Annual report 2009-10

Annual report 2009-10

Annual Report – October 2010

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The year 2009-10 has been a significant one for the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), coinciding in February 2010 with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Institute. The year was highly productive, with several major projects having been completed, a new Research Plan being implemented and new projects having commenced. AIFS has responded to the emerging research and information needs of key stakeholders and the policy relevance of AIFS research has been further enhanced.

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1. Director's review

The year 2009-10 has been a significant one for the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), coinciding in February 2010 with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Institute. The year was highly productive, with several major projects having been completed, a new Research Plan being implemented and new projects having commenced. AIFS has responded to the emerging research and information needs of key stakeholders and the policy relevance of AIFS research has been further enhanced.

2009-12 Strategic and Research Plans

Following extensive formal consultation with a wide range of key stakeholders across Australia, Strategic and Research Plans for the period July 2009 to June 2012 were developed and came into effect on 1 July 2009. The goals of the Institute, as outlined in the Strategic Plan, are to conduct high-quality research, relevant to policy and practice, on a broad range of issues regarding families in Australia; to effectively communicate the results of research in order to foster greater understanding about factors that affect families; and to build on the Institute's organisational capability to achieve our research and communication objectives.

The Research Plan 2009-12, Sustaining Families in Challenging Times, has an overarching focus on the life course from early childhood to the senior years, and is organised into six major themes:

  • Economic wellbeing of families;
  • Families and work;
  • Social inclusion;
  • Violence, abuse and neglect;
  • Family transitions and family law; and
  • Children, young people and their families.

The Research Plan is intended to be a "living document". While it will guide our activities for the next two years, we are confident that the program is highly relective of and responsive to the current and emerging issues facing families, while also allowing for the flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges as they arise.

Research highlights

The Institute's research has continued to make a substantial contribution to the development of policy in a wide range of areas, including family law, child protection, prevention of sexual assault, place-based policies and programs aimed at addressing disadvantage, issues of balancing work and family, labour force participation and how to best provide services to families with complex and multiple challenges. AIFS has also continued its monitoring and identification of key trends affecting Australian families and the implications of these for both policy development and the provision of services.

Family law research

The completion of the evaluation of the 2006 reforms to Australia's family law system, commissioned by the Australian Government, represents one of the Institute's major achievements of the year. The evaluation was finalised in December 2009 and the report was released in January 2010. The evaluation is the most comprehensive examination of the family law and service system undertaken in Australia or, arguably, in any country. The report shines light on how families and children fare following parental separation and divorce. Specifically, the Institute evaluated the extent to which the intended objectives of the reforms have been met. Among other issues, it explored the effectiveness of family law system services and the impact of care arrangements on the wellbeing of children following parental separation and divorce. The results of the evaluation are being used to inform the ongoing development of policy and practice in the family law area.

AIFS is continuing its family law evaluation work via the evaluation of two pilot programs that aim to strengthen the delivery of services for separated parents. One pilot program is designed to build better partnerships and greater collaboration between Family Relationship Centres and legal assistance services. The other pilot program is for legally assisted and supported family dispute resolution in family violence cases. These evaluations are being undertaken for the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department (AGD). In partnership with the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, AIFS also undertook research for the AGD into the circumstances under which shared care works well.

AIFS also conducted other research during the year that was designed to improve understanding of the consequences of relationship breakdown for families and children. The AIFS research paper Divorce and the Wellbeing of Older Australians provides the first Australian estimates of the effect of divorce on the wellbeing of older Australians. The findings will assist in the development of policies and support strategies for divorced Australians later in life. The findings of the project on the Experiences of Parents and Children After Family Court Decisions About Relocation (being undertaken in partnership with the Australian National University) have also been published.

Longitudinal studies

Studies that follow the same group of people over time provide vital information for the development of policy and understanding of the impacts of social and economic policies on families and their children. AIFS houses the following longitudinal studies: Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), the Australian Temperament Project (ATP) and the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families.

LSAC is a flagship project for the Institute, which manages it in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The data from the third wave of the survey were released in August 2009, and the main phase of data collection for Wave 4 began in March 2010. A significant development during 2009-10 was the confirmation of funding for another four waves (to 2019). This will allow the two cohorts of children in the study to be followed until they are 14-15 and 18-19 years of age. The extension of the study will shed light on the longer term pathways that Australian children take and the factors that influence their outcomes from infancy to young adulthood. Data from LSAC are being widely used, with over 487 data users as of June 2010.

The ATP has been following a group of Victorian children since 1983. The participants are now 27-28 years old. The data from the ATP are being used to analyse a range of policy-relevant questions, including driving behaviour (the In the Driver's Seat II: Beyond the Early Driving Years report was published in April 2010), the economic value of positive family functioning (with Access Economics for FaHCSIA), the prevalence and impact of child abuse and maltreatment, and the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage.

AIFS was also heavily involved in the initial design of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, and continues to be involved in an advisory role. The AIFS research program makes extensive use of data from HILDA.

Families, paid employment and the economic wellbeing of families

Several projects have focused on neighbourhoods and economic disadvantage and child wellbeing. Street Stories: The Life around Here Community Study and Documentary (undertaken for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations [DEEWR]) aims to develop a picture of the lives of families living in three disadvantaged areas. The project explores how jobless families interact with their community, and the impact on their engagement with the labour market of where they live and their family responsibilities. This research is relevant to the design of policies and programs that can assist parents in jobless families to find and sustain paid employment. Analyses of employment transitions of lone and couple mothers in order to better understand the relatively low rates of employment of Australian lone mothers have also been undertaken. The Unemployment and the Wellbeing of Children project (undertaken for the Benevolent Society) is examining the impact of neighbourhood disadvantage on children using LSAC data. AIFS has also conducted work on the effect of recessions on families.

Other research in this area has examined how families with young children manage both their paid employment and caring responsibilities. Publications related to this include Parental time with Children: Do Job Characteristics Make a Difference? and An Exploration of the Timing and Nature of Parental Time With 4-5 Year Olds.

Violence, abuse and neglect

Consistent with the growing awareness of the unacceptably high rates of violence, abuse and neglect in Australian society and the negative impacts that this has, the Institute has devoted considerable efforts to research on these issues. The evaluation of the 2006 changes to the family law system identified that the family law system needs to improve the ways in which it assists separating families in which there is violence. The National Child Protection Clearinghouse (NCPC) has continued to publish research and resources on a wide range of topics related to child abuse and neglect (for example, Parental Intellectual Disability and Child Protection and Prevalence of Child Abuse and Neglect). The Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA) has covered a variety of issues, from the prevention of sexual assault to responding to sexual assault. A report is being finalised from a major research project undertaken by AIFS for FaHCSIA, titled Insights into Sexual Assault Perpetration: Giving Voice to Victim/Survivors' Knowledge.

AIFS has been engaged to provide design advice and data analysis for Pathways of Care, a new longitudinal study of children and young people in out-of-home care, being conducted by the NSW Department of Community Services. The study will provide groundbreaking information on this group of vulnerable children who have been affected by abuse and neglect.

Past adoption practices

Despite the considerable number of women, children and families affected by past policies and practices in relation to the adoption of babies of unwed mothers, a systematic review of any research that may have been conducted in Australia on this issue had not been conducted. In order to address this knowledge gap, FaHCSIA commissioned the Institute to identify and review the existing research literature on past adoption practices in Australia. The report was released in 2010. AIFS will be undertaking research for the Community and Disability Services Ministers' Advisory Council into the impact of past adoption practices on the mothers, their children and their adoptive families, and their current service needs.

Disseminating evidence and informing practice

Clearinghouses

AIFS is responsible for managing four clearinghouses: the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, the Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse (AFRC), Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia (CAFCA) and the National Child Protection Clearinghouse. From the beginning of the financial year, AIFS is now also a partner in the operation of a fifth clearinghouse - the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse - hosted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). This newest clearinghouse is an initiative of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), jointly funded by all Australian Governments.

The AIFS clearinghouses identify, collect, evaluate, synthesise and disseminate the latest relevant research and best practice to service providers, practitioners and policy-makers. The resources provided by the clearinghouses are also widely used by academic researchers, students, the media and the broader community. The clearinghouses are central to the Institute's knowledge-sharing goals.

Conferences

The Institute's conferences are an important forum for promoting the latest research on factors affecting family wellbeing. They also facilitate the sharing and communicating of knowledge among policy-makers, service providers and practitioners, researchers and community sector organisations. With the 11th AIFS Conference scheduled for July 2010, a considerable effort has gone into its planning and organisation during the year.

In December 2009, the Institute hosted the 2nd LSAC Research Conference in Melbourne. The two-day conference attracted participants from across Australia, as well as from New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Papers were presented by leading researchers who explored a diverse range of topics related to child development, health and family wellbeing.

AIFS Seminar Series

A key avenue for the Institute to promote and facilitate the sharing of information is through the AIFS Seminar Series. The seminars continue to attract eminent speakers to the Institute to discuss their research findings with our own researchers and invited guests. Speakers included Ms Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination; Dr Adam M. Tomison, Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology; Professor Frank Furstenberg, from the University of Pennsylvania; and Ms Clare Martin, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services.

Advisory Council

The AIFS Advisory Council provides high-level specialist advice to the Director to help guide the research activities of the Institute. During 2009-10, the terms of members of the Council were renewed to align with the three-year duration of the Strategic and Research Plans. Reverend the Hon. Professor Brian Howe was appointed as the Chair of the Advisory Council, effective from 1 July 2009. Professor Muriel Bamblett AM also joined the Council.

Summary

As well as enhancing our research program through continuing work on existing research projects and clearinghouses, and initiating new studies, a key focus for the year has been extending and strengthening relationships with a range of government departments. The Institute has continued to work closely with the Australian Government, State and Territory Government agencies, community organisations and other research institutes, on a wide range of collaborative projects.

In 2009-10, the Institute entered into new memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with DEEWR and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC). Our existing MoUs with FaHCSIA and with the AIHW have been renewed for 3 and 5 years respectively. The Institute has also strengthened international links by working with international agencies, such as the New Zealand Families Commission and the OECD. These relationships, both at home and abroad, better position us to broaden the scope and reach of our research, while maintaining its quality, responsiveness and relevance.

Emphasis has also been placed on extending and further strengthening our partnerships and networks with the government, academic and service provider sectors. Local, national and international collaborations enable the Institute to extend its research capacity and facilitate knowledge transfer to those with prime responsibility for the development of policies and services for Australian families. Emphasis has also been given to the dissemination of research findings to the broader community, particularly through our clearinghouses, to foster greater understanding of factors that affect Australian families.

The Institute has continued to operate within its budget and has met or exceeded its key performance and trend indicators. It has made a substantial contribution over the last three decades to identifying and understanding changes in families and how they interact with the market and social institutions, and will continue to play this role during the life of the current Research Plan.

Professor Alan Hayes
Director

2. Agency overview

Overview description of agency

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS)* is a Melbourne-based statutory agency of the Australian Government established in February 1980 under the Australian Family Law Act 1975. The Institute operates within the portfolio of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and has close links with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), Attorney-General's Department (AGD) and other Australian Government portfolios, their departments and agencies. Staff of the Institute are employed under the Public Service Act 1999. At 30 June 2010, staff numbered 71 people, excluding the Director.

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 and the broader community.

The Institute's strategic and research plans 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, clearinghouses, information services, presentations, representation and the media.

The Strategic Plan 2009-12 came into effect on 1 July 2009. The plan outlines the roles and functions of the Institute for this annual reporting period. The key strategic objectives are to:

  • conduct high-quality research, relevant to policy and practice, on a broad range of issues regarding families in Australia;
  • expand, through collaborative partnerships, understanding of factors affecting families;
  • increase the effectiveness of our communications to foster greater understanding about factors that affect families; and
  • build our organisational capability to achieve research and communication objectives.

Organisational structure

The Director is responsible for providing the overall leadership of the Institute. He is supported by two Deputy Directors - Deputy Director (Research) and Deputy Director (Corporate & Strategy) - who work together to lead a team of General Managers (GMs) responsible for the management of the day-to-day work of the Institute in meeting its strategic objectives.

General Managers (Research) oversee teams of research staff who work on a range of internally initiated and contracted projects, including clearinghouses and three longitudinal studies. Research staff members are supported by the Corporate and Strategy area, which provides library, website, publishing, finance, information technology, external relations, human resources and other administrative services.

Outcome and program structure

In this reporting period, the Institute operated within the Australian Government's outcome and planned performance framework published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2009-10 (PBS; see Table 2.1). 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 are directed to achieving the outcome. Key performance indicators, detailed in Chapter 3, measure output deliverables.

The Institute's research and communications performance is detailed and discussed in Chapter 3, its management accountability performance in Chapter 4, and its financial performance in Chapter 5 (PDF 1.4 MB).

Table 2.1 Total resources for Outcome 1
Outcome 1 Actual 2009-10
$'000
Budget 2009-10
$'000
Program 1.1: Australian Institute of Family Studies
Departmental expenses    
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Bill No. 1) 3,850 3,850
Revenues from independent sources (section 31) 6,295 6,425
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 23 24
Total for Program 1.1 10,168 10,299
Outcome 1 totals by appropriation type
Departmental expenses    
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Bill No. 1) 3,850 3,850
Revenues from independent sources (section 31) 6,295 6,425
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 23 24
Total expenses for Outcome 1 10,168 10,299

* For an explanation of acronyms and abbreviations used in this report, see Appendix C: Acronyms & abbreviations.

3. Report on performance

Review of program performance and contribution to outcomes

The Institute's research program is structured around six themes:

  • Economic wellbeing of families;
  • Families and work;
  • Social inclusion;
  • Violence, abuse and neglect;
  • Family transitions and family law; and
  • Children, young people and their families.

The majority of the Institute's research projects relate to more than one research theme. A summary of the Institute's research projects and how they relate to these themes is provided in Table 3.2.

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 effectively and efficiently communicated to all stakeholders.

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

Research projects conducted by the Institute vary significantly in both 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 child social and emotional development;
  • specialist advisory services performed under contract for government agencies; and
  • clearinghouses that identify, collect, evaluate and synthesise research resources about a specialist field and disseminate that information to policy and practice professionals.

A detailed description of the Institute's research projects begins on p. 17.

Performance in relation to deliverables

AIFS delivers research-based information and services through:

  • publications produced by both the Institute and other organisations;
  • submissions made to parliamentary and other inquiries and reviews, and advisory services to Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments;
  • communications services, including management of national clearinghouses, distribution of electronic newsletters, management of websites, and library helpdesk services;
  • major national conferences (AIFS and LSAC) and a Seminar Series and presentations at conferences, workshops and forums; and
  • representation on editorial and advisory boards and reviewing for external journals and consultation activities.

Communication of research findings is targeted 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 general and research communities, to raise understanding and knowledge of family functioning.

A detailed description of the Institute's communication activities begins on p. 56.

Performance in relation to key performance indicators

From 2009-10, the Institute's research and communications performance is measured against eight performance indicators, six of which have been extrapolated as trend indicators (see Table 3.1). Combined, the performance indicators quantify the quality, relevance and responsiveness of the Institute's research and the effectiveness and reach of its communications.

Research
  • Number of active funding agreements.
  • Number of different commissioning agencies.
  • Number of submissions to parliamentary and government inquiries that cite AIFS-authored research.
Communication
  • Number of Institute publications distributed in print and downloaded electronically.
  • Number of media mentions online, in print and on television and radio.
  • Number of representation positions held on external advisory boards, editorial boards and professional bodies. This indicator was added after the tabling of the Portfolio Budget Statements 2009-10 as a good measure of the Institute's ability to exchange its knowledge among a broad policy, research and practitioner stakeholder base.
Organisational capability
  • Qualifications and experience of Institute staff.
  • Results of Institute employee surveys.

Performance against the two organisational capability indicators is outlined in Chapter 4: Management Accountability (p. 68).

Table 3.1 Key performance and trend indicators, 2007-08 to 2012-13
  2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Funding agreements 32 34 39 41 42 42
Commissioning agencies 17 19 18 19 20 20
Inquiry submissions citing Institute research 14 10 19 19 20 20
Publications distributed and downloaded 1,511,162 1,644,850 1,739,391 1,700,000 1,750,000 1,800,000
Media mentions 1,980 2,192 2,197 2,600 2,300 2,800
Representation on external bodies a N/A 57 69 70 72 74

Note: a This indicator was added after the tabling of the Portfolio Budget Statements 2009-10.

Performance in relation to trend information and external factors affecting performance

The Institute's trend information derives from six key performance indicators. Trend forecasts take into account the Institute's risk analysis and its examination of external factors that may influence its future performance.

The first and second indicators - the number of funding agreements and the number of different commissioning agencies - indicate the responsiveness of the Institute's research to the requirements of the policy community, including the salience of its research expertise, the time frames in which it delivers research outputs, and the rigour of its research methodology. The number of different commissioning agencies is dependent on the alignment of portfolio policy objectives to the Institute's funded research outcomes. The number of funding agreements is dependent, to a significant extent, on whether agencies choose to rely on their own inhouse research or seek expertise externally, and the ongoing financial capacity of other agencies to commission research from the Institute.

The third indicator - the number of submissions to parliamentary and government inquiries that cite AIFS-authored research - indicates the credibility and relevance of Institute research to matters of public policy and parliamentary scrutiny. Trend predictions will vary considerably in line with the number of government inquiries undertaken in areas of relevance to the Institute's expertise.

The fourth indicator - the number of the Institute's publications that are distributed and downloaded - remains a reliable indicator of the relevance and quality of the Institute's research and the effectiveness of its communications activities. A reduction in the number of publications that are produced and distributed in print format is planned to diminish in forward years, although total distribution of publications is anticipated to increase with a rise in the number of publications downloaded from the Institute's websites.

