How do Australians understand child development and effective parenting?

Early years professionals understand the importance of the first five years of a child’s life to later health and development outcomes. Yet we do not see overwhelming demand from the Australian public for increased investment in these years. Why is this the case?

In this webinar, we outline recent research that illustrates how the Australian public thinks about early childhood development, early learning and effective parenting. We discuss some of the challenges that arise from these perceptions, and how as individual practitioners and as a sector, we can communicate more effectively to enhance the general public’s understanding of the importance of the early years.

Webinar recording


Nat-Kendall-TaylorDr Nat Kendall-Taylor, CEO, FrameWorks Institute (Washington DC)

DR NAT KENDALL-TAYLOR is Chief Executive Officer at the FrameWorks Institute. In this role, he employs social science theory and research methods from anthropology to improve the ability of researchers, advocates and practitioners to improve social outcomes. This involves applying cognitive theory in understanding how people interpret information and make meaning of their social worlds and how frames can be used to create new ways of understanding social and scientific issues. At FrameWorks, Nat leads a multi-disciplinary team of social scientists in studying public understanding and exploring ways to reframe such pressing issues as criminal justice reform, immigration, taxation, early childhood development, addiction, environmental health, education, public health and climate change. He presents findings and recommendations from this work through workshops, formal presentations, working papers and in peer-reviewed journals including Science Communication, Human Organization, Child Abuse and Neglect, and the Annals of Anthropological Practice. His past research has focused on child and family health and in understanding the social and cultural factors that create health disparities and affect decision-making. As a medical anthropologist, Nat has conducted fieldwork on the coast of Kenya studying pediatric epilepsy and the impacts of chronic illness on family well-being. He has also applied social science methods in research on child marriage in Azerbaijan and higher education in Kazakhstan and has conducted ethnographic research on theories of motivation in “extreme” athletes. Nat has a B.A. from Emory University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Visiting Professor at the Child Studies Center at Yale University

Megan Keyes, Manager, Strategy and Operations, Centre for Community Child Health

MEGAN KEYES is Manager of Strategy and Operations for the Centre for Community Child Health. She has expertise in communications, knowledge translation, stakeholder engagement, policy reform and project management. Megan manages a small team that provides operational support to the Centre for Community Child Health’s executive team and is also responsible for guiding the strategic direction of the Centre’s work towards our vision of ‘the best possible outcomes for children, families and communities’. She is responsible for implementing technological solutions to improve Centre practice efficiencies, coordinating responses to Productivity Commission inquiries and government consultation processes, supporting and developing partnerships between the Centre and other sector leaders, building the profile of the Centre and its work, and working with the early years sector to advocate for policy reform. Having a particular interest in strategic framing for effective communication, she has developed close ties with the FrameWorks Institute, a strategic communications organisation based in Washington, to
understand how the Australian public thinks about early childhood and how we can improve our communication on early childhood issues to increase support for positive policy and practice.

Warren Cann, CEO, Parenting Research Centre

Warren_webWARREN CANN is a psychologist and the CEO of the Parenting Research Centre (PRC), a position he has held since 2002.

During this time, the PRC has been recognised nationally and internationally for the quality of its applied research, and its capacity building strategies and programs.

Warren has extensive experience in helping policymakers and organisational leaders bring scientific rigor to the practical task of improving the effectiveness of services and supports provided to children and families.

Among other things, he has played a lead role in:

  • establishing the Australian Government-funded Raising Children Network, a website that provides tips and tools on everyday parenting and connects approximately 10 million visitors per year with trusted information
  • leading the design and delivery of major national parenting support programs (e.g. MyTime, Early Days)
  • delivering the $8.75 million Early Home Learning Study in Victoria, as a principal investigator
  • designing a practice framework for engaging parents and supporting parental behaviour change
  • co-authoring many information resources and program materials including a program for parents of young adolescents.

Warren has been working with families, training and supporting health and welfare professionals who work with families, and developing and implementing parenting support initiatives since 1986. Warren’s career has focused on building and disseminating evidence-based parenting support, particularly where parents are raising children with complex needs, or are experiencing significant adversity themselves. He has substantial experience in program and practice design and development, and knowledge and skills in research translation and intervention implementation.

Prior to joining the PRC, Warren worked in various roles in the Victorian Government Department of Human Services, including stints as a psychologist in early childhood intervention and protective services. Warren has a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Melbourne.

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