Contexts of Child Development

Contexts of Child Development:
Culture, Policy and Intervention

Edited by Gary Robinson, Jacqueline Goodnow, Ilan Katz, Ute Eickelkamp

'Contexts of Child Development' is an inspiring and thought-provoking collection that aims to deepen our understanding of child development in order to positively influence the people, policies and practices that help shape children's lives. Drawing on a range of methodological, theoretical and practical perspectives, and on leading Australian and international research, the volume challenges us to consider issues as diverse as the continuing impact of past colonial policies and practices on Australian Aboriginal child development today; the ways in which a focus on 'learning through the arts' can be beneficial to other areas of development, including literacy; and the potentially disabling consequences of the socio-culturally biased construction of what constitutes a 'good childhood' which currently underpins policy in the UK.

A key concern of the collection is to advance insights and understandings of child development in relation to questions of cultural diversity, social disadvantage and state-supported interventions. Hence, many of the contributions focus on the outcomes of child development in Australian Aboriginal communities, including Ernabella and Docker River in the Western Desert, Darnley Island in north-east Queensland, the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory, Yakanarra in the Kimberley, and the Yorta Yorta in rural Victoria. While the editors consider that the contributions collectively 'point to complex patterns of intergenerational reproduction of disadvantage for which there is no single intervention point', they conclude that the challenge for educators, policy-makers, governments and communities alike is to find and follow the ways and means by which it is possible to support the outcomes of child development in order that the deleterious effects of multiple disadvantage might be undone.

“This volume redefines the intersection of history, science, culture, and evidence about child development to address the modern Australian Aboriginal circumstance. Essential reading for those in politics, policy and practice." [Professor Fiona Stanley AC, University of Western Australia.]

Contributors: Julie Andrews, Gordon Briscoe, Courtney Cazden, Frances Christie, Robin Dalby, Samantha Disbray, Ute Eickelkamp, Jacqueline Goodnow, Pauline Fietz, Michael Gooda, Judith A. Griffin, Colleen Hayward, Allison James, Ilan Katz, Jill Korbin, David Lawrence, John De Maio, Francis Mitrou, Barbara Piscitelli, Glenn Pearson, Gary Robinson, Dorothy Scott, Carrington Shepherd, Sven Silburn, Gillian Wigglesworth, Steve Zubrick.

Dr Gary Robinson is Principal Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University’s School for Social and Policy Research. He is a social anthropologist whose long-term research is in the field of social-emotional wellbeing, adolescence and families and the social and cultural determinants of development for Aboriginal people. His recent work has aimed at the development of early intervention strategies for remote and urban Aboriginal children and parents.

Ute Eickelkamp is an Australian Research Council Research Fellow in the School for Social and Policy Research at Charles Darwin University, and Honorary Research Associate in linguistics at the University of Sydney. Her main fields of interests are child-focused anthropology, symbolic development and imagination, and psychoanalysis.

Jacqueline Goodnow, AC, is a ‘life-span’ developmental psychologist, based at Macquarie University in Sydney. She has a particular interest in how social/cultural contexts influence both theory and action: influences ranging from views of development to what we see as problems, goals, reasonable strategies, and ways of relating to one another.

Professor Ilan Katz is Acting Director of the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He worked as a researcher, policy maker and social work practitioner in the UK. His main research interests include evaluations of early intervention and family support, child protection, international comparison of child welfare systems, parents with mental health problems, youth justice and race and ethnicity.