The fifth indicator - the number of mentions of Institute research in the media - indicates the relevance and timeliness of the Institute's activities and the effectiveness of its communications. It is expected that the total number of media mentions will continue to rise overall, particularly in online media. While the Institute had previously measured audience reach by media channel, the unavailability of data for online audience reach, combined with the ongoing shift of audiences from traditional media (print, radio and television) to online media, means that this indicator is becoming increasingly unreliable. Audience reach is therefore no longer being offered as performance or trend data.

The sixth indicator - the number of positions that Institute research staff hold on professional bodies, editorial and advisory boards - indicates the depth of the Institute's intellectual capital and its relevance to a broad range of professional bodies. A gradual rise in representation has been forecast to reflect growing influence among invested stakeholders. A significant rise is not sought because more time spent on representative bodies is necessarily offset by less time spent conducting research.

Social justice and equity impacts

Much of the research conducted by the Institute provides an evidence base that may be used to advance social justice and equity in Australia. For example, in this reporting period, the Institute conducted research on social inclusion/exclusion, care of Indigenous children, work-family balance, the driving behaviours of young people, caring for people with a disability, child care, and sexual assault. The Institute's research outputs on these and other topics are used to inform the development of social policy and the delivery of social services.

Report on performance - Research activities


Table 3.2 Summary of Institute research projects, 2009-10
Project Economic wellbeing of families Families and work Social inclusion Violence, abuse and neglect Family transitions and family law Children, young people & their families
Research projects
Australian Temperament Project (ATP)     X X X XX
Child Support and Labour Market Participation XX XX     X  
Driving Behaviour Study           XX
Economic Value of Positive Family Functioning XX         XX
Family Attitudes and Values X XX X X XX XX
Family Law: Evaluation of the Family Relationships Centres' Legal Assistance Partnerships Program         XX XX
Family Law: Experiences of Parents and Children After Family Court Decisions About Relocation       X XX XX
Family Law: Parental Separation Issues       X XX XX
Family Law Reform Evaluation (and associated longitudinal research) X   X XX XX XX
Family Law: Understanding Contact Disputes   X     XX XX
Family Trends and Transitions X X X   XX XX
Giving Voice to Victim/Survivors' Knowledge of Sexual Offending     X XX    
Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) X X X   X XX
Keep Them Safe       XX   X
Labour Market and Financial Consequences of Divorce for Families XX XX X   XX X
Labour Market Issues for Families XX XX X   X X
Negotiating the Life Course X XX X   XX  
Neighbourhoods, Economic Disadvantage and Child Wellbeing XX   X     X
New Investigators Network     X     XX
Northern Territory Inquiry into Child Protection     X XX   X
Past Adoption Practices: Summary of Key Issues from Australian Research     X   X X
Rural and Regional Families: The Impact of Drought and Economic and Social Change XX X X      
Rural and Remote Carers in Australia X XX X   X  
Sexual Assault Workforce Development Project       XX    
Street Stories: The Life around Here Community Study and Documentary XX XX XX X   X
Time Use in Families   XX X   X XX
Working with Vulnerable Children and Their Families       XX   X
Clearinghouses
Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA)     X XX    
Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse (AFRC) X X X X XX XX
Closing the Gap Clearinghouse X X XX X X X
Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia (CAFCA)     X X   XX
National Child Protection Clearinghouse (NCPC)     X XX   X

Details of research activities

Australian Temperament Project

Project duration 1983- (ongoing)
Funding source(s) Appropriation; ARC Discovery Grant (University of Melbourne)
Partner organisation(s) University of Melbourne; Deakin University; Royal Children's Hospital
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Social inclusion X
Violence, abuse and neglect X
Family transitions and family law X
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Driving Behaviour Study; Economic Value of Positive Family Functioning

The Australian Temperament Project (ATP) is a longitudinal study following young people's psychosocial development from infancy into adulthood. It investigates the contribution of personal, family, peer and broader environmental factors to adjustment and wellbeing. The Institute has managed and taken the lead in the study since 2000, in conjunction with researchers from the University of Melbourne, Deakin University and the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.

The study began in 1983 with the recruitment of 2,443 Victorian infants and their families. Fourteen waves of data collection have been completed across the first 24 years of life. Aspects assessed range from attributes and assets - such as temperament style, social skills, family and peer relationships, and school adjustment - to problems and difficulties - such as antisocial behaviour, substance abuse, anxiety and depression. The focus has widened in recent years to encompass employment and career development, relationship formation and dissolution, marriage and parenthood aspirations, and social and civic participation.

The 15th data collection wave (at 27-28 years) is scheduled to commence in July 2010. This is partially funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant.

During the reporting period, ATP data were used to analyse and report on the prevalence and long-term outcomes of child abuse and neglect. In addition, a project was undertaken with the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) that examined intergenerational mobility and its effects on vulnerable children, and another project was undertaken with Access Economics to investigate the effects of positive parenting on young people's outcomes.

The ATP continued to attract considerable media attention during the year, with the study receiving extensive media coverage. The number of pages downloaded from the ATP website increased from the previous financial year.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Preparation for Wave 15 data collection Questionnaires finalised and ethics approval gained Provide comprehensive and relevant information about the development and wellbeing of adults in their late 20s that can inform policy development
Preparation and dissemination of journal articles, book chapters and conference presentations 1 book chapter
2 presentations
2 newsletters
1 resource sheet
4 journal articles submitted
Findings cited in national and international publications; media interest; requests for advice from other national and international researchers; invitations to present at conferences
Provide and maintain the ATP website Website updated Publications and study information made available to researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and study members
Publications

Price-Robertson, R., Bromfield, L., & Vassallo, S. (2010). The prevalence of child abuse and neglect (NCPC Resource Sheet No. 21). Melbourne: National Child Protection Clearinghouse.

Smart, D. (2009). Year 2009 newsletter to all ATP members. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Smart, D. (2009). Year 2009 newsletter to all ATP parents. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Smart, D., Hayes, A., Sanson, A., & Toumbourou, J. W. (2009). Mental health and well-being of Australian adolescents. In D. Bennett, S. Towns, E. Elliott & J. Merrick (Eds.), Challenges in adolescent health: An Australian perspective (pp. 49-60). New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Presentations

Katz, I., Redmond, G., & Smart, D. (2009, 4 December). Inter-generational mobility in Australia: How do vulnerable kids fare? 2nd LSAC Research Conference, Melbourne.

Price-Robertson, R., Smart, D., Bromfield, L., & Vassallo, S. (2009, 18 November). Comparing impacts of positive parent-child relationships and maltreatment on psychosocial outcomes: Findings from a representative sample of Victorian young people. Asia Pacific Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect Conference, Perth.

Child Support and Labour Market Participation

Project duration 2007-09
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families XX
Families and work XX
Family transitions and family law X
 Related project(s) Family Trends and Transitions; Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children; Labour Market and Financial Consequences of Divorce for Families; Labour Market Issues for Families; Family Law: Parental Separation Issues

Despite the growth in the number of separated families over the last three decades, little Australian evidence exists in relation to the impact of child support payments on the labour supply decisions of resident mothers or how these interact with the financial incentives generated by the income support and taxation systems. This project studied the impact of child support payments on resident mothers' decisions about participating in the labour market.

The project has been completed, and a final report titled The Impact of Child Support Payments on the Labour Supply Decisions of Resident Mothers was delivered to FaHCSIA in February 2010. This research was also presented at the 2nd LSAC Research Conference in November 2009 and will be published as an AIFS Research Report in 2010-11.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Final report Conference presentation The first Australian study into the effect of child support payments on labour supply

Driving Behaviour Study

Project duration June 2002 - April 2010
Funding source(s) Transport Accident Commission (TAC); Royal Automobile Club Victoria (RACV); Appropriation
Partner organisation(s) TAC; RACV
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Australian Temperament Project

The Driving Behaviour Study used data from the Australian Temperament Project 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 project began in 2002 with the collection of data on young adults' (19-20 years) learner driving experiences, current driving patterns and risky driving behaviours. This data was used in conjunction with data from the ATP longitudinal dataset to investigate the personal, family and wider environmental factors associated with differing types of driving behaviours. In 2006, similar data was collected on the driver history and experiences of the 23-24 year old ATP study members as part of Wave 14.

The second wave of road safety data was analysed in 2009. Analyses focused on: (a) driving behaviour trends at 23-24 years of age; (b) connections between differing types of driving behaviours at 23-24 years, such as speeding, drink driving, crash involvement and risky driving; (c) across-time stability and change in risky driving from 19-20 to 23-24 years; (d) links between substance use and driving; and (e) family, personal and lifestyle influences on young people's driving behaviour.

A report outlining the findings of these analyses was released in April 2010. Further dissemination of the study findings is planned for 2010-11.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Preparation of report Research Report published Findings will provide new Australian evidence to inform policy development
Publications

Vassallo, S., Smart, D., Cockfield, S., Gunatillake, T., Harris, A., & Harrison, W. (2010). In the driver's seat II: Beyond the early driving years (Research Report No. 17). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Presentations

Smart, D., Vassallo, S., Cockfield, S., Gunatillake, T., Harris, A., & Harrison, W. (2010, 15 April). In the driver's seat II: Beyond the early driving years. RACV Club, Melbourne.

Economic Value of Positive Family Functioning

Project duration January 2010 - August 2010
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Partner organisation(s) Access Economics
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families XX
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Australian Temperament Project; Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

To date, few studies have investigated the social and economic costs associated with certain aspects of family functioning, the costs of child poverty and the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage. To establish the public value of positive family functioning and the economic returns to government on supporting families, Access Economics, in partnership with the Institute, will:

  • quantify the economic value of family functioning and the returns to government on its investment in supporting family functioning; and
  • assess up to the three family interventions in terms of their cost-effectiveness/costs benefits in supporting family functioning.
Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Report Report being prepared Provides evidence of the cost-effectiveness of interventions designed to support family functioning

Family Attitudes and Values

Project duration July 2009 - June 2011
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families X
Families and work XX
Social inclusion X
Violence, abuse and neglect X
Family transitions and family law XX
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Family Trends and Transitions

The aim of this study is 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 repartnering. Monitoring and understanding of broad trends in family transitions is important for proactive policy development and 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 will involve a survey of values and attitudes.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Establish an item bank Database established Item bank to be used in next stage of survey design

Family Law: Evaluation of the Family Relationships Centres' Legal Assistance Partnerships Program

Project duration May-December 2010
Funding source(s) AGD
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Family transitions and family law XX
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Family Law: Experiences of Parents and Children After Family Court Decisions About Relocation; Family Law Reform Evaluation

The aim of this project is to evaluate an initiative of the Attorney-General that is aimed at helping separated or separating families by providing access to early and targeted legal information and advice when attending Family Relationship Centres (FRCs). Sixty-four FRCs have entered into arrangements with a range of community-based legal centres that will provide a range of specified legal services to FRC clients. The evaluation design consists of five studies:

  • Study 1 - Implementation phases (based on interviews and online survey with managers of FRCs and legal assistance services who are involved in the project);
  • Study 2 - FRC Staff Survey (online survey);
  • Study 3 - Legal Services Staff Survey (online survey);
  • Study 4 - In-depth study of the experiences of staff in FRCs and legal services (based on interviews); and
  • Study 5 - In-depth study of the experiences of clients (based on interviews).

The implementation phase is currently underway. The final report will be completed in 2010-11.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Methodology report Methodology report prepared Inform policy about the extent to which accessing legal information and advice via FRCs enhances outcomes for separating families

Family Law: Experiences of Parents and Children After Family Court Decisions About Relocation

Project duration July 2006 - December 2009
Funding source(s) Appropriation; ARC Grant (Australian National University [ANU])
Partner organisation(s) Australian National University
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Violence, abuse and neglect X
Family transitions and family law XX
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Family Law: Evaluation of the Family Relationships Centres' Legal Assistance Partnerships Program; Family Law Reform Evaluation; Family Law: Understanding Contact Disputes

The aim of this project was to explore the impact of court decisions involving relocation disputes on families. In addition to a literature review, it had three main elements:

  • a series of one-to-one interviews with 38 mothers and fathers who had litigated disputes over relocation in the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court between 2002 and June 2005;
  • an analysis of all Family Court relocation judgements handed down between 2002 and 2004 - access to the judgements was negotiated through the court and they provide benchmark data that will assist in developing understanding of relocation decision-making generally and the impact of the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 (Cth) in this area; and
  • a demographic analysis of relocation in Australia.

The Chief Investigators for this project were Associate Professor Juliet Behrens and Associate Professor Bruce Smyth of the ANU. Dr Rae Kaspiew, AIFS, was a Partner Investigator. The project was completed during 2009-10.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Articles published in refereed journals Three articles published in refereed journals Increases awareness of the impact of court decisions involving relocation disputes on families
Presentations One international and several Australian conference presentations
Publications

Behrens, J., Smyth, B., & Kaspiew, R. (2009). Australian family law court decisions on relocation: Dynamics in parents' relationships over time. Australian Journal of Family Law, 23(3), 222-246.

Behrens, J., Smyth, B., & Kaspiew, R. (2010). Outcomes in relocation cases: Some new data. Australian Journal of Family Law, 24(1), 97-103.

Horsfall, B., & Kaspiew, R. (2010). Relocation in separated and not-separated families: Equivocal evidence from the social science literature. Australian Journal of Family Law, 24(1), 34-56.

Presentations

Behrens, J., Smyth, B., & Kaspiew, R. (2009, 4 September). Parents' experiences after family court decisions about relocation: Some key themes. Queensland Family Law Practitioners Association, Family Law Residential, Gold Coast.

Behrens, J., Smyth, B., & Kaspiew, R. (2009, 13 October). Court decisions about relocation: An empirical study focusing on parents' experiences. ACT Family Pathways Network.

Behrens, J., Smyth, B., & Kaspiew, R. (2009, 13 November). Australian family law court decisions about relocation: Parents' experiences and some implications for policy. Family Law Council.

Behrens, J., Smyth, B., & Kaspiew, R. (2010, 30 June-2 July). Australian court decisions about relocation: An empirical study including parents' views and experiences. Conference on International Child Abduction, Relocation and Forced Marriage, Centre for Family Law and Practice, London Metropolitan University.

Family Law: Parental Separation Issues

Project duration Ongoing
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Violence, abuse and neglect X
Family transitions and family law XX
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Family Law Reform Evaluation

Monitoring and contributing to the debate on family law issues is a core activity for the Institute. Family law research has broadened to include not only marriage and divorce but also parental responsibilities to children, regardless of whether the parents have ever lived together or married.

Aside from major research projects undertaken in the family law field, Institute staff have a substantial presence on editorial and advisory boards for a number of national forums, committees and councils. Knowledge transfer and exchange in the family law field is also facilitated by Institute researchers making presentations at conferences, seminars and forums related to furthering understanding of the effect on families of parental separation.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Research to support contracted projects Presentations at conferences Representation on family law-related advisory boards and committees

1 presentation
8 representations

AIFS' knowledge and expertise about family law is effectively transferred and exchanged with policy-makers and practitioners operating within the family law sector.
Presentations

Kaspiew, R., Higgins, D., & Bromfield, L. (2009, 29 November). Watch this space: Policy developments in inter-jurisdictional responses to family violence and child abuse. Family Court of Australia's Registrars' Conference, Melbourne.

Family Law Reform Evaluation (and associated longitudinal research)

Project duration April 2007 - December 2009 (Family Pathways to June 2010)
Funding source(s) AGD; FaHCSIA
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families X
Social inclusion X
Violence, abuse and neglect XX
Family transitions and family law XX
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Family Law: Evaluation of the Family Relationships Centres' Legal Assistance Partnerships Program; Family Law: Experiences of Parents and Children After Family Court Decisions About Relocation; Family Law: Understanding Contact Disputes

In response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs Every Picture Tells a Story report (2003), the Australian Government undertook a major reform of the family law system. The new system, which came into effect on 1 July 2006, was intended to: (a) help prevent separation and build strong, healthy family relationships; (b) encourage greater involvement by both parents in their children's lives after separation, and also protect children from violence and abuse; (c) in the case of separation, provide information, advice and dispute resolution services to help parents agree on what is best for their children, rather than contesting parenting proposals in the courtroom; and (d) provide a new entry point that is a doorway to other services that families need, and facilitate access to those services.

The AGD and FaHCSIA had joint responsibility for the implementation and evaluation of the family law reforms. These departments commissioned the Institute to develop an evaluation framework and a broad methodology for the evaluation, collect baseline data against which the collection of future data can be compared, and undertake key components of the evaluation.

Evaluation of the reforms

A document outlining the framework for the evaluation and a draft outline of the broad methodology was prepared in 2006 and early 2007. The research program for the evaluation of the family law reforms comprised three separate projects (each including a number of separate studies) that were designed to measure the impact of the changes in both broad and specific ways. The three projects focused on:

  • the implementation of the legislation and the changes to the court system;
  • the service provision system; and
  • families.

The projects tracked the impact of key themes in the package - the sharing of parenting responsibilities, child safety and child focus - on the practices and attitudes of parents, service system providers and legal system players.

A mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods using multiple data sources was applied across the evaluation. More Information about the evaluation.

Some aspects of the research program were built on baseline research that was conducted by the Institute in order to allow pre- and post-reform package comparisons to be drawn. Others are being conducted on a longitudinal basis, allowing the impact of the reforms to be assessed as they unfold.

