3 study (formerly the ATP Next Generation Study), a study of the experiences of ATP study members who are now parents of young children or are soon to be parents. One of the main aims of this study (which is being led by researchers from the Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne) is to examine the extent to which patterns of risk, resilience and wellbeing are transmitted from one generation to the next. Over 220 interviews have been completed so far.

Work also continued on a study led by the OECD that is examining the role of cognitive ability and personality traits in fostering wellbeing and social progress. Significant progress was made on project analyses during 2012-13, and meetings were held with the OECD in Amsterdam in September 2012 and in Paris in June 2013 to discuss preliminary study findings.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Preparation and dissemination of journal articles, book chapters and conference presentations 6 journal articles
1 report
1 keynote presentation
1 conference presentation
1 participant newsletter
Findings cited in national and international publications; media interest; requests for advice from other national and international researchers
Provide and maintain the ATP website Website updated Publications and study information made available to researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and study members

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Australian Temperament Project. (2012). 2012 newsletter to study members.
  • Horwood, L. J., Fergusson, D. M., Coffey, C., Patton, G. C., Tait, R., Smart, D. et al. (2012). Cannabis and depression: An integrative data analysis of four Australian cohorts. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 126, 369-378.
  • Letcher, P., Sanson, A., Smart, D., & Toumborou, J. W. (2012). Precursors and correlates of anxiety trajectories from late childhood to late adolescence. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 41, 417-432.
  • Little, K., Hawkins, M., Sanson, A., O'Connor, M., Toumborou, J., Smart, D., & Vassallo, S. (2013). Longitudinal predictors of alcohol-related harms during the transition to adulthood. Australian Psychologist. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-9544.2012.00095.x
  • Little, K., Hawkins, M. T., Sanson, A., Toumborou, J. W., Smart, D., Vassallo, S., & O'Connor, M. (2012). Longitudinal prediction of alcohol-related harms in young adults. Substance Use and Misuse, 47, 1303-1317.
  • O'Connor, M., Sanson, A., Hawkins, M. T., Olsson, C., Frydenberg, E., Toumbourou, J., & Letcher, P. (2012). The relationship between positive development and psychopathology during the transition to adulthood: A person-centred approach. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 701-712.
  • Terrett, G., O'Connor, M., Hawkins, M., Sanson, A., & Smart, D. (2012). Longitudinal antecedents of school bonding in adolescence. Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 29, 107-128.
  • Vassallo, S., & Sanson, A. (Eds.). (2013). The Australian Temperament Project: The first 30 years. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/atp/pubs/reports/first30years>.

Presentation(s)

  • Edwards, B. (2013, 23 May). The long-term outcomes of victims and perpetrators of bullying: Evidence from longitudinal studies . The No2Bullying Conference, "Managing the impacts of bullying: Prevention, policy and practice", Surfer's Paradise, Qld.
  • Renda, J., Vassallo, S., & Edwards, B. (2012, 26 July). Bullying in early adolescence and its association with antisocial behaviour, criminality and violence 6 and 10 years later. 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.

Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care

Project duration June 2012 - June 2017
Funding source(s) Victorian Department of Human Services
Related project(s) Pathways of Care: The Longitudinal Study of Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care

In 2011, the Victorian Government committed to enhancing services for young people who are transitioning from out-of-home care or who have left care, with a particular focus on improving their training, education and employment outcomes. The Institute has been commissioned by the Victorian Department of Human Services to undertake this study to examine the pathways of young people who have been in out-of-home care in Victoria, with a focus on what happens post-care, and to identify where outcomes are poor, and where there are areas for improvement. The research will inform government policy in supporting more effective transitions from out-of-home care, and in particular will aim to improve young people's moves towards interdependent relationships and eventual independence by:

  • providing insights into the critical success factors associated with the transition from out-of-home care;
  • proposing ways of enhancing out-of-home care; and
  • proposing improvements in the transition from care and services available post-care.

The study will include four waves of data collection, including interviews with young people, their carers and other relevant individuals at three intervals over five years, file audits, and a small number of case studies. Data collection is due to commence in the second half of 2013.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Consultation on research focus Consultation conducted with a range of key stakeholders, including young people with experience of the OOHC system Research methodology refined
Strong stakeholder and consumer interest in the study
Develop research methodology and survey instruments and obtain ethics approval Analysis of de-identified case file extract of study-eligible population completed
Draft survey instrument for young people developed
Ethics approval granted for project implementation phase
Ethics approvals begun for undertaking data collection
Research methodology refined
Prepare progress and annual reports 3 quarterly progress reports submitted
1 annual report submitted
Stakeholders informed on progress of study

Presentation(s)

  • Kenny, P., Higgins, D., Smart, D., & Guy, J. (2013, 28 June). Current research activities and the present policy environment . Inaugural Out-of-Home Care Summit, Melbourne.

Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants

Project duration June 2012 - December 2017
Funding source(s) DIAC

In response to gaps in knowledge and research, the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship has commissioned the Institute to manage Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Survey of Humanitarian Migrants, which will follow the journey of members of humanitarian migrant households from their arrival in Australia to being eligible for citizenship. The study's objective is to identify the factors and resources that aid successful settlement in Australia and inform government policy by augmenting the current evidence base.

The study aims to:

  • measure how settlement outcomes (e.g., employment, housing, health, community engagement) differ across groups, and change over time;
  • understand the factors that promote or hinder positive settlement outcomes; and
  • determine the role of funded services in affecting the outcomes, enabling better targeting of policies and programs in the future.

Approximately 1,500 families that have been granted permanent visas through Australia's humanitarian program are being recruited. The families come from a wide range of national and cultural backgrounds, and are residing in urban and regional communities across Australia. The principal applicant on the visa application is invited to take part in the study, as are the other adults residing with the principal applicant who were named on the application. Participants will be interviewed annually over five years.

AIFS' role is to undertake all aspects of planning, coordinating and managing this study. Through a competitive procurement process, Colmar Brunton was appointed as the agency to undertake the fieldwork. Development work commenced in mid-2012 and continued into 2013. The activities undertaken include: finalisation of the survey design, development of survey instruments, obtaining ethics approval, and fieldwork preparation. The first phase of the Wave 1 data collection (the "dress rehearsal") commenced in mid-2013.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Parameters of the study developed Agreement reached on participants to be recruited, and methodology to be employed Study will survey appropriate populations to provide relevant information for policy and service development
Consultations and focus groups to inform study design and content Consultations and focus groups undertaken with government and non-government stakeholders Survey covers key aspects of settlement; is suitable for vulnerable populations; addresses cultural sensitivities and comprehension difficulties
Interview schedules developed Interview schedules for principal and secondary applicants developed and received ethics approval Interviews yield high-quality, comprehensive assessments of major influences on settlement outcomes that are useful to a range of stakeholders
Commencement of Wave 1 fieldwork First phase commenced mid-2013 and completed on time Reliable and relevant information collected about humanitarian migrants' initial settlement experiences to inform policy development

Presentation(s)

  • Jenkinson, R. (2012, 6 December). Building a New Life in Australia: Improving knowledge and understanding of the settlement journey for humanitarian migrants. . Australian Population Association Conference, Melbourne.

Child Aware Approaches Good Practice and Principles Guide

Project duration June 2013 - April 2014
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Related project(s) Child Family Community Australia

As part of the Australian Government's commitment to the Second Action Plan under the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020, funding was provided to 43 organisations in 2012 for Child Aware Approaches projects to help protect and safeguard children. To highlight the successes of this grant round, a Child Aware Approaches Conference was held in Melbourne in April 2013.

Based on the outcomes of the 43 Child Aware Approaches projects and the subsequent conference, the CFCA information exchange, hosted at AIFS, has been commissioned by FaHCSIA to develop a publication or set of publications. The publication(s) will establish key principles and review/identify promising practices in child-aware approaches. The publication(s) will provide a set of key child-aware principles that can inform program logic, policy and procedures, and monitoring and evaluation activities.

It is expected that the publication(s) will be released as part of the CFCA information exchange publication series in early 2014.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Establish advisory group Advisory group established Project plan on track
Collation of reports, conference proceedings and relevant government documentation for assessment All relevant materials collated and analysis initiated

Child Protection Developments

Project duration Ongoing
Funding source(s) Appropriation; AGD
Related project(s) Child Family Community Australia

This project aims to continue AIFS' engagement and involvement in the implementation of and activities associated with the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020.

The project involves providing policy and research advice related to protecting children to various committees associated with the National Framework, the Australasian Statutory Child Protection Learning and Development group, and Strong Aboriginal Families, Together. In addition to this, the project allows for the development of collaborations with other child protection research organisations, state child protection departments and universities, and through these collaborations, the development of and participation in research grant applications specific to child protection.

In order to support their work, the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse also engaged AIFS to provide background research in relation to seven topics:

  • mandatory reporting;
  • agencies with oversight of child sexual abuse allegations;
  • employment screening;
  • recent enquiries conducted into child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, Canada and New Zealand;
  • recent child sexual abuse prevalence studies from United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland, United States and Canada;
  • statutory definitions of child sexual abuse applicable to institutional setting; and
  • reports and submissions concerning Australian compliance to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, where comments are relevant to child sexual abuse and institutions
Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Participation in meetings related to National Framework Participation in National Framework Implementation Working Group and Performance and Data Working Group meetings Comment on ongoing implementation of the National Framework and policy development
Participation in child-protection-relevant research in advisory and collaborative capacity Submission in response to FaHCSIA call for provision of projects under the National Research Agenda for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 with Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital Submission was unsuccessful but a strong collaborative relationship was established and the proposal will be amended for future submissions
Publish articles and present papers at conferences and seminars 3 articles
3 book chapters
1 book
14 presentations
1 submission before government inquiry
Government, policy-makers and other stakeholders better informed of the nature of the activities associated with the National Framework

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Bowes, J., Grace, R., & Hayes, A. (2012). The role of context in children's development. In J. Bowes, R. Grace, & K. Hodge (Eds.), Children, families and communities: Contexts and consequences (4th edn.; pp. 3-16). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • Bowes, J., Hayes, A., Cashmore, J., & Hodge, K. (2012). Policy support for children, families and communities. In J. Bowes, R. Grace, & K. Hodge (Eds.), Children, families and communities: Contexts and consequences (4th edn.; pp. 289-307). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • Mikton, C., Tonmyr, L., & Scott, D. (2012). Commentary: Exploring the complex links between violence, mental health and substance abuse. From correlates, through risk factors, towards causal pathways. Advances in Mental Health , 11 (1), 87-94.
  • Molnar, B., Winning, A., & Scott D. (2013). A resource guide for child maltreatment data collection: Part II . Building and improving child protection systems. Aurora, CO: ISPCAN.
  • Scott, D., & Higgins, D. J. (2012). Child abuse and neglect in Australia's Northern Territory: The Northern Territory Emergency Response. In H. Dubowitz (Ed.), (10th ed.) (pp. 69-75). Aurora, CO: International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Presentation(s)

  • Hayes, A. (2012, 6 December). Protecting children is a whole of community responsibility . Drummond Street Services Research Symposium, Melbourne.
  • Hayes, A. (2012, 22 August). Supporting families and strengthening communities to do what's right for children and young people . Association of Children's Welfare Agencies Conference 2012, Sydney.
  • Hayes, A. (2013, 11 April). From anxiety to healthy awareness and acceptance of your responsibility: Confronting the challenges of contemporary childhood . Keynote address, Child Aware Approaches Conference 2013, Melbourne.
  • Higgins, D. J. (2012, 21 November). Child protection information, statistics and data management . Conference on Child Protection 2012, Enhancing Capacity and Strategic Service Delivery Within a National and Regional Context, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Higgins, D. J. (2013, 10 April). Child-safe sports environments: Lessons from research about the context for protecting children from abuse . pre-forum workshop, Creating Child Safe Environments in Sport, 5th Our Sporting Future Forum, Melbourne.
  • Higgins, D. J. (2013, 2 May). The future of prevention research and implementation in childhood (5-12 years) . 10th Australian Rotary Health Symposium, Preventing Mental Health Disorders, Canberra.
  • Higgins, D. J. (2013, 17 May). New directions in policy and planning for residential care . Panel discussion, Breakfast Policy Forum on Residential Care, Victorian Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, Melbourne.
  • Scott, D. (2012, 13 September). Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect in hospital emergency departments: Towards an interdisciplinary approach. ISPCAN Conference, Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Scott, D. (2012, 20 September). Supervisory neglect: Is there a workable definition?ACWA Conference 2012, Sydney.
  • Scott, D. (2012, 9 September). Update on changes to external cause codes for maltreatment in ICD11. ISPCAN Conference, Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Scott, D. (2013, 14 May). Can injury surveillance data be used to identify inflicted injury and domestic violence? Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program Group Meeting, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Canada.
  • Scott, D. (2013, 30 April). Improving the measurement and surveillance of child abuse in Queensland emergency departments . Injury and Child Maltreatment Section, Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Canada.
  • Scott, D. (2013, 19 June). Improving the measurement and surveillance of child abuse in Queensland emergency departments . Offord Centre Lunch and Learn Seminar, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.
  • Scott, D., & Higgins, D. (2012, 27 July). Has the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) been successful in protecting Indigenous children through support for families? 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.

Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives: Key Learnings Project

Project duration April 2013 - April 2014
Funding source(s) PM&C Social Inclusion Unit

The Social Inclusion Unit within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has commissioned the Institute to undertake a "meta-evaluation" of Commonwealth place-based projects, which provides a synthesis of key learnings from these initiatives. The project has four stages:

  • an exploratory scoping analysis of place-based initiatives and proposed evaluations;
  • a literature review of published evaluation reports;
  • consultations with Commonwealth agencies, service providers and participants; and
  • analyses of key factors associated with program outcomes based on the exploratory scoping analysis, the literature review and the consultations.

The findings will provide insights into how the design, implementation and delivery of place-based initiatives may be improved.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Stage 1: Exploratory scoping analysis of place-based initiatives and proposed evaluations Stage 1 underway Scope of meta-evaluation defined through developing a shared definition of place-based initiatives and an understanding of what evaluations may be available for use in the project

Driving Behaviour Study

Project duration June 2002 - June 2013
Funding source(s) Transport Accident Commission (TAC); Royal Automobile Club Victoria (RACV); Appropriation
Partner organisation(s) TAC; RACV
Related project(s) Australian Temperament Project

The Driving Behaviour Study used data from the ATP to examine the road safety behaviours of young people, and the personal, family and wider environmental factors associated with differing profiles of driving behaviour.

The study began in 2002 when the ATP participants were 19-20 years old. At this time, information was collected on study members' learner driving experiences, current driving patterns and risky driving behaviours. A further two waves of road safety data were collected - in 2006, when study members were aged 23-24 years, and 2010-11 when they were aged 27-28 years.

Analysis of the third wave of road safety data (at 27-28 years) was finalised in 2012. A report examining the characteristics of young people exhibiting different across-time patterns of risky driving (from 19-20 to 27-28 years) was published in March 2013. The findings of this report were presented at the AIFS Conference in July 2012, and are currently being adapted for publication as a journal article.

A report outlining preliminary descriptive analyses of the cohort at age 27-28 was also prepared for the RACV and TAC, for their internal use. In addition, selected findings from the second wave of road safety data (collected at 23-24 years) have been summarised in two draft journal articles. Revisions to these articles are near completion, and are due to be submitted to international road safety journals for publication in coming months.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Dissemination of study findings 2 reports
1 conference poster
2 journal articles prepared
Provision of new Australian evidence to inform policy development

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Vassallo, S., Lahausse, J., & Edwards, B. (2013). Stability and change in risky driving from the late teens to the late twenties (Research Paper No. 51). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/rp51>.
  • Vassallo, S., & McDonald, L. (2013). Driving behaviour trends at 27-28 years of age: Preliminary findings from the Wave 15 Australian Temperament Project survey. Report prepared by the Australian Institute of Family Studies for the Transport Accident Commission of Victoria and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Presentation(s)

  • Vassallo, S., Lahausse, J., Cockfield, S., & Congiu, M. (2012, 27 July). Across-time trends in risky driving behaviour from the late teens to the late 20s: Factors differentiating persistent and improved risky drivers . Poster, 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.

Evaluation of New Income Management in the Northern Territory

Project duration April 2010 - June 2012 (baseline)
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA, via Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Partner organisation(s) SPRC (UNSW), Australian National University (ANU)
Related project(s) Closing the Gap Clearinghouse; Review of Child Protection Income Management in Western Australia

This project was the first phase of the New Income Management Evaluation Framework and Baseline Data Collection Project, which was commissioned by FaHCSIA and undertaken by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales as the lead agency, and the Australian National University.

AIFS developed the survey instruments and interview schedules for the collection of early implementation data with staff from key agencies involved in the implementation of New Income Management in the Northern Territory, and undertook the fieldwork for the qualitative interviews. These data contributed to the first report on the whole evaluation, which was submitted to FaHCSIA in June 2012 and released in November 2012. AIFS looks forward to the opportunity to contribute to further stages of this project being undertaken for FaHCSIA by SPRC and the ANU.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
First report in the evaluation findings First report submitted and released Improved understanding of the New Income Management scheme in the Northern Territory

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Bray, J. R., Gray, M., Hand. K., Bradbury, B., Eastman, C., & Katz, I. (2012). Evaluating New Income Management in the Northern Territory: First evaluation report . Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales.

Evaluation of the Case Coordination Trial

Project duration November 2012 - September 2014
Funding source(s) DHS
Partner organisation(s) ANU

AIFS, in partnership with the ANU, has been commissioned by DHS to undertake an evaluation of the department's Case Coordination Trial.

The Case Coordination Trial is an initiative to better focus its services and assist those in need or at risk. The purpose of case coordination is to provide integrated and intensive support to help connect DHS (Centrelink) customers to appropriate services in their community and to provide more help for people with complex needs.

The evaluation is taking place in two phases. Phase one, the interim evaluation, took place from November 2012 to June 2013 and considered early implementation issues, as well as, where possible, an assessment of early outcomes. The second phase will take place from July to September 2014. Both phases involve collecting information from DHS staff and customers and local service providers, as well as making use of DHS administrative datasets.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Develop an evaluation plan and framework Evaluation framework developed Evaluation criteria confirmed, based on program logic and ethics approval
Research methodology refined
Instrument development Survey domains identified December 2011
Draft questionnaires (follow-up and top-up samples) completed May 2012
Ethics Committee approval Methodology and instruments approved February 2013
Undertake fieldwork including online surveys and interviews with DHS staff, clients and service providers Fieldwork commenced March 2013 and completed May 2013 Evidence base to assist with assessing the effects of Case Coordination trial
Interim evaluation report Interim evaluation report submitted June 2012

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Hand, K., Bray, J. R, Sweid, R., Gray, M. (2013). Evaluation of the Case Coordination Trial: Interim report. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Evaluation of the Child Care Flexibility Trials

Project duration 30 April 2013 to 15 November 2014
Funding source(s) DEEWR

In March 2013, the Australian Government announced the Child Care Flexibility Trials, which will explore ways of meeting the needs of Australian families requiring child care that do not fit with the current standard models of care.

The trials involve two key components:

  • a series of 12-month trials involving the Australian Government partnering with key child care stakeholders (including service providers and employee representatives) to pilot a range of flexible child care projects across the long day care, family day care and outside-school-hours care sectors; and
  • the Child Care Flexibility Fund, which is designed to complement the trials and stimulate the development of more innovative and flexible child care arrangements through a series of government-community partnerships.

The evaluation commenced in May 2013 and will continue through to November 2014. The evaluation seeks to measure the extent to which the goals and expected outcomes of the Child Care Flexibility Trials are being achieved.

Broadly, the evaluation would seek to answer the following questions:

  • Are the changes to the models of service provision being trialled meeting the needs of families needing flexible child care arrangements?
  • Are these models replicable and self-sustaining?

The evaluation involves both a process evaluation component and an outcomes evaluation component. Given the importance of tracking the replicability and sustainability of the trials, implementation issues will be a key focus, and across the project there will be an ongoing focus on whether the trials are working in the way that was originally proposed, and how they are evolving - either intentionally or unintentionally - to meet the needs of families and providers.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Development of a draft evaluation framework Draft evaluation framework developed Evidence base to assist with assessing the effects of the Child Care Flexibility Trials

Review of Child Protection Income Management in Western Australia

Project duration February 2012 - December 2013
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Partner organisation(s) FaHCSIA; WA Department for Child Protection and Family Support (DCPFS); DHS
Related project(s) Closing the Gap Clearinghouse; Evaluation of New Income Management in the Northern Territory

The Review of Child Protection Income Management in Western Australia is being undertaken by FaHCSIA, the WA Department for Child Protection and Family Support and DHS.

