Annual report 2009-10

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

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