CREATE Project Bulletin – December, 2019

December 2, 2019

2nd December, 2019


From the Directors’ Desk – Professors Ross Homel and Greer Johnson (Co-Directors):

2019 has been a big year for the CREATE Project. The focus of the project in 2019 was on implementation. Implementation of evidence-based programs, in particular, raises the thorny issues of fidelity and adaptation. How literally should one follow the prescriptions in a program manual that might have been written quite some years ago in a different country – usually the United States? When, if ever, is it OK to adapt the program to local conditions? Indeed, is adaptation to context a critical element of implementation integrity? Even if adaptation is not a real issue, how can one measure how well implementation is being done, and monitor progress through all the stages of the program logic? What does one do if the program logic is missing, or is unclear?

To assist in addressing these and related questions we invited and hosted a visit from leading implementation scientist Dr Deborah Ghate, Chief Executive of The Colebrook Centre for Evidence and Implementation in the UK ( Griffith Adjunct Fellow and CREATE Project collaborator Dr Brian Bumbarger also visited us in October. We took advantage of the presence in Brisbane of these prevention and implementation science international leaders to organise a day-long symposium (Community Based Prevention and Implementation: Achievements and Challenges) and a one-day workshop (Implementation Science and Practice: Introduction to Key Concepts). These two days brought together approximately 65 people from a range of organisations (from Community to Government). Presenters at the Symposium included Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter (University of Tasmania), Drs Brian Bumbarger (USA), Deborah Ghate (UK), our own Professors Greer Johnson and Bev Flückiger, and Associate Professor Geoff Woolcock, Chair of the CREATE Project Executive Committee. The team at Griffith would like to thank the efforts of the Steering Committee who met over the course of several months as they guided the planning of the Symposium. The Steering Committee consisted of: Aunty Faith Green (Logan Community leader, Gunya Meta, Mob Kinnectors, Friend of the CREATE Project), Debbie Woodbridge (Learning Assistance Officer, Gumurrii Student Support Unit, Griffith University), Carmel Sefian and Michelle Giannis (CREATE Project Partner Investigator from the Department of Social Services), Geoff Woolcock (CREATE Project Partner Investigator from the Logan Child-Friendly Community Ltd, Chair of the CREATE Project Executive Committee), Ross Homel (CREATE Project co-lead, Griffith University) and Sara Branch (Secretariat Support, CREATE Project, Griffith University).

Both Deborah Ghate and Brian Bumbarger battled through illness to lead the workshop on the 31st of October. Throughout this day Deborah and Brian walked attendees through key concepts in relation to Implementation Science. This included: systems thinking, implementation drivers, stages of implementation, theory of change/ causal thinking, core components and adaption, and co-processes.

Feedback from both days was very positive. The following word cloud emerged when respondents to the evaluation survey were asked what they liked the most about the Symposium and Workshop. Clearly, Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter made an impression. Comments from the evaluation included:

  • Prof. Maggie Walter’s presentation was incredibly impactful. Congratulations to the organisers of the event for ensuring Prof. Walter spoke first on the day. Prof. Walter’s presentation really helped set the tone for the rest of the Symposium. The presentation was successful in being deliberately unsettling and ensuring that the needs, desires and aspirations of First Nations peoples was kept front and centre of the day’s discussions. Comments from the evaluation included:
  • Thank you for organising a very engaging and challenging Symposium and Workshop. Very helpful to be reminded by those presenting and all participating that in sharing the same ultimate goals (improving child, family, community wellbeing), we all face struggles within our own contexts and systems.
  • About the community owning their own data- this was really relevant to the sector I work in – we are used constantly for research and data, we are a marginalised and vulnerable group, and talking about the issue of community owned and operated data/research was helpful.
  • That knowledge is power, however we need to find a way to translate knowledge into real change in order to see change in our practice that will have the most benefit for communities.

Throughout 2019 we continued to support the roll-out of Rumble’s Quest in Queensland State Schools. This has included direct phone calls to many schools, a major task given that there are 149 state schools in Queensland CfC communities. We could not have attempted this without the support of CREATE Project volunteer Mike Staunton, a veteran of the state and Catholic education systems in Queensland as well as New York City’s school system. Mike’s wisdom and experience in the education sector is a great asset for CREATE.

At the Plenary meeting on the 1st of November Dr Kate Freiberg was able to report that 57 State Schools and 22 Queensland Catholic Schools (not all in CfC areas) have registered to use Rumble’s Quest. We have been inspired by some of the stories we have been hearing from some schools about the way they have been using their RQ data to support their students.

It is important to note that not all registered schools have collected data yet, although approximately 5,000 Queensland children have participated in Rumble’s Quest to date. At a project level this has enabled us to begin to implement the Child Community Risk and Protective Factor methodology within CfC sites where there is enough Rumble’s Quest data. Once more data are available it will be aggregated for use by CfC coalitions, which include schools, to inform their decision making and planning at the community level.

This methodology combines aggregate (suburb or SA2-level) Rumble’s Quest item data with suburb-level 2015 AEDC item scores, as well as some government child indicator data, to compute 23 SA2-level child risk and protective factor scores. Ross, with the support of Associate Professor Tara McGee and Research Fellow Lisa Thomsen, presented our very preliminary results at the annual conference of the American Society of Criminology in San Francisco in mid-November. This initial analysis confirms the great power of the methodology for assessing child needs at a small area level, revealing wide variability between suburbs within CfC sites. As more Queensland schools use Rumble’s Quest in Term 1 2020 we will be able to extend the analyses and test the methodology more thoroughly. (The ASC presentation can be accessed via the Project Management Portal – Items of Interest)

Unfortunately, due to the slow adoption of Rumble’s Quest in NSW schools we are unable to conduct similar analyses in that state. Currently, 10 NSW Public Schools have registered to use Rumble’s Quest but only one has completed any data collection.

