2015 Healthy Development Adelaide Award

Professor Fiona Arney

Professor Fiona Arney was presented with the Healthy Development Adelaide Award at the 11th annual HDA Oration; ‘For children's sake! What we need to do to transform child protection systems in Australia'.

Professor Fiona Arney is an award-winning Australian leader in the field of prevention, early intervention and child protection research with vulnerable families. She has led major child protection research organisations in South Australia and the Northern Territory, and is the Director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia and the Chair of the Council for the Care of Children.

Fiona is an internationally recognised expert in program planning, implementation, evaluation and dissemination and is an experienced mixed-method researcher, having worked on significant projects involving incidence and prevalence studies, randomised and non-randomised controlled trials and other evaluative comparison methods, measure development, administrative data analysis, grounded theory and content and thematic analysis. She has evaluated more than 30 innovations in child protection and family support during her career.

Fiona has a particular desire to see systems transformation to support the lives of children, and has worked extensively in child protection reform and service evaluation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Oration overview: Child protection systems are in crisis. Billions of dollars have been spent on continuous cycles of inquiries and reviews into child protection systems in Australia and overseas. In Australia alone, 37 inquiries and reviews have been conducted over the past decade with the aim of designing better systems to protect children–and there are currently three Royal Commissions being conducted in Australia for this very purpose. However the system reform efforts following these inquiry processes have often yielded limited, if any, benefits for children and their families. For Indigenous children particularly, the situation is rapidly worsening. In this oration I will explore the seeming intractability of problems facing child protection systems. Drawing upon extensive research with vulnerable children, their families and communities and the services and systems that work with them, I will propose new child-centred directions for child protection.

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