Children’s voices for change

Children’s voices for change: A rights-based approach to understanding and implementing effective supports for children and pre-adolescents as victim-survivors of family violence

This project applies a children's rights-based approach, underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to understand what constitutes effective supports for children and pre-adolescents as victim-survivors of family violence in their own right.

Project Timeframe: July 2022 – February 2024

 

Aims

The key aims of the project are to:

  • Understand how children and pre-adolescents conceive their family violence response and recovery needs;
  • Identify supportive factors that facilitate meaningful engagement with children and pre-adolescents in a way that meets their needs and respects their evolving capacities;
  • Identify conceptual and practical barriers to the development and operation of effective family violence support services for children and pre-adolescents as victim-survivors in their own right; and
  • Develop clear, practical capacity-building resources to enable children’s meaningful, safe participation in family violence program design and service delivery, including measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of outcomes. 

This project will contribute to the growing knowledge and evidence base about the needs of children and pre-adolescents who have experienced family violence, and how best to respond. It will highlight the gaps between what children and pre-adolescents identify as important in their family violence response and recovery needs, and what is happening in practice.

Significance

Research evidence and sector insights highlight gaps in:

  • Understanding the distinct and unique needs of children and pre-adolescents as victim-survivors of family violence in their own right;
  • Which service responses are most effective in meeting the needs of children and pre-adolescents;
  • How to meaningfully engage with this group and centralise their voices, views and experiences; and 
  • How to embed rights-based, child-centred and trauma-informed processes into practice and build evidence about their effectiveness.

Methods

The project is proceeding in four phases:

Phase 1: Literature Review and Data Analysis

A review of the existing Victorian family violence service landscape, including analysis of aggregated client data from The Orange Door, to understand children and pre-adolescent system pathways. This phase will also produce a literature review of the evidence base in Victoria and other jurisdictions for meeting the needs of children and pre-adolescents as victim-survivors of family violence in their own right.

Phase 2: Practitioner Survey

A survey of practitioners who provide support services to children and pre adolescents who have experienced family violence, to identify supportive factors and barriers to effectiveness in this context.

Phase 3: Participatory research with children and young people

An interactive online activity, to give children and young people who are victim-survivors of family violence the opportunity to safely and meaningfully share their views about, and experiences of, engagement with support services, and to tell us what they need to feel safe and well. 

Phase 4: Co-design of Children's Feedback Tool

Co-design workshops with practitioners and children and young people to develop and test a Children’s Feedback Tool for use by government and community sector organisations, to inform their practice development and ongoing workforce capacity building priorities. The Tool will enable services that support children and pre-adolescent victim-survivors of family violence to centre children’s experiences and to measure effectiveness through the lens of those experiences. It will also support iterative and ongoing workforce capacity building and measurement regarding both what is needed to support effective outcomes for children and pre-adolescents, and how to work with this group in a child-centred, trauma-informed way that promotes and upholds their rights.

Project Team

The project is led by Dr Georgina Dimopoulos of Southern Cross University, in collaboration with researchers at Swinburne University of Technology and project partners Safe and Equal and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare.

 

Southern Cross University

Dr Georgina Dimopoulos – Lead Chief Investigator

Harrison Cant – Research Assistant

Holly Aitken – Research Assistant

Eliza Hew – Research Assistant

 

Swinburne University of Technology

Dr Mitchell Adams – Co-Investigator

 

Safe and Equal

Louise Simms – Co-Investigator

Ella Longhurst – Project Officer

 

Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare

Dr Michele Lonsdale – Co-Investigator

Dr Mandy Charman – Co-Investigator

 

The team is supported by a Project Advisory Group and a Youth Advisory Group.

Funding

The project is funded by Family Safety Victoria, through Phase 1 of its Family Violence Research Grants Program.

 

Outputs and Presentations

Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare webinar, AVITH in Context: Young Person Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) (online, 8 May 2023)

Outcomes, Practice and Evidence Network (OPEN) Research Symposium, Children’s Voices for Change: Learning from Children and Young People as Experts by Experience to Improve Family Violence Services (Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, online, 25 October 2023)

Children, Trauma and the Law Conference, Learning from Children as Experts by Experience to Inform Research, Policy and Practice (Southern Cross University, Lismore, 11-12 October 2023)

Elevating Children’s Voices in Family Violence Services Forum, Children’s Voices for Change: A Rights-Based Approach to Supporting Children Victim-Survivors (Kids First Australia, Melbourne, 10 October 2023)

Family & Relationship Services Australia National Conference, Children’s Voices for Change: Co-designing and Evaluating Family Violence Support Services (Gold Coast, 16 May 2023)

 

Project Contact

Dr Georgina Dimopoulos: georgina.dimopoulos@scu.edu.au