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Analysis of performance

Create knowledge

Performance criteria

The number of commissioning bodies is indicative of the spread of research undertaken at the Institute. The measure also highlights that we are not reliant on a single source of income. In 2018/19, we were commissioned by 21 organisations to undertake research projects.

In 2018/19, 33 research projects were active at some stage during the reporting period, which was below the performance target. This was mainly due to our decision to seek to undertake larger scale projects that can continue for several years in place of a larger number of small projects.

We were involved in five longitudinal studies during the reporting period:

  • Australian Temperament Project
  • Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study of Leaving Care
  • Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants
  • Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
  • Ten to Men: The Australian Longitudinal Study of Male Health.

The number of longitudinal studies has been included as a performance measure because these studies are useful for analysing trends in the changing nature of families over time. Such studies require a longer-term commitment of resources by funding and partner bodies, often over a number of years.

Table 2 highlights progress against our objectives and actions for Pillar 1 of our Strategic Directions relating to creating knowledge in our Corporate Plan 2018/19 to 2021/22.

Table 2: Pillar 1: Create Knowledge, 2018/19 actions

Pillar 1: Create Knowledge


Implementation plan for the research roadmap

The purpose of a research roadmap is to articulate the work we want to undertake to achieve our purpose. To guide us in this we developed a theory of change to help us to identify the outcomes we are seeking and the optimal activities to achieve these outcomes. This resulted in a roadmap for our research agenda going forward. This provides a foundation for developing research proposals and for responding to funding proposals.

Develop partnership strategy

The Institute was granted Deductible Gift Recipient Status during the reporting period. This is a foundational piece of our partnership strategy, which also includes working towards a major research partnership with a university.

Formalise major research partnership

We continue to work towards developing a major research partnership with an Australian university.

Deliver on existing research projects while seeking new opportunities that reflect our research agenda

We continue to advance projects that reflect our theory of change and contribute to our purpose of positive change for children, families and communities. New projects include an evaluation of a revised strategy for the NT Child and Family Centres program, an evaluation of the Third Action Plan to reduce violence against women, and the Elder Abuse Prevalence Study.

Communicate for impact

Performance criteria

The number of AIFS publications viewed and downloaded indicates the uptake of our published findings. In 2018/19, we had 4.2 million views of our publications, which was well above target. This was mainly due to the launch of new Growing Up in Australia and Ten to Men websites, as well as increasingly effective social media and stakeholder engagement strategies. A complete list of our research outputs and publications for 2018/19 is available in Appendix C: AIFS publications, events, webinars, presentations and submissions 2018/19.

The number of media mentions highlights our commitment to communicating our research to a wider audience. The 4,255 media mentions were below target mainly due to the reduction in research publications produced throughout the year.

We produced 66 research products in 2018/19, which was below the target. The lower than predicted output can be attributed to a greater focus on other methods of knowledge translation such as the delivery of workshops and webinars. We published six research reports and five commissioned reports.

Our staff made 68 presentations in this reporting period, which was below the target. This was mainly because the Institute has focused on larger-scale projects and therefore there was not as many opportunities to present findings from smaller projects.

Bibliographic records provide a description of material related to family studies that have been published by AIFS or others, and help to provide a valuable reference resource for researchers in this field. The 2,115 records generated in the reporting period was slightly below the target.

Table 3 highlights progress against our actions for Pillar 2 of our Strategic Directions, relating to communicating for impact in our Corporate Plan 2018/19 to 2021/22.

Table 3: Pillar 2: Communicate for impact, 2018/19 actions

Pillar 2: Communicate for impact


Implement the website strategy 2018 to make it user-centred, providing content relevant to our audiences, and offering a seamless experience of AIFS

Our website strategy put in place a framework for managing our web content through its lifecycle, ensuring that all content served on our websites is up-to-date and relevant. Other achievements included: redesigning our publication landing pages to make them more streamlined and user-friendly; and refreshing our news and webinar landing pages.

Website content audit and governance

A content audit of the website was completed in March 2019. Result: 579 publications and 200 corporate pages reviewed; 285 publications archived, 36 flagged for updating, 258 unchanged; all corporate pages updated.

Stakeholder research and analysis

Early in 2019, we undertook a mid-point review of our Strategic Directions 2016–2021. This work focused on:

  • developing an explicit articulation or ‘theory’ of AIFS’ impact pathway; that is, mapping how what we do (activity) leads to positive outcomes for children and families (impact)
  • reviewing the Strategic Directions and yearly initiatives against this theory
  • reviewing our performance and impact measures, specifically whether current performance measures were fit for purpose.

As a result, we deferred our plans to undertake stakeholder research and analysis.

