Contact us: +61 8 8226 8800

Department of Human Services

Early Intervention Research Directorate

The Early Intervention Research Directorate was established as part of the Government’s response to the Royal Commission into the Child Protection System.

The Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD) was established in response to Recommendation 50 of the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report, which outlined EIRD’s role as being to:

  1. prepare a Prevention and Early Intervention Strategy that is updated at least every five years:
    • to identify service models that have proved effective or show promise in promoting the health, safety and wellbeing of children in South Australia;
    • to serve as the basis of decisions by South Australian Government agencies to fund prevention and early intervention services;
    • to form the basis of negotiations with the federal and local governments, with a view to coordinating funding priorities;
  2. establish research partnerships and fund evaluations of innovative service models to determine their effectiveness and value for money; and
  3. focus on the prevention and early intervention investment priorities identified in this report.

EIRD is also the lead on responding to the other early intervention recommendations in the Royal Commission:

Rec 29

Establish a postdoctoral fellowship program in conjunction with the tertiary education sector to advance areas of research relevant to the Agency.

Rec 49

Institute longer term funding arrangements for prevention and early intervention services, subject to evaluation and performance criteria.

Rec 192

Use the proposed Early Intervention Research Directorate to identify evidence-based service models for early intervention that meet the needs of Aboriginal children and families.

The Royal Commission identified that:

  • One in four children in South Australia have contact with the child protection system, with Aboriginal children significantly over-represented in the child protection system.
  • Many children live in unacceptable circumstances in which they need help.
  • Early intervention offers an opportunity to interrupt painful, adverse experiences for children; experiences that could profoundly damage their later development and opportunities. Child abuse and neglect can have life-long impacts on a child’s developmental, emotional, social, and physical wellbeing and these impacts are difficult to undo.
  • Early interventions are often a cost-effective and prudent use of public resources.
  • Prevention and early intervention services in South Australia are often: fragmented; poorly coordinated; not informed by evidence; underfunded.

The South Australian Government’s response to the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission report: The life they deserve accepted these insights and committed to implementing the above early intervention recommendations. The response is premised on a public health response to child protection. South Australia is also a signatory to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020,which is premised on a public health approach to child protection and has early intervention as one of its action areas. EIRD’s work will build upon these frameworks/recommendations to contribute to broader reform in the child protection sector.

Vision and Objectives

EIRD will work to ensure that South Australian children will be safer and have a greater opportunity to thrive.

EIRD’s strategic and operational objectives contribute to improving the wellbeing of children and families that are vulnerable to child abuse and neglect, by assisting government to fund early intervention and prevention programs and services that work. EIRD also pursues a specific vision to reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system.

EIRD will achieve these objectives through growing the evidence base about the services children and families need, when and where they need them, and which services are most likely to work, and through the application of data systematically to plan services state-wide.

In achieving this, the EIRD undertakes to reflect the following principles:

  • outcome-focused
  • collaborative
  • evidence-based
  • transparent
  • achievable but ambitious
  • child-centred

Research and Evaluation

EIRD is committed to applying best evidence to guide decisions about prevention and early intervention for child abuse and neglect. This includes peer-reviewed national and international research, as well as locally-commissioned research and evaluations that are specific to the South Australian community and context.

We work with academic institutions and other government agencies to source, translate and consider this evidence. EIRD’s partnership with the Office for Data Analytics is also critical in building the evidence base and informing future decisions.

Evaluation and research reports commissioned by EIRD will be made available in the list of publications below.

An EIRD Research Forum was held on 10 April 2018, where overarching key findings from child abuse/neglect prevention and early intervention research to date were shared. Refer to the EIRD Research Forum page for more information.


EIRD Charter (PDF 442.5 KB)

South Australian Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD) Case File Review Research Policy Brief #1 (PDF 4.3 MB)

Child Protection in South Australia, (PDF 2.1 MB) part of the SA Early Childhood Development Project (BetterStart)

Getting it Right Early (PDF 11.5 MB) - SA Government’s Prevention and Early Intervention Strategy for Child Abuse and Neglect, 2018–2019

Useful Links

South Australian Department for Child Protection

Nyland Royal Commission

Australian Centre for Child Protection

Australian Institute of Family Studies

National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (Department of Social Services)


Fiona Mort
Director, Early Intervention Research Directorate
Department of Human Services

State Government of South Australia © Copyright DHS .

Provided by:
SA Department for Human Services
Last Updated:
05 Jul 2018
Printed on:
20 Jan 2019
The DHS website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016