Griffith University is a major contributor to a research project aimed at improving the wellbeing of children in disadvantaged communities.

A multi-faceted academic, social and political partnership, Griffith’s input will be led by Professor Ross Homel (Director of the Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance) and include representatives from the schools of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Human Services and Social Work and Education and Professional Studies.

Other participants include Mission Australia, The Benevolent Society, the Australian Primary Principals Association, The Smith Family, the Parenting Research Centre Inc, Pennsylvania State University andthe New South Wales Government.

The project, Creating the conditions for collective impact: Transforming the child-serving system in disadvantaged communities, received $449,430 for a two-year period under the 2013 Australian Research Council Linkage Projects grants scheme.

Drawing on a decade of work and findings within the Pathways to Prevention project of which Professor Homel is a co-director, the new program will be undertaken in six Communities for Children sites in NSW. Communities for Children is a Federal Government initiative designed to improve wellbeing for children up to 12 years old. There are 52 CFC sites throughout Australia.

“In these communities where there is significant social disadvantage, our aim is to provide resources and programs that foster community coalitions to more effectively implement evidence-based programs that improve the wellbeing of children in need,” Professor Homel said.

“We plan to bridge the gap that often separates schools and community agencies by empowering them to work together and deliver more effective resources promoting children’s wellbeing.”

Professor Homel said the project would be founded on the CREATE model for building community capacity. The acronym reflects concepts of Collaboration, Relationships, Early prevention, Accountability, Training and Evidence-based programs.

It would also pursue two basic goals: to build a Prevention Support System using structured processes and resources to strengthen the developmental system in socially disadvantaged communities; and to test this system for efficacy in fostering community coalitions and transportability elsewhere, including to Aboriginal communities.

“This kind of empowered collective approach can improve outcomes for children, families and communities,” Professor Homel said.

“It’s a humanitarian objective with children at its heart, but there are also positive effects in relation to economic impact, youth crime, child abuse/neglect and educational disengagement.

“Problems like these are better addressed with a collective approach, one of mutually agreed and reinforced goals. Individual agency work can still be carried out, of course, but priority needs will be shared.”