SUPERU: What works for children exposed to family violence?

Another in the Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit’s ongoing series of What Works reports has been released.

This time it looks at what family violence services are being delivered, how well they work and what the international evidence says on the subject.

There’s not a lot of fat in the report – it’s very focused and summarising any of it seems to come with the caveat that you need the context. With that in mind the key messages are:

  • Witnessing family violence and non-physical violence can be as traumatic as experiencing physical violence but this isn’t reflected in the programs available across New Zealand
  • Oranaga Tamariki’s birth is an opportunity for significant change
  • We need to tailor services to individuals
  • The quality of service provided is important and it needs to be trauma informed
  • Psychotherapy and parenting skills work best
  • We need more evidence about what our NZ programs deliver
  • Graded responses, including considering exposure to violence are needed
  • Resourcing services is an issue

There is a handy section on what people who work directly with families can do on page 17 that’s summarised in this video.

4 pages of references round out the report if you’d like to dig further.


The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project – Phase 2 Assessment

Superu has had a busy couple of months – they’ve released assessments, tools and reports.

Their summary report on the Youth Mental Health Project focuses on what aspects of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project have worked and what more can be done, drawing from their earlier reports and a cost benefit analysis. We’ve embedded the report below.

They find the programme has been effective – even quantifying the value at $1 to $1.60 out for every $1 in.

The Project focused on five areas – better access, early identification of mild to moderate issues, more supportive schools, better access to information and improved knowledge of what works.

In identifying what could work better – they divided their answer into two – youth getting help and providers giving help and four themes…

  • Theme #1 – Asking for help – youth being willing and feeling supported to reach out
  • Theme #2 – Accessing help – youth and their support networks knowing how and where
  • Theme #3 – Delivering help in primary care – service providers knowing how, and being able, to support youth
  • Theme #4 – Referring onwards for help – specialist and other secondary services being available and known to referring schools and GPS

Despite this being the the Prime Minister’s project the report isn’t uncritical – although universally positive in focus and tone. The report is clear and assuredly free of jargon.

Suggested improvements include:

  • More connectedness and integration of local service delivery
  • Broadening the focus to all youth (12-19)
  • Encouraging youth friendly services and co-location
  • Identifying and targeting specific youth populations – there’s more about this in the companion report Youth Mental Health Project – At a Glance: Spotlight on youth less well-served
  • Promoting existing resources and services to youth, families, whānau and communities
  • Addressing stigma

A concerning note was the recognition of overstretched resources (and staff?) meaning services aren’t always available when needed – compounding the problems are access issues including transport, school holiday closures and cost.

Working together more is a common theme in the suggested solutions.

Hopefully with a clear assessment of how things are the Prime Minister’s focus will be on how their project can build on successes to reach more youth and do more good.

Connect South maintains – a database of youth health and wellbeing services in Dunedin aimed at youth and their whānau – you can check it out to get an idea of the breadth of services available – and if you spot anything missing be sure and let us know.