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 four recommendations.
An essential 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 for 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 high quality policy, service planning and effective investment in early intervention and prevention efforts to reduce child abuse and neglect in South Australia. The four key areas are: data systems and analytics, service audit, monitoring and planning, evaluation and Aboriginal children and families.
Within its first 18 months of operation, EIRD will deliver:
- Evaluations of existing early intervention and prevention programs and services, using a transparent evaluation framework and methodology
- Identification of early intervention system gaps including recommendations for improvemt
- Establishment of a fellowship program and research agenda
Three key research projects focussing on:
- Pregnancy and the first 1000 days of life
- Chronic users in the child protection system
- Aboriginal over-representation in the child protection system
- A data linkage and analytics system that will increase our understanding of children involved in the child protection system and support better case management
- A Prevention and Early Intervention Strategy outlining a whole-of-government, evidence-based approach to early intervention in child protection
The Aboriginal Research Engagement and Communication Strategy
An important element of EIRD is the Aboriginal Research Engagement and Communication Strategy. The Strategy involves consultations with 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.
Strengthening relationships through effective communication and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, organisations and communities is fundamental to the success of EIRD work. The Aboriginal Research Engagement and Communication Strategy outlines the stakeholder consultation processes being implemented to ensure culturally appropriate and safe:
- research methods and design
- analysis and interpretation of findings and
- dissemination strategies
Engagement with key Aboriginal stakeholders and continuing communication will occur to seek input on the research, feedback on progress and guidance to ensure that dissemination of results is done sensitively.
Key Aboriginal leaders from various organisations will 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 and across all three case file review case studies.
Lutheran Community Care
The Positive Futures Research Collaboration is partnering with The Australian Centre for Child Protection to undertake a project with Lutheran Community Care in Alice Springs to provide research and evaluation capacity building support for the Kwatja Etatha Supported Playgroup. This project will aim to increase research and evaluation capacity of Lutheran Community Care staff, a co-design approach for evaluations with staff and families and support for evaluation design and collection/analysis of data.
Intensive Family Support Service Improvement Project
The Positive Futures Research Collaboration is 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 builds 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 will again identify and quantify key points on the protection pathway and review key information specific to the pathways and child neglect notification figures for children in the SA sites to identify opportunities to strengthening IFSS referral pathways and service integration. The project will also explore current and potential service make-up and potential benefits of incorporating IFSS in conjunction with other income management strategies for one site in SA.