A final evaluation report was released on 28 January 2010.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Interim reports
Presentations to stakeholders
Final report
Presentations and interim reports provided to stakeholders
Final evaluation report provided to stakeholders 15 December 2009
Collection and analysis of data that ensure the reforms are properly evaluated
Inform government, policy-makers, other stakeholders and the community about the impact of the family law reforms
Release of final report stimulated media debate
Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families

Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families explores questions about separation and caring for children when a relationship ends. In Wave 1, which was conducted between August and October 2008, information was collected from some 10,000 parents who separated after the introduction of the reforms in July 2006. Of these parents, 7,031 were re-interviewed in September-December 2009. This information provides a picture of what life is like for separated parents across a broad range of family arrangements, from shared care time through to one parent never seeing their child. The study is thereby helping to improve understanding of the early and longer term effects of family law policy. Findings from Wave 1 of this study contributed strongly to the Institute's evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms.

A subsequent Research Report (to be submitted to the AGD in 2010-11) will outline findings from both Waves 1 and 2. It will highlight, among other issues, the extent to which parenting arrangements, relationships between parents, and parents' views of their child's wellbeing have changed; family law system pathways adopted in finalising or changing arrangements after Wave 1; and factors linked with any changes in arrangements, relationships and apparent wellbeing.

Family Pathways: The Adolescent Study

Family Pathways: The Adolescent Study focuses on the experiences and opinions of young people whose parents separated after the introduction of the reforms in July 2006. The study complements the longitudinal study by recruiting children of the parents who participated in the first wave of the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families.

Interviews with young people aged 12-18 years were conducted between October and November 2009 and sought to capture young people's views about the changes in their families.

Publications

Kaspiew, R., Gray, M., Weston, R., Moloney, L., Hand, K., Qu, L., & the Family Law Evaluation Team. (2009). Evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Kaspiew, R., Gray, M., Weston, R., Moloney, L., Hand, K., Qu, L., & the Family Law Evaluation Team. (2010). The Australian Institute of Family Studies' evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms: Key findings. Australian Journal of Family Law, 24(1), 5-33.

Presentations

Gray, M., Kaspiew R., & Moloney, L. (2010, 11 February). Evaluation of the family law reforms: Overview of key findings. Family Law Council, Melbourne.

Hand, K. (2010, 19 April). Evaluation of the family law reforms: An overview. Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.

Hayes, A. (2010, 25 February). Evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms: An overview. Family Law System Reference Group Meeting, Canberra.

Hayes, A., Gray, M., & Kaspiew, R. (2010, 11 March). Evaluation of the family law reforms: Overview of key findings. House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Canberra.

Hayes, A., & Moloney, L. (2010, 24 March). Evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms: Lessons for future service delivery. Family Relationship Services Australia Senior Executives Forum.

Kaspiew, R. (2010, 24 February). Evaluation of the family law reforms: Overview of key findings. Family Law Research Workshop, University of Melbourne Law School.

Kaspiew, R. (2010, 25 February). Evaluation of the family law reforms: Overview of key findings. Victorian Government Statewide Steering Committee on Family Violence, Melbourne.

Kaspiew, R. (2010, 6 May). Evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms: Key findings on family violence. Responding to Family Violence: National Perspectives, Local Initiatives, Canberra.

Kaspiew, R. (2010, 11 June). Evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms: Overview of key findings. Lexis-Nexis 7th Annual Family Law Summit, Brisbane.

Moloney, L. (2010, 4 March). "Mandatory" family dispute resolution: What is it? Does it "work"? What do clients and professionals think about it? What of the future? Family Law Conference, Melbourne.

Moloney, L. (2010, 12 April). Evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms. Victorian Family Law Pathways Network, Melbourne.

Moloney, L. (2010, 10 June). Evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms. Family Pathways Networks Forum, Sydney.

Weston, R. (2010, 23 June). AIFS family law evaluation and parents: Child Support liability, compliance and perceived fairness. Child Support Network Stakeholders Engagement Group, Canberra.

Family Law: Understanding Contact Disputes

Project duration May 2004 - September 2010
Funding source(s) AGD; appropriation
Partner organisation(s) Sydney Law School, University of Sydney
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Families and work X
Family transitions and family law XX
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Family Law: Experiences of Parents and Children After Family Court Decisions About Relocation; Family Law Reform Evaluation

The aim of this project is to gain insight into the prevalence of parental disputes about contact and the dynamics and trigger events that lead to disputes on contact that escalate into legal conflict. The research design involves:

  • a series of focus groups with family law professionals who work with parents in dispute about contact;
  • face-to-face interviews with separated parents who have been in dispute about their parenting arrangements; and
  • telephone interviews with a national random sample of separated parents.

All sets of data have been collected. Relevant questions were introduced into Wave 3 of the Caring for Children after Parental Separation telephone survey. Analysis has been completed and the final report is in the process of development.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Analysis of a range of datasets Draft report completed
Final report to be completed in 2010-11
Will inform a range of interventions and services in the new family law system

Family Trends and Transitions

Project duration 1980- (ongoing)
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families X
Families and work X
Social inclusion X
Family transitions and family law XX
Children, young people and their families XX
Related projects(s) Child Support and Labour Market Participation; Family Attitudes and Values

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 database Family Facts and Figures, 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 process. During the reporting period, the Family Facts and Figures section of the website was re-structured to provide better access to the data.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Publish articles, present papers at conferences and seminars, and participate in media interviews 3 articles published
3 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 database, Family Facts and Figures, on website 2 series updated
Publications

Gray, M., de Vaus, D., Qu, L., & Stanton, D. (2010). Divorce and the wellbeing of older Australians (Research Paper No. 46). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Qu, L., Weston, R., & de Vaus, D. (2009). Cohabitation and beyond: The contribution of each partner's relationship satisfaction and fertility aspirations to pathways of cohabiting couples. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 40(4), 585-601.

Qu, L. (2009). Book review: Marriage and Cohabitation, by Arland Thornton, William G. Axinn and Yu Xie. Journal of Population Research, 26(3). 283-284.

Presentations

Baxter, J., Qu., L., & Weston, R. (2009, 27 September-2 October). Family structure, quality of the co-parental relationship, post-separation parenting and children's emotional wellbeing. XXVI International Union for the Scientific Study of Population International Population Conference, Morocco.

de Vaus, D., Gray, M., Qu, L., & Stanton, D. (2009, July). The effect of relationship breakdown on income and social exclusion. Australian Social Policy Conference: An Inclusive Society? Practicalities and Possibilities, Sydney.

Weston, R., & Qu, L. (2010, 26 March). Demographics of ageing and fertility. Principles of Social Policy course, Australian National University, Canberra.

Giving Voice to Victim/Survivors' Knowledge of Sexual Offending

Project duration June 2008 - June 2010
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Social inclusion X
Violence, abuse and neglect XX
Related project(s) Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault

Giving Voice to Victim/Survivors' Knowledge of Sexual Offending was a qualitative project that explored what victim/survivors could tell us about sexual offending. There is limited knowledge on how offenders of adult sexual assault perpetrate their offences. This project expanded on this knowledge base by speaking with victim/survivors about how the assault occurred and what facilitated the offending.

Between March and July 2009, 33 women were recruited from across Australia. Participants had to be over the age 18 and have sought the services of a sexual assault support service. Interviews were in-depth and semi-structured. The research identified a pattern of measured and purposeful tactics used in many kinds of sexual offending, such as the use of surprise and force, concealment and victim blaming.

Throughout 2009-10, the focus has been on in-depth analysis of the interviews, the development of early themes, stakeholder consultation regarding these themes and drafting the report.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Draft final report Draft final report submitted Exposure of research to broader FaHCSIA department Implications of themes developed and strengthened
1 policy roundtable prior to completion of project
Stakeholder engagement
Presentation to FaHCSIA Social Policy Workshop
Four presentations to key audiences
Presentations to ACSSA reference group
Presentations

Clark, H. (2009, 29 October). What can victim/survivors' voices contribute to our knowledge of sexual offending? Victorian Offender Treatment Association Conference, Melbourne.

Clark, H. (2009, 23 November). Giving voice to victim/survivors' knowledge of sexual offending. 22nd Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference, Perth

Clark, H. (2009, 9 December). Giving voice to victim/survivors' knowledge of sexual offending. Statewide Advisory Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Assault, Melbourne.

Quadara, A. (2009, 30 November-1 December). Giving voice to victim/survivors' knowledge of sexual offending. FaHCSIA Social Policy Workshop, Canberra.

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

Project duration March 2002 - June 2019
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Partner organisation(s) FaHCSIA; Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); Consortium Advisory Group
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families X
Families and work X
Social inclusion X
Family transitions and family law X
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Child Support and Labour Market Participation; Economic Value of Positive Family Functioning; Labour Market and the Financial Consequences of Divorce for Families; Labour Market Issues for Families; Neighbourhoods, Economic Disadvantage and Child Wellbeing; New Investigators Network; Time Use in Families

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) 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, 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 the family, child care, preschool and primary school and their broader communities. A major aim of the study is to identify policy opportunities for improving supports for children and 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.

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. These eight waves will provide data on children's development from infancy through to the threshold of adulthood.

Data collection

During 2008-09, the Wave 3 data collection was completed, with 8,718 interviews conducted. This represents approximately 86% of the original sample and 94% of the families who participated in Wave 2. Data from this wave were released in August 2009.

The Wave 3.5 mail-out survey took place in 2009, with 5,984 surveys returned. This represents 64% of the original sample. The Wave 3.5 data was released in April 2010. This short survey focused on children's use of media and technology, health, transition to schools for the younger cohort, and parental involvement in learning for the older cohort.

The main data collection commenced in March 2010 and will continue throughout 2010. Several significant methodology changes have occurred in Wave 4. While the primary data collection method of a face-to-face interview with the child's main parent has continued, other data collection methods (such as computer-assisted self-interviews for the primary parental carer and older study children) are being introduced to improve data quality and response rates, and ensure that time spent with families is used efficiently and effectively.

Wave 5 development

Development of the Wave 5 data collection interviews and measures has commenced and was a major activity in the second half of 2009-10. The development of the Wave 5 is due to be completed in late 2010.

Life at 5 documentary

The third round of the Life At series - Life At 5 - is due to be screened in early 2011. The Institute has contributed to this series, produced by Screen Australia in conjunction with Heiress Films, which draws upon the methodology and findings of LSAC. Eleven children and their families are being followed over time, with coverage of the children's behaviour and milestones and the impact 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.

2nd LSAC Research Conference

The 2nd LSAC Research Conference was held on 3-4 December 2009, in Melbourne. A capacity crowd of around 185 professionals from a range of disciplines attended the conference, sharing knowledge about the use of LSAC data in research and policy formation, and exploring the research potential of the dataset. Keynote presenters for 2009 conference, Professors Andrew Leigh (ANU) and Ann Sanson (University of Melbourne), were joined by leading researchers from Australia and abroad to present their work relating to child development and family wellbeing.

Over 40 papers were presented by leading child development, health and family wellbeing researchers addressing a diverse range of topics, including child health, disadvantage, education, work and family balance, time use, language acquisition, family factors in child development, and advances in longitudinal methodology. FaHCSIA provided the Institute with funding for holding the 2nd LSAC Research Conference.

Dissemination and promotion of LSAC

The LSAC data have been extensively used for major research projects, including the Institute's Evaluation of the Family Law Reforms and the Productivity Commission's Inquiry into Paid Parental Leave. There are 258 data users and 618 subscribers to the growingup-refgroup emailing list that provides study updates and information about new publications (this is a 42% increase from June 2009). 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. A draft of the first LSAC Annual Statistical Report is complete and is scheduled for release in late 2010. A draft of the LSAC Research Report No. 1 on fathering is also complete and due for release in the second half of 2010.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Release of Wave 3 data Wave 3 data released in August 2009 Provides policy-makers with high-quality evidence about the development, wellbeing and progress of Australian children and families
Wave 3.5 mail-out survey Data cleaning and preparation of dataset and output documentation complete Information obtained on policy-relevant issues regarding children and families
Development of Wave 5 Content for Wave 5 underway Content development underway so that fieldwork can commence on time
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 Study updates included in Family Matters
Journal articles published
Annual Statistical Report draft complete
LSAC Research Report No. 1 draft complete
LSAC Technical Report draft complete
Print, radio and television media interviews undertaken
Contribution to the Life at 5 series
Enhanced public profile of the study enhanced
Interest in the findings from policy-makers and media
Increase number of registered users
Deliver training workshops and user group services Regular web updates on status of data files
Telephone and email support
Data user training workshop provided December 2009 and February 2010
Increased understanding of dataset among potential and novice users
Facilitated use of LSAC data
Maintain sample engagement through distribution of birthday cards and other materials Birthday cards sent to children
2009 calendar, parent and child newsletters sent to all families
Sample engagement maintained
Sample tracking facilitated
Publications

Baxter, J., Gray, M., & Hayes, A. (2009). Diverse families making a difference (Facts Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Baxter, J., Cooklin, A. R., & Smith, J. (2009). Which mothers wean their babies prematurely from full breastfeeding? An Australian cohort study. Acta Paediatrica, 98(8), 1274-1277.

Edwards, B., Baxter, J., Smart, D., Sanson, A., & Hayes, A. (2009). Financial disadvantage and children's school readiness. Family Matters, 83, 23-31.

Gray, M., & Smart, D. (2009). The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: A valuable new data source for economists. Australian Economic Review, 42(3), 367-376.

Other publications

Growing Up in Australia Newsletter (online) No. 24, Winter 2009

Growing Up in Australia Newsletter (online) No. 25, Spring 2009

Growing Up in Australia Newsletter (online) No. 26, Summer 2010

Study Update, June 2009

2010 calendar

LSAC Annual Report 2009-10

Growing Up in Australia Newsletter, December 2009

Hello From Growing Up in Australia (for study children 6-7 years), December 2009

Hello From Growing Up in Australia (for study children 10-11 years), December 2009

Study Update, March 2010

Presentations

Baxter, J., & Smith, J. (2009, 3-4 December). Breastfeeding and infant time use. 2nd LSAC Research Conference, Melbourne.

Edwards, B., Fiorini, M., & Taylor, M. (2009, 8-10 July). Does it matter at what age children start school in Australia? Investigating the effects of school starting age on six-year old children's outcomes. 11th Australian Social Policy Conference, Sydney.

Katz, I., Redmond, G., & Smart, D. (2009, 3-4 December). Inter-generational mobility in Australia. How do vulnerable kids fare? 2nd LSAC Research Conference, Melbourne.

Sanson, A., Smart, D., Baxter, J., Edwards, B., & Hayes, A. (2009, 6-8 July). Home to school transitions for financially disadvantaged children: Findings from LSAC Waves 1 and 2. 16th Biennial Conference of the Australasian Human Development Association, Adelaide.

Smart, D., Sanson, A., Baxter, J., Edwards, B., & Hayes A. (2009, 8 July). Home to school transitions for financially disadvantaged children: Findings from Growing up in Australia, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Australian Social Policy Conference, Sydney.

Sanson, A., Smart, D., & Misson, S. (2009, 3-4 December). Children's physical, cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes: Do they share the same drivers? Keynote address, 2nd LSAC Research Conference, Melbourne.

Smart, D. (2009, 2 July). Home to school transitions for financially disadvantaged children: Findings from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. AIFS Seminar Series, Melbourne.

Smart, D., Sanson, A. V., Baxter, J., Edwards, B., & Hayes, A. (2009, 8-10 July). Home to school transitions for financially disadvantaged children. Australian Social Policy Conference, Sydney.

Smart, D., Sanson, A. V., Baxter, J., Edwards, B., & Hayes , A. (2009, 3-4 December). The school progress of children from financially disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged families. 2nd LSAC Research Conference, Melbourne.

Soloff, C. (2009, 6-8 July). Growing up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: Study overview. 16th Biennial Conference of the Australasian Human Development Association, Adelaide.

Taylor, M., Fiorini, M., & Edwards, B. (2009, 3-4 December). Does it matter at what age children start school in Australia? Investigating school starting age and six-year old children's outcomes. 2nd LSAC Research Conference, Melbourne.

Taylor, M., & Gray, M. (2009, 3-4 December). The impact of child support payments on the labour supply decisions of resident mothers. 2nd LSAC Research Conference, Melbourne.

Keep Them Safe

Project duration February-June 2009
Funding source(s) NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet
Partner organisation(s) SPRC, University of NSW
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Violence, abuse and neglect XX
Children, young people and their families X

The NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet commissioned the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, and the Australian Institute of Family Studies to develop an overall evaluation framework for the Keep Them Safe Action Plan (2009-14). Keep Them Safe was developed in response to Justice Wood's 2008 report at the conclusion of the Special Commission Inquiry into Child Protection in NSW. It is the government response to Justice Wood's inquiry, which reported some critical issues for reforming the child protection system. Wood's report was underpinned by the principle that child protection is a whole-of-government responsibility and should be addressed through a public health model of services, providing universal entry points and multiple pathways for referral. These proposed reforms intend to improve child protection support by intervening early with children and families rather than have statutory intervention as the first point of contact.

