Introducing our research.

The publications are from the Community Capacity Building Projects research group and colleagues who have worked with us. Publications include journal papers, occasional papers, written speeches and articles. These research-based publications help us understand why we are currently failing in our child protection practices.

The objective of protecting children is foremost in the minds of child protection workers, community workers, professionals and families alike. Their ways of achieving their goals, however, are vastly different. Mistrust, frustration and feelings of domination are widespread. It seems to families and community workers that the system is oppressive and impenetrable.

As a result many people turn way from child protection authorities, leaving authorities poorly informed and ill-equipped to do the right thing by the child.

Our purpose is to improve the quality of relationships among parents, children, carers, families, community workers and child protection authorities. Improving relationships requires empowering those who are currently silenced. Empowerment is necessary to build can-do-ness or capacity that spreads throughout a community and is sustainable.

The following pages highlight research papers that discuss a range issues around child protection: from the perspectives of parents and carers, the perspectives of children, and the perspectives of community workers and other professionals working outside and inside the system. We discuss the merits of restorative justice, family group conferencing and responsive regulation as approaches that can empower all parties and break down unjustified power imbalances if used appropriately.

Empowering families and community workers is particularly important because both groups consistently report feeling excluded and marginalized from decision-making. In addition, such approaches can support child protection staff who report feeling alienated and stressed within legalistic, bureaucratic structures.