AIFS has been contracted by FaHCSIA in an advisory role to review methodology, provide independent advice and feedback, assist with fieldwork, and comment on the analysis and the final report as needed.

The evaluation is based on:

  • administrative data from DHS (Centrelink), Money Management Service providers and the WA DCPFS;
  • a case file review of current and former Child Protection Income Management clients;
  • in-depth interviews with clients and former clients; and
  • in-depth interviews with intermediaries (DHS Centrelink, Money Management Service Providers and WA DCPFS).

Fieldwork was conducted by AIFS in Perth, Broome and Kununurra between May 2012 and December 2012. FaHCSIA is due to finalise the report later in 2013.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Member of project advisory group Attended advisory group meetings Evidence base to assist with assessing the effects in Western Australia
Contribute to design and methodology for evaluation Met with key stakeholders
1 conference presentation on methodological issues
Contribute to conduct of fieldwork Fieldwork in Perth, Kununurra and Broome undertaken  
Comment on analyses and content for report Commented on analyses and content for the report

Presentation(s)

  • Nelson, A. & Hand, K. (2012, 30 August). Methodology for the evaluation of Child Protection Income Management in Western Australia . Australian Evaluation Society Conference, Adelaide.

Evaluation of the Cradle to Kinder and Aboriginal Cradle to Kinder Programs

Project duration February 2013 - January 2016 (with possible extension to June 2017)
Funding source(s) Victorian Government Department of Human Services
Partner organisation(s) Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Centre for Community Child Health

The Cradle to Kinder and Aboriginal Cradle to Kinder programs are new ante- and postnatal support services being implemented by the Victorian Government Department of Human Services. The programs provide intensive family and early parenting support to vulnerable young mothers and their children. Supports commence during pregnancy and continue until the child is aged 4 years.

The evaluation is being undertaken by the Institute in partnership with the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute's Centre for Community Child Health. The evaluation seeks to measure the extent to which the goals and expected outcomes of the Cradle to Kinder and Aboriginal Cradle to Kinder are achieved. The evaluation involves both a process evaluation component and an outcomes evaluation component.

The evaluation methodology involves:

  • an evaluation development phase, including the development of an evaluation framework, communications plan and risk assessment framework;
  • a four-wave longitudinal qualitative study with 30 young women and their families who are Cradle to Kinder or Aboriginal Cradle to Kinder clients;
  • web surveys and qualitative interviews with service providers and stakeholders (to be undertaken by the Centre for Community Child Health);
  • analyses of program data;
  • action research workshops with service providers (to be undertaken by the Centre for Community Child Health); and
  • an economic analysis.
Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Development of an evaluation framework and plan Evaluation framework and plan completed Evaluation criteria confirmed and research methodology refined
Instrument development Draft surveys developed

Presentation(s)

  • Hand, K. (2013, 21 February). The evaluation of Cradle to Kinder and Aboriginal Cradle to Kinder Programs . Cradle to Kinder Program Service Providers meeting, Victorian Department of Human Services, Melbourne.

Family Attitudes and Values

Project duration July 2009 - June 2013
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Partner organisation(s) Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Inc. (ACSPRI)
Related project(s) Family Trends and Transitions; Families Research Capacity Building

The aim of this study was to monitor attitudes, values and aspirations relating to family issues. The monitoring of such matters in the general population can improve understanding of family trends, such as patterns of leaving home, partnership formation and marriage, having children, parental employment and family life involvement, relationship breakdown, post-separation parenting, and re-partnering. Monitoring and understanding of broad trends in family transitions is important for proactive policy development, and it can help shape the timely development of new research projects.

The Family Attitudes and Values research project commenced with the development of a comprehensive list of relevant measures that have been used in Australia and overseas. This item bank will continue to be updated as a research resource. The second stage of the project involved a survey of values and attitudes.

A set of questions was developed to tap people's views on various family-related issues, such as care-time arrangements under different circumstances, cohabitation, divorce and intergenerational support. These questions were included as a module in the biannual Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA), which is conducted by ACSPRI. The data were collected in four waves between May 2012 and April 2013. A full set of data from these waves was delivered in June 2013.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Data collection for AuSSA Data collection completed and a full dataset delivered June 2013. Monitoring people's views about family transitions and helping to understand trends in family transitions

Family Law: Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution in Family Violence Cases Evaluation Study

Project duration August 2010 - December 2012
Funding source(s) AGD
Related project(s) Family Law Developments; Family Law: Independent Children's Lawyers Project; Family Law: Survey of Recently Separated Parents; Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families

The aim of this project was to evaluate a pilot program for multidisciplinary dispute resolution processes - coordinated family dispute resolution (CFDR) - in cases where there have been allegations of family violence and the parties are attempting to reach agreement on post-separation parenting arrangements. Funded by the AGD, the pilot was conducted in five metropolitan locations. The process involved each parent and their lawyer, a case manager, a social worker or equivalent for each parent, a family dispute resolution practitioner and, in some cases, a child consultant.

The methodology for the evaluation was based on a mixed-method design and involved seven studies comprising: analyses of case file data from all CFDR cases in the pilot during the data collection period and a sample of comparison group files who had received standard family dispute resolution services; qualitative studies based on mixed-profession focus groups and two rounds of interviews with professionals working in the pilot in the early stages of implementation (round 1), and near the end of the evaluation data collection period (round 2); an online survey of professionals; a qualitative study based on interviews and surveys with parents who had received pilot services; and requests for information conducted at each pilot site towards the end of the evaluation period that examined how the model was adapted and implemented in each location.

The evaluation was completed and a final report submitted to the AGD in December 2012. The report was published by the AGD.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Final evaluation report Report delivered December 2012 Conclusions inform policy development and professional practice to assist families to make effective post-separation parenting agreements

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Kaspiew, R., DeMaio, J., Deblaquiere, J., & Horsfall, B. (2012). Evaluation of a pilot of legally assisted and supported family dispute resolution in family violence cases . Canberra: Attorney-General's Department.

Family Law Developments

Project duration Ongoing
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Related project(s) Family Law: Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution in Family Violence Cases Evaluation Study; Family Law: Independent Children's Lawyer Study; Family Pathways: Survey of Recently Separated Parents; Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families

The Family Law Developments project assists AIFS to examine important aspects of the family law system and builds on the Institute's previous work in the family law area. By funding family law updates, research proposals, and family law submissions, as well as supporting AIFS' representation on the Family Law Council, this program supports key AIFS objectives, including advancing the design and delivery of services to support and strengthen families, and advancing research in the family law area.

This project also contributes to AIFS' family law monitoring program. For example, current work under development to conduct an empirical analysis of court filings in 2011-12 will build on the analysis of parenting matters in the AIFS Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms report. In addition, the UK House of Commons Select Committee extensively quoted a submission funded under this project in relation to its own Pre Legislative Scrutiny of the Children and Families Bill. AIFS researchers also regularly publish articles on a variety of family-law-related issues.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Family Law Update column in Family Matters Published in Family Matters 90 & 91 Advancement of AIFS research in the family law area and the Institute's family law monitoring program
Participation in Family Law Council Attendance at three meetings of the Family Law Council
Dissemination of AIFS research at conferences and in international peer review journals 5 articles
6 presentations

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Carson, R., Moore, S., & Kaspiew, R. (2012). Family law update . Family Matters, 91 , 106. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/fm2012/fm91/fm91-flu.html>.
  • Moloney, L. (2012). Family mediation: Confidence, culture and cooperation. Journal of Family Studies, 17(3), 178-185.
  • Moloney, L., Kaspiew, R., De Maio, J., & Deblaquiere, J. (2013). Family Relationship Centres: Partnerships with Legal Assistance Services. Family Court Review, 51(2), 250-267.
  • Moore, S., & Carson, R. (2012) Family law update . Family Matters, 90 , 106. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/fm2012/fm90/fm90-flu.html>.

Presentation(s)

  • Hayes, A. (2012, 4-5 July). Social science and family law: From fallacies and fads to the facts of the matter. Family Law Conference, Hobart.
  • Kaspiew, R. (2012, 26 July). The family law system and the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples . 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.
  • Kaspiew, R. (2012, 13 November). Policy development in family law: The role of empirical evidence . Lecture, Monash University School of Law, Melbourne.
  • Moloney, L. (2013, 25 March). Evaluating Australia's 2006 family law reforms. Chadstone Family Relationships Centre, Melbourne.
  • Moloney, L. (2013, 26 March). Parental relationships and disputes over children during the first two years of separation: Reflections on processes and outcomes based on AIFS data . Seminar for postgraduate psychology students, LaTrobe University, Bundoora, Vic.

Family Law: Independent Children's Lawyer Study

Project duration May 2012 - May 2013
Funding source(s) AGD
Related project(s) Family Law: Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution in Family Violence Cases Evaluation Study; Family Law Developments; Family Pathways: Survey of Recently Separated Parents; Family Law: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families

This study examined the role, use and effectiveness of Independent Children's Lawyers (ICLs) in the family law system. The research focused on the principle that the child's best interests must be the paramount consideration when making decisions in children's proceedings. The core question was: To what extent does having an ICL involved in family law proceedings improve outcomes for the child?

The project comprised four studies that included qualitative and quantitative data from key professionals (such as ICL practitioners, other legal practitioners, judicial officers, child protection practitioners and family consultants), and parents and children who had been involved in litigated matters where an ICL had been appointed. This was supplemented by an examination of Legal Aid policy and practice in relation to ICLs.

A report on the project findings was delivered to AGD in May 2013 and is scheduled for release in the second half of 2013.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Design and planning Project methodology and survey instruments for Studies 1, 3 and 4 developed and approved by Ethics Committee Improved understanding of issues around the role and effectiveness of ICLs in the family law system
Study 1 professionals survey Survey of ICLs, judicial officers, other family lawyers and non-legal professionals conducted
Study 3 interviews with ICLs Data collection completed
Study 2 design Methodology and survey instruments for Study 2 developed and approved by Ethics Committee
Study 4 examination of legal aid policy in relation to ICLs Data collection on legal aid policy completed
Qualitative interviews with legal aid managers and child protection department representatives completed
Study 2 interviews with parents and children Data collection from parents and children completed
Interim report Interim report delivered February 2013
Final report Final report delivered May 2013

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Kaspiew, R., Carson, R., Moore, S., De Maio, J., Deblaquiere, J., & Horsfall, B. (2013). Independent Children's Lawyers Study: Final report. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Presentation(s)

  • Carson, R. (2012 13 December). Panel member, "Kids Talk: Hearing Children's Voices", Family Law Pathways Network, Unlock Every Door Forum, Melbourne.

Family Pathways: Survey of Recently Separated Parents

Project duration March 2012 - April 2013
Funding source(s) AGD; DHS
Related project(s) Family Law: Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution in Family Violence Cases Evaluation Study; Family Law Developments; Family Law: Independent Children's Lawyer Study; Family Law: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families; Family Trends and Transitions

Family Pathways: Survey of Recently Separated Parents was commissioned by the AGD to understand how the family law system meets the needs of a cohort of parents, particularly those affected by family violence, who had separated before the substantive provisions in relation to family violence in the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Matters) Act 2011 (the Amendment Act) came into effect on 7 June 2012.

AIFS collected data on the position of parents who had separated an average of 18 months prior to the implementation of the amendments. The study provides insights into the experiences and service pathways of those recently separated parents, with a particular focus on incidents, and disclosure, of family violence. These data also provided a means of assessing the effects of the amendments, should future funding become available for conducting a survey of parents who separated after the implementation of the Amendment Act.

Data collection occurred between August and October 2012. Information was collected from approximately 6,000 parents who had registered with the Child Support Program, DHS, between 1 January and 31 December 2011; and separated from the child's other parent between 1 July 2010 and 31 December 2011. A report on the project findings was delivered to the AGD in April 2013.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Data collection Data collection conducted August-October 2012 Improved understanding of how the family law system supports separated parents, particularly those who have experienced family violence
Collected baseline data for future studies on the implementation of the Amendment Act
Progress report on data collection Progress report delivered to AGD October 2012
Final report Final report submitted to AGD April 2012

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • De Maio, J., Kaspiew, R., Smart, D., Dunstan, J., & Moore, S. (2013). Survey of Recently Separated Parents: A study of parents separated prior to the implementation of the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Matters) Act 2011. Report submitted to the Attorney-General's Department. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families

Project duration June 2011 - October 2013
Funding source(s) AGD; DHS
Related project(s) Family Law: Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution in Family Violence Cases Evaluation Study; Family Law Developments; Family Law: Independent Children's Lawyer Study; Family Pathways: Survey of Recently Separated Parents; Family Trends and Transitions

Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families represents the "associated longitudinal research" component linked with AIFS' 2007-10 family law reform evaluation, funded by AGD and FaHCSIA. The study aims to examine the effects of parental separation on family wellbeing, including inter-parental relationships, care-time arrangements, family law pathways taken, parental decision-making, child support and parents' perceptions of child wellbeing. The data collected in Wave 1 from some 10,000 parents formed a part of the report Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms, published in December 2009, and a research report covering the first two waves of data collection was published in May 2011.

In June 2011, AGD provided funding to undertake a third wave of data collection, LSSF Wave 3. The key research objectives of LSSF Wave 3 are: (a) to examine the circumstances and wellbeing of family members some five years after parental separation, where parental separation took place 15 months on average after the commencement of the 2006 reforms; and (b) to identify the factors and processes that explain the different trajectories that have become apparent by the third survey wave. The project included a "top-up" sample to compensate for possible sample loss and to ensure that separated parents in different circumstances were sufficiently represented (e.g., fathers who never see their children, families with equal care time, parents who hold safety concerns about their child seeing the other parent, and parents who have used the court system at some stage). Data collection was carried out in September-November 2012. The final report on Wave 3 was submitted in May 2013.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Progress report on data collection Report submitted November 2012 Assessment of longer term effects of the 2006 family law reforms
Increased attention given to issues such as property division, family violence
Progress report on data analysis Report submitted May 2013
Publication and dissemination of research 3 articles
10 presentations

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Deblaquiere, J., Moloney, L., & Weston, R. (2012). Parental separation and grandchildren: The multiple perspectives of grandparents . Family Matters, 90 , 57-67. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/fm2012/fm90/fm90f.html>.
  • Kaspiew, R. (2013). Family violence and family law parenting matters: The 2012 family law reforms. CDFVRe@der, 11(1), 3-4.
  • Moloney, L., Qu, L., Weston, R., & Hand, K. (2013). Evaluating the work of Australia's Family Relationship Centres: Evidence from the first 5 years. Family Court Review, 51(2), 234-249.

Presentation(s)

  • Hayes, A., Qu, L., & Weston, R. (2012, 8 November). Breaking up is hard to do? Relationship dynamics and their impacts on the wellbeing of children and their parents . Keynote address, 12th Annual Conference of the APS Psychology of Relationships Interest Group, Flinders University, South Australia.
  • Kaspiew, R. (2013, 3 August). Family violence and family law parenting matters: The empirical context for the 2012 reforms . Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research (CDFVR) seminar, Domestic Violence Related Laws, Brisbane.
  • Kaspiew, R., & Qu, L. (2013, 21 February). Family violence among separated couples: Prevalence and practice implications . Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research Seminar, Brisbane.
  • Kaspiew, R., & Qu, L. (2013, 30 May). Presumptions and parental responsibility: An empirical examination from Australia . Presumptions in Family Law: Global Perspectives AFCC 50th Anniversary Conference, Workshop 3, Los Angeles.
  • Kaspiew, R., Qu, L., Weston, R., & De Maio, J. (2012, 25 July). Parental responsibility: Legal constructions and social executions . 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies of Conference, Melbourne.
  • Qu, L. (2013, 23 May). Family policy in Australia: Parenting and family relationship dynamics after separation . Keynote address, Family Matters: Putting Priorities Into Action, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • Qu, L., & Weston, R. (2012, 26 July). Parenting after separation of Indigenous parents. 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies of Conference, Melbourne.
  • Qu, L., Weston, R., & Dunstan, J. (2012, 6 December). Fathers who do not see their children after parental separation . 16th Australian Population Association Conference, Melbourne.
  • Qu, L., Weston, R., & Dunstan, J. (2013, 3-4 July). Fathers who do not see their children after parental separation . Child Support National Stakeholder Engagement Group Meeting, Canberra.
  • Weston, R., & Qu, L. (2012, 26 July). Shared care-time arrangements: Stability over 12 months and parents' views . 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.

Family Trends and Transitions

Project duration 1980 - (ongoing)
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Related project(s) Family Attitudes and Values; Families Research Capacity Building; Family Pathways: Survey of Recently Separated Parents; Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families

The Family Trends and Transitions project analyses and disseminates information on broad trends in patterns of leaving home, couple and family formation, family stability, and family dissolution and re-formation, along with associated values, attitudes and beliefs. As well as providing a better understanding of society's core values, the monitoring and analysis of these trends are important for policy development and for the timely development and design of research projects.

Family-related trends are disseminated through publications and presentations, the online Family Facts and Figures database, media interviews, and the handling of queries from internal and external sources. The updating of the widely used Family Facts and Figures database is an ongoing activity.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Publish articles, present papers at conferences and seminars, and participate in media interviews 1 research report
2 articles
1 book chapter
9 presentations
Government, policy-makers and other stakeholders better informed of the nature of, and factors linked with, family trends
International body of knowledge enhanced through national and overseas conferences presentations
Public interest stimulated via media reports of research findings
Provide and maintain online Family Facts and Figures database Ongoing

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Baxter, J. A., Qu, L., Weston, R., Moloney, L., & Hayes, A. (2012). Experiences and effects of life events: Evidence from two Australian longitudinal studies . Family Matters, 90 , 6-18. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/fm2012/fm90/fm90a.html>.
  • Higgins, D. (2013). Reform, (r)evolution and lingering effects: Family policies in Australia. In M. Robila (Ed.), Handbook of family policies across the globe (pp. 335-353). New York: Springer.
  • Qu, L., Baxter, J., Weston, R., Moloney, L., & Hayes, A. (2012). Family-related life events: Insights from two Australian longitudinal studies (Research Report No. 22). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/resreport22>.
  • Qu, L., Edwards, B., & Gray, M. (2012). Ageing parent carers of people with a disability . Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/carers>.
  • Moloney, L., & Weston, R. (2012). Changing patterns of marriage and intimate relationships: Brief reflections on research, relationship counselling and relationship education. Threshold, 106, 14-17.

Presentation(s)

  • De Vaus, D. Gray, M., Qu, L., & Stanton, D. (2012, 27 July). The short- and longer term financial consequences of relationship breakdown and the implications for the Australian social protection system . 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies of ConferenceMelbourne.
  • Hayes, A. (2013, 22 May). Citizen expectations: Change or continuity? APS200 Citizen Expectations seminar, Canberra.
  • Hayes, A. (2013, 12-14 March). Data, data everywhere, but too few available to think? (analyse? and use?): The public sector dilemma of "Big data"! . NatStats 2013 Conference, Brisbane.
  • Hayes, A. (2013, 26 March). Disadvantage in the here and now: The state of our knowledge versus the knowledge of the state . FaHCSIA Social Policy Research Workshop, Canberra.
  • Hayes, A. (2013, 7 February). Riding the boundaries and bridging the research, policy and practice borders, Linking Research and Policy: Working at the Boundary workshop, Crawford School, Australian National University, Canberra.
  • Qu, L. (2013, 22 May). Relationship separation: Implications for financial and personal wellbeing . Divorce and Remarriage course at Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei, Taiwan.
  • Qu, L., Gray, M., De Vaus, D., & Stanton, D. (2013, 15 June). The income consequences of relationship breakdown: A comparative cross-country analysis . Foundation for International Studies on Social Security Conference, Sigtuna, Sweden.
  • Weston, R., & Qu, L. (2013, 3 May). The ageing of the population: Causes and consequences. Principles of Social Policy course, Australian National University, Canberra.
  • Weston, R., Qu, L., & Dunstan, J. (2012, 25 July). Factors linked with little or no parent-child contact after parental separation . 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies of Conference, Melbourne.