Expand our suite of ‘resources’ to include new channels with higher engagement factors, such as seminars, webinars, policy round tables, events and blog posts

In line with our approach to ensuring that our research is easy to understand and accessible to our key audiences, we have broadened our resources beyond traditional long-form research reports.


In 2018/19 we have experimented with animations and video to help increase engagement with research findings. These include animation/video for:

  • listening to children’s voices from the Children and Young People in Separated Families Project
  • Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Annual Statistical Report 2017
  • the trend of young people delaying leaving home.


We created the podcast series ‘Evidently’. This series interviews AIFS researchers to give listeners an overview of the issues behind the data. The first two episodes looked at issues from the Growing Up in Australia Annual Statistical Report 2017:

  • Eating problems in mid-adolescence
  • Children’s housing experiences

Events and webinars

We are expanding the number of events to reach our audiences. See Appendix C, for a full list of our AIFS events and webinars held throughout the year.

Collaborate and connect

Performance criteria

The 8,390 participants that attended our events throughout the year were substantially higher (139%) than the target of 3,500 participants. This is due to a number of factors. A continued focus on producing regular webinars in the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) and Emerging Minds projects has been the main contributor to the higher attendance figures. In addition, the AIFS 2018 Conference, which was held in the reporting period, was successful in attracting a higher number of participants than in previous years. Appendix C: AIFS publications, events, webinars, presentations and submissions 2018/19 provides a complete list of these events.

The number of conferences, seminars, webinars and other events hosted by us was above the targeted forecast, with the Institute hosting 22 events. Our events included 14 webinars, three workshops, four seminars and the conference.

Partnerships, MOUs and collaborations enable us to widen the scope of our research capabilities, which further helps to reach our yearly research and dissemination goals. We had 33 partnerships, MOUs and collaborations in place during 2018/19, which was above the target.

Government submissions are a performance measure as they are an important avenue for AIFS to use its research to inform government policy. In 2018/19, we made eight submissions to government inquiries, which met the target. A list of submissions made by AIFS can be found in Appendix C: AIFS publications, events, webinars, presentations and submissions 2018/19.

Table 4 highlights progress against our actions for Pillar 3 of our Strategic Directions relating to collaboration in our Corporate Plan 2018/19 to 2021/22.

Table 4: Pillar 3: Collaborate and connect, 2018/19 actions

Pillar 3: Collaborate and connect


At research initiation stage, establish a knowledge translation (KT) plan that identifies the target audience and dissemination methods

A template for KT planning has been developed in collaboration with the Communications team. Knowledge translation planning is now underway with new and ongoing projects. This includes Ten to Men, CFCA and Emerging Minds.

AIFS 2018 Conference execution and evaluation

The AIFS 2018 Conference was held in the reporting period with record registration and sponsorship numbers. A full evaluation was conducted.

AIFS Conference 2020 planning

A significant amount of work has been put into planning for the next AIFS Conference, to be held in June 2020.

Develop events strategy

While a detailed events strategy was not finalised in the reporting period, the Institute hosted several significant events in the reporting period. As well as the 2018 Conference, the Institute hosted a family law panel discussion at AIFS and co-hosted a policy forum on the voices of children and young people in family law proceedings in Hobart, Tasmania.

Develop a national media strategy which broadens our focus from research outputs and seeks opportunities to influence national conversations on key family wellbeing issues

We developed a national media strategy in July 2018, and this drove our approach to media activities throughout 2018/19. The media is a key audience for disseminating research relevant to family wellbeing in a way that is accessible. We translate our research in easy to understand news packages for the media, to reach the general public and decision makers.

Our role as a trusted spokesperson helps to ensure that public debate is balanced with evidence, and informs issues with the findings from our vast body of research.

Increase opportunities for cross-sector dialogue and exchange

The AIFS Conference 2018, held 25–27 July, was a major event in our calendar focusing on cross-sector dialogue and exchange. This high-profile event had more than 650 participants from a range of different sectors, including:

  • Child protection (2.5%)
  • Community services (26%)
  • Early childhood (6%)
  • Education and training (18%)
  • Family services (12%)
  • Government (36%)
  • Health (1.5%)
  • Law and justice (7%).

In addition, we ran two focused events during the year on issues relating to different aspects of family law. See Appendix C for further details.

Implement KT strategy across the organisation

A KT strategy was drafted in the reporting period. A revision of this strategy is underway post the development of the AIFS Theory of Change. This project more clearly articulates the impact of AIFS work. The implementation of the KT strategy has included internal capacity building, development of a KT planning template and facilitating the development of program-level impact stories.

Activate organisational sustainability

Performance criteria

An indication of our capability and readiness to undertake high-quality research is the proportion of researchers with postgraduate qualifications. In 2018/19, 69.7% of our staff held postgraduate qualifications, which is significantly higher than the target of 65%.

