Investing in our children: Developing a research agenda, is the outcome of a workshop in the Academy of the Social Sciences program held at the University of Melbourne in May 2002. The workshop arose out of an increasing concern for the future well being of Australia’s children. The overall aim was the elucidation of a set of key questions which could form the basis for a research agenda for the next decade and to offer pointers to future directions and synergies for research focused on children and families.

The ways in which a society raises its children is an indicator of the efficiency, equity, humanity, and future-mindedness of that society. In spite of Australia’s wealth and generally high level of education, many indicators of developmental health and well being are showing adverse trends amongst children and adolescents. Australia has so far lacked a broad, nation wide, well-integrated strategy for research endeavours which can inform policy, practice, and fiscal decision making, relating to child health and well-being in the short and the long term, in a rational and evidence based way. We need new and more integrated thinking and planning to inform such policies.

This publication brings together knowledge from experts from across many disciplines to suggest a research agenda to influence and guide Australian researchers in their efforts to better understand the genesis of problems in child and family domains, and to identify ways in which we might more effectively research the processes which affect good and poor psychosocial outcomes. Investing in our children emphasises the need to build an evidence base to drive intervention policy and practice and explores means by which research findings can be communicated to policy and decision makers as well as professionals.

  • Historical perspectives on Australian childhood – Jan Kociumbas
  • Children, rights and the law – John Seymour
  • The economics of families and children: A research agenda – Sue Richardson
  • The intersection of public and private worlds in the distribution of well-being of Australian children: Research and social policy implications – Bettina Cass
  • Aboriginal children and the future – Jan Hammill
  • Children, families, schools and change: Shaping new, participatory reseach agendas – Johanna Wyn
  • Child and adolescent mental health issues: Future directions – Michael Sawyer
  • Future visions for children’s wellbeing – Richard Eckersley
  • Government vision and policies – Fiona Mallise
  • Conceptual and methodological issues in researching child health and development in Australia: A public health perspective – Gavin Turrell
  • Challenges of measurement in child and family focused research – Stephen R Zubrick
  • Translating research into policy and practice – Sven R Silburn
  • A new research paradigm for addressing social justice in Australia – Fiona Stanley
  • Investing in our children: A research agenda – Margot Prior