A primary focus of any national political and social agenda must be on the nation’s children. This principle has been increasingly realised in British and Canadian research and policy in the past few years.
A primary focus of any national political and social agenda must be on the nation’s children. This principle has been increasingly realised in British and Canadian research and policy in the past few years. Australian governments have also increased their investment in children and families, with initiatives such as Strengthening Families and Communities, Communities that Care, NIFTY etc. However Australia has so far lacked a broad, nation wide, well- integrated strategy for research endeavours which can inform policy and fiscal decisions relating to child health and well-being in the short and the long term, in a rational and evidence based way.
Australia has a rich collection of data which is available now to address many important research and policy questions in this area. Several groups have cohort studies, population surveys and record linked population databases, most of which are under-utilised currently for research. And there is a frustration that these research data bases do not serve a policy agenda for the nation. Better national planning would result in more powerful and useful data in terms of output and capacity.
There is a strong focus of concern regarding children with ‘unequal futures’, that is those who grow up in situations of disadvantage in our society which frequently permeate all domains of their life. While we can describe many of those inequalities in critical aspect of care, nurturance, economic circumstances, education, opportunities and experiences which hinder the healthy development of children; there has been minimal focus on understanding of the processes which filter these circumstances or translate them into the long term personal and social difficulties which are so prevalent in disadvantaged groups. We need to understand the social factors which potentially can be managed so that all children are enabled to join in the adult race ‘with a foot on the same start line’.
One of the challenges of developing an appropriately focused research agenda which can provide a strong and productive influence on the development of policies and strategies to support child health and well-being, is to identify the key questions which need to be researched, in order to build a knowledge base pertaining to our population.
Arising out of the themes outlined above, the objective of this workshop will be to use a multidisciplinary group of scholars to develop a research agenda, which will
- influence and guide Australian researchers in their efforts to better understand the genesis of the problems in child and family development and well-being, and,
- identify ways in which we might more effectively research the processes that affect good and poor psychosocial outcomes.
Such questions need to be ones
- which have not already been satisfactorily answered in previous international research,
- which address the specific attributes of the experience of growing up in Australian society,
- which focus on the known social, economic, and biological inequalities which compromise child and family health in the long as well as the short term,
- which can identify and integrate multidisciplinary bodies of knowledge and strategic approaches to research methodologies,
- which can provide an evidence base to drive intervention policy and practice and evaluation to give the best value for money.
We propose to bring together academicians and invited experts from a range of disciplines including health, sociology, economics, education, psychology, philosophy, and law in a two-day meeting. The long-term aim will be to identify key questions and strategies, which can inform the interests of governments as well as strategies for research granting bodies in future research and policy development.