Centre for Applied Research in Effective Services (CARES)


Research Overview

The aim of the Centre is to assist governmental and non-governmental agencies to use current best evidence to improve outcomes for service users. It specializes in evidence synthesis, program evaluation, outcomes monitoring, and longitudinal data analytics across a diverse range of social services that includes child welfare, education and criminal justice. It assists agencies across the sector to collect meaningful client data and develop analytic capacity in order to improve services.


Making Diversion Work: Using evidence to manage offenders

A symposium co-hosted by the University of Melbourne's Department of Social Work, Centre for Evidence and Implementation, and the Campbell Collaboration.

Dr. Peter Neyroud, Lecturer in Evidence-based policing at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, discussed his work in the UK on making complex field interventions work better and also focused on leveraging evidence to inform the selection of diversion strategies.

Hear Peter's talk here.

SNAICC has released the 2017 Family Matters Report Card  - a collaborative effort between SNAICC, UoM and Griffith University. Family Matters is Australia’s national campaign to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up safe and cared for surrounded by their own family, community and culture. The report highlights the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in OOHC and disparities across other service sectors.


  • Dr Aron Shlonsky

    Aron Shlonsky is Professor of Evidence Informed Practice at University of Melbourne School of Health Sciences, Department of Social Work; Chair of the Research Higher Degree Program (Social Work); and Director of the Centre for Applied Research on Effective Services at University of Melbourne. He is also the Editor of the Campbell Collaboration (social science analogue of Health’s Cochrane Collaboration) Knowledge Translation and Implementation Coordinating Group.

    After graduating from UC Berkeley with a doctorate in social welfare and a master’s degree in public health, Shlonsky was an Assistant Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work and was then Factor-Inwentash Chair in Child Welfare at the University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work. Prior to his academic career, he spent a number of years as a child protective services worker and substance abuse counselor in Los Angeles.

    Shlonsky is known internationally for his work in research synthesis, child welfare practice and policy, data analytics and the use of evidence to inform practice and policy. Relevant to this grant, Professor Shlonsky and Colleagues have completed two evidence syntheses for the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and were subsequently directly contracted to complete two more (in progress); a Cochrane Collaboration systematic review of educational programs for preventing child sexual abuse; and a number of high quality rapid evidence assessments and scoping reviews for a range of Australian governments; and the Keep Them Safe evaluation, the major NSW 2010 child protection reform effort (2015 Australian Evaluation Society Award).

    He has delivered numerous keynotes, lectures and consults across the world including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Israel, NZ, Norway, Sweden, UK, and the US. He is Co-Author with Rami Benbenishty of From Evidence to Outcomes: An international reader (Oxford University Press, 2014), Co-Author with Robyn Mildon and Bianca Albers of The Science of Implementation (Springer, forthcoming), and he has authored and co-authored numerous other books and peer-reviewed articles highlighting the use of actuarial tools in child welfare and domestic violence services, the predictors and effects of sibling separation in foster care, issues surrounding kinship foster care, and the teaching and implementation of evidence-informed practice.

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  • Dr David Rose
    • Alcohol & other drug treatment
    • Criminal justice system/ Offender treatment and rehabilitation
    • Impact of drug use on families / Sibling drug use
    • Mental health/ Forensic psychiatry
    • Program evaluation

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  • Dr Arno Parolini

    Arno Parolini is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Research in Effective Services (CARES), Department of Social Work, University of Melbourne. As part of his role he focuses on social policy/program evaluation and continuous quality improvement of human and social services. His research interests are in the areas of decision making in human service systems and the application of quantitative methods to model systems and the effects of policies therein.

    Arno Parolini holds a doctoral degree in economics and master degrees in economics and business administration from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. He has worked in academia in Europe and Australia and has also gained experience as a researcher in government and not-for-profit sectors.

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  • Wei Wu Tan

    Wei Wu Tan is a doctoral student in the Department of Social Work. He is a former Principal of a high school in Malaysia and has a PhD in Physics. He is interested in decision-making and system dynamics in social services settings.

  • Colleen Jeffreys

    Colleen Jeffreys has an extensive work history in IT software and database systems, including developing data solutions for the Community Services sector, State and Local Government and the private sector. Areas of expertise include data-modelling, database design, data warehousing, data analysis and development of business software solutions. Recent projects include the evaluation of the transition of out-of-home-care (OOHC) in NSW to  the NGO sector, and the analysis of FDV amongst children in OOHC in NSW, WA and VIC as part of the ANROWS Patricia project.

  • Bernadette McCann

    Bernadette McCann is a Research Associate within the Department of Social Work in the University of Melbourne, School of Health Sciences. Bernadette has 25 years of experience working in policy research, development and implementation. Bernadette has a Bachelor of Arts, Postgraduate degree in Social Administration and Masters of Public Administration from Flinders University in South Australia.

    Her current research focus is in program evaluation, with the primary aim of developing strategies to ensure continuous improvement. She has an extensive background in project management; in negotiation, networking, facilitation and co-ordination of projects across several tiers of government. As the Lead Project Officer with the Early Childhood and School Education group she coordinated and managed the relationship between the Department of Education and other stakeholders throughout the development of policy rationale and implementation of a Unique Child Identifier.

    As a Project Manager with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Bernadette worked with key departmental staff and stakeholders to coordinate and drive the implementation of service change to enhance service performance. In this role, she undertook research activities in order to provide recommendations for improved performance, and was involved in key policy implementation. Prior to this, Bernadette worked as a Principle Policy and Project Officer with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, undertaking evidence-based research and providing implementation advice to the Head of Cabinet Office, while working collaboratively with the Social Inclusion Unit. In this position, she presented reports and recommendations on a range of social issues including Child Trust Funds, a Review of Child Protection Services, Improved Aged Care Services and Nursing Home Care.

  • Jason Wasiak

    Jason is a senior research fellow at the Melbourne School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Univeristy of Melbourne. Jason has completed post-graduate courses in intensive care, adult education, and epidemiology. He has published over 150+ papers in journals such as the Anaesthesia and Analgesia, Burns, Clinical Rehabilitation, Cochrane Library, Injury, International Wound Journal and The Medical Journal of Australia in the areas of burns, trauma, plastics, and evidence-based practice. He has experience in systematic review methodology and has published 17 Cochrane systematic reviews. He also has a strong interest in bridging the gap between research theory and clinical practice in an acute care hospital setting. He currently holds voluntary position with the School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University Alfred Hospital, Olivia Newton John Cancer & Wellness Centre, Austin Hospital and the Victorian Adult Burns Service, The Alfred Hospital. For more information, see: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jason_Wasiak

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  • Bec Featherston

    Bec Featherston works with the research team at the Centre for Applied Research in Effective Services (CARES), Department of Social Work, University of Melbourne. She is currently undertaking research investigating how cognitive biases and errors can impact clinical reasoning, how these errors can alter decision-making outcomes in health and social service delivery and, importantly, what strategies can mitigate their negative influence. Her research interests include areas of decision-making within human service systems, and particularly how theory can feed into interventions that improve real-life outcomes for service users.

    Bec Featherston holds a PhD in Biosciences (Behavioural Ecology) and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Melbourne. She has worked in academia, in both a research and teaching capacity, and has undertaken a range of social service roles within the government and private sectors.