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Research highlights

Beyond 18

Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study of Leaving Care ran between 2012 and 2018. The study was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) with the aim of improving understanding of the factors associated with different pathways when leaving out-of-home care (OOHC). The Beyond 18 study aimed to do this by exploring young people’s preparations for leaving care, their experiences of transition from care and their post-care outcomes.

The Beyond 18 study had four components:

  • Survey of Young People from OOHC
  • three waves of qualitative interviews with participants in the Survey of Young People
  • two online surveys of carers and caseworkers
  • analysis of a data extract from the DHHS Client Relationship Information System database.

The Survey of Young People was Beyond 18’s central component. It comprised three waves of an online survey of young people who had spent time in statutory OOHC in Victoria after their 15th birthday. The surveys were undertaken in 2015–16, 2016–17 and 2017–18. Qualitative interviews with a subset of participants in the Survey of Young People was Beyond 18’s other main data source. The interviews took place concurrently with the online surveys and finished mid-2018. The interview data provided a nuanced understanding of young people’s experiences and allowed them to share their perspectives on the support they had received when leaving care and what they needed.

Fieldwork for Beyond 18 finished mid-2018 and the final research report (on the results of the Wave 3 survey and interviews) was submitted to DHHS in October 2018.

The research reports on Wave 2 and Wave 3 of the Survey of Young People were published on the AIFS website on 25 June 2019.

Families and Children Expert Panel

The Expert Panel Project aims to help Families and Children (FaC) Activity service providers to better articulate the evidence underpinning their programs and to build program monitoring and evaluation into their routine. Its ultimate aim is to support evidence-informed programs for parents and children, and help those programs to achieve better outcomes for parents and children.

We do this by providing advice, resources and support to build service providers’ capacity to plan, implement and evaluate programs, adopt evidence-based programs when appropriate and relevant to clients’ needs, and/or strengthen existing programs.

Activities in 2018/19 included:

  • continuing to work with Communities for Children service providers to assess over 130 programs in relation to the evidence-based criteria
  • providing direct support to FaC Activity service providers in relation to program planning activities
  • continued redevelopment of website content to better integrate Expert Panel, Communities for Children Facilitating Partners (CfC FP) and CFCA content for the benefit of users
  • continued administration and management of the Industry List process and projects
  • initiation and implementation of the ‘Building effective partnerships between non-Indigenous FaC providers and Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations (ACCOs)’ project, in partnership with SNAICC
  • development and publication of new planning and evaluation resources, including a Needs Assessment resource and an Implementation Practice Guide
  • delivering presentations and workshops at several sector meetings, conferences and forums
  • analysing data for the Evaluation of the Expert Panel project and finalising the interim evaluation report and web summary
  • refining the plan and data collection instruments for phase 2 of the Evaluation of the Expert Panel project.

Pints, Punts 'n' Peers

Despite increasing community concern regarding the normalisation of sports betting and risky drinking among populations of young people, we have limited understanding of the relationship between these behaviours, the contexts in which they co-occur, and how co-consumption contributes to health-related harms.

Researchers from the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) are seeking to address some of these gaps in knowledge via the Pints, Punts ’n’ Peers project. Using an online survey and follow-up interviews with young Australians aged 18–35, this study explored topics such as patterns, settings and contexts of simultaneous sports betting and alcohol consumption, and impacts on health and wellbeing.

Findings from this project will help to inform the development of appropriately nuanced and targeted public health prevention strategies, and policy and regulatory responses to address the widespread marketing and availability of sports betting products.

Growing Up in Australia

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) follows the development of 10,000 children and their families in urban and rural areas of Australia and continues to provide insights into the paths Australian children and their families take through life.

Wave 8 fieldwork was completed during 2018/19 and the data is planned for release in 2020. This release will include a number of exciting new measures, including:

  • young people’s drug use
  • risk taking
  • work, study and training
  • financial support and financial literacy
  • gender and sexual identity
  • sexual behaviour
  • romantic relationships
  • experiences and perpetration of abuse, bullying and sexual harassment
  • social networks and online activities.

Fieldwork for Wave 9 began in June 2019 and is expected to conclude by August 2021. The LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2017, which reported on the first six waves of LSAC data, was released in December 2018. The report highlights the effects of experiences and environments on the prospects and progress of the study children as they move into adolescence. It features chapters on several areas of child and adolescent development and wellbeing, including eating problems in mid-adolescence, adolescent help-seeking, children’s housing experiences, use of technology in the classroom and children’s use of health services.

Ten to Men

Ten to Men: The Longitudinal Study on Male Health was commissioned by the Australian Government following the 2010 release of the National Male Health Policy. The study began in 2012 when health and lifestyle information was collected from nearly 16,000 men and boys across the country via surveys and interviews.

Ten to Men is funded by the Department of Health. The first two waves of the study were conducted by the University of Melbourne and AIFS will be managing Wave 3 of the study. Fieldwork for Wave 3 of the study began in 2018/19 and pre-interview testing will be conducted in the coming months. The testing will consist of cognitive testing and focus groups, and will test survey content as well as fieldwork materials such as envelopes and primary approach letters.

Refreshing the Ten to Men data was another key focus for the team in 2018/19 and it is hoped that the new data version will be released via the Australian Data Archive Dataverse platform later in 2019.

Ten to Men also went through a rebrand in the reporting period with a new logo, brand and website. The upgraded Ten to Men website is now able to support exciting and innovative communication products such as videos and podcasts. The new website was launched in June 2019, during Men’s Health Week.