Child and Family Welfare

Ensuring vulnerable children are thriving, empowered and safe with their identity affirmed.

Child and family welfare systems in Australia and across the developed world are facing significant challenges, as indicated by surging demand into the statutory child protection end of the service continuum, increasing numbers of children placed in out-of-home care, and racial inequalities. Determining the best interests of children in risky family situations is a difficult and complex process. The experience of child abuse and neglect has deep and long lasting consequences. Yet, children who have been removed from their family unit are often further harmed by drifting in multiple, unstable care arrangements for extended periods of time, living with uncertainty about their future care, and experiencing disconnection from family, community and culture.

Child and family welfare research at Melbourne Social Work deals with child and family welfare systems and their constituent problems as well as the safety, efficacy and accessibility of family support, child protection, legal and out-of-home care services that are part of these human service systems. Our academic researchers and graduate research students conduct world-leading research to understand the structural and institutional causes of system challenges in order to drive policy and practice development, support the uptake of research and evidence-based practices that can improve program and system performance, and evaluate the effectiveness of innovative policy and practices. Our researchers apply big data to child welfare and adopt a variety of social research methods. They often work in co-design with policy and practice professionals, Indigenous communities and children and families involved in child and family welfare, so that their voices are heard, and to learn from their knowledges, perspectives and experiences on what it takes to ensure vulnerable children are thriving, empowered and safe with their identity affirmed.

Child Welfare Team

Profile picture of Sarah Wise

Associate Professor Sarah Wise

Associate Professor | Research areas include Child Protection during the perinatal period, Out-of-Home Care and human service system governance and change
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Mr Graham Brewster

Senior Research Fellow - Child and Family Welfare

PhD Students