The evaluation framework was designed to establish consistent reporting requirements from key components of the action plan in order to assess the extent to which the plan has met its objectives of improving the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children in NSW, why aspects of the reform have been successful or not, and processes for using the evaluation outcomes to adjust future approaches based on progressive evaluation findings.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Final report Draft completed Recommendations will shape the way the Keep Them Safe initiatives are evaluated

Labour Market and Financial Consequences of Divorce for Families

Project duration Ongoing
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families XX
Families and work XX
Social inclusion X
Family transitions and family law XX
Children, young people and their families X
Related project(s) Child Support and Labour Market Participation; Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children; Labour Market Issues for Families; Negotiating the Life Course

This research explores the labour and financial consequences of divorce and repartnering for families. Work has been undertaken regarding the consequences of divorce for families with young children using the first two waves of data from LSAC. Understanding the labour market and financial consequences of relationship breakdown for families with young children is particularly important, given the importance of the early years for children. The research highlights the importance of understanding the interactions between relationship dynamics and labour market participation.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Publications and conference papers 1 AIFS Research Paper Contributes to policy development as it relates to the wellbeing of relationships and families
Publications

Gray, M., de Vaus, D., Qu, L., & Stanton, D. (2010). Divorce and the wellbeing of older Australians (Research Paper No. 46). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Labour Market Issues for Families

Project duration Ongoing
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families XX
Families and work XX
Social inclusion X
Family transitions and family law X
Children, young people and their families X
Related project(s) Child Support and Labour Market Participation; Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children; Labour Market and Financial Consequences of Divorce for Families; Negotiating the Life Course; Time Use in Families

This is an ongoing project that encompasses research on a range of work-family related topics. Recent and ongoing projects include analyses of employment transitions of lone and couple mothers, undertaken to explore whether barriers to job entry or job retention are greater for lone rather than couple mothers. The Institute has also conducted work on the impact of recessions on families, particularly those with dependent children. This work, which has been published in Family Matters, was conducted in response to the global recession.

Continuing research includes an examination of issues of labour market participation of parents with young children and the arrangements that are made for caring for children. Another project takes an international perspective, examining the range of work-family policies that other countries have implemented. This work is being finalised for publication.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Publications and conference papers 2 conference papers
2 journal articles
Contribution to policy development in relation to supportive workplace and family environments
Publications

Baxter, J. (2009). Mothers' timing of return to work by leave use and pre-birth job characteristics. Journal of Family Studies, 15(2) 153-166.

Gray, M., Edwards, B., Hayes, A., & Baxter, J. (2009). The impacts of recessions on families. Family Matters, 83, 7-14.

Presentations

Baxter, J., Renda, J., & Gray, M. (2009, 8-10 July). International work-family policies: What do they mean for Australia? Australian Social Policy Conference, Sydney.

Renda, J., & Baxter, J. (2009, 16-17 July). Stability of lone mothers' employment: Using HILDA calendar data to examine work transitions. HILDA Survey Research Conference, Melbourne.

Negotiating the Life Course

Project duration 2006-11
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Partner organisation(s) Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute; School of Social Science, University of Queensland
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families X
Families and work XX
Social inclusion X
Family transitions and family law XX
Related project(s) Labour Market and Financial Consequences of Divorce for Families; Labour Market Issues for Families

Negotiating the Life Course is a longitudinal survey undertaken by the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute and the School of Social Science, University of Queensland. AIFS also contributes through the involvement of a senior research staff member as Partner Investigator to the project.

The study tracks the changing life courses and decision-making processes of Australian men and women as families and society move from male breadwinner orientation towards higher levels of gender equity.

In addition, AIFS is using the Negotiating the Life Course data to examine women's labour market participation by life-cycle stage across different birth cohorts.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Book chapter Book chapter submitted Contribute to improved understanding of changing life courses and decision-making processes of Australian men and women by contributing analyses of women's labour market participation

Neighbourhoods, Economic Disadvantage and Child Wellbeing

Project duration 2006-11
Funding source(s) Appropriation; contract
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families XX
Social inclusion XX
Children, young people and their families X
Related project(s) Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

The Neighbourhood Effects on Children's Wellbeing project aims to: provide evidence about the impact of neighbourhoods on children and their parents; explore the impact of neighbourhood disadvantage on children; and research risk and protective factors. The project provides information about locational disadvantage. Using data from LSAC, the project analyses the impact of neighbourhoods on children and their parents.

Further research will explore how parental factors such as mental health and parenting mediate the effects of neighbourhood on children's social and emotional outcomes.

The Institute has also been contracted to undertake research on the impact of area level unemployment on children's development in New South Wales for the Benevolent Society. This project also utilises LSAC.

The Benevolent Society has been presented with a draft report titled: Unemployment, Area Level Unemployment and the Wellbeing of Children Aged 5-10 Years.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Journal articles
A research report to Benevolent Society on area-level unemployment and children's wellbeing
1 article accepted for publication
Draft report delivered to the Benevolent Society
Inform social inclusion and early childhood policies
Publications

Edwards, B., & Bromfield, L. M., (2009). Neighbourhood influences on young children's emotional and behavioral problems. Family Matters, 84, 7-19.

New Investigators Network

Project duration 2008-2010
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Partner organisation(s) Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), University of Technology Sydney
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Social inclusion X
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Growing Up in Australia: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

The ARACY New Investigators Network (NIN) was established in February 2008 to support and mentor a network of early career researchers. Three AIFS staff were successful in gaining a place in the NIN, and participated in a series of professional development workshops throughout 2008 and 2009. The Director of AIFS also undertook a mentoring role to the NIN.

An objective of the NIN was for participants to establish collaborative research projects on topics related to children's wellbeing. AIFS staff are contributing to two different research projects as a result, and these projects are ongoing. These projects make use of LSAC.

One project involves two AIFS staff, along with colleagues from UTS and is examining the causal effect of primary school entry policies on the cognitive and behavioural development of Australian children, and parental decisions regarding the timing of their child's entry to primary school.

The second project involves one AIFS staff member, along with a colleague from the McCaughey Centre and Onemda Koori Health Research Unit in the Melbourne School of Population Health and another colleague from the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. This project is exploring differences in children's outcomes and family circumstances according to the cultural and ethnic diversity of families.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Conference presentations 4 conference and workshop presentations Obtain valuable feedback on the research methodology Inform early childhood education policies
Presentations

Taylor, M., Fiorini, M., & Edwards, B. (2009, 8 July). Does it matter at what age children start school in Australia? Investigating the effects of school starting age on children's outcomes. Australian Social Policy Conference, Sydney.

Taylor, M., Fiorini, M., & Edwards, B. (2009, 7 August). Does it matter what age children start school in Australia? Investigating the effects of school starting age on children's outcomes. Labour Econometrics Workshop, Queensland University of Technology.

Taylor, M., Fiorini, M., & Edwards, B. (2009, 3 September). Does it matter what age children start school in Australia? Psychology, economics and policy. Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth Conference, Melbourne.

Taylor, M., Fiorini, M., & Edwards, B. (2009, 3 December). Does it matter at what age children start school in Australia? Investigating school starting age and six-year children's outcomes. 2nd LSAC Research Conference, Melbourne.

Northern Territory Inquiry into Child Protection

Project duration April-June 2010
Funding source(s) Northern Territory Board of Inquiry
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Social inclusion X
Violence, abuse and neglect XX
Children, young people and their families X
Related project(s) National Child Protection Clearinghouse

The Northern Territory Board of Inquiry, through the Northern Territory Government, commissioned the Institute to provide background research on child protection intake, investigation and assessment to inform the current Inquiry into Child Protection in the Northern Territory. Drawing on the expertise of staff from the NCPC, the purpose of the Institute's involvement was to provide research evidence to inform the deliberations of the Board of Inquiry.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
2 sets of research resources
3 reports
Research resources supplied
3 reports delivered
Recommendations regarding the reform of child protection in the Northern Territory informed by evidence in the research resources and reports

Past Adoption Practices: Summary of Key Issues From Australian Research

Project duration October 2009 - April 2010
Funding source(s) FaHCSIA
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Social inclusion X
Family transitions and family law X
Children, young people and their families X

This project comprised a review of existing research literature about past adoption practices in Australia. The report was commissioned by FaHCSIA to understand the quality of research available about past adoption practices, and to assess the adequacy of research as an evidence base for policy and service development. Although there is a wealth of primary material, there has been little systematic research on the experience of past adoption practices in Australia.

The review found that relinquishing a child to adoption has the potential for lifelong consequences for the lives of these women and their children, as well as others.

As part of the project, AIFS consulted with stakeholders to identify relevant research literature to include in the review, and then conducted a structured review that classified the literature and critiqued the strengths and weaknesses of different types of information. A draft report was submitted in February 2010, with a final report submitted in March 2010.

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 practices, to be conducted by AIFS. The focus of this study will be on understanding current needs and information to support improved service responses.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
1 report 1 draft report
1 final report
1 conference abstract submission
Increased understanding of the adequacy of the evidence base for policy and service development relating to past adoption practices Strong stakeholder and media interest in the report Abstract to present paper at the 2010 AIFS Conference accepted
Publications

Higgins, D. (2009). Impact of past adoption practices: Summary of key issues from Australian research. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Rural and Regional Families: The Impact of Drought and Economic and Social Change

Project duration 2007- (ongoing)
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Partner researcher(s) Associate Professor Boyd Hunter, ANU; Professor David de Vaus, La Trobe University
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families XX
Families and work X
Social inclusion X
Related project(s) Rural and Remote Carers in Australia

In August 2007, the Institute commenced a major study into the impact of drought and economic and social change on the wellbeing of families and communities in regional and rural Australia, an issue on which there has been very little large-scale work. Understanding the impact of drought on families and communities is likely to become increasingly important if the climate change predictions are correct that much of Australia will experience more frequent and severe droughts in the future.

The goal of the project was to provide the Australian Government and general community with current information and expert analysis about the economic and social impacts of drought on families in regional and rural Australia. It addressed the effect of drought on families' financial situations, standards of living, relationships, wellbeing, migration patterns, service availability, social capital and community cohesion.

The study involved interviews with about 8,000 people living in rural and regional areas, including more than 1,300 farmers, 1,000 others employed in agricultural industries, 3,000 employed in non-agricultural industries, and more than 2,500 people who were not employed. It explored the extent to which drought affects communities beyond farmers and those directly employed in agriculture or related industries.

The research resulting from this project was used extensively by the Productivity Commission in its report on Drought Support Policy and the report of the Expert Panel on the Social Impacts of Drought. Analysis of data from the survey is continuing.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Articles drafted and submitted for publication in academic journals 1 publication Findings inform drought policy and policies involving Australian families living in rural and regional areas
Papers presented at conferences 1 presentation
Presentations

Edwards, B., Gray, M., & Hunter, B. (2009, 10 July). The impact of drought on mental health and alcohol use. Australian Social Policy Conference: An Inclusive Society? Practicalities and Possibilities, Sydney.

Rural and Remote Carers in Australia

Project duration April - September 2009
Funding source(s) Carers Australia
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families X
Families and work XX
Social inclusion X
Family transitions and family law X
Related project(s) Rural and Regional Families: The Impact of Drought and Economic and Social Change

The Institute has been contracted by Carers Australia to undertake research on carers living in rural and remote areas of Australia. Not much is known about carers in rural and remote areas of Australia. The research helped to address the gap in our understanding and provided evidence for decisions about policies and practice to better meet the needs of carers in rural Australia. The report focused on three issues:

  • the geography of caring - information about the number and demographic characteristics of carers in rural and remote areas of Australia;
  • the impact of living in rural and remote areas - focusing on accessing support and information, health and wellbeing, finances, employment and how care is provided; and
  • the impact of drought on carers - whether drought widens social inequalities and particularly affects carers, who may have fewer financial resources than other groups.

The report was launched during Carers Week.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Final report Final report completed
Speech on the report delivered at the launch of Carers Week
Research findings will inform policy-makers and practitioners responsible for shaping and improving the way in which support and services are provided to families caring for a person with a disability in rural and remote areas
Publications

Edwards, B., Gray, M., Baxter, J., & Hunter, B. H. (2009). The tyranny of distance? Carers in regional and remote areas of Australia. Canberra: Carers Australia.

Sexual Assault Workforce Development Project

Project duration To 2011
Funding source(s) Department of Human Services
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Violence, abuse and neglect XX
Related project(s) Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault

The Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA) Forum, along with RMIT University and ACSSA, have partnered to implement the Statewide Workforce Development Project, funded by the Department of Human Services Victoria. The project is a three-year initiative to support the training of sexual assault workers in their counselling and education work. The CASA Forum is the lead agency and RMIT evaluates the training. ACSSA provides research support and expertise to inform the training and education programs developed. Research is being provided in the form of briefings; three briefings have been provided so far. ACSSA is also a member of the reference group and provides other support to achieve project goals.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Research briefs and research support as needed Attendance at reference group meetings 1 short research brief
Revision of community education package
2 research enquiries by program coordinator
Improved community education and research resources available for use in training sexual assault workers
Publications

Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault. (2010). Male victims of sexual assault (Research Brief). Melbourne: ACSSA.

Street Stories: The Life around Here Community Study and Documentary

Project duration November 2009 - July 2010
Funding source(s) Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families XX
Families and work XX
Social inclusion XX
Violence, abuse and neglect X
Children, young people and their families X

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) commissioned the Institute to undertake Street Stories: The Life Around Here Community Study and Documentary.

The Life Around Here project aims to develop a picture of the lives of families living in three areas identified as experiencing economic and social disadvantage, exploring how families living in these areas interact with their community, and the impact of where they live on their engagement with the labour market.

The project involves a research study with families living within the three areas, and a documentary with families.

The research report and documentary produced as part of the Street Stories project will assist with the development of programs that effectively address area-based disadvantage, by adding to the understanding of factors leading to concentrations of joblessness and other forms of disadvantage.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Draft project report to DEEWR
Final project report
Draft script for documentary
Early themes report submitted
Draft report submitted
Final report submitted
Draft script for documentary submitted, with final documentary due early in 2010-11
Evidence base to assist with the development of employment programs in disadvantaged areas, such as the Family-Centred Employment Project

Time Use in Families

Project duration 2007-10
Funding source(s) Appropriation
Partner organisation(s) ANU
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Families and work XX
Social inclusion X
Family transitions and family law X
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Growing Up in Australia: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children; Labour Market Issues for Families

The AIFS Time Use in Families project was initiated in 2007 to explore adults' and children's time use to better understand those factors that contribute to family members' wellbeing through the ways in which they spend their time. It includes analyses of interactions between work and family.

Several ongoing research streams are aligned to this project, including analysis of parental time with children and infants' time use, and also adults' time use and experience of time pressure. The project leverages existing data sources, including data from LSAC and ABS time use data.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Conference papers and publications 2 AIFS Research Papers
1 newsletter article
2 conference papers
3 conference posters
Contribute to policy development in relation to supportive workplace and family environments
Publications

Baxter, J. (2009). Family statistics and trends: The sources of time pressure: Work, family and more. Family Relationships Quarterly Newsletter, 13, 21-23.

Baxter, J. (2009). Parental time with children: Do job characteristics make a difference? (Research Paper No. 44). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Baxter, J. (2010). An exploration of the timing and nature of parental time with 4-5 year olds using Australian children's time use data (Research Paper No. 45). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Presentations

Baxter, J. (2009, 23-25 September). Breastfeeding and infants' time use. Poster presentation at the 31st Conference of the International Association of Time Use Research, Lueneburg, Germany.

Baxter, J. (2009, 23-25 September). Too much spare time? 31st Conference of the International Association of Time Use Research, Lueneburg, Germany.

Baxter, J. (2009, 3-4 December). The time use of infants: Are the days of breastfed infants different to not-breastfed infants? 2nd LSAC Research Conference, Melbourne.

Soloff, C. (2009, 23-25 September). LSAC computer-assisted child diary. Poster presentation at the 31st Conference of the International Association of Time Use Research, Lueneburg, Germany.

Soloff, C., & Baxter, J. (2009, 23-25 September). LSAC parent-complete diaries for children's activities. Poster presentation at the 31st Conference of the International Association of Time Use Research, Lueneburg, Germany.

Working with Vulnerable Children and Their Families

Project duration October 2007 - September 2010
Funding source(s) Victorian Department of Human Services; The Benevolent Society
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Violence, abuse and neglect XX
Children, young people and their families X
Related project(s) National Child Protection Clearinghouse

The Victorian Government Department of Human Services (DHS) commissioned the Institute to produce a series of evidence-informed Specialist Practice Resources for practitioners working in family services, child protection and out-of-home care in Victoria. Specialist Practice Resources provide specialist guidance and advice on specific issues or client groups (e.g., cumulative harm, neglect, permanency planning, young people with sexually abusive behaviours, infants at high risk of harm).

Seven Specialist Practice Resources have now been developed, and are being edited and typeset ready for publication by DHS:

  • Cumulative Harm (2nd edition);
  • Working with Infants and Their Families;
  • Working With Adolescents and Their Families;
  • Children Under 10 with Problem Sexual Behaviours;
  • Young People Aged 10-14 With Sexually Abusive Behaviours;
  • Assessing Parental Capacity for Parents With Multiple and Complex Problems; and
  • Families in Which an Adult is Abusive.

Two further resources are currently being drafted:

  • Working With Children and Their Families; and
  • Stability in Care.
Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
9 Specialist Practice Resources (across the 18-month project) 7 Specialist Practice Resources finalised
2 Specialist Practice Resources being drafted
Provide resources that directly support the Victorian family services, child protection and out-of-home care services Provide resources that support the child protection sector in general across Australia

The Benevolent Society in New South Wales commissioned the Institute to produce two Practice Guides for practitioners in child and family services. Practice Guides provide specialist guidance and advice on specific issues or client groups (e.g., cumulative harm, neglect, permanency planning, young people with sexually abusive behaviours, infants at high risk of harm). The Benevolent Society Practice Guides are adaptations of two of the Specialist Practice Resources developed for the Victorian Government, tailored to suit the Benevolent Society practice context. Two Practice Guides were drafted during the financial year:

  • Cumulative Harm; and
  • Infants at Risk of Abuse and Neglect.
Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
2 Practice Guides 2 Practice Guides drafted Resources available to support practitioners in child and family services and support evidence-informed practice
Presentations

Bromfield, L. M. (2009, 7 July). Recognising cumulative harm in Australian child protection policy and practice: Progress to date. Australasian Human Development Association Conference, Adelaide.

