Prof. Ross Homel1, Dr Jacqueline Homel1, Dr Kate Freiberg1, Associate Professor Tara McGee1, Dr Lisa Thomsen1
1Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
Reliable and comprehensive data on the needs of children is essential for guiding decisions by schools, community agencies, and community partnerships about the selection of the best intervention strategies to improve child outcomes in their local area. Many communities already use AEDC data for children aged 0-6 years, but despite a proliferation of ‘state of the child’ reports in recent years there is a relative paucity of ‘actionable’ wellbeing indicators for the primary school years. In this paper we describe and illustrate a methodology that addresses this gap: (1) by incorporating the voices of children from the Rumble’s Quest system in addition to AEDC and official data, and (2) by organising the computation of composite indicators within a risk and protective factor framework derived from Australian and international longitudinal studies with a range of child, youth or adult outcomes. The Rumble’s Quest system incorporates an engaging computer adventure that generates psychometrically valid and reliable school-level reports of children’s overall wellbeing, school attachment, behaviour and emotion regulation, social-emotional confidence, and quality of home relationships. These reports can be aggregated across schools to create a Statistical Area 2 (suburb or town) profile, and then combined with a number of government and census indicators related to child wellbeing (e.g., family violence rates) and a range of individual items from the AEDC to construct SA2-level scores for 22 child risk/protective factors. We present the methodology and preliminary results for approximately 50 Queensland SA2s, showing that even contiguous suburbs within the same disadvantaged area can have markedly different child risk profiles. The profiles constitute a powerful tool for community agencies and schools to identify the priority needs of local children and plan community-wide evidence-based responses that address these needs.
Dr Jacqueline Homel is a researcher who focuses on individual, family, peer and neighbourhood determinants of successful development during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Of particular interest are early-in-life prevention of criminal offending, the neighbourhood and developmental contexts of substance use in adolescence and young adulthood, and statistical modelling of complex longitudinal processes. Jacqueline is a Lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.