ARC funds child protection, disability and aged care research

Claire Tilbury

A Griffith University-led team will examine the scope and quality of Australian social work research to determine its effectiveness and ways to improve the quality of services in child protection, disability and aged care.

With new funding of $261,500 received from the Australian Research Council, the Griffith-led team will examine the scope and quality of Australian social work research in these service areas and assess how this research is used and its effect on generating innovation.

The work will assess how research is used and its effect on generating innovation. The project received funding of $261,500 from the Australian Research Council and is being undertaken in collaboration with La Trobe University, Southern Cross University and the UK’s University of Bedfordshire.

“Research and development is vital in the human services, as it is in all industries. We see that the human services industry is vital to many people’s quality of life but that it lacks innovation and struggles to demonstrate its effectiveness,” says research leader Professor Clare Tilburyfrom Griffith’s School of Human Services and Social Work.

“Human services agencies lack access to original research to expand thinking about the nature of social problems, and crucially for social work, how to effectively respond to social disadvantage.

Inadequate family support

“Despite enormous investment, there are still huge areas of unmet need, with indicators revealing persistent levels of poverty, insufficient support for people with disabilities, and inadequate family support.

“A step change in the breadth, depth and quality of social work research will go a long way towards improving the quality and effectiveness of services.”

Professor Tilbury says the study aims to develop strategies to advance the production, uptake and effect of social work research.

“We know that there are many challenges relating to evidence-based practice, and there are also more deep-seated challenges about the research foundations of the human services sector.

“There are many types of research that are essential to moving practice forward. We need to increase understanding of the generative factors of social problems including life course, location and gender perspectives, implementation barriers such as structural and organisational prerequisites for embedding quality practice and programs, and approaches such as cohort studies, dropout studies and prevalence studies.”

The research program aims to undertake a systematic quantitative review of social work research outputs, investigate the perspectives of research end-users such as policy makers and practitioners; refine methods for evaluating impact and innovation, and develop strategies for advancing research with leading Australian social work researchers.

The study will be conducted over three years 2017-2019.

The study is just one of 30 Griffith studies receiving a share of $11.5million in funding from the ARC this week.