Key elements of child-safe organisations examined

We asked a panel of Australian and international experts to rate what elements make child-safe organisations.

The research was conducted by the Parenting Research Centre and Social Policy Research Centre, and was commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission).

The key elements, identified by the Royal Commission, included:

  • organisational leadership, governance and culture
  • human resources management
  • child-safe policy and procedures
  • child-focused complaint process
  • education and training
  • children’s participation and empowerment
  • family and community involvement
  • physical and online environment
  • review and continuous improvement.

The panel rated how important and how achievable each element could be, and commented on associated costs and risks of implementing certain practices or processes.

A majority of the experts considered the elements to be relevant, achievable and reliable. Many respondents expressed concern about how the elements might be implemented, the associated costs (particularly for organisations that are smaller, voluntary and community-based), and risks associated with implementation. The experts also gave suggestions for how the elements could be meaningfully implemented.

The findings have been published in the report Key Elements of Child Safe Organisations – Research Study prepared for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

New approach on trial for statutory out-of-home care in NSW

The Parenting Research Centre was engaged by the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Family and Community Services to develop a NSW-specific and child outcome-focused Quality Assurance Framework for statutory out-of-home care.

This framework is an Australian first and it is now being trialled by three organisations: Burrun Dalai Aboriginal Corporation, Mackillop Family Services and Key Assets Fostering.

The trial began in early September and will run for at least 12 months. The aim is to identify the impact of the framework on systems, processes and procedures and to help the department successfully implement the framework on a wider scale.

Annette Michaux, Director, Parenting Research Centre, reflecting on the potential of the trial, said: 'The Quality Assurance Framework will ensure caseworkers have access to the right information to help get the right services and supports to children and young people in out-of-home care'.

The trial will provide valuable information that will inform decision making to achieve better outcomes, ensuring the highest quality support for vulnerable children and young people living in out-of-home care.

Read more about the trial on the FACS website

Helping parents become NDIS Ready

Disability can affect any family, in any community, at any time.

New online videos and articles are now available at to help parents become NDIS Ready. Our Raising Children Network team and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) have partnered to produce these free resources.

The new resources cover many common queries and topics including:

  • What is the NDIS?
  • How can parents access it?
  • How to go about choosing services
  • Early intervention
  • How to transition from Better Start and Helping Children with Autism to the NDIS.

The NDIS national rollout commenced on 1 July 2016. The Scheme will grow to support 140,000 Australian children aged 0 to 14 with disability. The NDIS is being introduced in stages over the next three years to ensure it is successful and sustainable.

The Raising Children Network website is visited by over 40,000 Australians each day and contains more than 2200 resources on parenting from pregnancy to teens.  

Read more:

Implementation report for Royal Commission

What are the characteristics of implementation best practice? We addressed this question in a recent report to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Our report, Implementation best practice: A rapid evidence review, summarised the evidence for characteristics of implementation best practice. We analysed existing evidence of implementation and identified elements of best practice approaches, including behavioural change, planning, and increasing the competencies and skills of individuals and organisations.

Our review confirmed that implementation is a complex endeavour that can be influenced by:

  • the nature of the practice, program or policy being introduced
  • the individuals involved
  • the inner and outer context of the organisation implementing an intervention
  • the quality of the implementation process.

One of the factors that would constitute best practice is improving the quality of implementation by:

  • assessing the needs and readiness of organisations implementing change
  • training and continuously supporting relevant staff members
  • introducing continuous quality improvement processes
  • creating an early focus on sustainability.

Implementation is an important factor in the success or failure of policy change. Having an understanding of best practice in implementation will help the Royal Commission to develop recommendations with the greatest chance of being implemented and having their intended effect.

Read the full report »

Supporting parents with a mental illness

Can supporting adults with a mental illness in their role as parents aid in their recovery? A free forum on Monday 25 July will examine this question as part of a trial of the Let's Talk About Children program.

Let’s Talk About Children aims to develop and rigorously trial a model of recovery for adults, who are also parents, with major mental health problems.

This four-year research project is funded by the Mental Illness Research Fund and is being conducted by a large partnership of research organisations and service providers including Monash University, The Bouverie Centre (La Trobe University) and the Parenting Research Centre.

The forum, to be held in Melbourne, will showcase organisational initiatives to embed Let’s Talk into service delivery and hear from speakers working in the sector. It will also share information on the progress of the trial across multiple sites in Victoria.

International guest speakers include:

  • Dr Brenda Gladstone: Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, with research interests in child, youth and family mental health.
  • Dr Bente Weimand: researcher at the Akershus University Hospital in Norway, with research interests in families of people with a mental illness.

The forum will also feature parent and practitioner perspectives on parent recovery and early intervention in Victorian mental health services.

Find details and register for the forum.