Territory Stories

Current issues in child protection policy and practice : Informing the NT Department of Health and Community Services child protection review



Current issues in child protection policy and practice : Informing the NT Department of Health and Community Services child protection review

Other title

Adam M. Tomison.


Tomison, Adam M; National Child Protection Clearing House (Australia)


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


Date:2004-02; Cover title. Written for the Northern Territory Department of Health and Community Services.

Table of contents

Child protection and family support services -- Developments in child protection practice -- Responding to child abuse and neglect in Indigenous and rural-remote communities -- Evidence-based practice in child protection – How do we better inform practice -- Conclusion: child protection and family support in the 21st Century.




Child abuse -- Australia -- Prevention

Publisher name

National Child Protection Clearing House

Place of publication



v, 89 ; 30 cm.

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Check within Publication or with content Publisher.

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Page content

CURRENT ISSUES IN CHILD PROTECTION POLICY AND PRACTICE 76 Northern Territory Depar tment of Health and Community Services an insiders view of the results, or to ensure practitioners are able to provide their interpretation of the data. Thus, such staff could assist in bridging the research-practice gap, such that external experts research benefit from the interpretation and assistance of those at the coalface, thus increasing their ecological validity. Importantly this would also enable academic and practice concepts to be more accurately translated, ensuring a better understanding of practice and ensuring that research findings are produced in a form that encourages adoption or use by practitioners. It would also minimise the publication of ill-considered conclusions that merely result in the scapegoating of practitioners. Utilisation and dissemination Knowledge has to be available if it is to be used. Once research is completed it is vital that the results are used and disseminated widely so as to inform practice. This can be facilitated in a number of ways. First, agencies should encourage researchers (internal and external) to produce academic publications. This provides status for the research and also contributes to the dissemination of knowledge to the field from a source that is considered reputable (that is, books, refereed journals etc.). Second, it is vital that the research is translated for practice. Researchers have an obligation to assist internal experts to use research findings to develop material or training programs as a means of disseminating the research findings effectively through the child protection system that is, to contribute to practice wisdom. It would be particularly beneficial if researchers devoted time to developing research syntheses or meta-evaluations rigorous reviews designed to encapsulate knowledge of a particular issue and presented in a form enabling easy access and comprehension by practitioners and policymakers (Gambrill 1999). Unfortunately, although many researchers would be pleased to work more effectively with child protection agencies, particularly if it became a condition of access to information, it is currently the case that very few researchers are requested to develop practice materials or to provide seminars or training sessions for practitioners or policymakers. Overall then, as part of any research undertaking, it is strongly recommended that a publication/ dissemination plan be developed (allowing the agency a period of confidential review of the results prior to publication or use). This should incorporate both academic and professional practice publications (including meta-analyses if practicable) and training schedules. In summary, it is recommended that child protection and/or family support agencies should: send the message to staff that research is important which requires the development of a professional culture that values research and the evidence-based approach; bridge the research-practice divide by investing in internal research experts; promote collaboration and partnerships with researchers, whether a project be an independent or a contracted study; ensure researchers have the advice and/or resources to overcome issues of language and culture to ensure the resultant message is adopted by target audiences (practice and research); negotiate confidentiality, ownership and dissemination of the research. The growing trend of refusing to allow the release of research findings is currently having a negative impact on the research that is being undertaken and the sharing of information as to what works; and, develop effective methods of internal (and external) dissemination of research findings. At times, it appears that much of the research that child protection departments do undertake or facilitate does offer benefits for practitioners, but is under-utilised. What is required is use of research/training experts to work in collaboration with the researchers to produce materials tailored for the needs of the workers. Researchers It is generally acknowledged that child protection work is exceedingly difficult and that no matter what decision is made, a child protection worker is liable to have that decision criticised by other professionals, the media and wider community. It should also be acknowledged that child protection work is typically not done under ideal situations workers must contend with involuntary, uncooperative and/or hostile clients, a lack of resources, high workloads etc. (e.g. Tomison 1999). Thus, when investigating aspects of child protection practice it is often the case that the focus is on

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