Our Research

Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD)

In August 2016, Commissioner Margaret Nyland presented the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report: The life they deserve (Nyland Report) to the Government of South Australia. The Report made 260 recommendations to reform the state’s child protection system. In response, the South Australian Government accepted 196 recommendations, agreed in principle to a further 60 and rejected 4.

A key element of the Nyland Report was the recommendations to establish an Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD).  EIRD is an important initiative that will consider evidence-based knowledge in the planning and evaluation of services. These services will focus on early intervention and prevention of child abuse and neglect. 

EIRD has partnered with a consortium of experts from Adelaide University’s BetterStart Research Group as well as University of South Australia’s Australian Centre for Child Protection and the Telethon Kids Institute. The expert consortium consists of:

  • Professor John Lynch, BetterStart Child Health and Development Research Group, University of Adelaide
  • Professor Fiona Arney, Professor Leah Bromfield and Associate Professor Alwin Chong, Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia
  • Associate Professor Sally Brinkman, Telethon Kids Institute

The aim of EIRD is to establish four key areas of focus to support policy, service planning and effective investment in early intervention and prevention to reduce child abuse and neglect in South Australia. The four key areas are: data systems and analytics, service auditing, monitoring and planning, evaluation of Aboriginal children and families.

The Aboriginal Research Engagement and Communication Strategy

Positive Futures Research Collaboration is a member of the External Expert Consortium, which is a partner of the Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD). An important element of EIRD is the Aboriginal Research Engagement and Communication Strategy which is driven by the Aboriginal Leadership Group. This group provides cultural leadership across EIRD.


The Aboriginal Leadership Group consist of key Aboriginal leaders and organisations such as Department for Child Protection / Royal Commission Response, Department for Education and Child Development (DECD), Wardliparringga (SAMHRI), Aboriginal Community Leaders Reference Group, Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation (Department of State Development), Council for the Care of Children, Aboriginal Health Division, Women’s and Children’s Health Network and Aboriginal Health Council who provide advice on the research study design, methodology, procedures, analysis and interpretation of results and dissemination of research outputs. Consultations are not a one off process but continues throughout the research project.

Strengthening relationships through effective communication and engagement with Aboriginal people, organisations and communities is fundamental to the success of EIRD work.


Intensive Family Support Service Improvement Project (IFSS)

Positive Futures is currently partnering with The Australian Centre for Child Protection to undertake The Intensive Family Support Service (IFSS) service improvement project, relating to the provision of the Intensive Family Support Service (IFSS) in South Australian sites. Funded by the Department of Social Services, this project is building on the work undertaken by the members of the Australian Centre for Child Protection (including A/Prof Chong and Kate Greenfield) in 2016 and early 2017, where members undertook a service improvement project for IFSS in the Northern Territory. The project identified opportunities for IFSS (combined with family-based financial management strategies such as child protection income management) to be utilised earlier in the child protection service continuum in the NT.

For the SA project, the team is again identifying key points on the protection pathway and reviewing key information specific to the pathways and child neglect notification figures for children in the SA sites. This will assist in identifying opportunities to strengthen IFSS referral pathways and service integration. This project is also exploring current and potential service make-up and potential benefits of incorporating IFSS in conjunction with other income management strategies for one site in SA. 


Implementation Support with Walpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC)

Positive Futures and the Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP) are working collaboratively with Walpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC) to develop an implementation plan, identify and implement supports for the WYDAC IFSS workforce, co-develop a practice model and work towards service sustainability for WYDAC nominated sites (Lajamanu and Yuendemu and surrounding communities Willowra and Nyirripi)

The project places a high priority on supporting strength based community developed approaches to working with parents, children and young people. The project also recognises and respects the valuable contribution of Aboriginal peoples in shaping and building culturally sensitive and safe approaches to prevent and reduce harm to children.

Positive Futures and ACCP are working together to provide contextually relevant, culturally sound, evidence informed advice, frameworks and resources to achieve positive outcomes for children, enhance family engagement, and enhance access to effective services for children and families.


Lutheran Community Care

The Positive Futures Research Collaboration partnered with The Australian Centre for Child Protection to contribute to a project with Lutheran Community Care in Alice Springs. This project provides research and evaluation capacity building support for the Kwatja Etatha Supported Playgroup. This project aims to:

  • Increase research and evaluation capacity of Lutheran Community Care staff
  • Co-design an approach for evaluations with staff and families
  • Support for evaluation design and collection/analysis of data.

Areas of study and research

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