The Dean’s Lecture Series will host a panel discussion to explore how longitudinal research informs policy and service delivery for vulnerable children and families, and ultimately improves outcomes. Reforms to out-of-home care in NSW invite greater scrutiny of the impacts of different permanency pathways on children. To date there has been very limited Australian research into children’s outcomes in different placement types, including open adoption, kinship care, guardianship and other permanency orders. Targeted and longitudinal research offers the most effective means of addressing this gap in knowledge.
The panel speakers will share lessons learnt from a range of international and Australian longitudinal studies targeting vulnerable children and families, including how these studies have been used to inform policy development and service design.
This event was held on Wednesday 29 August at University of Sydney.
- Professor Harriet Ward, Emeritus Professor of Child and Family Research, Loughborough University
Professor Ward has more than 30 years of experience as a research director and field researcher, an adviser to policymakers and service providers, and a social work practitioner. She was academic adviser to the joint UK Department of Health/Department of Education research initiative on safeguarding children. Professor Ward represents England on the Board of EUSARF (European Scientific Association on Residential and Family Care for Children and Adolescents), has received a EUSARF lifetime achievement award, and was awarded a CBE for services to children and families in 2012.
- Professor Elizabeth Fernandez, Professor of Social Work, University of NSW
Professor Fernandez’s career spans more than two decades of teaching and research in child abuse, trauma, family violence, care and protection. Her areas of specialisation include research into practice with children and families, child and youth wellbeing, vulnerable families, early intervention, care and protection, risk assessment, children and legal intervention, foster care and adoption, social inclusion and minority groups, child and adolescent mental health, life course theory and research.
- Professor Paul Delfabbro, School of Psychology, Adelaide University
Professor Delfabbro’s principal research interests are in the field of behavioural addictions (gambling and technology), child protection and out-of-home care. Most of his research involves statistical analysis of cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys and experimental studies. He is one of the academics who has been analysing the findings from the NSW Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study. It is Australia’s first large-scale prospective longitudinal study of children and young people in out-of-home care.
- Deirdre Cheers, CEO, Barnardos Australia
Deirdre Cheers is the CEO of Barnardos Australia and the Centre for Excellence in Open Adoption. She is also deputy Chair of the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA). Deirdre has a deep knowledge and experience in public administration, not-for-profit governance and cross-cultural perspectives and professional networks, with a passion for children and family services and an emphasis on the care and protection of vulnerable children and young people.
- Associate Professor Amy Conley Wright (chair)
Associate Professor Wright is the Director of the Institute of Open Adoption Studies at the University of Sydney.