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

Project duration March 2002 - June 2019
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Partner organisation(s) FaHCSIA; ABS; Consortium Advisory Group
Related project(s) Labour Market Issues for Families

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children is a major study that is following the development of 10,000 children and families from urban and rural areas of all states and territories of Australia, and addressing a range of questions about children's development and wellbeing. The study is conducted in a partnership between FaHCSIA, the Institute and the ABS, with advice provided by a consortium of leading researchers. Information is collected on children's physical health and social, cognitive and emotional development, as well as their experiences in significant environments, such as that of the family, child care, preschool and school, and their broader communities. A major aim of the study is to identify policy opportunities for improving support for children and their families and for early intervention and prevention strategies.

Planning for the study commenced in 2002, and in 2004 two cohorts of approximately 5,000 infants aged 0-1 years, and 5,000 children aged 4-5 years, and their parents, were recruited and interviewed. Families have been interviewed every two years thereafter, with information being collected from resident and non-resident parents, teachers, child care providers, and the children themselves. In addition, three between-waves mail surveys were undertaken in 2005, 2007 and 2009. In the second halves of 2011 and 2013, between-waves contact was made with the study families, primarily to update their contact details rather than collect new data.

A major advance for the study was reached when the Australian Government made this study an ongoing project. Funding has been allocated and planning is underway for the next four waves (Waves 5 to 8), taking the study to 2019. The eight LSAC waves will thus provide data on children's development from infancy through to the threshold of adulthood.

Data collection

The Wave 5 data collection was completed in February 2013. These data will be made available to registered data users in late 2013.

The first phase of the Wave 6 data collection (the "dress rehearsal") commenced in June 2013 and will run for two months. The main phase will begin in early 2014 and is scheduled for completion in late 2014 or early 2015.

"Life" documentary series

The fourth round of the ABC TV's "Life" series, Life At 7, to which the Institute contributed, aired on 16 and 23 October 2012. The fifth installment, Life At 9, is currently being developed by Screen Australia, in conjunction with Heiress Films. The "Life" series draws upon the methodology and findings of LSAC. Ten children and their families are now being followed, with a focus on the children's behaviour and milestones, and the effects of factors such as parents' relationships, finances, work and health. Institute researchers have undertaken interviews with participating parents and assessments of the children, as well as statistical analyses of the LSAC dataset for use in the series.

Dissemination and promotion of LSAC

LSAC data have been used extensively for major research projects, including the Institute's Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms and the Productivity Commission's Inquiry Into Paid Parental Leave. There are 566 registered data users and 1,171 subscribers to the growingup-refgroup emailing list that provides study updates and information about new publications. The dissemination and promotion of LSAC has continued, with several other papers and reports being published, and papers being presented at national and international forums.

Research reports

Three FaHCSIA Occasional Papers, using LSAC data and authored by AIFS staff, were released in the 2012-13 financial year. Paper 42 on new father figures and fathers living elsewhere was released in August 2012, paper 46 on parental marital status and children's wellbeing was released in April 2013 and paper 48 on parental joblessness, financial disadvantage and the wellbeing of parents and children was released in July 2013. An additional paper on children living in rural and regional areas has been completed and is scheduled for release in late 2013.

Technical papers

LSAC Technical Paper No. 8, Using National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) Data in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), was released in April 2013.

Annual statistical report

The 2011 LSAC Annual Statistical Report was released in August 2012. It included chapters on parental mental health, fathers' involvement in children's personal care activities, family housing arrangements, families with a child with disability, children's numeracy skills, exposure to television and other media, access to preschool in the year before school, and children's body mass index.

The 2012 LSAC Annual Statistical Report was published in June 2013. It included chapters on financial support for children after parental separation, post-separation care-time arrangements and parent-child relationships, influence on children of grandparents' long-term joblessness and separation, school attendance in the primary years, after-school care arrangements, children's food allergies, engagement in organised activities, and family characteristics and wellbeing of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

The 2013 edition is being prepared and will be released in 2014.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Wave 5 data collection (2011-12) Wave 5 data collection interviews and measures complete
First and second phases of data collection complete
Information obtained on policy-relevant issues regarding children and families
Wave 6 data collection (2013-14) Wave 6 data collection interviews and measures near completion
First phase of data collection complete
 
Provide and maintain LSAC website Online newsletters regularly posted on the LSAC website
Events, Study Members and Publications pages updated
Increase in the numbers of people accessing LSAC information
Conference presentations, papers, reports and media attention 3 journal articles
1 technical paper
1 LSAC research reports
3 occasional papers
LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2011 (8 articles)
LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2012 (9 articles)
11 presentations
2 research reports prepared for release in 2013-14
Enhanced public profile of the study
Interest in the findings from policy-makers and media
Increased number of registered data users
Training and supporting data users Delivery of training workshops and user group services (ongoing) Increased understanding of dataset among potential and novice users
Facilitated use of LSAC data
Maintenance of sample engagement Sample engaged through distribution of birthday cards and other materials (ongoing) Sample engagement maintained
Sample tracking facilitated

Publication(s) and report(s)

Other publication(s) and report(s)

  • Growing Up in Australia eNewsletter No. 34, August 2012
  • Growing Up in Australia eNewsletter No. 35, November 2012
  • Growing Up in Australia Newsletter [for study children and parents], December 2012
  • Growing Up in Australia eNewsletter No. 36, April 2013
  • Growing Up in Australia eNewsletter No. 37, July 2013

Presentation(s)

  • Ainley, J., & Daraganova, G. (2012, 2 December). The early development of children's numeracy skills. Joint Australian Association for Research in Education and Asia Pacific Education Research Association Conference, Sydney.
  • Ainley, J., & Daraganova, G. (2012, 13 December). The early development of children's numeracy skills. Social Policy Research Centre, Sydney.
  • Baxter, J. A. (2012, 5 December). Family circumstances of children with parents who live apart: Mothers' and fathers' report . 16th Australian Population Association Conference, Melbourne.
  • Baxter J. A. (2012, 19 July). The housework and homework of ten-year-olds. 12th International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) World Congress, Melbourne.
  • Baxter J. A. (2012, 25 July). The housework and homework of ten-year-olds. 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.
  • Daraganova, G. (2012, 4 July). Using National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) data in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) . International Panel Survey Methods Workshop, University of Melbourne.
  • Edwards B. (2012, 5 July). Middle childhood: Lessons from Growing up in Australia . "Are the kids alright?" seminar, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Canberra.
  • Edwards, B. (2013, 10 June). Time use diary data in early and middle childhood: Methodology and some findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children . Children's Time Diaries Workshop, Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the University of London, UK.
  • Mullan, K. (2012, 11 July). Time after time: New adventures in longitudinal time use research . RC33 8th International Conference on Social Science Methodology, Sydney.
  • Mullan, K., & Daraganova, G. (2012, 27 July). Children's reading in Australia: The home and family context . 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.
  • Sipthorp, M., & Taylor, M. (2013, 12 April). LSAC Data Workshop, Sydney.

Indigenous Child and Family Resources Portal

Project duration May 2013 - August 2016
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Related project(s) Child Family Community Australia; Closing the Gap Clearinghouse; Indigenous Promising Practice Profiles

The Indigenous Child and Family Resources Portal will be an online, interactive resource that supports key actions under the Second Three Year Action Plan 2012-2015 of the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020. The portal will capture and showcase positive and innovative practices for working with Indigenous families and children in, or at risk of entering, the child protection system. The portal will provide practitioners, community leaders, researchers, non-government organisations and governments access to promising practice profiles, a blog-style discussion page, webinars and other resources to guide their work with Indigenous children, families and communities. The project commenced in May 2013.

The portal will be a sub-site of the existing CFCA information exchange website, managed by AIFS and will build upon previous work that has been undertaken by both CFCA and AIFS, including the Indigenous Practice Profiles and the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Project work plan Work plan complete and agreed to by FaHCSIA Project plan developed and establishment of Advisory Group
Establishment of Advisory Group Advisory Group established
Plan for the launch of the fully functional portal Plans are underway for the launch of the fully functional portal by the end of 2013

Indigenous Justice Program Evaluation: Diversion Programs

Project duration January 2010 - December 2012
Funding source(s) AGD via Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC)
Partner organisation(s) AIC
Related project(s) Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

In partnership with the Australian Institute of Criminology, AIFS evaluated four Indigenous youth criminal justice prevention, early intervention and diversion programs from different parts of Australia. The four programs were:

  • Aggression Replacement Training (Qld) - a 10-week program designed to teach young people social skills, anger management techniques and moral reasoning to reduce their risk of committing violent offences;
  • Woorabinda Early Intervention Coordination Panel Service (Qld) - a program that works directly with young people who are at risk of becoming entrenched in a pattern of offending, and their families, to support and empower them to deal with issues as they arise;
  • Aboriginal Power Cup (SA) - a program that focuses on engaging young people in education, promotes healthy lifestyle choices and develops teamwork, leadership and life skills through a school-based curriculum that revolves around sport; and
  • Tiwi Islands Youth Diversion and Development Unit (NT) - offering a wide range of programs linked to identified community concerns and initiatives, including youth diversion and development programs, community mediation and counselling services.

The evaluation explored the effectiveness of the programs in diverting Indigenous youth from entering or re-entering the Australian criminal justice system. Specifically, the evaluation considered the ways in which individual programs were operating and the degree to which they were successful in meeting their stated aims. It also identified critical "success" factors (common to all programs) for effectively preventing/diverting Indigenous youth away from the criminal justice system.

The evaluation was conducted over two years. Work was undertaken in three key phases: (a) project development and design; (b) data collection; and (c) analysis and reporting.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Phase 2 data collection Interviews, document analysis and observations completed for all programs Enhanced evidence base for governments to consider in diverting Indigenous youth from the criminal justice system
Completion of final report Draft final report submitted December 2012

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Stewart, J., Richards, K., Willis, M., & Higgins, D. (2012). Indigenous Youth Justice Programs Evaluation: A report to the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department . Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.

Presentation(s)

  • Higgins, D. (2013, 25 March). Knowing what works: Developing evaluable juvenile justice programs . 4th National Juvenile Justice Summit, Melbourne.

Stewart, J. M., & Richards, K. (2012 August). Where's the logic? Assessing the program logic for four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth crime prevention, early intervention and diversion programs. Doing Justice for Young People: Issues and Challenges for Judicial Administration in Australia and New Zealand Conference, Brisbane.

Indigenous Promising Practice Profiles

Project duration June 2012 - March 2013
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Related project(s) Child Family Community Australia; Closing the Gap Clearinghouse; Indigenous Child and Family Resources Portal

This project identified promising practices from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations that effectively and respectfully work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. It also identified promising practices from mainstream organisations and service providers who have implemented culturally competent approaches to improve responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system.

The profiles were developed to enable the sharing of information about "what works" for Indigenous children and families within the child protection system. The resource is for use by service providers, educators, researchers and policy and program developers from relevant state, territory and Commonwealth agencies.

In consultation with the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), 36 practice profiles were developed and published on the CFCA information exchange website.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Development of culturally appropriate submission and assessment protocols Protocols developed in conjunction with SNAICC Availability of a resource to inform practitioners and policy workers about initiatives that have improved responses for Indigenous children in the child protection system
Collect submissions of promising practice profiles Submissions collected, assessed and prepared for publication
Publication of a collection of practice profiles 36 promising practice profiles published on CFCA website

Labour Market Issues for Families

Project duration Ongoing
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Related project(s) Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children; Socio-Economic Disparities Among Older and Younger Women in NSW; Families Research Capacity Building

This is an ongoing project that encompasses research on a range of work-family related topics.

Research on the intersection of work and family continues through analyses of fathering in the context of work-family and other factors. AIFS has participated in international work on this topic, through contributions to an OECD working paper on fathering, using LSAC data. Also, a chapter on fathering in Australia, co-authored by AIFS researchers, was published in an international book on fathering in cultural contexts. An AIFS researcher also participated in an international seminar in Sweden, "Caring and Working Fathers: What are the Challenges for the Future?".

On a related topic, through CFCA, an AIFS researcher authored a paper, Dad and Partner Pay: Implications for Policy-Makers and Practitioners, that included international comparisons of leave for fathers, and co-hosted (with Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth [ARACY]) a webinar, "Making Paternity Leave Work: Context, Policy and Practice".

Contributions to the international work-family area have also continued through involvement in the International Network on Leave Policies and Research, and giving an invited presentation on work and family to the East Asian Ministerial Forum on Families (Brunei, 2-4 October 2012). A related project is a review of work-family policies implemented overseas that will be published as an AIFS Research Paper.

Other continuing research includes examination of issues of labour market participation of parents with children and the arrangements that are made for caring for children. AIFS research papers and other articles are being prepared for publication on these topics. One book chapter, authored by an AIFS researcher, was published, examining how participation in employment has changed across birth cohorts of Australian women, using the Negotiating the Life Course Survey.

Maternal and paternal employment, child care, and other aspects of work-family reconciliation have been explored as part of the Families Research Capacity Building project, and within the LSAC project, analyses have been conducted of links between parental employment, financial wellbeing, social exclusion and children's outcomes. Work also continues on the examination of adults' and children's time use, in order to better understand the ways in which family members spend their time, especially in the context of parental paid work responsibilities.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Publications and conference papers 3 book chapters
3 articles
1 working paper
9 presentations
Contribution to policy development in relation to supportive workplace and family environments

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Alexander, M., Whitehouse, G., & Brennan, D. (2012). Australia: Country note. In P. Moss (Ed.), International review of leave policies and related research 2012 . London & Brussels: International Network on Leave Policies and Research.
  • Baxter, J. A. (2012). Employment and the life course: Birth cohort differences of young Australian women. In A. Evans, & J. Baxter (Eds.), Negotiating the life course. Stability and change in life pathways (pp. 99-120; Life Course Research and Social Policies, Vol. 1). London: Springer.
  • Baxter, J. A., & Smart, D. (2012). La paternité au sein des couples australiens avec de jeunes enfants [An overview of fathering in Australia among couple families with young children]. Information Sociales, 171, 118-126.
  • Craig, L., & Mullan, K. (2012). Australian fathers' work and family time in comparative and temporal perspective. Journal of Family Studies, 18(2-3), 165-174.
  • Hand, K. (2012). Families' views about engaging with services: The Life Around Here Study. In T. Blakemore, P. Crofts, J. Evans, M. Esler, J. Geggie, T. Kerr, & J. StGeorge (Eds.), 2011 Colloquium report: Colloquium. Outreach and integration in family services (pp. 23-26). Callaghan, NSW: University of Newcastle, Australia, and the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development.
  • Huerta, M. C., Adema, W., Baxter, J., Han, W.- J., Lausten, M., Lee, R. H., & Waldfogel, J. (2013). Fathers' leave, fathers' involvement and child development: Are they related? Evidence from four OECD countries (OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Paper No. 140). Paris: OECD.
  • Smyth, B. M., Baxter, J. A., Fletcher, R. J., & Moloney, L. J. (2012). Fathers in Australia: A contemporary snapshot. In D. W. Shwalb, B. J. Shwalb, & M. E. Lamb (Eds.), Fathers in cultural context (pp. 42-67). New York: Routledge.,

Presentation(s)

  • Baxter, J. A. (2012, 29 August). Contemporary paid work patterns and family life in Australia . Invited guest lecture, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

  • Baxter, J. A. (2012, 10 December). Contemporary paid work patterns and family life in Australia . Monash University, Melbourne.
  • Baxter, J. A. (2012, 18 July). Rhythms and practices in everyday life of families in transition (Part 1) . 12th International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) World Congress, Melbourne.
  • Baxter, J. A. (2012, 2-4 October). Work-family balance: The Australian evidence. East Asian Ministerial Forum on Families, Brunei Darussalam.
  • Baxter, J. A. (2013, 9 May). Fathers in families: Care and paid work. Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Sydney.
  • Baxter, J. A., & Hand, K. (2012, 26 July). Outside-school-hours care and maternal employment. 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.
  • Hand, K. (2012, 26 July). The experience, and impacts of, life events on families living in three disadvantaged communities . 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.
  • Hand, K. (2013, 26 June). Place-based initiatives and family services: What are they, how do we engage families and how do we evaluate them? Tasmanian Early Years Foundation and Australian Early Development Index Forum, Burnie, Tasmania.
  • Hand, K. (2013, 27 June). Place-based initiatives and family services: What are they, how do we engage families and how do we evaluate them? Tasmanian Early Years Foundation and Australian Early Development Index Forum, Launceston, Tasmania.

A New Legal Frontier? The Role of Social Networking Services and Mobile Phone Technology in Facilitating Sexual Violence

Project duration December 2010 - March 2013
Funding source(s) Legal Services Board Grants Program, Victoria; FaHCSIA
Partner organisation(s) Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) House
Related project(s) Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault

This partnership project explored the use of social networking services (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, chat rooms) and mobile phone technology (e.g., SMS messaging, filming, "sexting") in the facilitation of sexual violence.

The overall goal of this project was to assist in the reduction of sexual violence experienced by young people in Australia and to support the legal system's ability to legislate, investigate and prosecute sexual violence that occurs through or is aided by social networking services. It focused on the trends observed by key stakeholders (police, prosecution, sexual assault services, and education and youth policy) about the interface between technology and sexual violence.

The methodology was qualitative and involved interviews with key informants in sexual assault services, the police, the prosecution, the defence and the judiciary. The research highlighted the need for clear conceptual frameworks when addressing issues of technology-facilitated sexual violence and identified practical implications across legal and educational sectors.

The final report was released to stakeholders in February 2013. In March 2013, the research was evaluated through a stakeholder forum. ACSSA sought feedback on the accuracy and utility of the research.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Stakeholder forum Forum held Improved understanding about the issues surrounding technology-facilitated sexual violence and their implications for service and prevention responses
Evaluation of the research Evaluation report provided to funding body
Final report Final report published

Publication

Presentation(s)

  • Fileborn, B., & Bluett-Boyd, N. (2012). A new legal frontier? Young people, social networking technologies and sexual violence . Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.

Past Adoption Experiences: National Research Study on Services Responses

Project duration November 2010 - August 2012
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA

This research project built on an earlier project, commissioned by FaHCSIA and completed in April 2010, which involved a review of existing research literature about past adoption practices (relating to the period of "closed adoption") in Australia.

On 4 June 2010, the Community and Disability Services Ministers' Conference announced that ministers had agreed to a joint national research study into past adoption experiences, to be conducted by AIFS. The aims of the project were to:

  • examine experiences of past adoption, as they relate to the current support and service needs of affected individuals;
  • consider the extent to which affected individuals have sought support and services and the types of support and services that have been sought; and
  • present information from the study that could be used in the development of best practice models or practice guidelines for the delivery of supports and services for individuals affected by their adoption experiences.

Planning and the development of the research design began in early 2011, with the establishment of technical and stakeholder advisory groups. Data collection commenced in August 2011, and over 1,500 individuals had taken part in the study by the end of the data collection period in March 2012. The final report was submitted to FaHCSIA in June 2012 and published as an AIFS Research Report in August 2012.

In addition, project staff were invited to provide advice to the Reference Committee for the National Apology for Former Forced Adoptions, and the Australian Government's Past Forced Adoptions Implementation Working Group. They were also invited to join the VANISH Expert Group, as part of the Forced Adoption Practices Workforce Development and Capacity Building Initiative.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
1 final report 1 article
1 final report
4 presentations
Strong stakeholder and consumer interest in the study
Improved awareness within broader community regarding the effects of past adoption practices
Evidence produced that can assist policy-makers with improving service responses to those affected by their past adoption experiences

Publication(s) and report(s)

Presentation(s)

  • Higgins, D., & Kenny, P. (2012, 22 October). The impact of Australia's past adoption practices: Results from a national study of those affected . 10th Australian Adoption Conference, Melbourne.
  • Higgins, D., & Kenny, P. (2012, 7 September). National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Experiences. VANISH Annual General Meeting, Melbourne.
  • Kenny, P. (2012, 17 July). Widespread adoption: A mid 20th century phenomenon, but how do its effects still reverberate? University of the 3rd Age Forum, Breaking the Silence: Adoption Revisited, Canberra.
  • Kenny, P. (2013, 15 April). Impacts of past adoption practices: Implications for collaborative responses to service delivery. National Social Inclusion and Complex Needs Conference, Public Health Association of Australia, Canberra.

