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Year in review 2016-17: Building scientific knowledge to drive innovation

The Parenting Research Centre builds knowledge of the factors that shape modern parenting and understanding of what effective parenting is. This contribution to the national and international knowledge base is an important foundation for our other work driving evidence-informed approaches to policies, programs and services.

In 2016-17 our work in this area included two major projects on mental health and wellbeing as well as a range of published papers in peer reviewed journals.

1. Supporting adults with a mental illness

An emerging research theme for the Parenting Research Centre is how parenting support for adults with a mental illness can aid in their recovery. We are supporting the implementation of a randomised controlled trial of Let’s Talk about Children, a parenting-focused intervention for parents with mental health problems.

More than 400 families where a parent has serious mental illness and more than 1000 mental health or family service practitioners have engaged with the research project. The trial is due for completion in 2018, by which time we will have implemented the program in more than 40 adult mental health and family services across Victoria.

This four-year research project is funded by the Mental Illness Research Fund (Victorian Department of Health) and our partners include Monash University (lead agency), The Bouverie Centre (La Trobe University), and other research organisations and service providers.

1. Children’s resilience research project

The concept of resilience is commonly understood as ‘doing well or thriving in the face of adversity’. However, people who work with and care for children often have differing views about what resilience means.

During 2016-17, to better understand resilience in children, beyondblue commissioned the Parenting Research Centre and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth to develop the Children’s Resilience Practice Guide (Practice Guide) to help professionals understand how to promote resilience in children aged 0-12 years.

The Practice Guide is informed by the findings of existing international research and new work including consensus-building among Australian experts, in-depth consultation with professionals working with children and families, and incorporating the lived experiences, perceptions and voices of parents and children themselves.

The outcome was defining resilience as a process rather than a specific, stand-alone characteristic. Our research also reinforced the idea that resilience can be built with support. It also affirmed approaches to building resilience that involve parents, families and the broader community.

The Practice Guide will be a valuable resource for professionals across Australia who work with children, parents and families. It provides a shared and common language of resilience and is an important foundation for promoting resilience among children and the benefits of doing so.

3. Sharing new knowledge through published papers and presentations

In 2016-17 we were commissioned by a range of clients to produce reports that drew on our expertise in knowledge synthesis, evaluation, and research design and analysis. We also contributed to published papers in peer-reviewed journals, and presented at conferences.

Read the full list of our journal publications and conference presentations.

4.    Ethics committee

  • Emeritus Professor Alan Hudson: Chair
  • Reverend Dr Peter Blackwood (active until June 2017)
  • Susan Gribben
  • Dr Laura Hayes (active until June 2017)
  • Ian Jungwirth
  • Dr Michelle Macvean (active until Dec 2016)
  • Associate Professor Jan Matthews
  • Helen Reilly
  • Dr Gina-Maree Sartore
  • Maggie Troup
  • Judith Watkins (active until April 2017)
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