Bromfield, L. M. (2009, 8 July). Recognising cumulative harm in Australian child protection policy and practice: Progress to date. Families SA, Adelaide.

Bromfield, L. M. (2009, November). Cumulative harm workshop: The effects of chronic child maltreatment. WA Department for Child Protection, Perth.

Bromfield, L. M. (2010, February). Cumulative harm: The effects of chronic child maltreatment. Tasmanian Magistrates Conference, Hobart.

Other publications and presentations

In addition to the publications and presentations completed as part of specific projects and studies, Institute staff undertake a variety of other research activities, including:

Publications

Gray, M., & Stanton, D. (2010). Costs of children and equivalence scales: A review of methodological issues and Australian estimates. Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 13(1), 99-115.

Hayes, A. (2009). Contexts and consequences: Impacts on children, families and communities. In Bowes, J., & Grace, R. (Eds). Children, families and communities (3rd Ed.; pp. 3-21). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Hayes, A. (2009). Looking forward: Impacts on children, families and communities. In J. Bowes, & R. Grace (Eds). Children, families and communities (3rd Ed.; pp. 219-231). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Hayes, A. (2010). Concluding comments, "Growing Up Fast and Furious: Reviewing the Impacts of Violent and Sexualised Media on Children". Sydney: Australian Conference on Children & the Media.

Hayes, A. (2010). Family and place. Family Matters, 84, 5-6.

Muir, K., Katz, I., Edwards, B., Gray, M., Wise S., & Hayes, A. (2010). The national evaluation of the Communities for Children initiative. Family Matters, 84, 35-42.

Presentations

Edwards, B., Wise, S., Gray, M., Hayes, A., Katz, I., Mission, S., Patulny, R., & Muir, K. (2009, 10 July). The Stronger Families in Australia (SFIA) study of the impact of Communities for Children. Australian Social Policy Conference, Sydney.

Gray, M. (2009, 4 August). Family tax benefits and the costs of children in Australia. Australia's Future Tax System Review Secretariat Seminar Series, The Treasury, Canberra.

Hayes, A. (2009, 30 July). The law, legal aid and access to justice: Strengthening the social inclusion discourse. National Legal Aid Best Practice Conference Partnerships for Justice, Cairns.

Hayes, A. (2009, 26 August). Transitions, locations and social addresses: Insights from Australian longitudinal and research evaluation. Australian Social Inclusion Board, Sydney.

Hayes, A. (2009, 28 August). Marriage and relationship education: A lifecourse perspective. Marriage and Relationship Education National Conference 2009, Melbourne.

Hayes, A. (2009, 31 August). Social inclusion: Strengthening the policy agenda. Centre for Public Policy Seminar, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.

Hayes, A. (2009, 5 September). Sustaining, supporting and strengthening families: Children's services in complex, changing and challenging times. ACT Children's Services Conference Growing Together 09, Canberra.

Hayes, A. (2009, 24 September). Progressing the social inclusion agenda: Insights from new data on readiness to learn and the impacts of community interventions. "Brown Bag" Seminar Series 2009, Social Inclusion Unit, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra.

Hayes, A. (2009, 17 November). The great divide? Exploring the dynamics of family and child wellbeing in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Australia's welfare 2009 Conference, Canberra.

Hayes, A. (2009, 19 November). Relationship dynamics in Australia: Insights into family form and functioning. Annual General Meeting of Relationships Australia (NSW), Sydney.

Hayes, A. (2009, 26 November). Australian relationship dynamics, vulnerability and resilience: New insights from current research. 2nd Family Relationships Services Australia National Conference, Sydney.

Hayes, A. (2010, 24 February). The changing faces of family life in Australia: New insights from current research. Anglicare Victoria Leadership Conference, Melbourne.

Hayes, A. (2010, 7 April). Parenting in the context of comprehensive approaches to family support. Parenting Policy Workshop, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Hayes, A., & Gray, M. (2010, 30 March). Evidence of what works: Spanning the knowledge to action gap. Cross-Agency Workshop on Family Research, Policy and Service Delivery, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Canberra.

Hayes, A., & Robinson, E. (2010, 3 June). Research-informed family policy: From rhetoric to reality. Families Commission of New Zealand Research Seminar, Wellington.

Higgins, D. J. (2010, 17 June). Global challenges on disability and sexuality. Keynote address at the 4th International Conference on Peer Education, Sexuality, HIV and AIDS, Nairobi, Kenya.

Higgins, D. J. (2009, 27 October). The impact of care and the needs of carers: National data on families caring for a person with a disability. Opening keynote address to the 2009 National Respite Conference, Adelaide.

Report on performance - Clearinghouse activities

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

In 2009-10, the Institute continued its management of four national clearinghouses:

  • Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA);
  • Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse (AFRC);
  • Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia (CAFCA); and
  • National Child Protection Clearinghouse (NCPC).

Since 2009-10, the Institute, in partnership with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (the lead agency), has contributed to a fifth clearinghouse:

  • Closing the Gap Clearinghouse (reported on p. 50).

Clearinghouse publications

The AIFS clearinghouses 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 through to brief newsletters. Publications include:

  • Issues Papers - in-depth research papers that focus on relevant policy, practice and research topics;
  • Briefing Papers - short papers that synthesise or translate key messages from research or practice and summarise issues;
  • Resource Sheets - concise summaries that provide summaries of, and up-to-date facts and statistics about, a specific issue;
  • newsletters - include literature highlights, news in brief, program and agency spotlights, updates and summaries of research and practice, and current and emerging topics in the field; and
  • Promising Practice Profiles (PPPs) - describe innovative programs and practices.

Clearinghouse knowledge exchange

The clearinghouses 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 and articles undertaken in response to clearinghouse publications and activities;
  • information helpdesk service provided by experienced reference librarians from the AIFS Library or researchers;
  • electronic resources in the AIFS Library collection, which are available via clearinghouse websites; and
  • print resources available via the AIFS Library interlibrary loan system to library members.

Clearinghouse online resources

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

  • clearinghouse websites - access to clearinghouse 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 access to the clearinghouse library collections;
  • electronic alerts - provide up-to-date information about sector news and events, new publications, notices about research participation, professional development opportunities: ACSSA-alert; AFRC-alert; CAFCA-alert; and NCPC-alert;
  • NCPC discussion list - a moderated discussion list, childprotect, which facilitates the exchange of information between professionals; and
  • bibliographic resources - accessible via ACSSA, AFRC and NCPC websites, and 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 Operated at AIFS since 2003
Funding sources FaHCSIA
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Social inclusion X
Violence, abuse and neglect XX
Related project(s) Closing the Gap Clearinghouse; Giving Voice to Victim/Survivors' Knowledge of Sexual Offending; Sexual Assault Workforce Development Project

The Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA) is the national centre for the collection and dissemination of current information and research on sexual assault. The aim of the clearinghouse 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.

The clearinghouse provides 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.

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 impact on the Australian community.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Publications
Issues Papers (biannual) 2 ACSSA Issues ACSSA print publications distributed to 6,591 a subscribers
129,805 online publications downloaded
Enhanced provision of evidence-informed policy and practice in the child abuse prevention, child protection and out-of-home care sectors
Briefings (biannual) 1 ACSSA Wrap
Newsletter (quarterly) 3 ACSSA Aware
Practice Profiles 4 new PPPs added
49 PPPs available at 30 June 2010
Knowledge exchange
Presentations 12 presentations at conferences, seminars and forums Knowledge exchanged among policy-makers, services providers and researchers about the most effective strategies to reduce the incidence of sexual assault and to improve responses
Representation 5 board, committee, reference and advisory group memberships
Information and research helpdesk service 130 research helpdesk enquiries handled
Library collection 99 new items of relevance to ACSSA stakeholders added to library b
1,655 ACSSA-relevant items in library at 30 June 2010
Online resources
Website 376,198 web pages downloaded (356,550 downloads in 2008-09 = 5.5% increase) Improved access, particularly electronic access, to national policy- and practice-relevant data and resources
Electronic alerts 11 editions of ACSSA-alert distributed
1,205 subscribers at 30 June 2010 (767 subscribers at 30 June 2009 = 57% increase)
Bibliographies 18 bibliographies related to sexual assault
Over 47,900 downloads (43,100 downloads in 2008-09 = 13% increase)

Notes:    a The ACSSA print publication mail list was refreshed in the final quarter of 2009-10, with the number of subscribers expected to be lower in 2010-11 due to the removal of duplicate records and an emphasis on electronic communication and use of centralised distribution points within key organisations. b Items include books, reports, articles, conference papers and audiovisual material.

Publications
Aware newsletter

ACSSA Aware No. 22

ACSSA Aware No. 23

ACSSA Aware No. 24

ACSSA Wrap

Morrison, Z. (2009). Homelessness and sexual assault (ACSSA Wrap No. 7). Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault.

Issues paper

Carmody, M. (2009). Conceptualising the prevention of sexual assault and the role of education (ACSSA Issues No. 10). Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault.

Evans, S., Krogh, C., & Carmody, M. (2009). "Time to get cracking": The challenge of developing best practice in Australian sexual assault prevention education (ACSSA Issues No. 11). Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault.

Presentations

Clark, H. (2009, 8 December). Practice profile databases and the evidence base. ACSSA Evaluation Forum, Melbourne.

Clark, H., & King, R. (2009, 23 November). Justice and system responses to sexual assault. Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference, Perth.

Parkinson, D. (2010, 12 May). Sexual assault service providers and the law: Supporting victims through the legal process. Upper Murray Centre Against Sexual Assault, Wangaratta.

Quadara, A. (2009, 8 September). Victim-centred care: Tensions, challenges, possibilities. Australasian Sexual Health Conference, Brisbane.

Quadara, A. (2009, 27 November). Under the influence: Alcohol and sexual assault. Dangerous consumptions VII, Melbourne.

Quadara, A. (2009, 8 December). The importance of evaluation for sexual assault services. ACSSA Evaluation Forum, Melbourne.

Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse

Project duration Operating at AIFS since 2006
Funding sources FaHCSIA; AGD
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families X
Families and work X
Social inclusion X
Violence, abuse and neglect X
Family transitions and family law XX
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

The Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse (AFRC) aims to improve the wellbeing of families and children by supporting practitioners, service providers and policy-makers in the development and delivery of family relationship programs, ranging from prevention and early intervention through to post-separation services.

Guided by an external reference group, the clearinghouse is an information and advisory unit that contributes to the goals of the Family Support Program by collecting and disseminating the latest relevant research and practice via publications and a website. The clearinghouse also functions as a resource and point of contact for providers of family relationship and support services. Policy-makers and members of the research and broader communities benefit from access to the latest developments in practice- and policy-related research through the AFRC website and publications.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Publications
Issues Papers 1 AFRC Issues 42 publications available online at 30 June 2010
116,864 publications downloaded
Enhanced evidence-informed policy and improved practice in the family relationships support sector
Resource Sheets 1 AFRC Resource Sheet
Briefings 3 AFRC Briefings
Newsletter (quarterly) 4 Family Relationships Quarterly
Practice Profiles 2 new Family Relationships Practice Profiles 25 Practice Profiles available at 30 June 2010
Knowledge exchange
Presentations 9 presentations Enhanced networking and information exchange relating to family relationships within and across sectors
Representation 3 board, committee, reference and advisory group memberships
Information helpdesk 47 inquiries handled
Library collection and scheme AFRC stakeholders have access to the AIFS library collection
Media interviews and reports Interviews undertaken in relation to: AFRC Briefing 15 and 16; Family Relationships Quarterly 2 (article on Internet affairs)
Online resources
Website 441,934 web page downloads (317,724 downloads in 2008-09 = 39% increase) Improved capacity to showcase new, innovative and effective approaches to service provision and practice
Electronic alerts 15 issues of AFRC-alert distributed
More than 1,167 subscribers at 30 June 2010 (901 subscribers at 30 June 2009 = 29.5% increase)
Bibliographies 54 bibliographies related to families and relationships available at 30 June 2010
More than 118,600 downloads (93,400 downloads in 2008-09 = 27% increase)
Resource links More than 380 resource entries at 30 June 2010
Key entry points created for information and resources on Indigenous families, family law and trends/statistics
Publications
Family Relationships Quarterly

Family Relationships Quarterly No. 13 (September 2009)

Family Relationships Quarterly No. 14 (December 2009)

Family Relationships Quarterly No. 15 (March 2010)

Family Relationships Quarterly No. 16 (June 2010)

AFRC Briefing

Caruana, C., & Parker, R. (2009). Embedding research in practice: Research within Family Relationship Centres in Australia (AFRC Briefing No. 14). Melbourne: Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse.

Robinson, E. (2009). Online counselling, therapy and dispute resolution: Research review and application to family relationships (AFRC Briefing No. 15). Melbourne: Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse.

Robinson, E., Power, L., & Allan, D. (2010). What works with adolescents? Family connections and involvement in interventions for adolescent problem behaviours (AFRC Briefing No. 16). Melbourne: Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse.

AFRC Issues

Cortis, N., Chan, S., & Hilferty, F. (2009). Workforce issues, models and responses across the family relationship services sector (AFRC Issues No. 5). Melbourne: Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse.

AFRC Resource Sheets

Cortis, N., Chan, S., & Hilferty, F. (2009). Workforce issues, models and responses across the family relationship services sector (AFRC Resource Sheet No. 5). Melbourne: Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse.

Presentations

Parker, R. (2009, August). Information sources about Australian families. John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, Melbourne.

Parker, R. (2009, 28 August). Strengthening & repairing relationships: Sacrifice & forgiveness. Marriage and Relationship Educators National Conference, Melbourne.

Parker, R. (2009, November). Building evidence-informed practice: A beginner's guide to evaluation. Family Relationship Services Australia Conference, Sydney.

Robinson, E. (2009, 26 August). Issues pertinent to the health and wellbeing of families. National Employment Services Australia Conference, Sydney.

Robinson, E. (2009, November). Embedding research in practice: Research within Family Relationship Centres in Australia. Family Relationship Services Australia Conference, Sydney.

Robinson, E. (2009, November). Family relationships and mental illness: Impacts and service responses. Family Relationship Services Australia Conference, Sydney.

Robinson, E. (2010, May). The importance of families for young people. National Council of Women of Australia Forum, Melbourne.

Robinson, E. (2010, June). AFRC overview (including what's new and coming soon). Family Law Pathways Networks Forum, Sydney.

Robinson, E., Power, L., & Allan, D. (2010, May). What works with adolescents? Family connections and involvement in interventions. Strategic Community Conversations, Centrelink Box Hill, Melbourne.

Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

Project duration July 2009 - June 2011
Funding source All Australian governments
Partner organisation(s) AIHW (lead agency)
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Economic wellbeing of families X
Families and work X
Social inclusion XX
Violence, abuse and neglect X
Family transitions and family law X
Children, young people and their families X
Clearinghouse overview

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse is delivered through a collaboration with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the lead agency. The aim of the clearinghouse is 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. Clearinghouse resources will also be helpful to Indigenous communities, academic researchers, other research clearinghouses and the general public. The following describes the clearinghouse as a whole, including the activities undertaken specifically by the Institute.

Electronic resources
Website

Live since October 2009, the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse website <www.aihw.gov.au/closingthegap> is the primary mechanism for disseminating research and information relevant to overcoming disadvantage for Indigenous Australians. The website is hosted by the AIHW, with content contributions from AIFS.

Electronic newsletter

An electronic newsletter (Closing the Gap e-News) notifies subscribers about the clearinghouse's activities, such as the commissioning of Issues Papers and Resource Sheets. As of 30 June 2010, there were 1,182 subscribers to the newsletter.

Library-related services
Online collections

The clearinghouse collates research, literature and other information resources relevant to seven building blocks identified by the Council of Australian Governments to underpin the Closing the Gap agenda. These resources fall into one of two collections: the General Collection and an Assessed Collection.

Resources in the General Collection are broadly related to the COAG building blocks and targets. The Assessed Collection is a compilation of research items that meet specific criteria (i.e., evaluation research, cost-effectiveness research, research on adapting non-Indigenous specific programs to Indigenous populations, and programs for responding to traumatised individuals and communities). Subject matter experts are engaged to assess the research evidence presented in the identified items.

The clearinghouse website includes an online register for research and evaluations in progress or completed (within the last three years).

