The ‘middle years’, or early adolescence (8–14 years), of a child’s life are a period of key developments in sexual maturity, the brain, social and emotional cognition and self-awareness. During the middle years, the influence of peer relationships on a young person’s social and emotional development also begins to intensify. Australian research indicates that although friendships are important to young people in this age group, they can also be a source of anxiety and stress. Therefore, it is important to understand what factors influence peer relationships in the middle years to be able to better support young people’s mental health, development and wellbeing.
This short article summarises key findings from a systematic review by Mitic and colleagues (2021) that looked at the determinants of supportive peer relationships in early adolescence.
In Australia, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander youth are over-represented at all stages of the child protection system. This includes over-representation among care leavers; approximately 1,265 First Nations youth aged 15–17 years exit out of home care (OOHC) annually, and this figure is rising (Productivity Commission, 2021). First Nations care leavers commonly face poor social, economic, and health outcomes. Inadequate and culturally insensitive services contribute to these poor outcomes. This resource is aimed at supporting front-line practitioners to:
- Have a working knowledge of the historical and contemporary context of social welfare policies and their impact on First Nations families.
- Use this knowledge as a starting point to build an awareness of how individual and systemic practices impact First Nations young people and families.
- Recognise the importance of working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), Elders and respected community members to design and implement strengths-based culturally informed support services.
This is Yoorrook’s second interim report. It considers systemic injustices in the child protection and criminal justice systems. It fulfils the requirement in the amended Letters Patent dated 4 April 2023 to deliver a second interim report by 31 August 2023.
A note on content: First People’s are advised that this report may contain photos, quotations and names of people who are deceased. This report discussed sensitive topics that some readers may find distressing. Yoorrooks urges you to consider how and when you read this report and what supports you might need.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) is leading a consortium research team, including the Centre for Excellence for Child and Family Welfare (the Centre), Drummond Street Services, the Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ) and Tjallara Consulting. Commissioned by the Department of Social Services (DSS), this consortium is investigating workforce requirements for work with young people who are using violence.
We are conducting a nation-wide survey to gain insight into practitioners’ levels of experience, knowledge and confidence in responding to young people (12-18 years) who are using – or at risk of using – violence, either in the home against parents/carers/siblings or in their intimate partner relationships.
This survey is looking for respondents all over Australia who are involved in any type of direct service with children, young people and families. Even if you don’t work with young people using violence, we would still like to hear from you!
The survey will take around 11 minutes. The information you provide us will be de-identified and summarised in a report and submitted to DSS.
The survey will remain open until Thursday 7 September 2023.
Please contact Anagha Joshi (Australian Institute of Family Studies) if you would like further information about this project.
The Children’s Voices for Change project is seeking children and young people aged 10 to 25, who have lived experience of family violence, to take part in an online activity.
This project is being led by Southern Cross University, in partnership with Safe and Equal and the Centre for Excellence in Child & Family Welfare.
It is funded as part of the Victorian Government’s Family Violence Research Agenda 2021-2024.
The research project seeks to understand what constitutes effective supports for children and young people as victim-survivors of family violence in their own right.
This stage of the project involves research with children and young people with lived experience of family violence, through an anonymous, interactive online activity. This phase has been approved by Southern Cross University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (approval no. 2023/115).
The project is recruiting children and young people who:
- are 10 to 25 years old; and
- have experience accessing family violence support services in Victoria when they were up to 13 years old; and
- have an established relationship with a service or network; and
- are not currently in distress or crisis.
If you can help with identifying potential participants who meet these criteria, please share this opportunity. The online activity will be open until Friday 18 August.
Shaping how organisations can best keep children and young people safe.
This is a crucial moment in history, as we acknowledge the past failures of institutions and adults in protecting the safety of children and young individuals.
Between 2021 and 2022, the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia conducted an impact evaluation of the Australian Childhood Foundation’s Safeguarding Services.
This research project was grounded in qualitative methods and involved collaborating with organisations that have partnered with the Foundation to enhance their capacity and foster a supportive environment for the well-being and safety of children and young people who engage in their services.
One of the biggest challenges for people who most need social services is navigating a fragmented service system. Here we explore one potential solution, integrated child and family centres which ensure that children and families get what they need, where they need it.
Fragmented service delivery is a common problem across the social service sector. People’s lives are complex and the issues they face don’t necessarily fit into neat boxes. Government services, on the other hand, are delivered in siloes through individual contracts, resulting in multiple individual services with little connection between them.
Services such as child and family services, early child education, domestic violence, homelessness/ housing, health and mental health are all hampered when delivered in a fragmented way. Understanding the impacts of this and how to overcome them is important not only for those working in these systems, but the people designing and funding them as well.
“The tendency of family courts to dismiss the history of domestic violence and abuse in custody cases, especially where mothers and/or children have brought forward credible allegations of domestic abuse, including coercive control, physical or sexual abuse is unacceptable,” said Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, in a report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday.
A history of intimate partner violence against women was often neglected in family courts and shared custody or parental authority, treated as the default ruling, regardless of the child’s perspective.
“When custody decisions are made in favour of the parent who claims to be alienated without sufficiently considering the views of the child, the resilience of the concerned child may be undermined.
“The child may also continue to be exposed to lasting harm,” Ms. Alsalem said. She also called out the failure of child custody processes to use child sensitive approaches that focus on the best interest of children.
Drawing on a large sample of female carers living in Australia (n=3,775), this study aims to document and explore children and young people’s experiences of abuse in the past 12 months. We focus on children’s exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrated against their female carers, as well as children being the target of direct physical and emotional abuse themselves.
Overall, a significant proportion of respondents who had a child in their care during the past 12 months said that a child was exposed to IPV perpetrated against them (14.1%). One in nine said a child in their care had been the target of direct abuse perpetrated by their current or most recent former partner (11.5%). Critically, one-third of respondents who experienced IPV said a child was exposed to the violence at least once in the past 12 months (34.8%).
A number of factors were associated with an increased likelihood of children being subjected to direct abuse. These included the characteristics of respondents and their relationships, children and households. We also present evidence linking economic factors, including changes in employment, with the direct abuse of children.
WESNET have recently had enquires from concerned parents about how to keep children safer on their devices and online when using tech at school, but also using school-assigned devices at home to complete their school work.
Whilst there are more general concerns for keeping children safer online, there are also more specific and unique concerns about children using their technology within the context of post-separation co-parenting arrangements where there is or has been domestic abuse.
WESNET’s Tech Safety Team not only flesh out the issue but also share some practical and useful strategies and resources you can put into place if you or your clients have children and are currently in this situation.