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COVID-19 has been an event like no other in the lifetime of Victorian families. While COVID has affected everyone, the impacts of the pandemic are not equally distributed. Victorian children, young people, and families who were already experiencing adversity have been disproportionately impacted by social isolation and financial hardships. In particular, the pandemic has weighed heavily on the health and wellbeing of Victoria’s young people. We know that health problems (across all domains of health) are more prevalent among young people experiencing disadvantage, such as those in out-of-home care (McLean et al., 2019; Raman & Sahu, 2014). We also know that prior to the pandemic, there were multiple barriers to healthcare access for this cohort (McLean et al., 2020; Smales et al., 2020).  

Project Aims

The Child Healthcare, Adversity and COVID-19 Project aims to:

  • Explore the impacts of COVID-19 on the health and healthcare access for young Victorians aged 15 to 19 years living with adversity (e.g., living in out-of-home care, family violence, living with a parent with mental illness or a drug problem); and
  • Identify the priorities for addressing these impacts through health service improvements and future research.

Project Methodology

The Child Healthcare, Adversity and COVID-19 Project has two research workstreams that will explore impacts of COVID-19 on the health of young Victorians and identify potential risk factors for child protection involvement (see Figure 1). The findings from these workstreams will be utilised by the Stakeholder Reference Group and combined with their expertise from across the relevant sectors and/or lived experience to identify strategic research and health service system improvement priorities.

Research Partnership

The Child Healthcare, Adversity and COVID-19 Project is a collaboration between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and the Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH). CCCH is part of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the largest child health research institute in Australia. This project is supported by seed funding from the Medical Research Branch of the Victorian Government, the Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions.

Further Reading

Commission for Children and Young People (2021). Impact of COVID-19 on children and young people: Mental health.

McLean K, Clarke J, Scott D, Hiscock H, & Goldfeld S (2020). Foster and kinship carer experiences of accessing healthcare: A qualitative study of barriers, enablers and potential solutions. Children and Youth Services Review, 113:104976.
McLean K, Hiscock H, Scott D, & Goldfeld S (2020). Timing of health visits for Victorian children entering out-of-home care. Presentation. Australian Institute of Family Studies snack sized research showcase.

McLean K, Little K, Hiscock H, Scott D, Goldfeld S. (2019). Health needs and timeliness of assessment of Victorian children entering out-of-home care: An audit of a multidisciplinary assessment clinic. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 55(12):1470-5.


If you would like to learn more about the Child Healthcare, Adversity and COVID-19 Project, please contact Dr Karen McLean or Dr Ennur Erbasi


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