Publications

The clearinghouse will produce a range of regular publications that will be published by AIHW on the website to support evidence-informed policy decisions and service provision:

  • Resource Sheets are concise summaries of evidence-informed programs, strategies and principles for addressing a specific issue relevant to overcoming disadvantage for Indigenous Australians.
  • Issues Papers are comprehensive reviews of a large body of research that describe the strength of the evidence relating to how an area of disadvantage for Indigenous Australians can be addressed.
Outreach, networking and advice

The clearinghouse undertakes outreach and networking and provides advice, the responsibility for which is shared between the AIHW and AIFS. These include:

  • jurisdictional visits to key policy agencies in the Australian, State and Territory governments;
  • attendance at conferences and the distribution/display of promotional material; and
  • provision of a helpdesk to respond to telephone or email enquiries from policy-makers, practitioners, researchers and other professionals.
Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Develop a website that provides electronic access to the clearinghouse's resources Website went live at end of October 2009 Delivers a central online source of research and information on overcoming disadvantage for Indigenous Australians
Identify research for the clearinghouse's General Collection More than 4,500 items relevant to the seven COAG building blocks identified Provides stakeholders with background information relating to the COAG building blocks
Compile shortlists of research to be assessed by subject matter experts 304 items had been identified for the Assessed Collection as of 30 June 2010 Provides information about research evidence to guide/inform decisions related to policy-making and service delivery
Jurisdictional visits with priority government stakeholders 10 completed Raises awareness of the clearinghouse as a central source for policy decisions and encourages use of the research register
Prepare promotional material Prepared a flier, poster and PowerPoint presentation Facilitates information transfer to key stakeholders
Outreach, networking and specialist advice 4 conference presentations
2 events attended to distribute/display promotional materials
42 links to other relevant sites posted on website
211 helpdesk enquiries
2 e-news alerts
Expands networks and outreach
Publish on a range of priority topics to support evidence-informed policy and practice 1 Issues Paper commissioned and drafted
2 Resource Sheets published
Provides resources to policy-makers and service providers to support the design and delivery of programs/activities that work (as revealed by available evidence) to overcome disadvantage for Indigenous Australians

Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia

Project duration Operating at AIFS since July 2005
Funding source FaHCSIA
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Social inclusion X
Violence, abuse and neglect X
Children, young people and their families XX
Related project(s) Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

Since mid-2009, the primary aim of CAFCA has shifted from supporting the evaluation of the former Stronger Families and Communities Strategy to the broader aim of facilitating the use of research among Australian policy-makers and practitioners whose work relates to children (0-12 years) and families in disadvantaged communities. A number of publications were prepared during the reporting period for release in 2010-11.

The two key functions of CAFCA during this reporting period were to (a) continue to develop the clearinghouse website and resources, including new services such as library membership; and (b) make the necessary changes to align with the Commonwealth Government's new Family Support Program (launched in February 2009).

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Publications
Brochure 1 CAFCA brochure developed and released Awareness of value of evidence-informed practice in child and family service provision is increased
Practice Profiles 4 CAFCA PPPs added
61 PPPs available at 30 June 2010
Knowledge exchange
Presentations 1 presentation Knowledge exchanged among policy-makers and services providers to improve the services for children and families, especially in disadvantaged communities
Information helpdesk 12 inquiries handled
Library collection and scheme CAFCA stakeholders have access to the AIFS library collection and Library Membership Scheme
Online resources
Website 130,206 web pages downloaded (111,397 in 2008-09 = 17% increase) Improved planning and delivery of services to children and families through access by policy-makers and practitioners to up-to-date information and evidence
Electronic alerts (monthly) 12 editions of CAFCA-alert (previously CAFCA-chat) distributed
304 subscribers at 30 June 2010 (185 subscribers at 30 June 2009 = 64% increase)
Publications

Tehan, B., & McDonald, M. (2010). Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia. Family Matters, 84, 89-91.

Presentations

McDonald, M., & Parker, R. (2010, 22 February). Learning from Promising Practice Profiles: Building practice based evidence through the evaluation of parenting and early childhood intervention programs. Melbourne.

National Child Protection Clearinghouse

Project duration Operating at AIFS since 1995
Funding source FaHCSIA
Research Plan 2009-11 theme(s) Social inclusion X
Violence, abuse and neglect XX
Children, young people and their families X
Related project(s) Closing the Gap Clearinghouse; Northern Territory Inquiry into Child Protection; Working with Vulnerable Children and Their Families: Practice Guides; Working With Vulnerable Children and Their Families: Specialist Practice Guides

The National Child Protection Clearinghouse is a research and information advisory unit focused on child abuse prevention, child protection and out-of-home care. The clearinghouse aims to resource and support the child and family welfare sector to make evidence-informed policy and practice decisions. It collects, produces and distributes information and resources, conducts research, and offers specialist advice on the latest developments in child abuse prevention, child protection and out-of-home care. The clearinghouse receives regular requests for information from policy-makers within the Australian and State and Territory governments, a strong indication of its significance within the field.

The clearinghouse is funded by FaHCSIA, as part of the Australian Government's response to the problem of child abuse and neglect.

Planned outputs Actual outputs Outcomes
Publications
Issues Papers (biannual) 2 NCPC Issues 4,150 NCPC print publications distributed
414,784 publications downloaded
Enhanced evidence-informed policy and practice in the child abuse prevention, child protection and out-of-home care sectors
Resource Sheets 8 new NCPC Resource Sheets
8 NCPC Resource Sheets updated
Online resources
Website 720,809 web pages downloaded (737,767 downloads in 2008-09 = 2.3% decrease) Enhanced access to major resources for child protection information in Australia
Electronic alerts 11 editions of NCPC-alert (previously What's New in Child Protection)
2,478 subscribers at 30 June 2010 (new subscriber list)
Discussion list 55 messages posted on childprotect moderated discussion list
686 subscribers at 30 June 2010 (677 subscribers at 30 June 2009 = 1.3% increase)
Bibliographies 30 bibliographies related to child protection available at 30 June 2010
63,000 downloads (48,000 downloads in 2008-09 = 23.8% increase)
Knowledge exchange
Presentations 10 presentations
1 clearinghouse event
Knowledge exchanged among policy-makers, services providers and researchers on latest developments in child abuse protection and child protection
Representation 11 board, committee, reference and advisory group memberships
Information helpdesk 160 research helpdesk enquiries (a decrease of 44.3% since 2008-09)
Library collection 303 new items of relevance to NCPC stakeholders added to the library a
5,626 items of relevance held at 30 June 2010
Latest research and practice readily available to researchers, policy-makers and practitioners
Library membership 220 NCPC library members at 30 June 2010

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

Publications
NCPC Issues

Lamont, A., & Bromfield, L. (2009). Parental intellectual disability and child protection: Key issues. (NCPC Issues No. 31). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Jordan, B., & Sketchley, R. (2009) A stitch in time saves nine: Preventing and responding to the abuse and neglect of infants (Child Abuse Prevention Issues No. 30). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

NCPC Resource Sheets

Berlyn, C., & Bromfield, L. (2010, June update). Child protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Berlyn, C., Holzer, P., & Higgins, D. (2010, February update). Pre-employment screening: Working with children checks and police checks (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Bromfield, L., & Horsfall, B. (2010, June update). Child abuse and neglect statistics (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Bromfield, L., Holzer, P., & Lamont. A. (2009, September update). The economic costs of child abuse and neglect (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Bromfield L., Holzer, P., & Lamont, A. (2010, June update). Economic costs of child abuse and neglect (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Holzer, P., & Lamont, A. (2009). Australian child protection legislation (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Holzer, P., & Lamont, A. (2010). Corporal punishment: Key issues (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Horsfall, B. (2010). Images of children and young people online (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Irenyi, M., & Horsfall, B. (2009, August update). Fatal child abuse (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Lamont, A. (2009). Age of consent laws (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Lamont, A. (2009, November update). Evaluating child abuse and neglect intervention programs (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Lamont, A. (2010). Effects of child abuse and neglect for adult survivors (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Lamont, A. (2010). Effects of child abuse and neglect for children and adolescents (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Lamont, A., & Holzer, P. (2009). Children's commissioners and guardians (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Price-Robertson, R., & Bromfield, L. (2009, November update). What is child abuse and neglect? (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Price-Robertson, R., Bromfield, L., & Vassallo, S. (2010). The prevalence of child abuse and neglect (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Richardson, N., Irenyi, M., & Horsfall, B. (2010, June update). Children in care (NCPC Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Electronic newsletter

11 editions of NCPC-alert (formerly What's New in Child Protection)

Presentations

Bromfield, L. (2009, 19 November). Challenges, opportunities and the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children. Children's Youth and Family Agencies Association, Perth.

Bromfield, L. (2009, 3 December). Cumulative harm: Recognising the effects of chronic child maltreatment. Workshop. ACT Department of Children, Youth and Family Services, Canberra.

Bromfield, L. (2010, 4 June). Domestic violence and assessing risk to children. Mothers, Children and Change: Strengthening Service Support and Safety Forum, Sydney.

Hayes, A. (2009, 8 September). Child abuse and neglect in Australia: Impacts, risks and responses. NAPCAN Event for National Child Protection Week, Canberra.

Higgins, D. J., & Kaspiew, R. (2009, 26-29 November). "Mind the Gap ...": Evaluation of Magellan and its role in protecting children in family law cases. Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law Congress, Fremantle.

Kaspiew, R., Bromfield, L., & Higgins, D. (2009, 26 November). Watch this space: Policy developments in inter-jurisdictional responses to family violence and child abuse. Family Court of Australia Registrars Conference, Melbourne.

Price-Robertson, R., Smart, D., Bromfield, L. M., & Vassallo, S. (2009, 15-18 November). Comparing impacts of positive parent-child relationships and maltreatment on psychosocial outcomes. Asia-Pacific Child Abuse and Neglect Conference (incorporating the 12th Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect), Perth.

Report on performance - Communications activities

Overview

A key role for the Institute is to communicate research about issues affecting families in Australia. To do so, the Institute disseminates a wide range of information and research-based products and services, and undertakes knowledge exchange activities through research; submissions and advisory services to government; production of publications; communications services; information collection and library services; conferences, seminars and presentations; representation on editorial and advisory boards; and consultation activities.

Publications

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.

Family Matters journal

Family Matters is the Institute's main research dissemination vehicle, with the primary purpose of keeping local and international readers informed about Institute research and activities. In addition, the journal keeps its readers informed of a broad range of family-related research by publishing articles from other Australian and overseas authors. Family Matters is a fully refereed academic journal recognised by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research for the purposes of Higher Education Research Data Collection.

Family Matters provides a diverse range of perspectives and analyses of family research and policy options. 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, information about Institute programs and activities and notes on new books.

Three editions of Family Matters were prepared in 2009-10.

  • Family Matters, No. 83, 2009 - "Hard times" - featured articles on the effects of difficult economic circumstances on family wellbeing. Issues covered included: the impact of recessions; joblessness; the effects of financial disadvantage on children's school readiness; transitioning from state out-of-home care to employment; social isolation among retired men and women; and family violence. This issue of Family Matters also included a copy of the Institute's Research Plan 2009-12: Sustaining Families in Challenging Times.
  • Family Matters, No. 84, 2010 - "Family and place" - focused on the influence of place on family disadvantage, and other issues relating to family wellbeing. The articles discussed: neighbourhood influences on children's development; place-based approaches to addressing disadvantage; the Pathways to Prevention project; the Communities for Children initiative; children's exposure to familial adversities; children's participation in Family Relationship Centres; family dispute resolution; legal recognition of Sharia law; child support and the Welfare to Work reforms; and families in the aftermath of natural disasters.
  • Family Matters, No. 85, 2010 - "Violence, abuse and neglect" - brought together research in the areas of child abuse and neglect, family violence and sexual assault; "joined-up" problems that often co-occur. The articles covered issues such as: connections between childhood family experiences and adult wellbeing; young people with parents who use alcohol or other drugs; criminal justice needs of sexual assault victims; findings from the Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms; parental contact for infants in separated families; kinship care; the contribution that teenagers make to household work; and dispute resolution choices.

Family Matters is available by subscription, in hard copy and online from RMIT Publishing's Informit e-Library. To meet the Institute's aim of reaching a wide and diverse audience, it is also distributed at no cost to an extensive list of members of parliament, key policy-makers, and the media. Family Matters continues to draw considerable media attention, with follow-up radio and press interviews and articles.

Research papers and reports

The Research Paper series is an important means by which Institute research findings and methodologies are made public. The series disseminates Institute research to policy-makers, practitioners and researchers, with the aim of encouraging dialogue with research and policy communities. In 2009-10, three Research Papers were published:

  • Baxter, J. (2009). Parental time with children: Do job characteristics make a difference? (Research Paper No. 44). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Baxter, J. (2010). An exploration of the timing and nature of parental time with 4-5 year olds using Australian children's time use data (Research Paper No. 45). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Gray, M., de Vaus, D., Qu, L., & Stanton, D. (2010). Divorce and the wellbeing of older Australians (Research Paper No. 46). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The Research Report series comprises more substantial works that report on research findings of a major project. In 2009-10, one Research Report was published:

  • Vassallo, S., Smart, D., Cockfield, S., Gunatillake, T., Harris, A., & Harrison, W. (2010). In the driver's seat II: Beyond the early driving years (Research Report No. 17). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Other publications

For Families Week, 15-21 May 2010, the Institute produced the brochure: The Best Start: Supporting Happy, Healthy Childhoods, prepared by Jennifer Baxter, Matthew Gray and Alan Hayes. This Facts Sheet examined the role that families and communities play in giving children the best possible start to life, using data from the LSAC survey.

Table 3.3 Publication distribution

 

2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 Change from previous year
Total publications distributed in print* 59,789 61,865 53,664 -13.3%
Total publication downloads across all AIFS websites 1,451,373 1,582,985 1,685,727 +6.5%
Total publications distributed 1,511,162 1,644,850 1,739,391 +5.8%

Note:    * The reduction in numbers of print publications distributed in 2009-10 reflects the beginning of an ongoing process to refine our mailing lists and reduce print distribution numbers.

Submissions to inquiries and reviews

During the reporting period, the Institute's research staff prepared the following submissions to government inquiries and reviews:

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2009). Advisory Group on Reform of Australian Government Administration: Building the World's Best Public Service. Reform of Australian Government Administration: Submission from the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Melbourne: AIFS.

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2009). Submission to Australian Law Reform Commission Family Violence Law Inquiry. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2009). Submission to Family Courts Violence Review. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2009). Submission to the Australian Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry into Suicide in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2009). Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth Inquiry into the Impact of Violence on Young Australians. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2009). Submission to the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2010). Australian Institute of Family Studies submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission Review of Victoria's Child Protection Legislative Arrangements. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2010). Submission to the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety from the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2010). Submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission Review of Victoria's Child Protection Legislative Arrangements. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Online and electronic resources

Websites

AIFS designs and hosts an external website <www.aifs.gov.au> and a number of subsites:

  • the Institute's four clearinghouses (ACSSA, AFRC, CAFCA and NCPC);
  • the Family Law Reform Evaluation project; and
  • the longitudinal research projects (LSAC, ATP and Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Parents).


Table 3.4 Websites page downloads, all AIFS websites and subsites
2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 Change from previous year
3,444,859 3,627,043 3,759,485 +3.6%
Electronic alerts

AIFS email alerts, e-newsletters and discussion groups keep stakeholders up-to-date with the work and activities of the Institute and each other.


Table 3.5 Subscribers to email lists
List name June 2008 June 2009 June 2010 Change from previous year
AIFS-alert for AIFS research highlights 1,722 1,632 2,106 +29.0%
All AIFS alerts and lists: AIFS-alert, ACSSA-alert, AFRC-alert, CAFCA-chat, childprotect, growingup-refgroup 4,809 4,597 6,085 +32.4%

External relations

External representation

AIFS staff serve on editorial boards, act as external reviewers for academic journals, and are members of steering committees, advisory committees and expert panels.

AIFS staff sat on the editorial boards of the following journals in 2009-10:

  • Australian Journal of Family Law
  • Child Maltreatment: Journal of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
  • Communities, Children and Families Australia
  • Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal
  • Family Science
  • Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review
  • Journal of Family Studies
  • Journal of Religion & Abuse: Advocacy, Pastoral Care and Prevention
  • Journal of Sexual and Relationship Therapy
  • Threshold: A Magazine About Marriage Education

In addition to providing editorial advice and services to the journals outlined above, AIFS staff acted as referees for the following publications in 2009-10:

  • Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy
  • Australian Journal of Labour Economics
  • Australian Journal of Social Issues
  • Journal of Comparative Family Studies
  • Journal of Family and Economic Issues
  • Journal of Family Studies
  • Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia
  • Population Research and Policy Review
  • Youth Studies Australia

Institute researchers provide professional advice through their membership of external groups and forums:

  • Academic Advisory Board, School of Psychology, Deakin University
  • APS200 Leadership Forum, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Australian Public Service Commission
  • ARACY (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth)
  • ARACY Early Childhod Development Research Reference Group
  • ARACY Research Network, New Investigators Network, Advisory Group
  • Australasian Human Development Association Trust
  • Australasian Statutory Child Protection Learning and Development Group
  • Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse Reference Group, University of New South Wales
  • Australian Social Policy Association
  • Australian Psychological Society
  • Centre for Community Child Health, Platforms Advisory Group, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne
  • Chief Justice's Family Law Forum
  • Child Safety Innovators Group, Department of Communities (Child Safety, Youth and Families), Queensland Government
  • Child Support National Stakeholder Engagement Group, FaHCSIA and Child Support Agency
  • Children and Families Research Centre Advisory Board, Macquarie University
  • Children and Youth Statistics Advisory Group, Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Children's Headline Indicators Expert Working Group, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Expert Reference Panel Relating to the Work of Family Consultants in the Family Court of Australia
  • Family Law Council, Attorney-General's Department
  • Family Law Evaluation Governance Committee, Attorney-General's Department
  • Family Law System Reference Group, Attorney-General's Department
  • Family Mediation Centre Services, Clinical Supervisor
  • Family Relationship Services Australia Conference 2009, Organising Committee
  • Family Statistics Advisory Group, Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • General Social Survey Reference Group, Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Headline Indicator Data Development Expert Working Group, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY), National Evaluation Advisory Group, DEEWR
  • Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), External Reference Group
  • International Network on Leave Policies and Research, Institute of Education (London) and Centrum voor Bevolkings- en Gezinsstudien (CBGS; Brussels)
  • Longitudinal Studies Advisory Group, Department of Family, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • Marriage and Relationship Educators' Association of Australia, National Executive
  • Measurement Group, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Community Attitudes Survey Development Research Reference Group
  • National Association of Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Victoria Advisory Council
  • National Child Information Advisory Group, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • National Council on Family Relations (USA)
  • National Families Week, Families Australia
  • National Marriage and Relationship Education Conference 2009, Organising Committee
  • National Youth Information Advisory Group, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Negotiating the Life Course, ARC Discovery Project
  • Pathways of Care: Longitudinal Study of Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care in NSW, Academic Advisory Group
  • Raising Children Network: Parenting Information Website Advisory Group
  • Relationships Australia Professional Quality Committee, Relationships Australia
  • Social Policy Research Centre, Advisory Committee, University of New South Wales
  • Statewide Workforce Development Project, Reference Group, CASA House
  • Statistical Society of Australia, Victorian Branch Council
  • UK Economic and Social Research Council
  • Victims of Crime Research Agenda Advisory Committee, NSW Department of Justice and Attorney-General
  • Victorian Association of Family Therapists Research Committee
  • Violence Against Women Advisory Group, Minister for the Status of Women, The Hon. Tanya Plibersek
  • Work and Family Roundtable, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Consultations

Individuals, government bodies and community sector organisations consult with AIFS, and Institute staff are members of a number of advisory groups. Such consultation is an indication of the Institute's involvement in the policy process. In the reporting period, consultations were undertaken covering a broad range of issues, including work and family, labour markets, social capital, child protection and social inclusion.