Pathways of Care: The Longitudinal Study of Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care

Project duration July 2010 - June 2015
Funding source(s) NSW Department of Family and Community Services
Partner organisation(s) SPRC (UNSW); Associate Professor Judith Cashmore (University of Sydney); Associate Professor Paul Delfabbro (University of Adelaide)
Related project(s) Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care

This project is being conducted by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and aims to assess the contribution of a wide range of family, caregiving, school, community and personal factors and services to outcomes for children in care. All children and young people aged 0-17 years entering out-of-home care in New South Wales for the first time by way of final Children's Court orders during a given time period were eligible for inclusion in the study. The study began in 2010-11, with the first wave of data collection occurring from early 2012 to mid-2013, and the second wave taking place from early 2013 to 2014. A third wave is planned to take place in 2014-16. Data are being collected from carers, children aged 7 or more years, teachers, caseworkers, birth parents where children have been returned to their families, and from the administrative systems of the department and other agencies.

The Institute's role, along with its consortium partners (SPRC, Associate Professors Judith Cashmore and Paul Delfabbro), is to provide advice on study design and survey instruments, undertake data management services, and prepare analytical reports. This has continued through 2012-13, and the Institute has worked with the department and the data collection agency on progressive cleaning of Wave 1 data files and treatment of the data. Additionally, delineation of the structure and contents of the first statistical report has been negotiated.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Report on quality of data from child/young person interviews collected in Wave 1 Initial frequency analysis produced and feedback provided on data quality, resulting in dataset corrections Quality of data improved, providing greater confidence in the information provided by the study
Questionnaires for teachers, caseworkers, and birth parents
Major Wave 2 questionnaires developed
Advice provided and accepted on draft teacher, caseworker and birth parent questionnaires
Draft Wave 2 carer, child/young person questionnaires submitted
Facilitate high-quality assessments that will increase the value of study findings
Report on feasibility of weighting the data Advice provided and accepted on feasibility of weighting the data for the study and the most appropriate methods to be used Increase representativeness of data and enhance generalisability of study's findings
Report on Wave 1 data preparation Summary provided of major data treatment, scoring and variable derivation work completed Improved data integrity and analysis
First statistical report framework Structure and contents of first statistical report negotiated Baseline data collected on circumstances and wellbeing of children in their early months of care

Prevention and Early Intervention in Child Sexual Abuse

Project duration March 2013 - February 2014
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Partner Organisations PricewaterhouseCoopers
Related project(s) Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault

The National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children has acknowledged that the dynamics and drivers of child sexual abuse and exploitation may not be the same as other forms of child abuse and may require different and specific strategies. Currently, at both Commonwealth and state/territory levels, there is no overarching policy or program that targets the primary prevention of child sexual abuse, and initiatives are predominantly aimed at tertiary intervention rather than addressing the causes of paedophile offending behaviour. This project has the twin purposes of:

  • informing FaHCSIA (and the Australian government more broadly) of the most effective policy and program developments for reducing the incidence and prevalence of child sexual abuse; and
  • making suggestions for the most effective first steps for tackling the challenges arising from this analysis, as well as testing the feasibility of the implementation of these steps.

This project is broken into four stages:

  • Stage 1: Conceptualising the trajectory of child sexual abuse and exploitation;
  • Stage 2: Identifying the most effective intervention points and mapping against current activities in Australia;
  • Stage 3: Identification of program, service and policy strategies to inform child sexual abuse primary prevention efforts; and
  • Stage 4: Development of implementation models.

Initial work has commenced to develop a framework for the project, map the services currently available and convening an expert advisory panel to assist in the project.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Development of concept framework Framework developed describing child sexual abuse perpetration Improved understanding of the most effective policies and programs for tackling child sexual abuse
Service mapping Services being mapped
Convening an expert panel for input through Stages 2 and 3 Expert panel convened

Protective Behaviours Pilot Evaluation

Project duration January - July 2012
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Partner organisation(s) SPRC (UNSW) (lead agency)
Related project(s) Child Family Community Australia

FaHCSIA commissioned the Social Policy Research Centre, with AIFS, to undertake the Family Support Program Evaluation 2011-14. The Institute was responsible for one component of the project: an evaluation of the All Children Being Safe program pilot, as implemented in the Tamworth region by Centacare New England North West. All Children Being Safe is a primary school protective behaviours program that uses animal stories, dance, activities and craft to help students identify safe and unsafe feelings, safe people, safe and unsafe places, and encourages children to talk with trusted people who will support them.

A mixed-methods approach to evaluation was used. Data were derived from a variety of stakeholders using a number of data collection methods, including analysis of pre- and post-program questionnaires with children (collected by program implementation staff), semi-structured interviews with school principals, and focus groups with teachers, parents of children who participated in the program, and Centacare New England North West staff.

The final report was completed and delivered to FaHCSIA in July 2012, and released on the FaHCSIA website in December 2012.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Incorporation of SPRC and FaHCSIA feedback into final report Final report completed and delivered for publication to FaHCSIA Improved understanding of the effectiveness of the All Children Being Safe pilot

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Price-Robertson, R., Higgins, D., & Meredith, V. (2012). Evaluation of the All Children Being Safe Tamworth pilot. Prepared for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), as part of the Family Support Program Evaluation 2011-14 . Canberra: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Research and Evaluation Collaboration: Australian Childhood Foundation

Project duration January 2012 - June 2014
Funding source(s) Australian Childhood Foundation
Partner organisation(s) Australian Childhood Foundation
Related project(s) Child Family Community Australia; Research and Evaluation Collaboration: CatholicCare Archdiocese Melbourne, Marriage and Relationship Education Unit; Research and Evaluation Collaboration: Interrelate Family Centres

This project works with the Australian Childhood Foundation to design and implement an evaluation of the effectiveness and transferability of the Bringing Up Great Kids parenting program. AIFS has undertaken a range of tasks, including:

  • reviewing existing program aims and objectives to inform evaluation plans;
  • designing program evaluation tools and procedures; and
  • analysing client feedback and reporting the findings.

The project draws upon a range of evaluation resources developed within the CFCA information exchange, and is a valuable partnership in linking the translation of research to practice, and practice to research.

For the period 2012-13, analysis of incoming data from program participants continued. A six-month follow-up of program participants is being undertaken to ascertain the longer term effects of the program on parents' relationships with their children. A final report will be produced next financial year that will analyse client feedback and facilitator forms, including all data captured at the six-month follow-up.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Analysis of client feedback data Analysis completed for data received to date Evaluation findings will contribute to the ongoing development of the program and procedures relating to its application in a range of settings
Amendments to client feedback forms Tools completed and implemented

Presentation(s)

  • Jewell, P., & Parker, R. (2012, 27 July). What have we learnt from the Bringing Up Great Kids program so far? Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.

Research and Evaluation Collaboration: CatholicCare Archdiocese Melbourne

Project duration June 2011 - September 2012
Funding source(s) CatholicCare Archdiocese Melbourne
Partner organisation(s) CatholicCare Archdiocese Melbourne
Related project(s) Research and Evaluation Collaboration: Australian Childhood Foundation; Research and Evaluation Collaboration: Interrelate Family Centres

This project provided support to the Marriage and Relationship Education (MRE) Unit at CatholicCare Archdiocese Melbourne regarding the ongoing evaluation of their Partnerships program. An AIFS senior research officer with expertise in evaluation worked with the MRE team on the development and implementation of an evaluation plan designed to gather feedback on the effects of the program on the relationships of the participating couples.

The project drew upon a range of evaluation resources developed by the CFCA information exchange, and was a valuable partnership in linking the translation of research to practice, and practice to research. This consultancy concluded in September 2012.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Evaluation plan for long-term follow-up and ongoing assessment of client feedback Plan prepared for consideration and implementation by MRE Provide a framework within which ongoing program evaluation and practice development can take place

Research and Evaluation Collaboration: Interrelate Family Centres

Project duration July 2010 - July 2014
Funding source(s) Interrelate Family Centres
Partner organisation(s) Interrelate Family Centres
Related project(s) Child Family Community Australia; Research and Evaluation Collaboration: Australian Childhood Foundation; Research and Evaluation Collaboration: CatholicCare Archdiocese Melbourne, Marriage and Relationship Education Unit

This project provides support to Interrelate Family Centres for research and evaluation activities that are relevant to their family support programs and services. AIFS undertakes a range of tasks, including activities such as:

  • reviewing existing program aims and objectives to inform evaluation plans;
  • providing advice and strategies to establish an evidence-informed approach to work practices;
  • collaborating with Interrelate staff on the preparation of evaluation instruments and protocols; and
  • training and working with staff to undertake tasks related to program evaluation.

The project draws upon a range of evaluation resources developed by the CFCA information exchange, and is a valuable partnership in linking the translation of research to practice, and practice to research.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Development and establishment of activities leading to an increased focus on research and evaluation in the organisation Draft documents, including a program plan and program logic forwarded to organisation for discussion Program plan and logic model developed to inform aim of increasing research knowledge and use in organisation
Development of a self-care resource for family counsellors and dispute resolution practitioners Self-care resource developed Increased knowledge of self-care strategies for family sector professionals
Program evaluation assistance Analysis of feedback forms from program participants in Building Connections program
Literature review and input into measures of conflict for Kids Connexions program
Increase in evidence-based evaluation activities with the organisation

Socio-Economic Disparities Among Older and Younger Women in NSW

Project duration April-August 2013
Funding source(s) Women NSW (NSW Department of Family and Community Services)
Related project(s) Labour Market Issues for Families

The purpose of this project is to investigate how disparities in the socio-economic status of women in NSW arise and how these evolve over the life course in order to inform the development of social policies that will improve the status of women in NSW. The emphasis of the project is on the intersection of socio-economic disadvantage and age, and it examines how specific points of transition in the life course shape the socio-economic status of women. There is a focus on the measurement issues that arise in conceptualising the socio-economic status of women as it pertains to women of different ages, who will have had quite different experiences of educational and labour market institutions.

To assist with this study, AIFS and Women NSW convened an expert advisory group to provide advice on the conceptualisation and measurement of the socio-economic status of women. The group was made up of a diverse range of established experts in the conceptualisation and measurement of disadvantage and gender inequality. The expert advisory group met in June 2013 and provided valuable feedback on the interim report that had been prepared by AIFS.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Expert advisory group meeting Experts provide advice on methodology Conceptualisation and measurement issues discussed and addressed
Interim report Interim report on the conceptualisation and measurement of the socio-economic status of women over the life course delivered Women NSW informed of study findings
Draft report Being prepared

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Taylor, M. & Baxter, J. (2013). Socio-economic status of women in NSW: Interim project report prepared for Women NSW . Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Presentation(s)

  • Taylor, M., & Baxter, J. (2013, 15 April). The socio-economic status of women in NSW over the life course: Conceptual and measurement issues . Expert Advisory Group for the NSW-SES project, Sydney.

Families Research Capacity Building

Project duration June 2012 - June 2013
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA; Appropriation
Related project(s) Family Attitudes and Values; Family Trends and Transitions; Labour Market Issues for Families

FaHCSIA provided AIFS with a one-off "Research Capacity Building Payment" to boost AIFS' capacity in 2012-13 to undertake a set of research projects that would respond to portfolio and cross-government research priorities for families. These projects included:

  • development of the Australian Family Trends research paper series;
  • providing FaHCSIA with short research papers on trends and patterns in child care demand and maternal employment for their internal use; and
  • collaboration with FaHCSIA on data analysis and descriptors to support the development of a set of profiles of locational disadvantage that would inform the department's internal program design and policy development.
Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Development of Australian Family Trends series 3 Facts Sheet published
3 Facts Sheet prepared for publication
Improved understanding of trends regarding family relationship transitions, fertility, maternal employment and child care
Research papers on child care demand and maternal employment 2 papers submitted to FaHCSIA for internal use FaHCSIA policy development informed
Contribution to development of locational profiles Contribution delivered FaHCSIA's program design and policy development informed

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Baxter, J. (2013). Families working together: Getting the balance right (Australian Family Trends No. 2). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/factssheets/2013/familytrends/aft2>.
  • Baxter, J. (2013). Parents working out work (Australian Family Trends No. 1). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/factssheets/2013/familytrends/aft1>.
  • Weston, R., & Qu, L. (2013). Working out relationships (Australian Family Trends No. 3). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/factssheets/2013/familytrends/aft3>.

Stronger Families in Australia Study Extension

Project duration April 2011 - July 2013
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Partner organisation(s) SPRC (UNSW)

The Institute was funded to extend the Stronger Families in Australia study. The original SFIA study, completed in 2008-09, was a central component of the National Evaluation of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, an area-based intervention aimed at improving outcomes for young children and their families living in disadvantaged communities in Australia. SFIA was designed to evaluate the Communities for Children (CfC) initiative and was conducted in partnership with the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales. The results of this three-wave study suggested that the CfC initiative had had small but positive effects on children, families and communities - effects that may become more pronounced over time.

The CfC initiative is now a major component of FaHCSIA's new Family Support Program, which brings together a wide range of services for children and families. From that time, CfC services were required to widen their scope to include services for children aged 0-12 years and to target vulnerable and disadvantaged families. In 2009, in response to the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020, the Australian Government and state/territory governments together identified eight communities (four were existing CfC sites and four were new sites) where targeted and integrated service delivery was needed in order to help prevent child abuse and neglect. These are referred to as Stage 2 CfC sites, and the original CfC sites are referred to as Stage 1 sites.

The new study entailed re-interviewing respondents to the original study, and recruiting families living in seven Stage 2 CfC sites, along with families from four sites comparable to Stage 2 CfC sites. There were two rounds of data collection using telephone interviews. The first wave of data collection (Wave 4) was conducted in 2011 and the second wave (Wave 5) was conducted in the second half of 2012.

The Wave 5 interim report was submitted to FaHCSIA in March 2013, with a revised version submitted in June. The final report was submitted to FaHCSIA in May 2013, with a revised version to be submitted in July.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Wave 5 field report Wave 5 field report for the Stage 1 CfC sites and the Wave 2 field report for the Stage 2 CfC sites FaHCSIA informed about the outcome of the final round of interviews
Wave 5 dataset Wave 5 dataset delivered FaHCSIA provided with the data files to enable further secondary analysis if required
Longitudinal dataset Longitudinal dataset delivered
Wave 5 interim report Wave 5 interim report delivered FaHCSIA informed about initial findings from the final round of fieldwork for the SFIA study
Final report Draft final report prepared for submission FaHCSIA informed about findings encompassing the entire SFIA study

Therapeutic Needs of Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: Implications for Service Provision

Project duration March-May 2013
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Related project(s) Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault

This review was undertaken in response to a request from FaHCSIA for an assessment of evidence and strategic advice regarding:

  • the therapeutic needs of adult survivors of child sexual abuse, including male survivors, survivors from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and survivors with a disability;
  • therapeutic interventions that best address these needs and improve outcomes;
  • the current state of service provision in Australia, including strengths and gaps; and
  • how these gaps could be addressed.

The review involved the rapid collection and assessment of literature published since 2000 on the therapeutic needs of and effective interventions for adult survivors of child sexual abuse, and a mapping of the currently available therapeutic services available in each state and territory. Of specific focus for the review was literature regarding therapeutic needs as identified by adult survivors, and their recommendations for future service provision.

There are a variety of effective interventions with positive outcomes for adult survivors; however, there is no one effective intervention that would work across the board. The final report was submitted to FaHCSIA in May 2013.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Assessment of therapeutic interventions for and needs of adult survivors of child sexual assault Review of literature completed An evidence-informed summary of adult survivors' therapeutic needs to inform decision-making
Assessment of current state of service provision in Australia Online review of service providers in Australian state and territories
Final report Final report submitted

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Quadara, A., Higgins, D., Nagy, V., Lykhina, A., & Wall, L. (2013). Therapeutic needs of adult survivors of child sexual abuse: Implications for service provision. Report to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs . Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Victim-Focused Court Practice Reforms in Sexual Assault Matters

Project duration June 2012 - October 2013
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Related project(s) Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault

The aim of this research is to understand the organisational and institutional factors that shape how "victim-focused" justice responses and reforms to court practices are implemented and experienced. To this end, this research explores how relevant legal and service professionals understand the reforms, practices and victim/survivors needs, and what they consider to be the facilitators and enablers of the actual uptake of reforms to practice.

The significance of the project lies in identifying the most promising victim-focused approaches and practices and assessing the effects of the recent reforms on the experiences of victim/survivors. The research will also identify areas of challenge in developing and implementing such approaches and practices. It assesses the implications of the findings in relation to future legislative reform and practice.

The project has involved semi-structured interviews with 80 relevant professionals and an observational element. This qualitative research was conducted in several Australian jurisdictions in order to capture variability in legislation, policy and process. In addition, observations of sexual assault trials conducted in Victoria have been conducted in order to document recent reforms in practice. A final report is due for completion in October 2013.

This project is an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children 2010-2022.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Scoping paper Scoping paper developed for FaHCSIA Snapshot captured of the current trends and issues
Informed development of methodology
Research fieldwork Interviews with 80 participants
Observation of trials in Victoria
Data gathered for preparation of final report

Young Parents and Their Children in Australia

Project duration May 2012 - January 2013
Funding source(s) DEEWR

The purpose of this project was to provide baseline data for DEEWR's Helping Young Parents program, which provides individualised case management that focuses on re-engaging teenage parents with the education system. Helping Young Parents forms part of the Better Futures, Local Solutions (BFLS) initiative, a raft of place-based initiatives in 10 highly disadvantaged local government areas throughout Australia.

AIFS contracted the Social Research Centre to conduct phone interviews with parents in July and August of 2012. The study included data on 305 young parents in BFLS sites and a further 358 young parents in local government areas similar to BFLS sites. The fieldwork was highly successful, with a final response rate of 54%. Of those parents contacted, just under 90% agreed to participate in the study.

The data collected included information on young parents' education and labour market participation in addition to measures of the psychosocial wellbeing of young parents and their children. The final report was submitted to DEEWR in January 2013.

Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Fieldwork report Fieldwork report undertaken DEEWR informed of outcomes of fieldwork
Dataset delivered Dataset prepared and delivered DEEWR provided with sample frequencies to verify sampling frame
Final report Final report delivered to DEEWR DEEWR informed of study findings

Publication(s) and report(s)

Taylor, M., & Edwards, B. (2012). The early implementation of the Helping Young Parents measure: Young parents and their children's development. Report submitted to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Report on performance - Information exchange activities

The Institute's information exchanges (formerly known as clearinghouses) identify, gather, synthesise and publish research and resources within a specialist field. By linking research findings into policy and practice, the information exchanges provide evidence to support the decisions and practices of policy-makers and service providers. They also deploy a wide range of communication tools for their target stakeholders - policy-makers and service providers - and media, researchers, students, peak bodies and individuals in the community.

The Institute manages two national information exchanges:

  • the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault; and
  • the Child Family Community Australia information exchange.

In partnership with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (the lead agency), the Institute also contributes to the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse.

Publications

The AIFS information exchanges produce a wide range of publications to communicate knowledge, particularly to service providers and policy-makers. Publications vary in format from substantial, in-depth research papers to short resource sheets and brief newsletters.

Knowledge exchange

The information exchanges transfer and exchange knowledge between researchers, policy-makers and practitioners through:

  • presentations at conferences, seminars and forums;
  • representation on state-based and national advisory groups and committees;
  • media interviews;
  • information help desk services provided by researchers or AIFS experienced reference librarians;
  • electronic resources in the AIFS Library collection; and
  • print resources available to library members via the AIFS Library interlibrary loan system.

Online resources

Online media are used extensively by the AIFS information exchanges as effective and efficient means of disseminating knowledge and information to generalist and specialist audiences, including:

  • websites - provide access to publications and newsletters; Promising Practice Profiles; new literature on research, policy and practice; annotated bibliographies; information on events, conferences and training; links to Australian and international organisations; and library collections;
  • electronic alerts - ACSSA-alert and CFCA-alert provide up-to-date information about sector news and events, new publications, notices about research participation and professional development opportunities;
  • CFCA Connect - offers a dynamic, interactive online source of the latest information in the child, family and community welfare sectors, including an online discussion forum that enables users to discuss issues with peers, comment on CFCA research content, read summaries of important research and reports and discover what's new in the field;
  • social media - Twitter and Facebook accounts provide a web-based interactive dialogue, help promote services and products, and keep stakeholders informed; and
  • bibliographic resources - describe journal articles; conference papers; books and chapters; government and research reports; discussion, working and unpublished papers; statistical documents; and theses.

Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault

Project duration Operating at AIFS since 2003
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Related project(s) Child Family Community Australia; Closing the Gap Clearinghouse; A New Legal Frontier? The Role of Social Networking Services and Mobile Phone Technology in Facilitating Sexual Violence; Prevention and Early Intervention in Child Sexual Abuse; Therapeutic Needs of Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: Implications for Service Provision; Victim-Focused Court Practice

ACSSA is the national centre for the collection and dissemination of current information and research on sexual assault. The aim of this information exchange is to assist service providers, policy-makers and others working in the field to improve responses to and ultimately reduce the incidence of sexual assault.

ACSSA synthesises evidence about all forms of sexual assault, with a focus on the sexual assault of women and girls over 15 years of age and adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

ACSSA is closely linked to the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children 2010-2022.

The main functions of the centre are to:

  • facilitate access to national policy-relevant data;
  • establish a comprehensive evidence base and provide information and advice on research and best practice approaches for interventions in response to sexual assault;
  • stimulate debate among policy-makers, academics and service providers about the most effective strategies to prevent, respond to and reduce the incidence of sexual assault; and
  • raise awareness of sexual assault and its effects on the Australian community.
Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Publications
2 Issues papers 2 Issues papers 511 subscribers receive printed Issues papers and Wraps; also available online
284,941 publication downloads (an increase of more than 54,000 from 2011-12)
Enhanced provision of evidence-informed policy and practice in the sexual assault sector
2 ACSSA Wraps 3 Wraps
2 Resource Sheets 1 Resource Sheet
2 Research Summaries 1 Research Summary
Promising Practice Profiles A redeveloped Practice and Program Profiles register  
Research Register 42 separate profiles of current and recently completed research
4 Working With series 2 Working With issues
Online resources
ACSSA 538,906 web pages downloaded (an increase from 478,393 pages in 2011-12) Improved access, particularly electronic access, to national policy- and practice-relevant data and resources
Electronic alerts 11 editions of ACSSA-alert distributed
1,584 subscribers at 30 June 2013 (up from 1,502 at 30 June 2012)
Bibliographies 17 bibliographies related to sexual assault
41,629 downloads (12% decrease from 2011-12)
Provision of automatically updated search bibliographies
Knowledge exchange
Presentations, seminars, briefings 6 presentations/briefings by ACSSA staff at conferences, seminars, meetings and forums
2 ACSSA-facilitated seminars hosting other presenters
Knowledge exchanged among policy-makers, services providers and researchers about the most effective strategies for reducing the incidence of sexual assault and improving responses
Representation 4 board, committee, reference and advisory group memberships
Information and research help desk service 112 research help desk inquiries (10% decrease from 2011-12)
Library collection a 113 new relevant items added (up from 79 in 2011-12)
1,211 relevant items held at 30 June 2013

Notes: a Items include books, reports, articles, conference papers and audiovisual material.

Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Fileborn, B., & Stathopoulos, M. (2012). Can prisons be supportive of victim/survivors' needs? Considering the role of prison culture and alternative responses. In I. Bartkowiak-Théron, & M. Travers (Eds.), Changing the way we think about change: Shifting boundaries, changing lives. The 6th Annual Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference 2012 (pp. 66-73). Hobart: University of Tasmania.
ACSSA Issues
ACCSA Wrap
ACSSA Resource Sheets
ACSSA Research Summaries
  • Stathopoulos, M. (2012). Sibling sexual abuse (ACSSA Research Summary). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/acssa/pubs/researchsummary/ressum3>.
ACSSA Working With Series

Presentation(s)

  • Quadara, A. (2012, 18 October). Discussant, CASA Forum Practice Showcase.
  • Quadara, A. (2012, 10 October). Hidden in plain sight: The tactics of sexual assault perpetrators. Keynote address, Lifting the Lid Forum, Cairns Family Planning, Cairns.
  • Quadara, A. (2012, 20 July). Sexual assault and masculinity. Violence and Discrimination Against Women Network Colloquium, VicHealth, Melbourne.
  • Quadara, A. (2012, 17 July). Sexual assault perpetration: Detected and undetected perpetrators. Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine Lecture Series, Melbourne.
  • Quadara, A. (2012, 6 September). What victims tell us about offending. Managing Justice Lecture, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.
  • Stathopoulos, M., & Fileborn, B. (2012, 12-13 July). Can prisons be supportive of victim/survivors' needs? Considering the role of prison culture and alternative responses. Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference, University of Tasmania, Hobart.

Child Family Community Australia

Project duration July 2011 - June 2014
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA; Family Relationship Services Australia
Related project(s) Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault; Child Aware Approaches Good Practice and Principles Guide; Child Protection Developments; Closing the Gap Clearinghouse; Indigenous Child and Family Resources Portal; Indigenous Promising Practice Profiles

The Child Family Community Australia information exchange is a primary source of quality, evidence-based information, research and resources for policy-makers, practitioners and other professionals in the child, family and community welfare sectors. The CFCA information exchange, which was launched on 30 March 2012, is the product of the amalgamation of the National Child Protection Clearinghouse (NCPC); the Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse (AFRC); and the Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia (CAFCA).

A key objective of the information exchange is to collate, synthesise and disseminate information and resources to policy-makers, practitioners and service providers about: improving outcomes for children and families in disadvantaged communities, improving family relationships, and protecting children across Australian jurisdictions.

The 2012-13 financial year provided an opportunity for CFCA to consolidate the information exchange's activities, trial new ideas and promote its services and resources to professionals working in the child, family and community welfare sectors. As well as releasing a range of publications and updating earlier resources, CFCA has capitalised on a growing capacity to be flexible and responsive to stakeholder needs by providing multiple methods of research communication and actively engaging with the sectors.

This contemporary approach to information exchange has included an increased use and integration of digital communication tools. Products and services include:

  • CFCA webinar series, launched in July 2012 - CFCA webinars are free, and presentation materials, including audio recordings, are made available for download from the CFCA website;
  • CFCA podcast series, based on CFCA publications;
  • CFCA Focus On … series - the first occurred in May 2013, and involved the coordinated release of a range of products related to intensive family support services; and
  • CFCA Connect - CFCA Connect is an interactive online blog, forum and news service that provides short summaries of important research and resources and allows readers to comment on and respond to publications and other materials that they find on the website.
Planned output(s) Actual output(s) Outcome(s)
Publications
Release publications 20 new publications
8 updated publications
Over 565,590 publications downloaded from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 Increased access to an evidence base to inform policy and practice in sectors that support families, protect children, and strengthen communities in Australia
Development of new publications 8 new publications in development
Online resources
CFCA website <www. aifs.gov.au/cfca> Over 2.35 million web pages downloaded from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 Enhanced access to information and resources that helps to inform the work of sectors that support families, protect children and strengthen communities in Australia
Continued development of bibliographies 160 bibliographies related to children, families and communities available at 30 June 2013
More than 232,740 bibliography downloads from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013
Knowledge exchange
CFCA Connect 58 short online articles
634 news items
158 comments received
Enhanced understanding and use of research-based evidence in supporting families, protecting children and strengthening communities in Australia
Presentations 12 presentations
Electronic alerts 24 editions of fortnightly CFCA alert
2,591 CFCA alert subscribers at 30 June 2013
Webinars 6 webinars, attended by over 1,400 participants, from over 600 sites across Australia
Podcasts 5 podcasts added to site
Representation 9 board, committee, reference and advisory group memberships
Social media 626 Twitter followers at 30 June 2013
268 "likes" on Facebook at 30 June 2013
Information help desk service 200 help desk enquiries to 30 June 2013

Publication(s) and report(s)

Updated Publication(s) and report(s)

  • Child abuse and neglect statistics(May 2013)
  • Children's commissioners and guardians (June 2013)
  • Children in care(June 2013)
  • The economic costs of child abuse and neglect (May 2013)
  • Helplines and telephone counselling services (November 2012)
  • Online safety(November 2012)
  • The prevalence of child abuse and neglect (March 2013)
  • Reporting abuse and neglect: State and territory departments responsible for protecting children(September 2012)

CFCA Connect articles

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Promising Practice Profiles(March 2013)
  • Accessing maternal and child health services in Melbourne, Australia: Reflections from refugee families and service providers(September 2012)
  • Antifeminist men's groups: An interview with Dr Michael Flood(January 2013)
  • AusAID Child Protection Policy 2013(March 2013)
  • CFCA User Evaluation Survey 2013: What you told us(June 2013)
  • Confidential family counselling in a family law context: Mind the gap(March 2013)
  • Echoes of disadvantage across the generations? The influence of long-term joblessness and separation of grandparents on grandchildren(June 2013)
  • Engaging men at work to prevent family violence(September 2012)
  • Ethics and research into violence against children(January 2013)
  • Families working together: Getting the balance right(May 2013)
  • Family functioning, parenting styles and bullying: Are they related?(December 2012)
  • Find and connect: Supporting Forgotten Australians and former child migrants(October 2012)
  • Growing up too fast: Early puberty and mental illness(April 2013)
  • Improving Indigenous access to early childhood services in urban and regional areas(August 2012)
  • Improving the family law system for Indigenous and CALD clients(July 2012)
  • Improving the measurement and surveillance of child maltreatment in emergency departments(September 2012)
  • Interagency collaboration: Always the best option?(November 2012)
  • Investment for social and economic benefit(April 2013)
  • Join the conversation: Intensive home-based family support(May 2013)
  • Keeping Australian children safe: What works?(July 2012)
  • Leaving care: Strengthening support services for dual clients of child protection and youth justice(December 2012)
  • Links between coercive controlling violence, parenting problems and children's behaviours: Research from the Parramatta Family Relationship Centre(November 2012)
  • Lives on hold: Unlocking the potential of Australia's workforce(December 2012)
  • Making paternity leave work: Context, policy and practice(February 2013)
  • The mental health of mothers of school-aged children with a disability(August 2012)
  • Mental Health Week(October 2012)
  • National Apology for Forced Adoptions: Current implications(March 2013)
  • New directions in therapeutic out-of-home care options(May 2013)
  • New family studies courses offered by the University of Newcastle(February 2013)
  • New resource: Three books from Interrelate family centres(February 2013)
  • Non-agreement in family dispute resolution(July 2012)
  • Past adoption experiences(August 2012)
  • Peer sexual assault(February 2013)
  • Piloting a family drug treatment court program in Victoria(June 2013)
  • A practical approach to child protection and supervisory neglect(December 2012)
  • Practice-informed evidence?(January 2013)
  • Putting food on the table: Struggles and strategies(October 2012)
  • Reducing child abuse and neglect: Reviews, reforms and reflections(December 2012)
  • The report of the Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children Inquiry: Another political panacea or a positive road to reform?(July 2012)
  • Research won't settle debates about marriage and family life(February 2013)
  • Resources and information on child sexual abuse(January 2013)
  • Resources for professionals supporting families and communities affected by bushfires(January 2013)
  • Responding to child sexual assault in Aboriginal communities(April 2013)
  • Rural, regional or remote: Mothers' life satisfaction and life experiences(June 2013)
  • The science of healing(April 2013)
  • Sibling sexual abuse(October 2012)
  • Siblings and aggression(October 2012)
  • Social and emotional outcomes of young Australian children from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds(July 2012)
  • Supporting parents the biggest priority(September 2012)
  • Tackling the big issues on the future of Victoria's metropolitan planning(March 2013)
  • Taking a longer view of contact(March 2013)
  • Using social expertise to evaluate expert claims in social policy(June 2013)
  • Views of children and young people in out-of-home care in Queensland: What contributes to children and young people's wellbeing?(October 2012)
  • What is evidence-based policy and practice?(July 2012)
  • What is intensive home-based family support?(May 2013)
  • Who am I? A new resource to guide record-keeping for children in out-of-home care(April 2013)
  • Wiki helps family law professionals connect and innovate(January 2013)
  • Young adults returning home: How do Australian families experience this transition?(September 2012)

CFCA webinar series

21 May 2013

Marie Iannos, Research Assistant, Australian Centre for Child Protection, and Greg Antcliff, Director of Professional Practice, The Benevolent Society

Evidence informed practice in intensive family support programs: Are we there yet?

19 March 2013

Judge Paul Grant, President, Children's Court of Victoria

Child protection applications in court: The work of the Children's Court of Victoria

6 March 2013

Professor Richard Chisholm, ANU College of Law, and Federal Magistrate Grant Riethmuller, Federal Magistrates Court

Confidential family counselling in a family law context: Mind the gap

6 February 2013

Penelope Rush, Senior Research and Communications Officer, AIFS, and Dr Richard Fletcher, University of Newcastle. Webinar presented in collaboration with ARACY

Making paternity leave work: Context, policy and practice

11 December 2012

Dr Debbie Scott, Research Fellow, and Dr Daryl Higgins, Deputy Director (Research), both at AIFS

A practical approach to child protection and supervisory neglect

17 July 2012

Rodney Vlais, Policy and Practice Co-ordinator, No To Violence

Making men who perpetrate family violence visible in child protection work

Presentation(s)

  • Lohoar, S. (2012, 4-6 June). Safe and supportive Indigenous families and communities for children: A synopsis and critique of Australian research . SNAICC National Conference, For Our Children: Living and Learning Together, Melbourne.
  • Lohoar, S. (2013, 12 April). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Promising Practice Profiles: Reflections on methodology. Child Aware Approaches Conference, Melbourne.
  • Price-Robertson, R. (2012, 26 July). The influence of child sexual abuse on men's perceptions and experience of fatherhood . 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.
  • Price-Robertson, R. (2013, 17 January). Conducting literature reviews. Tutorial, Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) offices, Melbourne.
  • Price-Robertson, R. (2013, 12 April). Exploring issues and barriers at the interface of legal reporting obligations and child aware approaches. Child Aware Approaches Conference, Melbourne.
  • Robinson, E. (2012). Community-based, holistic responses to children, young people and families who are experiencing difficulties . Family Life Annual General Meeting, Melbourne.
  • Robinson, E. (2012, 1 August). Good and innovative practice in service delivery to vulnerable and disadvantaged families and children: A VADCAS analysis . Family Relationship Services Australia Senior Executive Forum, Melbourne.
  • Robinson, E. (2012). Panel discussion for delegates interested in developing research and evaluation projects with practice and academic partners. Family Relationship Services Australia Conference, Darwin.
  • Robinson, E. (2013). CFCA information exchange: Overview. Presented to visitors from RAND Corporation.
  • Robinson, E. (2013) CFCA information exchange update. Family Relationship Services Australia Senior Executive Forum
  • Robinson, E., Burns, J., & Bevan, K. (2012, 8 November). Young people and technology use in Australia: How are we responding to needs? AIFS Seminar Series, Melbourne.
  • Rush, P., Meredith, V., Robinson, E., & Nair, L. (2012, 13-15 November). The social and economic benefits of family and relationship services: A review of current evidence . 5th Family Relationship Services Australia National Conference, Darwin.

Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

Project duration July 2009 - June 2014
Funding source(s) All Australian governments (via AIHW)
Partner organisation(s) AIHW (lead agency)
Related project(s) Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault; Child Family Community Australia; Evaluation of New Income Management in the Northern Territory; Review of Child Protection Income Management in Western Australia; Indigenous Child and Family Resources Portal; Indigenous Justice Programs Evaluation: Diversion Programs; Indigenous Promising Practice Profiles

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse is delivered through a collaboration between AIFS and AIHW, the lead agency. The clearinghouse aims to support policy-makers and service providers by delivering a central online source of evidence-based resources on programs, strategies and activities that work to overcome disadvantage for Indigenous Australians. The principal stakeholders are Commonwealth, state and territory departments with responsibility for implementing actions under the Closing the Gap agenda. The resources are also helpful to Indigenous communities, academic researchers, other clearinghouses and the general public.

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse provides a website hosted by the AIHW (including content contributed by AIFS), an electronic newsletter, online collections of research, literature and other information resources, and an online register for research and evaluations in progress or completed (within the last three years). In addition, the clearinghouse publishes Resource Sheets, Issues Papers and the annual Key Learnings and Gaps in the Evidence Paper. The clearinghouse also undertakes outreach and networking and provides advice, the responsibility for which is shared between the AIHW and AIFS.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Publications
Publishing on a range of priority topics to support evidence-informed policy and practice 5 Resource Sheets published, 6 drafted, 11 under development
2 Issues Papers drafted, 5 under development
1 Key Learnings and Gaps in the Evidence Paper
Resources provided to policy-makers and service providers to support the design and delivery of programs/activities that work to overcome disadvantage for Indigenous Australians
Online resources
Closing the Gap website <www.aihw.gov.au/closingthegap> Website hosted by AIHW
Stage 1 of the website redevelopment completed
Delivery of a central online source of research and information on overcoming disadvantage for Indigenous Australians
Electronic alerts 6 issues of Closing the Gap e-News distributed
5,625 subscribers at 30 June 2013
Keeping stakeholders informed about new research and resources on overcoming disadvantage for Indigenous Australians
Identification of research for the clearinghouse's general collection of resources Over 5,312 items identified Providing stakeholders with background information relating to the COAG building blocks
Compilation of shortlists of research to be assessed by subject matter experts for assessed collection of resources 775 items in the assessed collection
More are expected as authors finalise outstanding publications
Providing information about research evidence to guide/inform decisions related to policy-making and service delivery
Items in the research and evaluation register relevant to the COAG building blocks 965 in the research and evaluation register Promoting awareness of current/recent research activities and facilitates collaboration
Knowledge exchange
Networking and stakeholder engagement 6 conference presentations
2 independent presentations
2 media events
936 help desk inquiries (593 related to attending seminars/workshops)
Expanding networks and creating awareness of the clearinghouse as a central information source for policy decisions

Publication(s) and report(s) by AIFS staff

  • Ware, V.-A. (2012). Improving access to urban and regional early childhood services (Resource Sheet No. 17). Canberra: Closing the Gap Clearinghouse.

Presentation(s) by AIFS staff

  • Higgins, D. (2012, 30 August). Closing the Gap Clearinghouse: What we do and what the evidence tells us about supporting Indigenous employment options and Indigenous parents . Closing the Gap Clearinghourse Workshop, Warwick, Qld.
  • Higgins, D. (2012, 6 December). Improving access to urban and regional early childhood services: A research synthesis. Closing the Gap Clearinghouse seminar series, Sydney.
  • Higgins, D. (2013, 21 February). Improving access to urban and regional early childhood services: A research synthesis. Closing the Gap Clearinghouse seminar series, Canberra.
  • Higgins, D. (2013, 29 May). Improving access to urban and regional early childhood services: A research synthesis . Closing the Gap Clearinghouse seminar series, Darwin.
  • Ware, V.-A. (2012, 26 July) Improving Indigenous access to human services in urban and regional centres . 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.

Report on performance - Communications activities

Overview

A key role for the Institute is to communicate research about issues affecting families in Australia. To do this, the Institute disseminates a wide range of research information and undertakes knowledge exchange activities through research; production of publications; communications services; information collection and library services; conferences, seminars and presentations; and consultation activities.

Publications

All AIFS publications are released under the Creative Commons licensing system, following the introduction of the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Act 2010. This makes the Institute's public sector information available for free distribution, use and reuse (see <creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au>).

In addition to the wide range of publications produced in the course of its research activities, the Institute also publishes its research journal, Family Matters, the Research Paper and Research Report series and other publications. Table 3.4 shows that, overall, the distribution of AIFS publications remained stable in 2012-13 compared to previous years, although it is worth noting that the number and length of major research reports has increased over the years.

There was an increase in the number of publications distributed in print, primarily due to an increased number of Research Reports being released and large print runs for reports of significant public interest, such as the Past Adoption Experiences report, and the Institute's own strategic documents, Directions 2012-15 and Reconciliation Action Plan 2012-14. This was balanced by a reduction in publications downloaded from the website, which is attributable to the establishment of the new CFCA information exchange. Website activity was reduced during the initial operating period of the CFCA, but over the second half of the financial year, activity returned to previous levels.

