Collaborative study aims to enhance child wellbeing in disadvantaged communities.

A new Australian Research Council Linkage Project led by Griffith University aims to improve child wellbeing in nine disadvantaged communities.

Using a model that blends new human and digital resources, the $597,000 project builds on longstanding work in this area with collaborations between schools, families and community agencies..

Professor Ross Homel.

Chief investigator Professor Ross Homel (pictured), from the Griffith Criminology Institute, said the study would generate new knowledge in prevention science about how to influence risk and protective factors for child wellbeing cost-efficiently within existing service systems.

“Children and young people living in economically deprived areas drop out of school, become trapped in cycles of welfare dependence, and entangled in the child safety or youth justice systems at much higher rates than their counterparts in more affluent communities,’’ said Professor Homel, who will work with colleagues from the Griffith Institute for Educational Research on the study.

“Family support and child services are among the most common ways that caring institutions, including schools and community agencies, attempt to reinforce the primary care activities of families under pressure and reduce the life course impact of economically and geographically-based social exclusion.

“However, such efforts largely lack a scientific foundation which is why prevention-oriented
researchers concerned about the gap between science and service have come together in this project with practitioners and policy experts, seeking effective, sustainable, scaleable, cost-efficient models for practice.”

The project builds on extensive research that demonstrates that evidence-based and data-driven early prevention strategies can reduce the corrosive effects of poverty on the life chances of children.

“Specifically, we build on evidence from the interdisciplinary field of prevention science that when community agencies and schools are empowered to engage more effectively with each other, and with families and children, they can achieve a collective impact on child wellbeing.”

Expected outcomes include sustainable learning communities among partners featuring extensive e-resources, formation of a new profession, and ongoing partner engagement.

“The project should strengthen both workforce capacity and policies to cost-effectively reduce the impact of poverty and improving child wellbeing.”

The partner organisations are:
The Australian National University, Department of Social Services, Department of Education, Department of Family and Community Services, Department of Education and Training, Department of Communities Child Safety and Disability Services, The Smith Family, Mission Australia, The Benevolent Society, The Salvation Army, the Trustee for Logan Child Friendly Community Charitable Trust, Australian Primary Principals Association and Invision Media.