Visitors

A number of academics and representatives of government and community sector organisations from within and outside Australia met with Institute researchers to exchange ideas on issues of relevance to the Institute's research.

Library and information services

Library

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

AIFS Library services include:

  • an information helpdesk to support the four AIFS clearinghouses (ACSSA, AFRC, CAFCA and NCPC);
  • 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 more than 100,000 bibliographic records drawn from sociology, psychology, demography, health sciences, education, economics, law, history and social work source documents. The records describe relevant journal articles, conference papers, books, book chapters, government reports, research reports, discussion and working papers, unpublished papers, statistical documents and theses relevant to the study of families. AIFS bibliographic records are provided to the Libraries Australia National Bibliographic Database, managed by the National Library of Australia.

In 2009-10, in addition to using these records for the traditional purposes of recording and managing what is in the library collection, the Institute also drew on them to:

  • continue to build the Australian Family & Society Abstracts (AF&SA) database;
  • upload new records to Libraries Australia;
  • send relevant records to the AIHW to support the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse;
  • create bibliographies on current topics and display them on the clearinghouse websites; and
  • add details of new AIFS publications to the Institute's website.
Australian Family & Society Abstracts

AIFS has supplied more than 70,000 citations and abstracts from its bibliographic database for the AF&SA database. AF&SA resources and an enhanced full-text version, Family & Society Plus, are available at RMIT Publishing's Informit online service <www.informit.com.au>.

Conferences

LSAC Conference

The 2nd LSAC Research Conference was held at Rydges on Swanston, Melbourne, on 3-4 December 2009. More details about the conference are reported on page 30.

Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference

Throughout 2009-10, preparations took place to hold the 11th AIFS Conference in Melbourne from 7 to 9 July 2010. The conference, planned to attract up to 500 delegates, includes international keynote speakers, plenary and panel sessions, breakout sessions, a poster program, exhibition booths and networking events.

Seminar Series

The AIFS Seminar Series is a public forum at which invited researchers and policy-makers speak on contemporary family-related research and social issues. AIFS Seminars are free and open to the public. Where practicable, the Institute provides presentation material and associated speaker papers for free download via the Institute website.

Seminars hosted by the Institute
2 July 2009

Diana Smart, General Manager (Research), Australian Institute of Family Studies
Home-to-school transitions for financially disadvantaged children: Findings from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

28 July 2009

Professor Ilan Katz, Director, and Dr Kristy Muir, Senior Research Fellow and Evaluations Manager, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales; and Dr Ben Edwards, Research Fellow, and Dr Matthew Gray, Deputy Director (Research), Australian Institute of Family Studies
The national evaluation of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy

6 August 2009

Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination
Mature age worker: You'll be one sooner than you think

10 September 2009

Dr Adam M. Tomison, Director, Australian Institute of Criminology
Protecting children: Where to from here?

8 October 2009

Professor Stephen Zubrick, Curtin University Centre for Developmental Health and Head, Division of Population Science, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research
Developmental pathways in language emergence from two to seven: Late starts and surprising arrivals

6 November 2009

Dominic Richardson, Policy Analyst (Child Well-Being), Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)
The role of family policies in the promotion of child well-being: Lessons from the OECD report "Doing better for children"

23 February 2010

Clare Martin, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Council of Social Service
Return on investment: Where is the community sector making the biggest change?

25 March 2010

Professor Peter McDonald, Director, Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute
Why do English-speaking countries have relatively high fertility?

20 April 2010

Linda J. Harrison, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, Charles Sturt University
Early childhood experiences and school achievement: Do trajectories start earlier than we think?

11 May 2010

Professor Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., Professor of Sociology and Research Associate, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania
The recent transformation of the American family: Witnessing and exploring social change

Media coverage

The engagement of media is an important means of communicating the Institute's research findings about factors that affect family wellbeing. Twelve media releases were issued in 2009-10.

The level of media coverage of the Institute's research was consistent with the figures for 2008-09, while the measurable audience reach was slightly less than the previous year. The Institute's Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms, publicly released in late January 2010, attracted a large volume of coverage.


Table 3.6 Number of mentions by media channel
Number of mentions 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
Radio 1,096 1,272 1,191
Television 697 405 456
Press 142 193 192
Internet 400 322 358
Totals 1,980 2,192 2,197

Source: Media Monitors


Table 3.7 Audience reached by media channel
Audience circulation a 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
Radio 9,457,200 11,892,400 9,546,800
Television 10,619,977 5,738,293 6,631,562
Press 32,343,638 50,813,103 47,045,156
Totals 52,420,815 68,443,796 63,223,518

Note: a Audience figures are unavailable for Internet media.
Source: Media Monitors

Report on performance - Financial activities

Operating results

The Institute finished the financial year 2009-10 with a small surplus of $1,962 (2008-09 operating deficit of $179,494) compared to the estimated breakeven position in Portfolio Budget Statements 2010-11. Revenue from other sources was $131,298 less than budgeted, mainly due to timing differences in some projects. The corresponding decrease in expenditure was $133,260 resulting in the small surplus.

Operating revenue

The total operating revenue was $10,167,702 and consisted of the following:

  • government appropriations of $3,850,000;
  • sale of goods and rendering of services of $6,137,021; and
  • other revenue of $180,681.

Revenue from government appropriations decreased by a net amount of $187,000 from 2008-09, reflecting the results of portfolio savings measures, offset partially by increases resulting from changes in prices and wages indices.

Operating expenses

Total operating expenses were $10,165,740 and consisted of:

  • employee costs of $6,849,383;
  • supplier expenses of $2,933,795;
  • depreciation of $296,403;
  • write-down and impairment of assets of $84,455; and
  • loss from asset sales of $1,704.

Balance sheet

Net asset position

The net asset position at 30 June 2010 was $1,794,523 (2008-09: $1,792,561).

Total assets

Total assets at 30 June 2010 were $5,628,792 (2008-09: $6,613,313). Financial assets and non-financial assets decreased by $786,854 and $197,667 respectively. The decrease in financial assets was mainly due to a decrease in government appropriation and debtors. The decrease in non-financial assets is due to additions of fixed assets being less than the depreciation for the year and the write-down of fixed asset costs following a valuation review.

Total liabilities

Total liabilities at 30 June 2010 were $3,834,269 (2008-09: $4,820,752). The difference is mainly due to a decrease in the level of unearned revenue in 2009-10.


Table 3.8 Resources for Outcome 1: Inform government, policy-makers and other stakeholders on factors influencing how families function
  Budget 2009-10 ($'000) Actual 2009-10 ($'000) Variation (column 2 - column 1) ($'000) Budget 2010-11 ($'000)
Administered appropriations
  Total administered appropriations - - - -
Departmental appropriations
  Output Group 1 3,850 3,850 - 3,518
  Total revenue from government (appropriations) Contributing to price of departmental outputs 3,850 3,850 - 3,518
Revenue from other sources
  Output Group 1 6,449 6,318 (131) 6,546
  Total revenue from other sources 6,449 6,318 (131) 6,546
Total price from departmental outputs
(Total revenue from government and from other sources)
10,299 10,168 (131) 10,064
Total resourcing for Outcome 1
(Total price of outputs and administered appropriations)
10,299 10,168 (131) 10,064

Table 3.9 Average staffing level
  Actual 2009-10 Budget 2010-11
Average staffing level (number) 66 67
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 developing and applying improved financial, administrative, human resources and information technology policies and practices.

Corporate governance

The Institute operates under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 ( FMA Act). The corporate focus throughout 2009-10 has been the effective maintenance of high standards of governance, accountability and reporting in order to fulfill all FMA requirements and build organisational capacity to achieve the Institute's research and communication objectives.

Senior executive members

Professor Alan Hayes is the Director of the Institute. Two Deputy Directors assist the Director in leading and managing the Institute. Dr Matthew Gray is Deputy Director (Research) and Ms Sue Tait is Deputy Director (Corporate and Strategy).

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 leads and coordinates all aspects of the research and corporate functions of the Institute. It comprises the Director and the two Deputy Directors.

Strategic Leadership Group

The Strategic Leadership Group comprises the Executive and the General 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 (RAAC), 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 2009-10.

Members of the Advisory Council are appointed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Advisory Council members, 2009-10

Reverend the Hon. Professor Brian Howe AO (Chair), Centre for Public Policy, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne

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

Glenys Beauchamp PSM, Deputy Secretary, FaHCSIA (to 7 April 2010)

Liza Carroll, Deputy Secretary, FaHCSIA (from 7 April 2010)

Professor Bruce Chapman AM, Professor, Public Policy, Crawford School of Economics and Government, ANU

Professor John Dewar, Provost, University of Melbourne

Dr Marie Leech, Principal, Sancta Sophia College, University of Sydney

Ben Rimmer, Deputy Secretary, PM&C, Nominee of the Secretary

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

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.

The committee is chaired by an external member. Membership includes the two Deputy Directors and two independent members external to the Institute. The committee met four times during 2009-10, 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, update of the Director's Instructions, and the Institute's finance rules and end-of-year financial audits.

Risk Assessment and Audit Committee members, 2009-10

Denise Swift, PSM (Chair)

Dennis Mihelyi (Member), Director, Corporate Services, Australian Industrial Registry

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

Dr Matthew Gray (Member), Deputy Director (Research), AIFS

Professor Alan Hayes (Observer), Director, AIFS

Susan Leong (Observer), Chief Finance Officer, 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 at least twice a year 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 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 by the Director of the Institute.

Human Research Ethics Committee members, 2009-10

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

Dr Trevor Batrouney, BA, BEd (Melb); MEd, PhD (Monash); Adjunct Professor, RMIT University

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

Helen Glezer, BA (Hons) (Melb); MA (La Trobe)

Rosalie Pattenden, BSc (Hons Psych) (Monash); Accredited Marriage Counsellor, Relationships Australia (Victoria); LACST; Centacare Melbourne

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

Corporate and statutory reporting

During 2009-10, the Institute has continued to refine and strengthen its planning processes, building on earlier initiatives - including the reporting calendar, contract register and improved records management processes - to incorporate an overarching Corporate Plan during 2010. Along with the implementation of the new Performance Development and Review process, this brings together a range of corporate and communications priorities, and has contributed to increased compliance standards and greater awareness of reporting performance against outcomes.

An outcomes focus has been emphasised through the continued use of trend forecasting for the Parliamentary Budget Statements for 2010-11, which is aligned to the goals in the Institute's new Strategic Plan 2009-12. The Institute continued to strengthen these processes throughout 2009-10, including successfully streamlining reporting processes to link preparations for Senate Estimates, annual reporting and the PBS.

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

Director's Instructions and finance rules

The Director's Instructions and the Institute's finance rules are reviewed on a regular basis and represent an ongoing commitment to the process of improvement and alignment of the Institute's documentation to ensure effective operation and compliance with the requirements of the FMA Act under which it operates. No changes were required in 2009-10.

Risk management

Internal audit

In 2007, the Institute undertook an open tender process to establish an outsourced internal audit program. PKF Chartered Accountants were engaged to develop a Strategic Internal Audit Program for the following three years. As part of this, a risk assessment of the Institute was undertaken to identify the strategic business and fraud risks it faces. During the reporting period, three internal audit reports addressing identified risks were undertaken and the reports were tabled with the RAAC:

  • business continuity management review;
  • budget management review; and
  • Certificate of Compliance review.

In 2010-11, a new three-year internal audit program will be developed, following a tender process to secure internal audit services.

Business continuity

The Institute's Business Continuity 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.

The Business Continuity Plan was rewritten in 2009 and reviewed in December 2009 as part of the internal audit program. The revised plan was endorsed by the RAAC and approved by the Director in June 2010.

Protective security

As part of the internal audit program, the Institute's information technology systems were reviewed at the end of the previous reporting period. Revised procedures complying with requirements of the Australian Government Protective Security Manual and the Australian Government Information and Communications Technology Security Manual were ratified by the RAAC in June 2010.

There were no major security incidents during the reporting period.

Fraud control

During the financial year 2009-10, no fraud was identified. A fraud risk assessment is scheduled for November 2010.

Certification of fraud control arrangements

I, Matthew Gray, certify that I am satisfied that for the financial year 2009-10 the Institute has had:

  • a fraud control plan prepared that complies with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines;
  • appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting procedures and processes in place; and
  • annual fraud data that has been collected and reported in compliance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.

Matthew Gray, Acting Director
31 August 2010

Ethical standards

Australian Public Service values in the Institute

The Australian Public Service (APS) values are actively promoted and upheld throughout the Institute. The importance of the APS values is incorporated into the everyday management and operations of the Institute. For example, the obligations of employees to uphold the APS values and abide by the APS Code of Conduct are promoted in training courses; applied to personnel management processes; upheld by guidelines and procedures, which themselves take account of the APS values; and reflected throughout Institute human resources documents, which are available to employees through the Institute intranet.

External scrutiny

The Institute is subject to an annual statutory audit performed by the Australian National Audit Office. In addition, regular internal audit reviews are undertaken by an independent contractor. 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.

The Institute does not have statutory administrative decision-making powers and was not subject to any judicial decisions or decisions of administrative tribunals in 2009-10.

Management of human resources

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 and 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 just commenced their careers. The 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.

The Institute is proud of its ability to attract, develop and retain highly skilled employees to continually strengthen its human and intellectual capital. Figures 4.1 and 4.2 show 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 2010

Figure 4.2 Research employee qualifications as at 30 June 2010

Consultative processes

The Institute is committed to consulting with its employees. In October 2009, the Institute conducted a Staff Planning Day to complement its quarterly all-staff meetings. All employees of the Institute were invited to attend the event and strategies were identified in the areas of people development, innovation and opportunities.

Employee Survey

In November 2009, the Institute conducted a comprehensive employee survey on a wide range of topics related to the management of human resources. The survey was based on the APS-wide State of the Service Employee Survey and was conducted through an external provider to ensure confidentiality of responses. Eighty-five per cent of employees responded to the survey and results were presented to staff in December 2009. Overall, results were positive and demonstrated high levels of staff commitment and job satisfaction, with 78% of respondents indicating satisfaction with their current job and 80% indicating satisfaction with the Institute as an employer. Key improvement areas were identified and these will continue to be areas of focus in 2010-11.

Workplace Relations Committee

The Workplace Relations Committee provides a forum for management and employees to discuss matters affecting the workplace in general, as well as issues relating to the Certified Agreement. The committee comprises three representatives each from management and employees, 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 Manager (Human Resources) and meets quarterly.

Input from the Workplace Relations Committee has played a key role in a review of the Institute's human resources policies and guidelines.

Health and Safety Committee

The establishment of a Health and Safety Committee is a requirement under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991. Under the Institute's Health and Safety Management Arrangement, the committee meets four times per year and facilitates discussion between management and employees regarding occupational health and safety matters in the workplace. The arrangement sets out the framework for the operation of the committee and occupational health and safety practices at the Institute.

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.

Individual performance management

The Institute commenced a review of its performance management program in 2009, with the aim of refining the program since its introduction in early 2009. Employee and manager training programs were delivered in 2009-10 to support the development of individual Performance Development and Review plans.

The principles underpinning the 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.

Workforce planning

Recruitment

The majority of vacancies at the Institute are advertised in the weekly online APSjobs, with a small number also advertised in the press. The Institute has undertaken more online advertising in 2009-10 to reduce advertising costs and target particular markets. 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 2010-11 to recruit and retain capable staff.

Learning and development

The objective of learning and development activities is to ensure that the Institute has the organisational capability to respond to research challenges both now and in the future.

During the year, the Institute continued to develop its workforce capability by providing professional learning and development. Inhouse training programs focused on performance management, the APS Values and Code of Conduct, presentation skills and skills for dealing with difficult callers. The effectiveness of the training provided was evaluated in the performance reviews conducted between managers and individuals.

During 2009-10, the Institute invested $88,520 in direct learning and development activities and $46,975 in conference attendance, and the equivalent of $135,500 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.

Occupational 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 $150 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. Further, employees have access to subsidised eyesight testing, including the provision of glasses and regular workstation assessments that immediately implement corrective measures if required, such as personally designed ergonomic equipment. The Institute will continue to review its health and wellbeing strategies during 2010-11.

