In recognition of National Child Protection Week 2016, a summary of recent Australian research has been published, providing a snapshot of findings that point to the importance of community in keeping children safe.
Titled Stronger communities, safer children, echoing the 2016 theme for National Child Protection Week, the resource has been developed by the Child Family Community Exchange Australia (CFCA) information exchange at Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) in partnership with National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN).
Stronger communities, safer children brings together eight research papers previously published via the information exchange, highlighting the important ways that government, agencies, and community development groups can better support communities in caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
We need to support families to nurture their children, and we need to ensure that support services are well coordinated to meet families’ needs. To achieve this, the safety and wellbeing of children should be at the centre of government policy and at the centre of community life in Australia.”
– Anne Hollonds, Director of AIFS
One of the papers included in the resource, Safe and supportive Indigenous families and communities for children, which was first published in 2012, determines that building stronger communities that are safer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children requires:
- The development of stronger communities for safer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children requires longer program and service time frames so they can build trusting relationships and develop evaluation strategies for long term outcomes.
- Gaining the trust and engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through their participation in program planning, delivery, and evaluation.
- Consulting and engaging in a culturally sensitive manner that works best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
- The tailoring of child abuse interventions to the community. The local perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the community can help to determine where, when, and how child abuse prevention strategies could be delivered.
Of further note is Community development approaches to safety and wellbeing of Indigenous children, which was first published in 2010 via the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse. This research finds that community development is crucial for ensuring that our communities are stronger and children safer in the future. To achieve this programs must:
- Acknowledge the historical context and prioritise cultural safety
- Ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control of, and responsibility for outcomes of, services that provide holistic services that are appropriately resourced and supported
- Families are supported when they need to be
- Better target services for vulnerable families exhibiting risk factors for child maltreatment and parental risk factors such as poor parenting skills, mental illness, and substance misuse
- Protect children by empowering family decision making, and in the creation of safe care arrangements
- Build community level strategies to promote social inclusion and situational crime prevention principles
To learn more about this research, and view the findings in full, please download Stronger communities, safer children via the CFCA information exchange.