Table 3.4: Publication distribution, 2010-11 to 2012-13
  2010-11 a 2011-12 a 2012-13 b Change from previous year
Total publications distributed in print 18,436 4,822 16,800 +348%
Total publication downloads across all AIFS websites 2,212,249 2,707,082 2,675,273 -1%
Total publications distributed 2,230,685 2,711,904 2,692,073 -1%

Note: a The significant reduction in numbers of print publications distributed from 2010-11 to 2011-12 reflect the Institute's move towards online distribution. b The increase in numbers of print publications in 2012-13 reflects the release of several significant publications. There was a small decrease in online publications downloaded early in the reporting period, primarily due to the establishment of the new CFCA information exchange.

Family Matters journal

Family Matters is one of the Institute's main research dissemination vehicles, with its primary purpose being to keep local and international readers informed about Institute research and activities. It covers a broad range of family-related research from other Australian and overseas authors.

Family Matters provides a diversity of perspectives and analyses of family research and policies. In addition to research articles on family-related topics, regular columns include the Director's Report, information and discussion of new developments in family law, reports of Institute seminars, and information about Institute programs and activities.

Two editions of Family Matters were published in 2012-13.

  • Family Matters, No. 90, 2012 - "Life events" - focused on life events and their effects on families. Topics included analyses of the prevalence of life events and the factors that make their experience more or less difficult; the effects of returning to work following maternity leave; factors that impede or facilitate the successful transition of children to school; the effects of parental separation on grandparents; and how the difficulties of life-threatening illnesses and subsequent bereavement are moderated by family functioning factors. This issue was published in September 2012. See <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/fm2012/fm90>.
  • Family Matters, No. 91, 2012 - "Growing Up in Australia and Footprints in Time" - featured edited versions of papers presented at the LSAC-LSIC Conference that took place on 15-16 November 2011 in Melbourne. The papers included overviews of the two longitudinal studies and discussion and analyses of new media and language acquisition; evaluation of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY); joint attention and parent-child book reading; housing and children's wellbeing; post-separation parenting in Indigenous families; and differences in temperament among Indigenous children. This issue was published in December 2012. See <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/fm2012/fm91>.

Work on Family Matters No. 92 was well progressed by the end of the reporting period.

Printed copies of Family Matters are available by subscription and also distributed free of charge to members of parliament, key policy-makers, and others. All editions are also available online as free downloads, under a Creative Commons Attribution licence.

Family Matters continues to generate considerable media attention, with significant radio and press coverage.

Research reports and papers

The Research Report series comprises substantial works that report on research findings of a major project. In 2012-13, five Research Reports were published:

The Research Paper series disseminates Institute research to policy-makers, practitioners and researchers, with the aim of encouraging dialogue with research and policy communities. In 2012-13, one Research Paper was published:

Other publications

In addition to Family Matters, reports resulting from commissioned research, and articles and chapters published in external journals and books, the Institute also produces occasional publications aimed at a broader audience that distil major research findings on topical issues. During the reporting period, a new series of facts sheets was commenced, under the title Australian Family Trends:

  • Baxter, J. (2013). Parents working out work (Australian Family Trends No. 1). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/factssheets/2013/familytrends/aft1>.
  • Baxter, J. (2013). Families working together: Getting the balance right (Australian Family Trends No. 2; Facts Sheet 2013). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. This publication was published in conjunction with National Families Week, in May 2013. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/factssheets/2013/familytrends/aft2>.
  • Weston, R., & Qu, L. (2013). Working out relationships (Australian Family Trends No. 3). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/factssheets/2013/familytrends/aft3>.

A complete listing of Institute publications is available on the AIFS website: <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs>.

Submissions and consultations

The Institute prepares submissions to inquiries and in response to requests for consultation from government bodies and community organisations. Such activity is an indication of the Institute's involvement in policy and research processes.

In the reporting period, submissions and consultations were undertaken covering a broad range of issues:

  • Submission to the UK House of Commons Justice Select Committee inquiry: Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the Children and Families Bill, prepared by Rae Kaspiew and Lawrie Moloney (October 2012)
  • Witness at the Legislative Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations, Parliament of Victoria, Family and Community Development Committee, by Daryl Higgins (October 2012)
  • Response to the Commonwealth Attorney General's Consultation Paper on the Establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, prepared by Antonia Quadara, Deborah Scott, Rhys Price-Robertson and Daryl Higgins (November 2012)
  • Comments on measurable outcomes for gender equality indicators, submission on the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (WGE Act), Parliament of Australia. (January 2013)
  • Submission to the Family Law Council in relation to who is considered to be a parent of a child under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (June 2013)

The Institute also received funding to provide research support and advice in relation to the evaluation by Monash University of a new specialist listing for sexual abuse cases in the Victorian Children's Court, and to provide advice to The Benevolent Society on the measurement framework for the Social Benefit Bond.

Collaboration and exchange

Individuals, government bodies, research organisations and community sector groups collaborate and exchange information with AIFS on a regular basis.

International collaboration

In 2012-13, the Institute continued to build relationships and share its research expertise internationally. By building relationships overseas, the Institute ensures that its research meets international standards.

AIFS researchers presented Australian findings at several international conferences, workshops and meetings. These included presentations on:

  • family policy in Australia, at the Family Matters: Putting Priorities Into Action Conference, Taipei, Taiwan;
  • LSAC children's time use diaries, at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, University of London, UK;
  • work-family balance in Australia, at the East Asian Ministerial Forum on Families, Brunei Darussalam;
  • income consequences of relationship breakdown, at the Foundation for International Studies on Social Security Conference, Sweden; and
  • child protection statistics and data management, at the Conference on Child Protection 2012, Malaysia.

Collaboration with family research specialists in Norway, England and within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also provided opportunities for inter-country comparison of data validity and methodology. These types of collaborations help to ensure that our research is of an international standing.

Visitors

A number of professionals from within government and community sector organisations across Australia and overseas met with Institute researchers to exchange ideas on issues of relevance to the Institute's research. These visits provide the opportunity for the Institute to learn from other researchers and share knowledge from its own research findings.

Key visitors
  • Dr Willem Adema, Project Manager, OECD Gender Initiative, OECD (July 2012)
  • Professor Laura Lein, Dean of School of Social Work, University of Michigan (July 2012)
  • Professor Patrick Parkinson, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney (July 2012)
  • Professor Ariel Kalil, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago (July 2012)
  • Deborah Malcom, Knowledge Manager, New Zealand Families Commission (July 2012)
  • Delegation from the Beijing Zhicheng Legal Aid Organisation (February 2013)
Visiting scholars
  • Michael Fletcher, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Public Policy, Auckland University of Technology (July 2012)
  • Professor Liz Kelly CBE, Professor of Sexualised Violence and Director of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU), London Metropolitan University (September 2012)
  • Professor Jane Elliott, Director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Director of the CLOSER (Cohorts and Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources) Programme, United Kingdom (February 2013)
  • Professor Wolfgang Hantel-Quitman, University of Applied Sciences Hamburg (February 2013)
  • Koji Miyamoto, Project Leader, Education and Social Progress Projects, OECD (February 2013)

Online communications

Websites

In 2012-13, AIFS maintained three public websites:

  • AIFS <www.aifs.gov.au>, including sub-sites for:
  • ACSSA;
  • the CFCA information exchange;
  • our longitudinal research projects (ATP, Past Adoption Experiences, SFIA);
  • Growing Up in Australia <growingupinaustralia.gov.au>; and
  • CFCA Connect <aifs.govspace.gov.au>.

The total number of web pages downloaded across the main AIFS website (including sub-sites) in the 2012-13 financial year was 5,666,773 (Table 3.5). This was a 30% increase from the previous financial year. Of the 1.46 million visitors to the AIFS site, 70% were new visitors. Most visitors were from Australia, although significant numbers were from the USA (11%) and the UK (6%). Interestingly, the number of visits from mobile devices increased to 16%, compared to 8% in the previous financial year.

Table 3.5: Website page downloads, all AIFS websites and sub-sites, 2010-11 to 2012-13
2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Change from previous year
3,922,377 4,366,075 5,666,773 +30%
Electronic alerts

AIFS email alerts and electronic newsletters keep stakeholders up-to-date with the work and activities of the Institute. The number of opt-in email list subscribers increased by 15% in 2012-13 compared to the previous year (see Table 3.6).

Table 3.6: Subscribers to email lists, 2009-10 to 2012-13
List name June 2010 June 2011 June 2012 June 2013 Change from previous year
AIFS-alert 2,106 2,729 2,699 a 3,066 +14%
All email lists: AIFS-alert, ACSSA-alert, CFCA-alert, growingup-refgroup 6,085 10,844 7,063 b 8,408 +15%

Note: a The drop in subscribers to the AIFS-alert service in 2011-12 was mainly due to an audit of email addresses. b The decrease in subscriptions to the other email alerts can largely be attributed to the closure of the AFRC, NCPC and CAFCA alerts, and their replacement by the CFCA-alert. At the time of closure, the AFRC, NCPC and CAFCA had 5,267 subscribers in total.

Library and information services

Library

The library offers a highly responsive information service that supports the work of the Institute, and a specialist collection of online and print resources on family-related research that is disseminated as widely and cost-effectively as possible.

AIFS library services include:

  • an information help desk to support AIFS information exchanges;
  • a reference service available to the wider community, and support for visitors by appointment;
  • a library catalogue, available on the Institute's website; and
  • interlibrary loans to other libraries throughout Australia and overseas.
Knowledge base of bibliographic records

Since 1980, AIFS has created a knowledge base of over 111,000 bibliographic records drawn from sociology, psychology, demography, health sciences, education, economics, law, history and social work source documents relevant to the study of families.

In 2012-13, the library drew on these records to:

  • record and manage resources in the library collection;
  • build the Australian Family & Society Abstracts (AFSA) database;
  • upload new records to Libraries Australia, the bibliographic database managed by the National Library of Australia;
  • send relevant records to AIHW to support the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse;
  • add details of all new AIFS publications to the Institute's website; and
  • create more than 170 bibliographies on current topics for listing on our website.

It is worth noting that:

  • 12% of the collection is unique to AIFS;
  • a large proportion of unique items are out-of-print and no longer widely available; and
  • the library holds a large amount of non-commercially published material ("grey literature"), produced by the research, academic and government sectors, that is not reliably available online.
Australian Family & Society Abstracts

In 2012-13, the AIFS library supplied 2,038 new records and abstracts for the AFSA database, an Australian web-based service of research and education databases operated by RMIT Publishing. This database how holds a total of 79,341 records. AFSA resources are available at RMIT Publishing's Informit online service <www.informit.com.au> and can also be accessed through the AIFS library catalogue.

Conferences

Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference

The biennial AIFS Conference is the most important dissemination event on the Institute's calendar. The 12th AIFS Conference: Family Transitions and Trajectories was held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, 25-27 July 2012. The conference focused on a variety of issues relating to family wellbeing, including:

  • security for families - exploring the economic and social wellbeing of families;
  • stability and change in families - examining key developmental stages and transition points across the life course, family form, and family functioning and diversity;
  • supporting and strengthening families - focusing on vulnerabilities, the trajectories of families and points of service system intervention; and
  • safety for families - understanding, preventing and responding to violence, abuse and neglect.

The event attracted more than 520 delegates from across Australia and overseas, and the program featured 145 oral presentations and 52 poster presentations. Three keynote speakers headlined the program:

  • Dr Willem Adema, OECD;
  • Professor Patrick Parkinson, University of Sydney; and
  • Professor Laura Lein, University of Michigan.

Further program highlights included three panel sessions focusing on:

  • low-income families;
  • family law and family violence; and
  • family diversity.

Bringing together researchers, policy-makers and service providers working with families, the conference was an excellent forum for discussing cutting-edge research findings, policy priorities and topical issues important to families in Australia.

Towards the end of 2012-13, planning was underway for the 13th AIFS Conference, to be held in Melbourne from 30 July to 1 August 2014.

Changing Places policy forum

In November 2012, AIFS hosted a one-off policy forum: Changing Places: Success, Scale and Sustainability of Place-Based Intervention, held at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. The main purpose of the two-day event (comprising a half-day seminar and a full-day policy forum) was to facilitate policy discussion on placed-based interventions. It was also an opportunity to advance policy thinking regarding the implementation and sustainability of place-based interventions consistent with the priorities of the Australian Government, across a range of portfolios.

The event was coordinated by AIFS in collaboration with, and co-funded by, the departments of:

  • Prime Minister and Cabinet;
  • Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs;
  • Human Services;
  • Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; and
  • Regional Affairs, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

The half-day seminar attracted more than 100 participants, while the higher level policy forum featured 44 senior executive participants.

The seminar featured:

  • two keynote speakers:
  • Professor Mark Greenberg, Pennsylvania State University; and
  • Professor Shane Houston, University of Sydney; and
  • a secretary's panel:
  • Glenys Beauchamp PSM, Department of Regional Australia and Local Government, Arts and Sport;
  • Gill Callister, Victorian Government Department of Human Services and Member, National Place-Based Advisory Committee;
  • Kathryn Campbell CSC, DHS; and
  • Finn Pratt PSM, FaHCSIA.

The policy forum had three key speakers:

  • Professor Mark Greenberg, Pennsylvania State University;
  • Brian Bumbarger, Pennsylvania State University; and
  • Dr Ben Edwards, AIFS.
LSAC-LSIC Conference

In 2012-13, significant preparations were undertaken for the second combined research conference for LSAC and Footprints in Time: The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Australians (LSIC), to be held in Melbourne, 13-14 November 2013. The program will focus on a wide range of topics including:

  • temperament and the home environment;
  • early childhood education;
  • behavioural and emotional development; and
  • physical and mental health.

The conference will bring together researchers, policy-makers and service providers to discuss a range of findings based on the LSAC and LSIC data. More than 200 delegates are expected to attend. The program will include more than 60 oral presentations.

AIFS Seminar Series

Over the course of each financial year, a number of researchers and policy-makers are invited to speak at the AIFS Seminar Series. The series provides opportunities for presentations and discussions on a range of contemporary family-related research and social issues. Seminars in this series are free and open to the public. Where practicable, material related to the presentations is made available for free download from the Institute's website.

In 2012-13, 11 seminars were offered through this program. These were also delivered as webinars to accommodate participants outside Melbourne. This contributed to increased attendances, with a total of 648 participants in 2012-13, compared to 565 in the previous financial year. The increase in attendance at webinars can also be attributed to the establishment of the CFCA information exchange, with its increased focus on new media, including promoting and hosting more webinars.

AIFS Seminar Series topics
14 August 2012

Rev. The Hon. Professor Brian Howe AO, Professorial Associate, University of Melbourne

Lives on hold: Unlocking the potential of Australia's workforce

6 September 2012

Emeritus Professor Dorothy Scott OAM

Reducing child abuse and neglect: Reviews, reforms and reflections

9 October 2012

Dr Michael Flood, Senior Lecturer, Sociology, University of Wollongong

He hits, she hits: Assessing debates regarding men's and women's experiences of domestic violence

8 November 2012

Elly Robinson, Manager CFCA information exchange, AIFS

Associate Professor Jane Burns, CEO, Young and Well CRC

Karen Bevan, Director, Social Justice Unit, Uniting Children Care, Young People and Families

Young people and technology use in Australia: How are we responding to needs?

15 February 2013

Professor Jane Elliot, Director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Director of CLOSER Programmes, United Kingdom

What can we learn from British Birth Cohort Studies?

26 February 2013

Professor Wolfgang Hantel-Quitmann

Every day care: Family life and parent-child relations in Germany today

14 March 2013

Roscoe Howell, Slavery Links Australia

How families and practitioners may encounter modern slavery in Australia

11 April 2013

Maree Crabbe, Producer, and Dr David Corlett, Adjunct Research Fellow, Swinburne University

Eroticising inequality: Pornography, young people and sexuality?

15 May 2013

Professor Richard Chisholm AM, Adjunct Professor, ANU College of Law

Family law and family violence

28 May 2013

Associate Professor Karen Balcom, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada

The back door in: Private immigration bills and transnational adoption in the US 1945-1961

11 June 2013

Victoria Hovane

An introduction to Australian Indigenous psychology

Media coverage

Mass media

The engagement of mass media is an important means of communicating the Institute's research findings about factors that affect family wellbeing. Eighteen media releases were issued in 2012-13.

There was an increase in media coverage of the Institute's research in 2012-13 compared to the previous financial year (Tables 3.7 and 3.8). This can mainly be attributed to the growth in Internet media coverage and syndicated stories. Internet news coverage in 2012-13 accounted for 32% of all AIFS mentions, compared to 10% in the previous year. Radio coverage continued to be a significant and valuable means of communicating and discussing research findings, with 34% of AIFS mentions via this medium in 2012-13, compared to 56% in the previous year. Television and press coverage remained at approximately the same levels in both years, at around 23% and 11% respectively of all AIFS mentions.

A total of 4,611 reports across all media types mentioned the Institute's research, which was a 77% increase on the 2,606 reports recorded in 2011-12.

Table 3.7: Number of mentions by media channel
Media channel 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Change from previous year
Radio 1,191 1,946 1,468 1,569 +7%
Television 456 775 559 1,043 +86%
Press 192 333 318 528 +66%
Internet 358 502 261 1,471 +463%
Totals 2,197 3,556 2,606 4,611 +77%

Source: iSentia

Table 3.8: Audience reached by media channel
Media channel 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Change from previous year
Radio 9,546,800 15,004,300 11,535,600 14,403,200 +21%
Television 6,631,562 8,944,000 4,798,000 9,939,000 +107%
Press 47,045,156 62,573,820 56,145,435 71,653,653 +28%
Internet a - - - 1,015,892 -
Totals 63,223,518 87,212,920 72,479,035 97,011,745 +34%

Note: a. Audience figures for the Internet only became available from 2012-13 onwards.

Source: iSentia

Coverage was generated through the release of a range of publications and the 12th AIFS Conference being held in July 2012. Publications that were particularly notable for the interest generated in the media were: the LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2011, released in August 2012; The Role of Emerging Communication Technologies in Experiences of Sexual Violence (Research Report 23), released in February 2013; The Australian Temperament Project: The First 30 Years report, released in May 2013; and the first three publications in the Australian Family Trend series, released between April and June 2013.

Social media
Facebook

The AIFS Facebook page has been operating since October 2010. The page is predominantly used to promote new publications and events, as well as developing an online discussion on the latest research into family wellbeing. At the end of the reporting period, the page had 666 people listed who "liked" the page. This is a 99% increase from the 335 people who had connected with AIFS at the same time the previous year.

The CFCA information exchange also has a Facebook page, which operates in the same way as the AIFS Facebook page. At the end of the reporting period, the CFCA Facebook page had 268 "likes", which is a 172% increase from the 98 "likes" listed at the same time the previous year.

Facebook serves to help increase awareness of Institute research activities, especially for traditionally hard-to-reach audiences. Risk management processes are in place to monitor the content of these pages.

Twitter

In 2012-13, the Institute continued to use Twitter as another channel to promote its activities online by sending micro text messages to subscribers. Twitter is used to promote Institute activities, such as seminars, conferences and publications, as well as developing an online discussion on the latest research in family wellbeing.

The Institute has four Twitter accounts, with a total of 2,947 followers. This is a 119% increase from the previous year. AIFS has one general account (1,766 followers), while LSAC (161 followers), ACSSA (394 followers) and the CFCA information exchange (626 followers) each also have accounts.

YouTube and video

The Institute continued to use the AIFS YouTube channel in 2012-13. The channel provides a useful supplementary communication conduit, and this year new videos included explanations about the content of the Growing Up in Australia surveys, and children's perspectives of the study and why they believe it is important.

Webinars

In 2012-13, the Institute increased its use of webinar technology to conduct events online. The CFCA information exchange conducted six webinar events in 2012-13 (see CFCA webinar series for details), and all AIFS seminars were also made available in webinar format.

Webinars integrate presentations, webcam images, participant presentations, slides, questions and messages. Hosting and participating in webinars expands the capacity of AIFS to disseminate its research, build communities of practice and collaborate with invested stakeholders.

Podcasts

Where possible, audio recordings of AIFS Seminar Series presentations and CFCA webinars are available as podcasts on the AIFS website, together with transcripts and presentation slides. Podcasts are a useful tool for enabling people to listen to seminars after the event.

RSS feeds

AIFS offers RSS feeds to provide subscribers with rapid notification of new AIFS publications and event information.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia lists information on the Institute's history and services and is a useful global reference tool for providing general information about AIFS. Ongoing monitoring is in place to manage the risk that public editing of the entry could result in inaccurate information being posted.

