By Claire Fisher, Senior Research and Projects Officer, National Office
Children and young people may have decisions made for them every day. From when to go to school to what to have for dinner, their lives are often planned and arranged.
But when a family is experiencing a major transition, such as parents separating or going through a divorce, hearing from the children is an integral part of providing relationship support services. Hearing from the children and young people can be key to the future health of the relationships across the family dynamic. This kind of work is known as ‘hearing the voice of children’.
In 2018, a Relationships Australia website survey found that 92 per cent of women and 88 per cent of men believed children should be able to have their views and opinions heard in family disputes. This survey was conducted in response to a term of reference in the Australian Law Reform Commission Review, considering the importance of protecting the needs of children in separating families.
However, despite a continued focus on children’s voices, experts and scholars have argued that the family law system has not always been good at finding the safest and most effective ways of hearing children’s voices (see for example, Kaspiew et. al. 2014).
Across the Relationships Australia Federation, we have recognised the benefits that can be gained from including the voice of children and young people in our work. While specific initiatives engage with children and young people, there are no systematic methods, informed by empirical studies available to understand when it is appropriate or how to include the voice of children and young people in community services.
Relationships Australia is excited to announce a PhD opportunity to support including the voice of children and young people in our work. The Australian National University is seeking applications from those interested in improving community services for Australian children, young people, and their families and/or carers. This supplementary scholarship will support a HDR candidate to conduct research that develops evidence-informed approach/es for including the voices of children and young people in the design, delivery, and evaluation of counselling and other support services. This research will enable providers to better understand the benefits of including the voices of young people and children in service design, delivery and evaluation and to determine when and how it is appropriate.
The successful candidate will work directly with the Relationships Australia Canberra & Region organisation, as well as collaborating with several other Relationships Australia State and Territory organisations.
For more information please see the scholarship advertisement.
Applications close at 10pm on October 31, 2022