There were no notifiable accidents or investigations reported during 2009-10.

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 2009-10, employees have supported 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. The development of annual workplans linked to employees' Performance Development and Review plans and relevant Institute plans has provided clarity to individuals on expected outcomes. Revised HR Delegations to be implemented in 2010-11 will provide streamlined approval processes.

Through the extension and variation of the Certified Agreement in March 2009, productivity gains were made through the extension of the working day by 9 minutes, from 7 hours 21 minutes to 7 hours 30 minutes. Further, the Institute and its employees will continue to increase productivity savings through a reduction in travel costs and improved management and reporting of unscheduled absences in 2010-11.

Statistics on staffing

As at 30 June 2010, there were 71 staff - 17 males and 54 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 62% of staff in ongoing positions and 38% of staff in non-ongoing positions. Table 4.3 describes staff by classification level, gender and type of employment as at 30 June 2010

Table 4.1 Staffing overview: Actual ongoing and non-ongoing full-time and part-time staff, by gender, at 30 June 2010
  Ongoing Non-ongoing Total
Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
Male 7 1 7 2 17
Female 26 10 12 6 54
Total 33 11 19 8 71
% of all staff* 46 16 27 11 100

 

Table 4.2 Staffing overview: Actual ongoing and non-ongoing full-time and part-time staff, by gender, at 30 June 2009
  Ongoing Non-ongoing Total
Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
Male 8 1 8 3 20
Female 25 7 11 12 55
Total 33 8 19 15 75
% of all staff 44 11 25 20 100
Table 4.3 Staffing overview: Actual ongoing and non-ongoing staff, by classification level and gender, at 30 June 2010
Classification AIFS Classification Ongoing Non-ongoing Total % of all staff
Male Female Male Female
Senior Executive Service (SES) Band 1 SES Band 1 1 0 0 1 2 3
Executive Level (EL) 2 AIFS Band 5 4 8 1 0 13 18
Executive Level 1 AIFS Band 4 2 10 1 2 15 21
Australian Public Service (APS) Level 6 AIFS Band 3 1 11 3 4 19 27
APS 5 AIFS Band 3 0 2 0 6 8 11
APS 4 AIFS Band 2 0 4 0 0 4 6
APS 3 AIFS Band 2 0 0 3 5 8 11
APS 2 AIFS Band 1 0 1 1 0 2 3
APS 1 AIFS Band 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total   8 36 9 18 71 100
% of all staff   11 51 13 25 100  

 

Table 4.4 Number of staff covered by different agreements, at 30 June 2010
Type of agreement No. of staff
Certified Agreement* 71
AWA 0
s 24(1) Determination 9

Note: * Seven Executive Level 2 employees covered by the Certified Agreement have been provided with s 24(1) Determinations to supplement pre-existing employment terms and conditions under clause 6.5 of the Certified Agreement. In addition, five employees are 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
Certified Agreement Access to Employee Assistance Program; study assistance; flexible remuneration packaging; purchased leave; paid non-primary caregiver parental leave; special leave; home-based work; flextime; airline lounge membership, if travelling frequently; good health allowance; volunteer allowances
Non-SES staff: s 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: s 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

Certified Agreements, determinations and Australian Workplace Agreements

The Institute's 2006-08 Certified Agreement was extended and varied by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission on 3 March 2009, under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 prior to the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009. The agreement runs until March 2012 and provides for:

  • four pay increases, totalling 16% across three years;
  • a range of allowances;
  • additional leave provisions for maternity and adoptive leave;
  • paid parental leave for non-primary care givers;
  • changes to the Performance Development and Review Program;
  • a standard working day of 7 hours 30 minutes (increased from 7 hours 21 minutes).

A small number of senior (Executive Level 2) employees who previously held Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA) are now covered by Determinations made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 to supplement the conditions provided by the Institute's certified agreement. The Institute's Senior Executive Service employees are covered by comprehensive s24(1) Determinations.

Details of the number of staff covered by a Certified Agreement or an s 24(1) Determination at 30 June 2010 are shown in Table 4.4. Non-salary benefits received by staff are shown in Table 4.5.

Salary ranges

Table 4.6 Staffing overview: Salary ranges by classification, at 30 June 2010
AIFS classification Salary range
SES Band 1 $132,500-153,300
AIFS Band 5 $96,222-114,654
AIFS Band 4 $83,427-92,130
AIFS Band 3 $60,651-74,754
AIFS Band 2 $48,471-58,656
AIFS Band 1 $37,605-47,192

Performance pay

SES employees and eligible Executive Level 2 employees on s 24(1) Determinations may qualify for a performance bonus of up to 15% if they achieve a performance rating of fully effective or above. Table 4.7 outlines performance payment information for the 2009 performance cycle.

Table 4.7 Performance pay
Level Number Aggregated amount Average Minimum Maximum
SES 1 & EL 2 9 $106,746 $11,861 $4,389 $22,995

Assets management

The Institute maintains a detailed 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 Guidelines as detailed in the Institute's finance rules and Procurement Guide. The guide is a key Institute document detailing Institute policy, principles, processes and procedures in line with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and the Director's Instructions. A full range of templates for all aspects of purchasing and approval accompany the guide. Staff have undertaken training to support compliance with requirements.

Consultants

The Institute's core business to conduct research and communicate 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 on an issue is required.

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

Processes for the engagement of consultants are consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines, finance rules and Director's Instructions and are detailed in the Institute's Procurement Guide. 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 Director's Instructions contain guidelines for the approval of expenditure.

Consultancies let to the value of $10,000 or more during 2009-10 are listed in Table 4.8.

Table 4.8 New consultancies let to the value of $10,000 or more, 2009-10
Consultant name Description Contract price 1 Selection process 2 Justification 3
Executive Central Group Pty Ltd Strategic support services 34,219 Direct source B
W. E. & P. A. Cameron Pty Ltd Human resources services (facilitated communication session, one-on-one career advice, team planning day) 16,462 Panel B
W. E. & P. A. Cameron Pty Ltd Career development services (career development and mentoring for staff) 11,000 Panel B
University of Western Sydney Authoring AFRC Briefing Paper No. 18 10,750 Direct source B

Notes:
1 Price is inclusive of GST.
2 Explanation of selection process terms drawn from the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (December 2008):
Open tender: A procurement procedure in which a request for tender is published inviting all businesses that satisfy the conditions for participation to submit tenders. Public tenders are generally sought from the Australian Government AusTender Internet site.
Select tender: A procurement procedure in which the procuring agency selects which potential suppliers are invited to submit tenders. This procurement may only be used under certain defined circumstances.
Direct source: A form of restricted tendering, available only under certain defined circumstances, with a single potential supplier or suppliers being invited to bid because of their unique expertise and/or their special ability to supply the goods and/or services sought.
Panel: An arrangement under which a number of suppliers, initially selected through an open tender process, may each supply property or services to an agency as specified in the panel arrangements. Quotes are sought from suppliers that have pre-qualified on the agency panels to supply the government. This category includes standing offers and supplier panels where the supplier of goods and services may be provided for a pre-determined length of time, usually at a pre-arranged price.
3  Justification for decision to use consultancy:
A. Skills currently unavailable within agency.
B. Need for specialised or professional skills.
C. Need for independent research or assessment.

During 2009-10, nine new consultancy contracts were entered into (including those to the value of less than $10,000), involving total actual expenditure of $88,731 (inc. GST). In addition, five ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the year, involving total actual expenditure of $357,058 (inc. GST). Expenditure for the year totalled $445,789 (inc. GST).

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts and consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website. Contracts above the value of $100,000 are detailed on the AIFS website: <www.aifs.gov.au>.

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 of $100,000 or more (exclusive of GST) contained these standard clauses.

Exempt contracts

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 of $100,000 or more (exclusive of GST) contained these standard clauses.

Commonwealth Disability Strategy

There are many types of disability, and people may have disabilities as a result of an accident, illness or genetic disorder. Under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy framework, the Institute has a strong commitment to provide:

access to Institute products and services for clients with disabilities; and

equal employment opportunity for people with disabilities.

The Institute's performance against the Commonwealth Disability Strategy is set out in Tables 4.9 and 4.10. Goals and actions for 2010-11 are being developed as part of a broader Workplace Diversity Plan.

Table 4.9 Commonwealth Disability Strategy: Performance requirements of the provider role
Performance indicator Current level of performance
1.  Providers have established mechanisms for quality improvement and assurance The Institute operates in accordance with the Australian Government Information Management Office guidelines relating to accessibility for visually impaired users and is working to ensure that the Institute website meets the requirements of the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The Institute is committed to the development of a website that is accessible to all people with impairments (including visual impairment). The Institute is aware that some data on the website may be less accessible to a few visually impaired users and continues to work towards improving accessibility. Users are able to contact the Institute for accessible versions of data, which are supplied on a case-by-case basis.
2.  Providers have an established service charter that specifies the roles of the provider and consumer, and service standards that address accessibility for people with disabilities A free service to convert data files into an alternative format is available for people with vision impairment or other accessibility requirements.
3.  Complaints/grievance mechanisms, including access to external mechanisms, in place to address concerns raised about performance Any complaints or grievances regarding the Institute providing services to people with disabilities are raised directly with the delegate for investigation.

 

Table 4.10 Commonwealth Disability Strategy: Performance requirements of the employer role
Performance indicator Current level of performance
1.  Employment policies, procedures and practices comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 All Institute employment policies, procedures and practices have been developed in line with the APS Values and comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The principles of the Act, in terms of eliminating discrimination, promoting equity and responding to the diverse needs of the Australian community, are values upheld by the Institute and the Australian Institute of Family Studies Certified Agreement 2006-08 (as amended 3 March 2009).
2.  Recruitment information for potential job applicants is available in accessible formats on request All standard recruitment materials are provided in accessible formats, and each recruitment panel is supported in handling requests for accessible information. Any request for accessible information is logged, with no requests made during 2009-10.
3.  Agency recruiters and managers apply the principle of "reasonable adjustment" Information gathered from applicants enables the Institute to seek further information with regard to possible reasonable adjustment requirements for an interview situation or the work environment upon commencement.
4/5.Training and development programs consider the needs of staff with disabilities and include information on disability issues as they relate to the content of the program The Institute's training and development programs take into consideration any special needs of employees. In accordance with the Disability Strategy, all training and development activities aim to be: learner-centred; designed using an instructional design phase that considers the diverse needs and learning styles of trainees; delivered and event-managed with activities that provide for the reasonable adjustment requirements of the trainees, such as specific hearing, language/translator and mobility issues; and designed to continue the work with specific components on disability and reasonable adjustment in management and leadership development aspects of programs.
6.  Complaints/grievance mechanisms, including access to external mechanisms, in place to address issues and concerns raised by staff The Institute provides information to employees about external appeal mechanisms. In addition to more formal mechanisms set out in the Public Service Act 1999, the Institute has agreed internal procedures for resolving workplace issues that have been established under the Australian Institute of Family Studies Certified Agreement 2006-2008 (as amended 3 March 2009).
5. Financial statements

The 2010-11 Financial Statements are available only as PDF. If you require a more accessible version, please contact us.

Appendix A: Legislative requirements

Occupational health and safety

The Institute is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, and meeting its responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991. See Chapter 4: Management Accountability (pp. 74 & 75) for the Institute's occupational health and safety policies, processes and performance.

Freedom of information

No requests were made of the Institute this year for information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives individuals the right to view documents held by Australian Government agencies, with some exceptions. Section 8 of the Act requires the Institute to report on:

  • our organisation and functions (for more information, see Chapter 2: Agency Overview);
  • any arrangements for outside participation in policy formation or administration;
  • the types of documents we hold; and
  • our freedom of information procedures, facilities and contact details.

Outside participation

The Institute has established and maintains formal and informal contacts with a wide range of individuals and organisations for the purpose of obtaining and giving advice, collaborating on studies, exchanging information, seeking access to data and exploring options for the development of the Institute's work.

Specific avenues for outside participation include input by experts in design, seminars and steering groups of Institute studies, external review of Institute manuscripts prior to publication, Visiting Fellows, and Institute seminars and conferences.

Staff in the Institute's library handle enquiries by phone, facsimile, email, letter or in person.

Categories of documents and procedures

The Institute maintains the following categories of documents:

  • research data collected by survey interviews and questionnaires (this information is obtained from respondents on the understanding that their anonymity will be preserved and the information provided is confidential to the Institute, although datasets may be made available to external researchers when all identifying details are removed);
  • documents relating to day-to-day internal administration and management, including personnel files, staff and management services, correspondence, finance and accounting documents, tenders, contracts and assets lists; and
  • published and unpublished research reports.

The procedure the Institute has in place for freedom of information requests is that the Institute's Manager (Accountability & Reporting) assists applicants to identify the particular documents they seek. If a request is to be refused on grounds appearing in Section 15(2) or Section 24(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (insufficient information or unreasonable diversion of resources), applicants will be notified and given an opportunity for consultation. The officer authorised to deny access to documents is the Deputy Director (Corporate & Strategy), in consultation with the Director.

Contact details for more information

Manager (Accountability & Reporting)
Australian Institute of Family Studies
Level 20, 485 La Trobe Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Email: FOI officer
Phone: 03 9214 7888
Fax: 03 9214 7839

Advertising and market research

The following table provides details of advertising and market research expenditure of $11,200 or greater (inclusive of GST), as required by section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

Table A.1 Institute expenditure on advertising and market research of $11,200 or greater (inc. GST), 2009-10
  Vendor Total payments for 2009-10
Direct mail organisations Mailcare Systems Pty Ltd $42,561
Media advertising organisations Adcorp Australia Ltd $31,218
Total advertising   $73,779

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 in 2010, although it is worth noting that it is Institute practice to always turn off non-essential lighting and appliances.

The Institute's operations have the following environmental impacts and Institute staff have taken the specified initiatives to minimise their impact:

  • In 2009-10, electricity consumption within our tenancy (causing emissions to the air and use of resources) increased by 2% compared to the previous period, due to temporarily increasing staff during the period to cope with several large projects. 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 continued the removal of redundant lights.
  • 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. Selected 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 use of recycled paper and ensuring that printers default to using both sides of the paper.
  • 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.
Appendix B: Compliance index

Agency resource statement 2010-11

  Actual available appropriation for 2010-11
$'000 (a)
Payments made 2010-11
$'000 (b)
Balance remaining 2010-11
$'000
(a) - (b)
Ordinary annual services 1      
Departmental appropriation 2 13,672 9,315 4,357
Total 13,672 9,315 4,357
Total ordinary annual services (A) 13,672 9,315  
Other services 3      
Total other services (B) - -  
Total available annual appropriations and payments 13,672 9,315  
Special appropriations      
Total special appropriations (C)   -  
Special accounts 4      
Total special account     -
Total resourcing A+B+C+D 13,672 9,315  
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 for AIFS 13,672 9,315  

1 Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2010-11. This may also include prior year departmental appropriation and S.31 relevant agency receipts.

2 Includes an amount of $0.230 m in 2010-11 for the Departmental Capital Budget. For accounting purposes this amount has been designated as "contributions by owners".

3 Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2010-11 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2010-11.

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. 

Expenses and resources for Outcome 1, 2010-11

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* 2010-11 $'000 (a) Actual Expenses 2010-11 $'000 (b) Variation 2010-11 $'000
(a) - (b)
Program 1.1: Australian Institute of Family Studies
Departmental expenses      
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Bill No. 1) 3,518 3,518 -
Revenues from independent sources (Section 31) 5,953 5,596 357
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 330 319 11
Total for Program 1.1 9,801 9,433 368
  2009-10 2010-11 Variation 2010-11
Average staffing level (number) 66 64 2

* Full year budget, including any subsequent adjustment made to the 2010-11 Budget.

Appendix C: Acronyms & 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
ACTU Australian Council of Trade Unions
AF&SA Australian Family & Society Abstracts
AFRC Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse
AGD Attorney-General's Department
AIC Australian Institute of Criminology
AIFS Australian Institute of Family Studies
AIHW Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
AL Annual leave
AM Member of the Order of Australia
ANU Australian National University
AO Officer of the Order of Australia
APS Australian Public Service
ARACY Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth
ARC Australian Research Council
ATP Australian Temperament Project
CAFCA Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia
CALD Culturally and linguistically diverse
CASA Centre Against Sexual Assault House
CB Companion of the Order of the Bath
CDDA Compensation for Detriment Caused by Defective Administration
CfC Communities for Children
COAG Council of Australian Governments
CSS Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme
Cth Commonwealth
DCB Department Capital Budget
DEEWR Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
DHS Australian Government Department of Human Services
EAMFF East Asia Ministerial Forum on Families
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
FRC Family Relationship Centre
GST Goods and services tax
HILDA Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia
IPS Information Publication Scheme
LSAC Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
LSIC Footprints in Time: The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children
LSS Long service leave
LSSF Longitudinal Study of Separated Families
MLA Member of the Legislative Assembly
MP Member of Parliament
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
OPA Official Public Account
PBS Portfolio Budget Statements
PL Personal leave
PM&C Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PPP Promising Practice Profiles
PSM Public Service Medal
PSS Public Sector Superannuation Scheme
PSSap Public Sector Superannuation Scheme Accumulation Plan
Qld Queensland
RAAC Risk Assessment and Audit Committee
RACV Royal Automobile Club Victoria
RCN Raising Children Network
SA South Australia
SES Senior Executive Service
SFIA Stronger Families in Australia
SPRC Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales
TAC Transport Accident Commission
Tas. Tasmania
UK United Kingdom
USA United States of America
Vic. Victoria
WA Western Australia

Publication details

Annual Report
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, October 2010
138 pp.

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