The reduction in operational costs is a measure to determine whether we are delivering services efficiently. In 2018/19, we achieved a 5.2% reduction in our corporate operational cost by decreasing expenditure from $5.916 million in 2017/18 to $5.611 million in 2018/19.

The percentage of clients satisfied with our services was not captured in the reporting period. This was because the information gathered in previous reports was not deemed useful for our purposes as the sample size was too small and it was difficult for some clients to respond to questions if the project was in an early stage of development.

The percentage of stakeholders satisfied with our services was not recorded in the reporting period as we changed our performance measurement framework. We are now measuring whether our research is easy to access and easy to read. Baseline results from our stakeholder survey highlighted that of 660 survey participants, 80% agreed or strongly agreed that AIFS research and resources were easy to locate and 89% agreed or strongly agreed that AIFS resources and publications are written in plain accessible language. In terms of whether our research is used was 74% of respondents highlighted that they had used AIFS research in the previous 12 months.

Table 5 highlights progress against our objectives and actions for Pillar 4 of our Strategic Directions relating to activation in our Corporate Plan 2018/19 to 2021/22.

Table 5: Pillar 4: Activate organisational sustainability, 2018/19 actions

Pillar 4: Activate organisational sustainability


Conduct mid-cycle review of our Strategic Directions, including goals and performance measures

In the second quarter of 2018/19 we undertook a review of the Strategic Directions. This review built on the previous year’s initiatives, specifically the development of our Families Framework, AIFS Values and Behaviours and our Governance and Management Framework.

We now have a comprehensive Strategic Planning Framework that integrates and aligns our understanding of families, our purpose, strategic goals, our pathway to impact, and operational planning and management.

We have completely reviewed our Performance Management Framework. The new framework aims to better identify and report on outcome and impact measures and to move beyond simple output-based metrics.

Review recruitment practices

A review of our recruitment practices commenced during the reporting period. The review is scheduled to be completed July 2019.

Leadership development program for managers

Over 40 managers participated in our inaugural leadership development program in 2018/19. The program was designed to enable managers to understand and adapt their leadership style to meet different needs, coach team members to achieve goals, and build high performance through effective feedback.

Refresh policies and plans for workplace diversity

Refreshing our policies and plans for workplace diversity began in 2019. The refresh is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Improve capability of managers to recruit people with disabilities

Over 30 managers participated in training to assist them to confidently recruit and manage people with disabilities within their teams and facilitate an inclusive and enabling workplace.

Finalise transition to shared services and determine best approach for improving project management

In July 2018 AIFS commenced using the TechOne finance system, in line with the new financial year. Our payroll arrangements transitioned in September 2018. Both transitions have been challenging. While the transition is now complete for payroll arrangements, there are still issues with the configuration of TechOne to ensure it meets our needs.

Other competing priorities in 2018/19 has meant determining the best approach for improving project management within the Institute has not had the focus it needed until late in the reporting year. That said, we have commenced exploratory investigations of a simplified and more pragmatic approach to this issue based loosely on the framework adopted by our portfolio department, which we are hopeful will provide a more fit-for-purpose solution for the Institute.

Review and strengthen risk management framework

In 2018/19 we identified different ways in which other organisations, including other Australian Government agencies, structured and implemented their frameworks. In 2019/20 we will use this information to substantially redesign our own framework. See the section on risk management strategies for further detail.

Implement new privacy management plan, and enhance our data management policies and processes

AIFS implemented its Privacy Management Plan in August 2018, and we have subsequently undertaken the following activities:

  • appointed Privacy Officers and a Privacy Champion who has responsibility for providing leadership across the organisation on privacy strategic matters
  • provided mandatory privacy training for all staff and all new staff must complete a privacy module as a part of their induction
  • developed an internal framework on handling privacy enquiries, complaints and requests for access to and correction of personal information
  • updated our Privacy Management Policy, which will be communicated to all staff shortly. It includes requirements that high-risk projects have a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), and that a register of PIAs be maintained.

These activities have significantly increased the privacy maturity across the agency. We will continue to undertake the remaining activities in the Privacy Management Plan in 2019/20 and report as required to the OAIC.

In 2018/19 we have significantly increased our focus on our data management policies and processes in an environment in which the analysis and maintenance of data across the Commonwealth is becoming ever more important. Apart from the implementation of a Privacy Management Plan, the Institute has updated its Privacy Management Policy and has developed a number of others to assist with handling confidentialised and sensitive data.

As one of six Data Integrating Authorities in Australia, in the last year AIFS has invested significant time and resources in the proposed data sharing and release framework that is being guided by the new Office of the National Data Commissioner.

We have also identified the need for the Institute to develop a data management strategy, which will be one of our activation initiatives in 2019/20. The strategy will address what data management policies the Institute needs in the new environment and how we manage the metadata.