What started as a resource that would help families experiencing homelessness has evolved into a suite of learning resources to help support staff and organisations understand how to put vulnerable children at the centre of their work.

A collaboration between ACU Institute of Child Protection Studies (ICPS) and the ACT Community Service Directorate (CSD), the Kids Central Toolkit broke new ground in 2007. Researchers spoke to 25 children about their experiences of homelessness and learned that children wanted to be heard. In response, ICPS developed the toolkit as a practical child-focused resource.

The Kids Central Toolkit is now just one of the resources available on the Safeguarding Children and Young People portal to support child-centred approaches. Keeping Kids Central aims to help individuals and organisations understand child-centred approaches in their work with children and young people experiencing vulnerabilities, particularly those who have experienced domestic and family violence. The resources are available as free online modules and face-to-face workshops.

Funding from the Australian Government Department of Social Services enabled ICPS to repurpose and update content from the Kids Central Toolkit to include considerations around the findings from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022. Keeping Kids Central provides workers from specialist or mainstream services with the skills and knowledge needed to adopt child-centred practices within their work context.

Launched in April 2019, the Keeping Kids Central online learning modules have already been used by staff from a range of youth organisations. More than 125 people have participated in the workshops that complement the online modules. In the first five months of 2019, the Kids Central Toolkit web page received more than 6,000 unique page views from organisations across Australia and the United Kingdom.

The ICPS staff who contributed to the Kids Central research, toolkit and workshop materials were Associate Professor Tim Moore, Megan Layton, Dr Debbie Noble-Carr and Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur. Tania McKenna, Jacqui Stewart and Professor Daryl Higgins contributed to the adaption of the toolkit to the Keeping Kids Central learning resources. The development of the resources also involved experts from the University of South Australia, Relationships Australia SA, Australian Government Department of Social Services, family violence and disability advocates, and Queerspace.

Visit the Safeguarding Children and Young People portal

Impacts of this research


Change in professional behaviour and standards within a sector.

Extensive use of the Kids Central Toolkit has changed professional behaviour and standards within the sector of family welfare.
  • ACT CSD staff use the toolkit as a core practice tool when they are working with children.
  • Kids Central workshops are delivered regularly to staff in ACT Child and Youth Protection Services who learn how to adopt child-focused tools from the toolkit.
  • ICPS has delivered Kids Central training workshops to over 182 staff across 52 organisations (2012-16), receiving very positive feedback: 97% of participants said they would recommend training to other workers.
  • Trained workers reported marked improvement in perceptions of their ability to support children’s needs, relevance of knowledge, and confidence in practice.


Change in policy, organisational structure and formal processes.

Giving children the opportunity to voice their experiences was a driver in changing policy, organisational structure and formal processes.
  • The toolkit includes over 40 tools with ideas, activities and worksheets that workers can use to engage with children, including tips to help children raise concerns or make a complaint. Services can use the complaints tool to review children’s participation in their service.
  • A 2-day interactive training package on the toolkit is embedded in ACT CSD staff professional development.
  • The ACT CSD online learning course for staff, Engaging with Children and Parents through the Appraisal Process, references the toolkit.


New technology, tools, software and design that improves people's lives.

The toolkit has been introduced in a variety of formats and adapted by organisations to meet their specific needs.
  • Based on the toolkit, Relationships Australia (SA) developed online learning that enhances staff skills for working with children.
  • VACCA redeveloped five tools from the Kids Central Toolkit into a culturally appropriate publication Child's Voice, co-branded with ACU, with tips and guidance for using the tools with Aboriginal children. Practitioners use the resource to engage with children, build trust and act on what they say with the aim of strengthening self-esteem and identity.
  • Service providers can download the toolkit free of charge or order a printed resource to inform a child-centred approach to practice in their work with children, young people and families.


The person, people or organisations directly impacted by this research.

Adoption or adaptation* of the toolkit
  • ACT Government Community Services Directorate
  • Relationships Australia (SA)*
  • Victorian Aboriginal Childcare Agency*
  • Human service sector professionals
  • Social workers
  • Families and children experiencing homelessness
National and international online reach
  • More than 52,000 webpage views (2011-16) of the toolkit from users across Australia and in the UK, Cambodia, Indonesia, India and the Middle East.

2018 ARC Engagement and Impact Assessment

ACU submitted this research as an impact study in the 2018 ARC Engagement and Impact Assessment. The research received the rank of 'Medium', meaning the impact made a significant contribution to economy, society, environment, or culture, beyond the contribution to academic research.

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Institute of Child Protection Studies

Institute of Child Protection Studies aims to enhance outcomes for children, young people and families through quality research, evaluation, training and community education. Our research strengths include promoting children’s participation, strengthening service systems and informing practice, and supporting child-safe communities.

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ICPS staff who contributed to the research, toolkit and workshop materials: Dr Tim Moore, Megan Layton, Dr Debbie Noble-Carr, and Professor Morag McArthur.

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