2023 Needs and impact survey insights

Content type
Short article

May 2024

The Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange project, funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS), is committed to engaging with the child, family and welfare sector. The work of the sector is vital to improving outcomes for Australian families. We support you by providing recent and reliable evidence to inform your practice and improve outcomes for the people you work with.

Our annual Needs and Impact Survey is one of the ways we try to understand what practice topics are relevant to you and your work and how you want to receive information. As we do every year, we promoted the survey to our audience via the CFCA newsletter and dedicated social media. This year we also reached out to a wider audience, such as users of other AIFS services and government stakeholders, to gather information about a wider set of needs and interests. The most recent Needs and Impact survey was open from 13 November to 15 December 2023.

This short article provides a summary of the findings from the 2023 survey. We also explain how we plan to use the information to understand the sector’s information needs and to guide the development of new CFCA resources.

Who completed the survey

The 2023 survey received 1,215 responses. After data cleaning, 1,028 responses were included in the analysis. People who completed the survey came from all Australian states and territories. The most represented states were New South Wales (33%), Victoria (24%) and Queensland (17%). This is broadly in line with the Australian population (Census, 2021).

Australian respondents by state

Responses to the survey came from across several sectors and organisation types. The largest single group of respondents identified as working in a government department or agency. More than half of respondents worked in either a community-based support service or other not-for-profit organisation (Table 1). 

Table 1. Most common organisation types

Types of organisationNo%
Government department or agency30930.6
Community-based support service29228.9
Other not-for-profit organisation27827.5
Private, for-profit organisation888.7
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander specific (e.g. Aboriginal community-controlled organisation)363.6
Other (parent, unemployed, currently retired, sole trader, citizen stakeholder)80.8

Respondents were mostly likely to be employed as client-facing practitioners, mid-level managers or clinicians, with their main areas of work being family support services, child protection and/or out-of-home care, and education and training. Respondents were relatively experienced: nearly 80% had been working in the same organisation or area of practice for more than 3 years and 43% for more than 10 years.

Top 5 role types: 1. Client-facing practitioner 35%, 2. Mid-level manager 15%. 3. Clinician 14%, 4. Educator/early years worker (childhood) 7%, Project/program advisor or officer 6%. Top 5 areas of work: 1. Family support services 26%, 2. Child protection 16%, 3. Education and training 15%, 4. Health services (excl mental health) 10%, 4. Domestic, family and sexual violence 10%, 5. Mental health 6%.

What you told us

Areas of practice you were interested in

We provided 22 broad topic areas and asked you to select any or all areas where you need evidence-based resources. More than half of the participants endorsed a need for resources covering 6 key areas: parents and parenting, domestic and family violence, child abuse and neglect, mental health and wellbeing, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and adolescents and young people.

The figure below shows the top 10 areas of interest and the percentage of those saying resources are needed on these topics.

68% Parents and parenting; 66% Domestic and family violence; 65% Child abuse and neglect; 62% Mental health and wellness; 66% Adolescents and young people; 59% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families; 57% Adolescents and young people; 46% Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families; 42% Children in care; 38% Family demographics, types and trends.

The next figure compares the top 10 ranked practice topics from our previous 2022 survey and the current 2023 survey. People were mostly interested in the same topics but there were minor shifts within the overall rankings. The topic with the greatest increase of interest was family demographics, types and trends, which ranked 3 places higher than in 2022.

Topic priorities: 2022 ¬– 1. Parents and parenting; 2. Mental health and wellness; 3. Domestic and family violence; 4. Adolescents and young people; 5. Child abuse and neglect; 6. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and affairs; 7. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families; 8. Couples, family and relationships; 9. Children in care; 10. Working with clients; 2023: 1. Parents and parenting; 2. Domestic and family violence; 3. Child abuse and neglect; 4. Mental health and wellness; 5. Ab


Within these broad topic areas, we also asked people to identify more specific subtopics of interest. The top 10 most requested subtopics in 2023 were broadly similar to those in 2022 (see figure below). These show that our audience is still interested in seeing resources on intervention and prevention in domestic and family violence, and trauma. Subtopics that were new to the top 10 subtopics of interest in 2023 included:

  • emotional wellbeing (in mental health and wellbeing)
  • social wellbeing/connection (in mental health and wellbeing)
  • cultural safety in practice (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families)

There was also a rise in the proportion of survey respondents interested in resources on interventions in child abuse and neglect and risk factors for child abuse. A lower proportion of respondents in 2023 selected risk factors for child abuse, fathers, post-separation in parenting, sole-parent families, and suicide and self-harm; however, all these topics remained in the top 15 most commonly chosen subtopics and are still clearly of great interest to the CFCA audience.

