Research from the perspective of parents and carers. 

Losoncz, Ibolya (2015) ‘The Government Just Stops Parents Parenting' - Finding Better Ways to Build Safety Around Children from a Refugee Background. Child Abuse and Neglect (forthcoming) and RegNet Research Paper No 2015/76

Abstract

Child and family welfare is a critical issue among newly arrived migrant families in Australia. Humanitarian migrant families are especially at high risk of intervention and child removal by care and protection authorities. This paper examines the main causes of inter-generational family conflict among South Sudanese Australian families and associated claims of South Sudanese parents losing their authority due to intervention from child protection authorities. Based on multi-site in-depth interviews with South Sudanese community members and workers supporting the community, the article connects participant narratives with Australian institutional settings to understand the reasons for South Sudanese parents feeling ill-served by the Australian child protection system. The article concludes by discussing the elements of responsive regulation that are particularly suited to repair, improve and cultivate relationships between care and protection agencies and migrant families.

Download paper here.

Harris, Nathan (2012) Assessment: When Does it Help and When Does it Hinder? Parents’ Experiences of the Assessment Process. Child & Family Social Work, 17(2), 180-191.

Abstract

This paper addresses ongoing concerns about how child protection alienates and confuses many parents. It proposes that a significant reason for this is that statutory agencies have become reliant on ‘formalistic assessment’. As a consequence interactions with parents have become dominated by a focus on assessment-compliance. A qualitative study of 40 parents who had recently been investigated in Australia for the first time by child protection is reported. The analysis suggests that many parents find characteristics of assessment processes intrusive and that this undermines engagement. It is concluded that there should be greater debate about the role that assessment plays in child protection practice.

Download the author's publications here.

Harris, Nathan & Gosnell, Linda (2012) From the Perspective of Parents: Interviews Following a Child Protection Investigation. Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet) Occasional Paper No. 18. Canberra: Australian National University.

Abstract

This report is based on interviews with 156 parents who had been investigated by a statutory child protection agency following notifications that concerned 219 children. The aim was to understand how parents perceived the investigation, how they felt about what had happened, and how they had responded to it. The report provides a breakdown of the data on parents’ perceptions of what child protection workers did and how they went about it, what parents thought about the report that instigated the investigation, the response of parents' social networks, feelings about being a parent, and expectations of the future.

Download report here.

Ivec, Mary, Braithwaite, Valerie and Harris, Nathan (2012) “Resetting the Relationship” in Indigenous Child Protection: Public Hope and Private Reality. Law & Policy, 34(1), 80–103.

Abstract

A qualitative study explored the private realities of forty-five Australian Indigenous parents and carers who had experiences with child protection authorities. Interviews focused on the nature of the relationship between parents and authorities, how these regulatory encounters served to enlist or dissolve cooperation, and how child-focused outcomes could be delivered. The descriptions of encounters with authorities challenged the public hope for reconciliation between government and Indigenous Australians through reports of procedural injustice, failure by the authority to communicate and demonstrate soundness of purpose, and through lack of interest in identity affirmation and relationship building. In spite of these perceptions of integrity failings in how child protection authorities have operated, a positive role was acknowledged for authorities' future involvement, albeit with different strategies from those currently experienced. How this progression might be facilitated by principles of restorative justice and responsive regulation is discussed.

Download paper here.