Report on performance - Financial activities

Operating results

In accordance with the Australian Government net cash appropriation arrangements, AIFS incurred a budget deficit for the financial year 2012-13 of $232,799. This deficit is made up of the depreciation expense for 2012-13 of $363,677. After adjusting for this item, AIFS would have reported a surplus of $130,878. This surplus was used to fund a number of capital acquisitions in addition to the departmental capital budget.

See Table 3.9 for a summary of budgeted and actual expenses for 2012-13.

Operating revenue

The total operating revenue was $13,171,254 and consisted of the following:

  • government appropriations of $3,403,000;
  • sale of goods and rendering of services of $9,585,282; and
  • other revenue of $182,972.

Operating expenses

Total operating expenses were $13,404,053 and consisted of:

  • employee costs of $8,277,859;
  • supplier expenses of $4,748,578;
  • depreciation and audit fees of $363,677; and
  • loss from asset sales of $13,939.

Balance sheet

Net asset position

The net asset position at 30 June 2013 was $1,446,638 (2011-12: $1,473,748).

Total assets

Total assets at 30 June 2013 were $6,362,581 (2011-12: $9,260,078). Financial assets decreased by $2,719,602. The decrease in financial assets was mainly due to an increase in cash receipts relating to prepaid revenue, a significant amount of which was received at the end of the 2011-12 financial year and returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 2012-13. Non-financial assets decreased by $177,895. The decrease in non-financial assets is due to reductions in prepayments in 2012-13.

Total liabilities

Total liabilities at 30 June 2013 were $4,915,943 (2011-12: $7,786,330). The difference is mainly due to a decrease in the level of unearned revenue of $2,911,251.

Table 3.9: Budgeted and actual expenses for Outcome 1, 2012-13, and budgeted expenses, 2013-14
Outcome 1: Increased understanding of factors affecting how families function by conducting research and communicating findings to policy-makers, service providers, and the broader community Budget 2012-13
$'000
Actual 2012-13
$'000
Variation (column 2 - column 1) ($'000) Budget 2013-14 ($'000)
Program 1.1: Australian Institute of Family Studies
Departmental expenses        
Departmental appropriation 14,509 13,139 (1,370) 15,361
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 373 386 13 371
Total for Program 1.1 14,882 13,525 (1,357) 15,732
Outcome 1 totals by appropriation type        
Departmental expenses        
Departmental appropriation 14,509 13,139 (1,370) 15,361
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 373 386 13 371
Total expenses for Outcome 1 14,882 13,525 (1,357) 15,732
Average staffing level 74 71 (3) 81
4. Management and accountability

Management accountability is achieved with the support of the Corporate and Strategy area of the Institute. Corporate and Strategy provides a range of services to assist the Institute to meet its goals, through the ongoing improvement and application of financial, administrative, human resources and information technology policies and practices.

Accountability is met through the Institute's internal management committee, advisory and monitoring committees, staff and management committees, robust reporting processes, internal and external audits, the Business Continuity Plan and the Protective Security Policy Framework. More detail is provided later in this chapter.

Corporate governance

The Institute operates under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act). The corporate focus throughout 2012-13 has been the effective maintenance of high standards of governance, accountability and reporting in order to fulfil all FMA requirements and build organisational capacity to achieve the Institute's research and communication objectives. This corporate oversight is conducted through senior management committees.

The Family Law Act 1975 sets out the Institute's role, functions and governance arrangements. The Hon. Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs was the responsible Minister for AIFS for the reporting period 2012-13.

The Statement of Expectations was issued by the Minister on 1 August 2012 and the Institute replied with its Statement of Intent on 28 September 2012. A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between FaHCSIA and AIFS was signed on 20 March 2013.

Fraud control

During the financial year 2012-13, no fraud was identified. A fraud risk assessment was conducted in February 2013.

Annual Report 2012-13 Fraud Control Certification

In accordance with Guideline 5.8 of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines 2011, issued by the Minister for Home Affairs under Regulation 16A of the Financial Management and Accountability Regulations 1997, I, Alan Hayes, Director, Australian Institute of Family Studies, hereby certify that I am satisfied that the Institute has:

  • prepared a fraud risk assessment and a fraud control plan;
  • put in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes that meet the specific needs of the Institute; and
  • taken all reasonable measures to minimise the incidence of fraud in the Institute and to investigate and recover the proceeds of fraud against the Institute.

Alan Hayes AM, Director

Senior executive members

Professor Alan Hayes AM is the Director of the Institute. Two Deputy Directors and an Assistant Director (Research) assist the Director in leading and managing the Institute. Sue Tait is Deputy Director (Corporate and Strategy), Dr Daryl Higgins is Deputy Director (Research), and Ruth Weston is Assistant Director (Research). See Figure 2.1 for an organisation chart for the Institute.

Senior management committees

The Director has overall responsibility for the leadership and management of the Institute. A number of committees and groups are in place to support this function.

Internal management committees
Executive

The Executive group leads and coordinates all aspects of the research and corporate functions of the Institute. It comprises the Director, the two Deputy Directors and the Assistant Director (Research).

Leadership and Planning Group

The Leadership and Planning Group comprises the Executive and Managers from the corporate and research areas. The group is a strategic leadership forum providing advice to the Director and Deputy Directors.

Advisory and monitoring committees

The Institute supports sound management of its accountability, ethical and legislative responsibilities through the Advisory Council, the Risk Assessment and Audit Committee, and the Human Research Ethics Committee.

Advisory Council

The role of the Advisory Council is to provide specialist advice to the Director in relation to strategic directions for Institute research, any significant proposed changes to the research program, key performance indicators for the Institute's research activities, and the development of future strategic and research plans. The Advisory Council met twice during 2012-13.

Members of the Advisory Council are appointed by the responsible minister. Four new members were appointed to the council at the beginning of the 2012-13 financial year.

Advisory Council members, 2012-13

Reverend The Hon. Professor Brian Howe AO (Chair), Professorial Associate, Centre for Public Policy, Melbourne University

Muriel Bamblett AM, Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency

Liza Carroll, Deputy Secretary, FaHCSIA

Professor Richard Chisholm AM, Adjunct Professor, ANU College of Law

Professor Ross Homel AO FASSA, Foundation Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Director, Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance, Griffith University

Professor Barbara Pocock AM, Director, Centre for Work + Life, University of South Australia

Paul Ronalds, First Assistant Secretary, Office of Work and Family, PM&C, Nominee of the Secretary

Emeritus Professor Dorothy Scott OA

Professor Paul Smyth, General Manager for Social Action and Research, Brotherhood of St Laurence

Australian Gambling Research Centre Expert Advisory Group

The Expert Advisory Group of the AGRC provides advice to the Director of AIFS (in his capacity as Director of AGRC), in relation to:

  • strategic directions and research plans and programs for undertaking or commissioning research into, or producing data and statistics about, gambling; and
  • strategies for increasing the capability and capacity of researchers to conduct research into, or produce data and statistics about, gambling.

The Expert Advisory Group consists of the Director and at least seven, but no more than 11, other members. The group will meet two to three times a year and is expected to meet for the first time in July 2013.

Australian Gambling Research Centre Expert Advisory Group, 2012-13

Professor Richard Chisholm AM (Chair), Adjunct Professor, ANU College of Law

Professor Max Abbott, Director, Gambling and Addictions Research Centre; and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Auckland University of Technology

Ashley Gordon, Manager, NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Services; and research consultant, Centre for Gambling Education and Research, Southern Cross University

Rev. the Hon. Professor Brian Howe AO, Professorial Associate, Centre for Public Policy, Melbourne University

Dr Ralph Lattimore, Assistant Commissioner, Productivity Commission

Professor Alison McClelland, Productivity Commission

Ms Cheryl Vardon, Chief Executive, Australasian Gaming Council

Dr Mark Zirnsak, Director, Justice and International Mission Unit, Uniting Church in Australia Synod Office (Victoria & Tasmania)

Risk Assessment and Audit Committee

The Risk Assessment and Audit Committee reports to the Director, and plays a key role in the Institute's corporate governance. It helps ensure effective and efficient use of resources by reviewing the performance and operations of internal controls and performance management systems. It approves the Institute's internal audit program and advises the Executive on risk, fraud, compliance and performance. It also provides assurance to the Director on preparing and reviewing financial statements.

An external member chairs the committee. Membership includes the two Deputy Directors and two independent members external to the Institute. The committee met four times during 2012-13, addressing a range of issues, including approval of budgets, Portfolio Budget Statements, mid-year budget reviews, internal and external audit processes, fraud control, FMA Act compliance reviews, and updates of the Institute's Director's Instructions, Financial Rules, the AIFS Risk Management Framework and Business Continuity Plan.

Risk Assessment and Audit Committee members, 2012-13

Denise Swift PSM (Chair)

Dennis Mihelyi (Member), Director, Corporate Services, Fair Work Australia

Sue Tait (Member), Deputy Director (Corporate and Strategy), AIFS

Dr Daryl Higgins (Member), Deputy Director (Research), AIFS

Professor Alan Hayes AM (Observer), Director, AIFS

Susan Leong (Observer), Chief Finance Officer, AIFS

Dr Michael Alexander (Observer), Executive Manager, Research Business Development and Accountability, AIFS

Human Research Ethics Committee

The role of the Institute's Human Research Ethics Committee is to ensure that the ethical standards outlined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans, and elaborated in the Institute's ethics statement, Ethical Issues in the Research Process (1996), are met in all research projects undertaken by the Institute.

In particular, the committee must ensure that projects meet the three key principles of: respect for persons, beneficence and justice, as set down in the National Statement. The committee is registered with the Australian Health Ethics Committee, a sub-committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The Ethics Committee meets to consider new project proposals, receive brief oral and written reports on ongoing projects, consider any complaints or problems that may have arisen regarding ethical issues in Institute research, and review the complaints procedures, as required. The committee met three times in 2012-13 and assessed 17 ethics applications for new, revised or extended research projects. The committee also has an expedited review process in place for projects that need approval between meetings of the committee.

Members of the Ethics Committee are appointed for three-year terms.

Human Research Ethics Committee members, 2012-13

Dr Duncan Ironmonger AM (Chair), BCom, MCom (Melb); PhD (Cambridge); Department of Economics, University of Melbourne

Sr Dr Carol Hogan, BA (Melb); BTheol, PhD (Melbourne College of Divinity)

Professor Richard Ingleby, MA, DPhil (Oxford); LLM (Cambridge); Latham Chambers, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University

Dr Kerreen Reiger, BA (Hons) (Melb); PhD (La Trobe); Department of Sociology, La Trobe University

Dr Sarah Wise, BA (Hons) (Melb), MA, PhD (Melb); Anglicare Victoria

Ian Claridge

Caz Coleman, BTheol, Grad. Dip. Theo (Melbourne College Divinity), Cert. IV Frontline Management (Chisholm)

Shaun Coade (to April 2013); Manager, Aboriginal Service Development

Helen Glezer, BA (Hons) (Melb), MA (Latrobe) (to 15 September 2012)

Corporate and statutory reporting

During 2012-13, the Institute continued to refine and strengthen its planning processes, building on earlier initiatives, including the reporting calendar, an events register and other tracking registers. These initiatives bring together a range of corporate and communications priorities, and has contributed to robust compliance standards and reporting performance against outcomes.

An outcomes focus has been emphasised through the continued use of trend forecasting for the Parliamentary Budget Statements, aligned to the goals in the Institute's Strategic Directions 2012-15. The Institute continued to refine these processes throughout the year, including streamlined reporting processes for reporting against deliverables and key performance indicators, and to link preparations for Senate Estimates and annual reporting.

All statutory reports were completed and tabled in a timely manner as required.

Chief Executive Instructions and Financial Rules

The Chief Executive's Instructions and Financial Rules were both comprehensively reviewed during the reporting period. The revised rules are expected to become operative from August 2013. Reviewing the Financial Rules highlights the Institute's ongoing commitment to ensuring effective operation and compliance with the requirements of the FMA Act.

Risk management

Building on the development and implementation of AIFS' Risk Management Policy and Framework in 2011-12, the Institute has continued to monitor and improve its approach to risk management, including participating in the 2013 Risk Management Benchmarking Survey conducted by Comcover. Work also commenced on the development of a fully electronic Risk Management database and Risk Register.

Internal audit

In 2012-13, the Institute's internal auditors, BDO Australia, undertook a review of the fraud risk framework. Based on the results, the Institute's Fraud Control Plan was updated. BDO Australia also performed a Certificate of Compliance review in May 2013.

Business continuity

The Institute's Business Continuity Plan was reviewed and updated during 2012-13. The plan provides the necessary guidelines to enable the Institute to:

  • take action to prevent potential disruption to the business;
  • take appropriate action to safeguard staff and property in the event of a crisis;
  • plan and effectively manage the recovery of operations of the business to a satisfactory level;
  • plan and manage the resumption of normal business operations in permanent premises with its usual systems and staff; and
  • plan and manage significant staff reductions in the event of a possible pandemic illness or other threat to business continuity that may be of a protracted nature.
Protective Security Policy Framework

The Institute has transitioned to the new Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF), in accordance with guidelines published by AGD. As at 30 June 2013, the Institute was anticipating being fully compliant with all 33 mandatory requirements of the PSPF by the mandatory reporting date of 30 September 2013.

There were no major security incidents during the reporting period.

Ethical standards

Amendments to the Public Service Act 1999 and subordinate legislation included a revised set of APS Values, the introduction of APS Employment Principles and some amendments to the APS Code of Conduct. These changes provided an additional opportunity to explain and promote the importance of upholding the APS Values throughout the Institute.

The Institute continues to take actions designed to integrate the APS Values into the organisational culture and the day-to-day work of all employees. The obligations of employees to uphold the APS Values and abide by the APS Code of Conduct are promoted in staff induction and training; applied to human resource management processes, including individual performance plans; and reflected in human resources policies and procedures, which are made available to all employees on the Institute intranet. The Institute was not subject to any decisions by the Australian Information Commissioner in 2012-13.

External scrutiny

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) performs an annual statutory audit of the Institute's financial statements. In addition, an independent contractor conducts a program of internal audit reviews. The outcomes of all audits are presented to the Risk Assessment and Audit Committee and plans developed for the implementation of recommendations and the ongoing monitoring of resultant actions for improved processes.

In 2012-13, the Institute was not subject to reports by the Auditor-General, parliamentary committees or the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The Institute does not have statutory administrative decision-making powers and was not subject to any judicial decisions or decisions of administrative tribunals in 2012-13.

Management of human resources

Employee skills and qualifications

The Institute is fortunate to have employees with a great diversity of skills, knowledge and experience. This ranges across research knowledge in multiple disciplines - including social science, psychology, family law, child and adolescent development, demography, economics, statistics, and survey design - to management skills such as commercial contract negotiation, project management, financial management, information technology development and maintenance, communications expertise and secretariat support. Some employees have more than 20 years of experience in the workplace, while others have only recently commenced their careers. This diversity of knowledge and expertise exemplifies one of the major benefits of working in a small organisation. These skills are known and are able to be effectively used in a number of facets of the Institute's operations.

Figures 4.1 and 4.2 show, respectively, the highest qualifications gained by Institute employees overall and by those employed in the research area.

Figure 4.1: Employee qualifications as at 30 June 2013

AIFS employee qualifications at 30 June 2013

Figure 4.2: Research employee qualifications as at 30 June 2013

AIFS research employee qualifications at 30 June 2013

The Institute is proud of its ability to attract, develop and retain highly skilled employees to continually strengthen its human and intellectual capital.

Staff and management committees

Workplace Relations Committee

The Workplace Relations Committee provides a forum for the management and employees to discuss matters affecting the workplace in general, as well as matters relating to the Enterprise Agreement. The committee comprises three representatives each from management and employee groups, and a Community and Public Sector Union representative. Employees are encouraged to contribute their ideas or raise any concerns regarding their workplace with their representatives. The committee is chaired by the Executive Manager (Human Resources) and meets quarterly.

Input from the Workplace Relations Committee continues to play a key role in the review and formulation of AIFS human resources policies and guidelines. In 2012-13, the committee provided input into amendments to a number of policies and guidelines, including those relating to studies assistance, working from home, part-time work and purchased leave.

Health and Safety Committee

The Health and Safety Committee continues to meet regularly. It was established to represent staff and facilitate consultation and discussion between management and employees regarding health and safety matters in the workplace. Employees are encouraged to participate by consulting with their elected staff representatives, who use the committee forum to raise and manage ongoing health and safety matters.

The committee is involved in the development and review of Institute policies and procedures consistent with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. These include implementation of a revised overarching Work Health and Safety Policy and a Work Health and Safety Consultation Policy.

Individual performance management

The principles underpinning the Institute's performance management program focus on ongoing communication and feedback between all parties in relation to individual performance. The program also aims to build relationships based on mutual trust and respect that encourage open and frank discussions and to maximise employee performance through the provision of individual development, opportunities for growth, and work satisfaction. Assistance is available to employees and managers to support the development of individual Performance Development and Review plans.

Workforce planning

In 2012-13, the Institute continued to develop its capacity to plan and respond to changing workforce needs. Current data indicate a staff turnover rate of 13%, compared to 12% in the previous financial year. Addressing turnover and other workforce issues, including increasing the diversity of the workforce, will continue to be an area of focus in 2013-14.

Recruitment

The majority of vacancies at the Institute are advertised via the online APSjobs service, supplemented by online advertising when appropriate. Consistent with government policy, the Institute no longer routinely advertises job vacancies in the press. The Institute continues to attract high-quality applicants for its advertised vacancies.

There is ongoing pressure to recruit appropriately skilled and experienced employees. In line with workforce planning processes, the Institute will continue to develop and introduce strategies throughout 2013-14 to recruit and retain capable staff.

Learning and development

The primary focus of learning and development activities is to ensure that the Institute has the organisational capability to meet operational objectives, both now and in the future.

During the year, the Institute continued to develop its workforce capability by providing professional learning and development. Individuals took part in a range of management, leadership and specialist programs in 2012-13. The effectiveness of the training provided was evaluated in the performance reviews conducted between managers and individuals.

During 2012-13, the Institute invested $63,862 in direct learning and development activities, $51,463 in conference attendance, and the equivalent of $101,441 in wages, based on average salary.

The Institute continues to provide professional development opportunities for employees via professional memberships and support for formal study through its Study Assistance Program.

Workplace health and safety performance

On an annual basis, the Institute runs a free flu vaccination program for all staff. Each employee is also able to receive reimbursement of up to $300 for participating in appropriate health promotion activities under the Promoting Good Health scheme. The scheme aims to encourage staff to improve their fitness and general health. Employees also have access to subsidised eyesight testing (including the provision of glasses for screen-based work), professional counselling services via the Employee Assistance Program and regular ergonomic assessments. Any corrective measures identified as a result of these assessments, such as specifically tailored ergonomic equipment, are provided as quickly as possible. The Institute will continue to review its health and wellbeing strategies during 2013-14.

There was one notifiable incident reported to Comcare during 2012-13.

Productivity gains

The Institute has continued to evaluate its functions, structure and procedures with a view to streamlining administrative processes and systems to realise additional productivity savings. During 2012-13, employees have continued to support the Institute in the rationalisation of accommodation space and introduction of environmental management initiatives.

Work continues on information management and technology improvements and efficiencies to create further productivity gains in communication and administrative processes, including online collaboration, time management, record-keeping and approval processes. The development of annual work plans linked to employees' Performance Development and Review plans and relevant Institute plans provides clarity to individuals on expected outcomes. The Institute and its employees will continue to increase productivity savings by reducing travel costs through participation in whole-of-Australian-Government travel arrangements, and improved management and reporting of unscheduled absences in 2012-13.

Statistics on staffing

As at 30 June 2013, there were 90 staff - 25 males and 65 females - employed at the Institute under the Public Service Act 1999.

Tables 4.1 and 4.2 present profiles of Institute staff by gender and type of employment for the past two financial years. As Table 4.1 indicates, the Institute has 49% of staff in ongoing positions and 51% of staff in non-ongoing positions. Table 4.3 describes staff by classification level, gender and type of employment as at 30 June 2013.