2022 subtopic ¬– 1. Trauma; 2. Interventions; 3. Treatment and counselling; 4. Prevention; 5. Post-separation; 6. Fathers; 7. Mental wellbeing; 8. Suicide and self-harm; 9. Mothers; 10. Child protection & abuse prevention; 2023 subtopic: 1. Interventions; 2. Preventions; 3. Trauma; 4. Emotional wellbeing; 5. Social wellbeing/connection; 6. Child protection and prevention; 7. Interventions; 8. Risk factors for child abuse 9. Mothers; 10. Cultural safety in practice.


How you want to receive information from us

We asked which CFCA resources support you to use evidence in your work. Most respondents used evidence from our online written resources, webinars and newsletters in their practice. The helpdesk – which aims to help users understand or find these resources – was the least likely to be used for support. Although this resource is still well-used – in addition to enquiries about webinars we receive more than one helpdesk request a week – we will look at how we can further promote the ways that we can help you to use our resources.

68% - Online written resource, 67% - Webinar, 65% - Newsletter, 12% Helpdesk

We also looked at how people in different roles used different resource types by comparing responses from the 3 most common role types: client-facing practitioners, clinicians and mid-level managers. We found that client-facing practitioners were more likely to use learnings from webinars. In contrast, clinicians and mid-level managers were slightly more likely to say that they found online written resources most useful for informing their work. Client-facing practitioners were also marginally more likely to use the helpdesk.

Client-facing practitioners: Webinar - 66%, Online written resource - 60%, Newsletter - 58%, Helpdesk - 13%. Clinician: Webinar - 73%, Online written resource - 75%, Newsletter - 68%, Helpdesk - 10%. Mid-level manager: Webinar - 66%, Online written resource - 71%, Newsletter - 69%, Helpdesk - 10%


If you are not familiar with the helpdesk, CFCA offers a free research and information helpdesk for child, family and community welfare practitioners, service providers, researchers and policy makers. We can help you with enquiries related to the latest stats and facts, evaluation advice, research findings and practice/policy pointers.

You can access the helpdesk using this web form. Alternatively, if you have used our helpdesk and would like to provide feedback on your experience, please feel free to contact us via email.


What you liked about the CFCA resources

The survey contained opportunities for you to provide open-text answers about what you liked about CFCA resources. Much of the feedback you gave us was highly positive. Most commonly, we heard that:

  • AIFS/CFCA is a trusted source of up-to-date information and produces reliable resources.
  • CFCA resources are informative, evidence-based and about Australia.
  • CFCA resources are relevant to practice.
  • There is a good range of topics, content and resources.
  • CFCA resources are easy to read and understand.
  • CFCA resources are easy to share with colleagues and clients.

Here are 2 examples of things our audience told us about CFCA resources:

AIFS has been my go-to as a trusted source of facts and evidence-based resources.

I like that AIFS provides current research that keeps me updated to inform best practice.

What we could do differently

We were also keen to understand where our audience might see areas for improvement. Although most of the feedback was positive, we also heard from some people that they would like more:

  • short summary documents that can be easily downloaded, printed and shared
  • more infographics to facilitate understanding of key concepts
  • culturally appropriate resources and culturally relevant coverage.

We also heard that you want us to convey complex concepts in plain language, keep our resources current and cover emerging topics.

How will we use this information

In the next few months, we will undertake further consultation on the topics that you have told us are important and that you want us to prioritise. We will also seek the help of our Critical Friends Network (CFN) of people working in the child and family sector. This group provides us with access to a range of sector and expert perspectives that can:

  • inform our topic selection for new resources
  • provide insight into key child, family and community welfare sector issues and challenges
  • provide feedback on our resources
  • help us understand how the sector can be supported to use evidence in their practice.

We will also review your feedback about how you use our resources, what kinds of resources you find useful and any specific suggestions you offered for us to consider in the production of our resources. We will continue to conduct rigorous evidence reviews on the practice topics most important to you to produce coordinated sets of resources including practice papers, practice guides, resource sheets, short articles and webinars.

The CFCA team would like to thank everyone who completed our survey. For anyone who was not able to participate and would like to get in touch, please contact us, or look out for our next Needs and Impacts Survey in the second half of 2024. We will let you know when the survey is open via our newsletter. You can subscribe to our newsletter here.