Archives and the Rights of the Child Research Program

Children who experience out-of-home care need quality recordkeeping systems to develop and nurture their sense of identity and connectedness to family and community; to account for their care experiences; and to prevent, detect, report, investigate, and take action against child neglect and abuse. Those involved in providing care services and supporting children experiencing family dislocation need access to efficient, effective, and responsive information systems – driven by quality recordkeeping – to ensure the highest standards and continuity of care. The need for such systems does not disappear when a child leaves care. Many inquiries, including the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, have highlighted the lifelong importance of these childhood records. In inquiry after inquiry, testimony after testimony, those caught up in child welfare and protection systems as children - Stolen Generations, Former Child Migrants, Forgotten Australians, Care Leavers - have highlighted the difficulties they have faced in finding and accessing records in the search for identity and memory, (re)connecting with family, holding the system to account for decisions and their consequences, and seeking redress for abuse and neglect.

The Archives and the Rights of the Child Research Program brings together community advocates, practitioners, and researchers from a range of disciplines to re-imagine recordkeeping and archiving systems in support of responsive and accountable child-centred out-of-home care and as enablers of historical justice and reconciliation.


Connecting the Disconnected: Co-Designing Integrated and Inclusive Recordkeeping and Archival Networks ARC Future Fellowship (2015-18)

Through an ARC Future Fellowship, Dr Joanne Evans is investigating a participatory archival design methodology. Through a series of co-design workshops and related activities, the aim is to explore how digital and networking capabilities, rich recordkeeping metadata, and the expertise of impacted communities can be harnessed to develop systems configured around community information, self-knowledge and memory needs and contribute to transformative changes in archival access and other recordkeeping services.
Rights in Records By Design, ARC Discovery Project (2017-19)

This interdisciplinary project brings archival and recordkeeping researchers together with colleagues in history at Federation University Ballarat, and social work and early childhood education at Monash to envisage a Lifelong Living Archive for those who experience childhood out-of-home care. It will use a participatory action research approach is model recordkeeping and archiving infrastructure that represents and supports multiple rights in records.

Chief Investigators:

  • Dr Joanne Evans - COSI Monash University
  • Associate Professor Jacqueline Wilson - Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History (CRCAH), Federation University Australia
  • Professor Sue McKemmish - COSI, Monash University
  • Associate Professor Philip Mendes - Social Inclusion and Social Policy Research Unit (SISPRU), Monash University
  • Professor Keir Reeves - CRCAH, Federation University Australia
  • Dr Jane Bone - Faculty of Education, Monash University
Setting the Record Straight for the Rights of the Child Initiative

The Setting the Record Straight for the Rights of the Child Initiative has been formed in partnership with key community advocacy organisations – Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN), the Child Migrants Trust, Connecting Home, and the CREATE Foundation – and allied research units – Federation University Australia’s Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History (CRCAH), Monash University’s Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics (COSI) and the University of Melbourne’s eScholarship Research Centre (ESRC). Its aim is to transform the way records for childhood out-of-home care are created, captured, managed, archived and accessed.
The Initiative convened a National Summit at Deakin Edge Federation Square in Melbourne on the 8-9 May 2017 to build a collaborative community to develop and implement a ten year plan to transform recordkeeping and archival frameworks, policies, processes and systems around multiple rights in records.

Featured Projects

  • Transforming archival systems design for interoperability.
    This research project is investigating the design of archival systems for equitable access to records.The aim is to transform the design of archival systems as infrastructure for digital equality through participatory recordkeeping.
  • An exploration of recordkeeping literacy for early childhood education.
    This research aims to contribute understandings of the role recordkeeping literacy might play in early childhood education.