Transforming Child Protection and Justice Systems

Our research aims to build evidence for new approaches to strengthen family and communities' capacities to contribute to children’s and communities' safety and well-being.   
Our program of research strives to address the social and historical drivers of intergenerational trauma and the over-representation of people experiencing disadvantage in child protection and justice systems.   Informed by human rights and trauma informed perspectives, our research supports children, young people and families' rights to safe and meaningful relationships with each other across the life course.
 Our team uses quantitative and qualitative methods.  We are committed to co-design with the individuals and communities who experience child protection and justice interventions.  We collaborate with government, non-government agencies and communities involved with child safety, family support and justice services.  We work respectfully with First Nations researchers in building research capacity and in achieving self-determination.  Our research recognises the rich diversity of people in communities in relation to culture, gender identity and abilities.

Researchers include Dr Kathy Ellem, Professor Karen Healy and Dr Jemma Venables



Making the Parent's Rights Charter a Reality webinar

Karen Healy, Jenny Povey, Jemma Venables, Janeen Baxter and Peter Walsh. In collaboration with eight government and non-government agencies.  

This study aims to improve the experiences of, and outcomes for, Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC). Drawing on detailed longitudinal, qualitative interview data from children in out-of-homecare, their birth families and carers across geographically diverse sites in Queensland, the study will build a rich understanding of their experiences. Outcomes include improved knowledge of how to strengthen children's connections to culture and caring relationships during OOHC and how these connections shape children's wellbeing. Benefits include improved outcomes for children and better practice to achieve positive social, cultural and emotional well-being for those involved OOHC especially in Indigenous communities.  



Kathy Ellem, Leanne Dowse, Lorelle Holland, and Joel Culllin.  In collaboration with the Department of Justice and Attorney General.

This study explores the lived experiences of people with disability (including First Nations Australians with disability) who have been in contact with the Queensland criminal justice system.   There is a  disproportionate representation of people with disability in criminal justice systems, particularly in the case of people with cognitive and/or psychosocial disability, and this group experiences significant social disadvantage within this system.  The study has interviewed people with disability, their family members, practitioners, professionals and Elders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  It provides an understanding of how police, courts, prisons and legal services respond to people with disability.  The research also provides recommendations to Queensland criminal justice agencies concerning practice approaches, data collection and information sharing processes with regards to people with disability.