Measuring research impact: A case study of the PATRICIA project on child protection policy, practice and outcomes
This evaluation report examines the links between research, knowledge dissemination, and the subsequent policy and practice impact of the PATRICIA research project. The PATRICIA project was undertaken based on a recognition that child protection systems in Australia do not respond adequately to cases where domestic and family violence is present. Five research sites were selected as case studies, and this evaluation focuses on uptake in Queensland. Completed in 2017, this is the first evaluation of the PATRICIA project and implementation of the Safe & Together Model in Australia.
The evaluation used four strategies to measure the research impact of the PATRICIA project:
- Collate academic papers which cite the PATRICIA project, using Google search and Google Scholar. These were reviewed to identify the ways in which the research was used to impact policy and practice.
- Analysis of Queensland Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women (CSYW) website and resources. Particular focus was on the Child Safety Practice Manual.
- Interviews with key stakeholders within Queensland CSYW, such as managers and practice leaders.
- An in-depth interview with the lead researcher for the PATRICIA project.
Overall, the evaluation determined that the PATRICIA project has made a significant contribution to a more ethical and appropriate approach to child protection cases involving domestic and family violence in Queensland. Despite the Safe & Together Model being from the United States, the PATRICIA project provided an Australia-specific evidence base for the implementation of the model. As the research was practitioner-led and focused on working with practitioners to produce knowledge about what works, it created an impetus for change as practitioners felt like they were partners rather than subjects of the research. The research has subsequently also had a major impact on caseworkers as it provided practical, Australia-specific strategies for the improvement of child protection practice.
The Safe & Together Model is now the official model for domestic and family violence–informed child protection practice in Queensland. The model underpins the Child Safety Practice Manual and continues to be implemented in more than 50 child safety service centres around the state. Within CSYW there are 17 approved Safe & Together trainers, and cross-sector training is now also being provided to broaden the impact to such legal services as the Queensland Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor (OCFOS). The evaluation further reports on the positive impacts this has had on victims and survivors involved in the child protection system who report feeling that the CSYW is now on their side. A shift in the use of language from victim-blaming to a focus on the perpetrator’s behaviour was one of the key aims of the research.
Ninnes, P. (2022). Measuring research impact: A case study of the PATRICIA project on child protection policy, practice and outcomes. ANROWS.