Table 4.1: Staffing overview: Actual ongoing and non-ongoing full-time and part-time staff, by gender, at 30 June 2013
  Ongoing Non-ongoing Total number
Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
Male 7 2 12 4 25
Female 25 10 16 14 65
Total number 32 12 28 18 90
% of all staff 36 13 31 20 100

Note: Excludes employees engaged to provide services to the Institute on an irregular/intermittent (casual) basis.

Table 4.2: Staffing overview: Actual ongoing and non-ongoing full-time and part-time staff, by gender, at 30 June 2012
  Ongoing Non-ongoing Total number
Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
Male 8 1 6 6 21
Female 30 6 8 13 57
Total number 38 7 14 19 78
% of all staff 49 9 18 24 100

Note: Excludes employees engaged to provide services to the Institute on an irregular/intermittent (casual) basis.

Table 4.3: Staffing overview: Actual ongoing and non-ongoing staff, by classification level and gender, at 30 June 2013
Classification AIFS Classification Ongoing Non-ongoing Total number % of all staff
Male Female Male Female
Senior Executive Service (SES) Band 1 SES Band 1 1 0 0 1 2 2
Executive Level (EL) 2 AIFS EL 2 3 10 2 1 16 18
Executive Level 1 AIFS EL 1 2 9 3 8 22 24
APS 6 AIFS Band 5-6 2 10 3 3 18 20
APS 5 AIFS Band 5-6 1 2 5 6 14 16
APS 4 AIFS Band 3-4 0 3 2 6 11 12
APS 3 AIFS Band 3-4 0 0 0 5 5 6
APS 2 AIFS Band 1-2 0 1 1 0 2 2
APS 1 AIFS Band 1-2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total number   9 35 16 30 90  
% of all staff   10 39 18 33 100 100

Note: Sixteen employees on higher duties were counted at the higher duties level. Excludes employees engaged to provide services to the Institute on an irregular/intermittent (casual) basis. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.

Individual and collective agreements

The Institute's Enterprise Agreement 2012 was negotiated between management and employee representatives in the first half of 2011-12 and was approved under the Fair Work Act 2009 for commencement on 1 March 2012. The agreement runs until 30 June 2014 and provides for:

  • three salary increases, totalling 7% across the 28-month term of the agreement;
  • increases to a range of allowances;
  • additional provisions for maternity and parental leave;
  • specific leave provisions for community service, Defence service, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural/ceremonial purposes; and
  • changes to the Performance Development and Review Program.

A small number of senior (EL 2) employees who previously held Australian Workplace Agreements are covered by determinations made under Section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 to supplement the conditions provided by the Institute's Enterprise Agreement. The Institute's SES employees are covered by comprehensive Section 24(1) determinations.

Details of the number of staff covered by an Enterprise Agreement or a Section 24(1) determination at 30 June 2012 are shown in Table 4.4. Non-salary benefits received by staff are shown in Table 4.5.

Table 4.4: Number of staff covered by different employment agreements, at 30 June 2013
Type of agreement No. of staff
Enterprise Agreement * 85
Section 24(1) determination 3

Note: * Three EL 2 employees covered by the Enterprise Agreement have been provided with Section 24(1) determinations to supplement the provisions of the Enterprise Agreement. Number of staff excludes two SES employees not covered by the Enterprise Agreement and 10 employees engaged to provide services to the Institute on an irregular/intermittent (casual) basis.

Table 4.5: Non-salary benefits by employment category and classification level
Type of agreement Non-salary benefits
Enterprise Agreement Access to Employee Assistance Program; study assistance; flexible remuneration packaging; purchased leave; paid maternity and parental leave; miscellaneous leave; home-based work; flextime; airline lounge membership, if travelling frequently; good health allowance; volunteer allowances
Non-SES staff: Section 24(1) determination Airline lounge membership; mobile phone; computer and remote access to network; incidental child care; financial and other support for professional and personal development; flexible remuneration packaging
SES staff: Section 24(1) determination Motor vehicle, fuel and parking; airline lounge membership; mobile phone; home office equipment and remote access to network; financial and other support for professional and personal development; flexible remuneration packaging

Salary ranges

Table 4.6: Staffing overview: Salary ranges by classification, at 30 June 2013
AIFS classification Salary range
SES Band 1 $157,013-182,475
AIFS EL 2 $107,371-125,876
AIFS EL 1 $91,592-101,148
AIFS Band 5-6 $66,588-82,071
AIFS Band 3-4 $53,215-64,397
AIFS Band 1-2 $41,285-51,811

Performance pay

Eligible EL 2 employees on Section 24(1) determinations may qualify for a performance bonus of up to 15% if they achieve a performance rating of fully effective or above. From 1 January 2011, eligibility for performance bonuses was removed for SES employees and the SES salary range increased. Table 4.7 outlines performance payment information for the 2012 performance cycle.

Table 4.7: Performance pay for 2012 performance cycle
Level Number Aggregated amount Average Minimum Maximum
EL 2 3 $20,140 $6,713 $5,035 $8,811

Assets management

The Institute maintains a detailed and effective assets register. Assets management is not a significant aspect of the strategic business of the Institute.

Purchasing

All purchasing is carried out in line with the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, as detailed in the Institute's Director's Instructions and Financial Rules, and in keeping with the core principles of ethical, efficient, effective and economical conduct. Templates covering all aspects of purchasing and approval have been developed and are used consistently.

All procurements in excess of $10,000 are recorded in AusTender, and contracts in excess of $100,000 are included in Senate Order 192 reporting.

Consultants

The Institute's core business to conduct research and communicate the findings often requires the use of consultant expertise. Consultants are generally engaged when particular specialist expertise is necessary, sufficiently skilled expertise is not immediately available inhouse, or independent advice is required.

The services provided by new and continuing consultants in the reporting period included provision of research reports, the review and audit of financial activities, and human resources and business process analyses.

Processes for the engagement of consultants are consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and are detailed in the Institute's Chief Executive's Instructions and Financial Rules. As with all procurement, the priority in the engagement of consultants is to obtain value for money. Competitive processes are used for the selection of consultants, and the Chief Executive's Instructions contain guidelines for the approval of expenditure.

Consistent with the policy of including trend data in annual reports, expenditure on consultancy contracts over the three most recent financial years are listed in Table 4.8.

Table 4.8: Expenditure on consultancy contracts over 2010-11 to 2012-13 (inc. GST)
Financial year Consultancy contract expenditure
2010-11 $221,307
2011-12 $234,292
2012-13 $325,517

During 2012-13, eleven new consultancy contracts were entered into (including those to the value of less than $10,000), involving total actual expenditure of $88,291 (inc. GST). In addition, twelve ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the year, involving total actual expenditure of $237,226 (inc. GST). Expenditure for the year totalled $325,517 (inc. GST).

The Annual Report contains information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies over $10,000 is available on the AusTender website: <www.tenders.gov.au>. Contracts above the value of $100,000 are detailed on the AIFS website: <www.aifs.gov.au/institute/aifs/aifs-contracts.html>.

Commissioning bodies

During the 2012-13 year, the following organisations commissioned projects from the Institute:

  • Attorney-General's Department
  • Australian Childhood Foundation
  • Australian Institute of Criminology
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • The Benevolent Society
  • CatholicCare Melbourne
  • Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
  • Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • Department of Human Services (Commonwealth)
  • Department of Immigration and Citizenship
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Family Relationship Services Australia
  • Interrelate Family Centres
  • Legal Services Board Grants Program, Victoria
  • Monash University
  • NSW Department of Family and Community Services
  • Royal Automobile Club of Victoria
  • Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales
  • Transport Accident Commission
  • Victorian Department of Human Services

Australian National Audit Office Access Clauses

The Institute's contract templates contain standard clauses to provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor's premises. All contracts let during the reporting period contained these standard clauses.

Exempt contracts

The Institute has not entered into any contracts or standing offers above the reporting threshold value of $10,000 that have been exempted from publication in AusTender.

5. Financial statements

Due to their size and format the Financial Statements are only available in PDF or Word format.

If you require an accessible version of the statements please contact us and we will endeavour to provide the content you need in a format you can use.

Appendix A: Other mandatory information

Work health and safety

The Institute is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, and meeting its responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. See Chapter 4: Management Accountability for the Institute's occupational health and safety policies, processes and performance.

Advertising and market research

The following table provides details of advertising and market research expenditure of $12,100 or greater (inclusive of GST), as required by Section 321A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

Table A1: Institute expenditure on advertising and market research of $12,100 or greater (inc. GST), 2012-13
Service Vendor Total payments for 2012-13
Direct mail organisation Mailcare Systems Pty Ltd $19,746.64

There were no payments made to advertising agencies, market research or polling organisations in relation to advertising. No advertising campaigns were undertaken.

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

Institute management and staff are committed to the principles of ecologically sustainable development. In accordance with government guidelines, AIFS participated in Earth Hour during the year, although it is worth noting that it is Institute practice to always turn off non-essential lighting and appliances.

The following list details the Institute's environmental impacts, and the initiatives staff have taken to minimise them:

  • In 2012-13, electricity consumption within our tenancy (causing emissions to the air and use of resources) increased by 8% compared to the previous period. This compares to a 2% increase in 2011-12 and a 9% decrease in 2010-11. The increase in 2012-13 is likely to be attributable to the 15% increase in staffing numbers during this period compared to the previous one. The Institute continued to reinforce the practice of shutting down computers at the end of the day, encouraging staff to switch off lights when not needed and continuing the removal of excess lighting.
  • The Institute uses 20% wind power, thus reducing emissions and resource use.
  • All office equipment conforms to environmental standards.
  • Adverse effects due to transport (causing emissions to the air and use of resources) are primarily due to domestic airline flights. Staff are encouraged to use webinar, video and teleconference facilities where possible. Many seminar presentations are made available electronically so that people do not have to travel to the Institute to hear them.
  • Paper consumption (use of natural resources) is minimised by using recycled paper and ensuring that the office printers default to using both sides of the paper. Paper use (number of printer/copier impressions) increased by 10% in 2012-13 compared to the previous period. This follows 15% decreases in the previous two periods. The increase is likely to be due to the increase in average employee numbers in 2012-13 compared to previous years.
  • Waste generation (resource waste and emissions to the air) is reduced by recycling paper, cardboard, glass, plastics and metals.
  • Water consumption (use of natural resources) has been minimised by using water-saving facilities.

Disability reporting

Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007-08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission's State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available from the commission's website <www.apsc.gov.au>. Since 2010-11, departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by a new National Disability Strategy that sets out a ten-year national policy framework for improving life for Australians with disability, their families and carers. A high-level report to track progress for people with disability at a national level will be produced by the Standing Council on Community, Housing and Disability Services to the Council of Australian Governments and will be available from FaHCSIA's website <www.fahcsia.gov.au>. The Social Inclusion Measurement and Reporting Strategy agreed by the Government in December 2009 will also include some reporting on disability matters in its regular How Australia is Faring report and, if appropriate, in strategic change indicators in agency annual reports. More detail on social inclusion matters can be found on the Social Inclusion website <www.socialinclusion.gov.au>.

Information Publication Scheme

Agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. Each agency must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements.

The Institute provides an Information Publication Plan on its IPS web page <www.aifs.gov.au/common/ips/>, which links to key published information about the Institute. The AIFS website also contains a disclosure log that clearly identifies and provides access to any documents to which we give access in response to FOI requests.

No requests were made of the Institute this year for information under the FOI Act.

Contact details

FOI Contact Officer
Australian Institute of Family Studies
Level 20, 485 La Trobe Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Contact the FOI Contact Officer
phone: 03 9214 7888, fax: 03 9214 7839

Appendix B: Agency resource statements and expenses by outcomes

Table B1: Agency resource statement 2012-13
    Actual available appropriation for 2012-13
$'000 (a)
Payments made 2012-13
$'000 (b)
Balance remaining 2012-13
$'000
(a) - (b)
Ordinary annual services 1        
Departmental appropriation 2   18,300,327 13,470,103 4,830,224
Total   18,300,327 13,470,103 4,830,224
Total ordinary annual services A 18,300,327 13,470,103  
Other services 3        
Total other services B - -  
Total available annual appropriations and payments   18,300,327 13,470,103  
Special appropriations        
Total special appropriations C   -  
Special accounts 4        
Total special account D     -
Total resourcing and payments A+B+C+D   18,300,327 13,470,103  
Less appropriations drawn from annual or special appropriations above and credited to special accounts and/or CAC Act bodies through annual appropriations   - -  
Total net resourcing and payments for AIFS   18,300,327 13,470,103  

1 Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2012-13. This may also include prior year departmental appropriation and S.31 relevant agency receipts.

2 Includes an amount of $0.122 m in 2012-13 for the Departmental Capital Budget. For accounting purposes this amount has been designated as "contributions by owners".

3 Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2012-13 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2012-13.

4 Does not include "Special Public Money" held in accounts like Other Trust Monies (OTM) accounts. Services for Other Government and Non-Agency Bodies (SOG) accounts, or Services for Other Entities and Trust Moneys Special (SOETM) accounts.

Table B2: Expenses and resources for Outcome 1, 2012-13
Outcome 1: Increased understanding of factors affecting how families function by conducting research and communicating findings to policy-makers, service providers, and the broader community Budget* 2012-13 $'000 (a) Actual Expenses 2012-13 $'000 (b) Variation 2012-13 $'000 (a) - (b)
Program 1.1: Australian Institute of Family Studies      
Departmental expenses      
Departmental appropriation 1 14,509 13,139 1,370
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 373 386 (13)
Total for Program 1.1 14,882 13,525 1,357
  2011-12 2012-13  
Average staffing level (number) 66 71 (5)

* Full year budget, including any subsequent adjustment made to the 2012-13 Budget.

1 Departmental Appropriation combines "Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Bill No. 1)" and "Revenue from independent sources (s31)".

Appendix C: Compliance index

The Annual Report is prepared in accordance with the Requirements for Annual Reports approved by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit. This index refers to mandatory and suggested reporting items.

Letter of transmittal

Table of contents

Index

Glossary

Contact officer(s)

Internet home page address and Internet address for report

Review by Director

Review by Director

Summary of significant issues and developments

Overview of agency's performance and financial results

Outlook for following year

Significant issues and developments - portfolio (This is reported by FaHCSIA)

Agency overview

Role and functions

Organisational structure

Outcome and program structure

Where outcome and program structures differ from PB Statements/PAES or other portfolio statements accompanying any other additional appropriation bills (other portfolio statements), details of variation and reasons for change (This does not apply to AIFS)

Portfolio structure (This is reported by FaHCSIA)

Report on performance

Review of performance during the year in relation to programs and contribution to outcomes

Actual performance in relation to deliverables and KPIs set out in PB Statements/PAES or other portfolio statements

Where performance targets differ from the PBS/ PAES, details of both former and new targets, and reasons for the change

Narrative discussion and analysis of performance

Trend information

Significant changes in nature of principal functions/services (AGRC)

Performance of purchaser/provider arrangements (AIFS does not deliver outcomes through purchaser provider arrangements)

Factors, events or trends influencing agency performance

Contribution of risk management in achieving objectives

Social inclusion outcomes

Performance against service charter customer service standards, complaints data, and the department's response to complaints (AIFS does not have a service charter)

Discussion and analysis of the agency's financial performance

Discussion of any significant changes from the prior year, from budget or anticipated to have a significant impact on future operations

Agency resource statement and summary resource tables by outcomes

Management and accountability

Corporate governance

Agency heads are required to certify that their agency complies with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines

Statement of the main corporate governance practices in place

Names of the senior executive and their responsibilities

Senior management committees and their roles

Corporate and operational planning and associated performance reporting and review

Approach adopted to identifying areas of significant financial or operational risk

Policy and practices on the establishment and maintenance of appropriate ethical standards

How nature and amount of remuneration for SES officers is determined

External scrutiny

Significant developments in external scrutiny

Judicial decisions and decisions of administrative tribunals

Reports by the Auditor-General, a Parliamentary Committee or the Commonwealth Ombudsman

Management of human resources

Assessment of effectiveness in managing and developing human resources to achieve departmental objectives

Workforce planning, staff turnover and retention

Impact and features of enterprise or collective agreements, individual flexibility arrangements (IFAs), determinations, common law contracts and AWAs

Training and development undertaken and its impact

Work health and safety performance

Productivity gains

Statistics on staffing

Enterprise or collective agreements, IFAs, determinations, common law contracts and AWAs

Performance pay

Assets management

Assessment of effectiveness of assets management

Purchasing

Assessment of purchasing against core policies and principles

Consultants

The annual report must include a summary statement detailing the number of new consultancy services contracts let during the year; the total actual expenditure on all new consultancy contracts let during the year (inclusive of GST); the number of ongoing consultancy contracts that were active in the reporting year; and the total actual expenditure in the reporting year on the ongoing consultancy contracts (inclusive of GST). The annual report must include a statement noting that information on contracts and consultancies is available through the AusTender website.

Australian National Audit Office Access Clauses

Absence of provisions in contracts allowing access by the Auditor-General

Exempt contracts

Contracts exempt from the AusTender

Financial statements

Financial statements

Other mandatory information

Work health and safety (Schedule 2, Part 4 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011)

Advertising and market research (Section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918) and statement on advertising campaigns

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance (Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999)

Compliance with the agency's obligations under the Carer Recognition Act 2010 (This Act does not apply to AIFS)

Grant programs (AIFS does not administer any grant programs)

Disability reporting - explicit and transparent reference to agency-level information available through other reporting mechanisms

Information Publication Scheme statement

Agency resource statements and expenses by outcomes

Spatial reporting - expenditure by program between regional and non-regional Australia (This does not apply to AIFS)

Correction of material errors in previous annual report (AIFS has nothing to report)

List of requirements

Appendix D: Acronyms and abbreviations
AASB Australian Accounting Standards Board
ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics
ACSPRI Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Incorporated
ACSSA Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault
ACT Australian Capital Territory
AFSA Australian Family & Society Abstracts
AFRC Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse
AGD Attorney-General's Department
AGRC Australian Gambling Research Centre
AIC Australian Institute of Criminology
AIFS Australian Institute of Family Studies
AIHW Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
AM Member of the Order of Australia
ANAO Australian National Audit Office
ANU Australian National University
AO Officer of the Order of Australia
APS Australian Public Service
ARACY Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth
ATP Australian Temperament Project
AuSSA Australian Survey of Social Attitudes
AWA Australian Workplace Agreement
BFLS Better Futures, Local Solutions initiative
CAFCA Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia
CASA Centre Against Sexual Assault House
CDDA Compensation for Detriment Caused by Defective Administration
CfC Communities for Children
CFCA Child Family Community Australia information exchange
CFDR Coordinated family dispute resolution
COAG Council of Australian Governments
CSS Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme
Cth Commonwealth
DCB Departmental Capital Budget
DCPFS Department of Child Protection and Family Services, Western Australia
DEEWR Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
DHS Australian Government Department of Human Services
DIAC Department of Immigration and Citizenship
EL Executive Level
FaHCSIA Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
FBT Fringe Benefits Tax
FMA Act Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997
FMO Finance Minister's Order
FOI Act Freedom of Information Act 1982
GST Goods and Services Tax
HILDA Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey
ICL Independent Children's Lawyers
IFA Individual flexibility arrangements
IPS Information Publication Scheme
KPI Key performance indicator
LSAC Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
LSIC Footprints in Time: The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children
LSSF Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families
MP Member of Parliament
MRE Marriage and Relationship Education Unit, CatholicCare Archdiocese Melbourne
NAPLAN National Assessment Plan - Literacy and Numeracy
NCPC National Child Protection Clearinghouse
NSW New South Wales
NT Northern Territory
NTER Northern Territory Emergency Response
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OOHC Out-of-home care
OPA Official Public Account
OTM Other Trust Monies
PAES Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements
PBS Portfolio Budget Statements
PM&C Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PSM Public Service Medal
PSPF Protective Security Policy Framework
PSS Public Sector Superannuation Scheme
PSSap Public Sector Superannuation Scheme Accumulation Plan
Qld Queensland
RACV Royal Automobile Club of Victoria
SA South Australia
SES Senior Executive Service
SFIA Stronger Families in Australia
SOETM Services for Other Entities and Trust Moneys Special accounts
SOG Services for Other Government and Non-Agency Bodies accounts
SPRC Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales
TAC Transport Accident Commission
Tas. Tasmania
UK United Kingdom
UNSW University of New South Wales
USA United States of America
Vic. Victoria
WA Western Australia

Publication details

Annual Report
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, October 2013
172 pp.

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