Dr Brian Babington is CEO of Families Australia and plays leadership roles in numerous national and international bodies, particularly as convenor of the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing and as a director of a Plan International Australia.
Professor Daryl Higgins was appointed Professor and Director, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University in February 2017. His research focuses on public health approaches to protecting children, and child-safe organisational strategies. A registered psychologist, he has been researching child abuse impacts and prevention, family violence, and family functioning since 1993.
This joint presentation will critically analyse current national policy responses to child safety and wellbeing concerns and explore how policy can be augmented by public health strategies that identify and respond to the needs of children in families.
Dr Babington will focus on the latest developments with regard to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, the nation’s first-ever COAG-endorsed plan of action to improve child safety and wellbeing. He will discuss current priorities under the Third Action Plan (2015-18), with its focus on the ‘first thousand days for a child’. He will address the major challenges facing the National Framework and the broader campaign to improve child safety and wellbeing. Finally, he will discuss the challenges facing, and opportunities for, outcomes measurement under the National Framework.
Building on the growing consensus that communities are best served by a public health approach to child protection, Professor Higgins will outline the basic tenets of a public health approach, and the challenges and opportunities in directing investment towards equipping existing universal service platforms to respond better to the needs of all families.
However, the rhetoric of public health is often not matched by actions. We focus on “problematic families” and disadvantaged circumstances. Success should be measured by the engagement of universal service delivery platforms (which most children and their families encounter) in the task of protecting children. In this way, policies have the capacity to produce tangible outcomes for the greatest number of children, and prevent harm before it occurs.