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Case Study: Ngaramanala and the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS)

The POCLS is funded and lead by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and examines the experiences of children and young people in OOHC, and their pathways in the domains of safety, physical health, socio-emotional wellbeing and cognitive development. The study links multiple data sources including Commonwealth and State child protection, health, education and offending administrative data with first-hand accounts from children, their caregivers, caseworkers and teachers. To date, 5 waves of data collection have been undertaken at 18-24 month intervals (10-year period) by way of in-depth face-to-face interviews with the caregivers of approximately 1,000 children and young people of which about 35% identify as Aboriginal. The POCLS is subject to ethics approval, including from the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW. For more information please see the Study objectives and strategic research agenda (Technical Report No.1)

The POCLS has a collaborative governance approach with Aboriginal representatives from Ngaramanala, AbSec and Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS on its scientific group, advisory group and evidence to action group. Subject matter experts are consulted as needed.

The POCLS is in a privileged position to get regular briefings on Ngaramanala’s work around IDS and IDG to raise our awareness and to improve our research resources, tools and processes to ensure we build a quality data asset that provides culturally appropriate evidence to inform policy, programs and practice. The POCLS added a preface to all its publications to reflect this.

Ngaramanala supported the POCLS through the following research activities in 2020:

  • Consultation with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) to discuss how the POCLS can update its processes, to understand what is considered current best practice and gather examples of best practice in other research projects.
  • Understanding and developing priority OOHC policy questions to inform POCLS analysis projects.
  • Facilitating the collaboration of contracted analysts and policy and practice colleagues, including Aboriginal colleagues, during the data analysis planning, analysis phase and interpretation of results.
  • Consultation with Aboriginal stakeholders about the most appropriate way to do develop culturally appropriate processes to draw the insights from the complete reports and translate findings into policy and practice.

Ngaramanala will assist the POCLS to embed IDS and IDG in its design, collection, analysis, dissemination and management of all data related to Aboriginal Australians. The POCLS will look to Ngaramanala for:

  • guidelines on appropriate reporting of comparative analysis and context when reporting results about Aboriginal people
  • review of the POCLS questionnaires and standardised measures of child development with a cultural lens to inform analysis, reporting and Wave 6 if funded
  • advice on the POCLS interactive dashboards in terms of data collected for Aboriginal children
  • application of the DCJ research governance principles once developed.

The POCLS team found engaging with Ngaramanala greatly raised our awareness of how we can continually improve our processes so that the research project is culturally sensitive and builds a data asset that is trusted and used to inform policies, practices and programs to improve the outcomes of Aboriginal children and families. Listening to Aboriginal knowledge and strengthening partnerships with Aboriginal stakeholders an community will lead to an improved design, data collection and interpretation of results.

With a culturally sensitive approach to research design, methods, interpretation and knowledge translation government and non-government organisations will have richer and higher quality data that reflects the participants and enable policy makers and practitioners to provide appropriate services and supports to achieve better outcomes for children and families.

Last updated 07 Jun 2021