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.
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