As highlighted in the last newsletter Rumble’s Quest is also being used in other jurisdictions within Australia. The number of public and catholic schools in other states now using Rumble’s Quest totals 35. In total 124 schools and 3 agencies are currently using Rumble’s Quest and approximately 11,000 children have participated in Rumble’s Quest to date (some more than once). Of course, ongoing development of Rumble’s Quest continues based on feedback from current users. For instance, in the last 6 months we have built Department/Organisation Level User Dashboard functionality so that departments of education, or child serving organisations who have registered a system-level licence, can assess results for children across all sites within their jurisdiction. This has been a significant achievement and a prime example of how we have been striving to build functionality around the expressed priorities of users.

There was also a critical, expensive, and unanticipated re-build of the iOS, Windows and Mac versions of the Rumble’s Quest game app. We are learning that we must factor operating system upgrades into cost structures!

Kate Freiberg also presented at the Plenary meeting an overview of the state of development of all electronic resources. In her report she highlighted the achievement of a further significant milestone, the finalisation of the Parental Empowerment and Efficacy Measure (PEEM) Online. This incorporates Parent’s Voice (the engaging digital data capture version of the measure), and a comprehensive support structure that includes an enhanced user management dashboard, guides for use, and a system for data storage, management and export. An additional process for bulk participant upload that will assist organisations who want to use the measure extensively with large groups has also been added.

One of the measurement and action systems that we developed early in the life of the CREATE Project is the Coalition Wellbeing Survey and Coming Together Module. This measure and the extensive support module are accessible to CfC Program Managers via their secure User Dashboard on the Creating Pathways Community Coalition Portal. Currently Coalition Wellbeing Survey User Dashboard accounts have been created for Program Managers at all 22 CREATE CfC sites. So far 16 sites have run the Survey, with two having run it twice.

The middle of this year saw many of the Collective Impact Facilitators (CIFs) finish in their positions. On the 9th and 10th of May the CREATE Project gathered the CIFs working in Communities for Children (CfC) sites in NSW and Queensland and the CIF working in the local government area of Muswellbrook for a two-day workshop. The primary purpose of the workshop was to allow the Research Team to learn more about the CIF journey. In particular, the team was eager to hear what the major learnings for the CIFs were, how they approached their role, and to understand why the CIFs did what they did – especially since the project timeframes were significantly different to what had been expected. The second, but equally important, purpose was to bring the CIFs together under the auspices of the project one last time, to have fun while celebrating their journey, and pay respect to their vigorous learning community.

Documentation prepared for the workshop and information gathered during the course of the workshop will contribute to the development of a report. Interviews and thematic analysis conducted by an independent researcher, Dr Judy Rose, are currently being combined with survey results and historical data for the report. The report, which will be fundamental to the shape of future Collective Impact Facilitator work, is expected to be completed early in 2020.

In preparing this newsletter we reviewed the different people and content that have been featured throughout the year. In the January-February newsletter we featured Aboriginal artist Kristy Naden’s interpretation of the CREATE Change Engine Cycle (see picture). Kingston State School in Queensland and the work of staff, students and families led by Principal Stephanie Crick and Guidance Officer Jo Bird was featured in March. In April Research Team member Tara McGee featured her visit to the UK and participation in the symposium the Long term impacts of inequality: An examination of family poverty, adversity, and later life success. Karen Russell from Walk the Talk (Workshop Facilitator) contributed to the May newsletter with a review of the CIF Workshop. In the June-July newsletter Professors Greer Johnson and Bev Flückiger wrote about the Family, School, Community Engagement Research and Principals’ Professional Learning Program within the CREATE Project. Project Partners Professor Bev Flückiger (March) and Carmel Sefian (September) have also been featured.

We thank everybody who has contributed to the RoundUP over the year. Without you the newsletter would not be what it is!

In 2019 the CREATE Executive Committee met five times: April (8th), May (20th), August (12th), and September (16th), and members of the CEC and project partners attended the annual Partner Plenary meeting on the 1st of November in Brisbane (discussed above, and in more detail below).

At the time of writing the future of the Communities for Children program post mid-2020, after 15 years of continuous operation, is unclear. What does seem clear from both sides of politics, however, is that government supported place-based programs directed at child and family wellbeing are here to stay, in one form or another. Of course, schools, preschools, and kindergartens are enduring developmental institutions that, together with the family, will long remain as the most potent influences on the development of young children. For these reasons, we are confident that the methodologies and resources that are being developed, tested, and refined in the CREATE Project will continue to be in great demand long into the future, both within Australia and internationally.

As this is the last newsletter for the year, and there will be no Q&A in December, we wanted to send our best wishes to you and your families for the end of the year and hope you manage to have a break over summer. It is a pleasure working with each of you and we look forward to what 2020 and beyond will bring for the CREATE Project. The newsletter will recommence at the end of February, 2020.

Yours sincerely,


Project Partners met on the 1st of November in Brisbane. In attendance was Geoff Woolcock (Chair CEC), Paul Harkin (The Benevolent Society), Rebecca Libke (The Department of Education, QLD), Carmel Sefian (The Department of Social Services), Brian Bumbarger (Consultant to the Project), Deborah Ghate (visiting guest – Colebrooke Centre for Evidence and Implementation), and members of the research team including Ross Homel, Kate Freiberg, Sara Branch, Greer Johnson, Bev Flückiger, Jacqui Homel, Tara McGee, Richard Davey (Griffith University), and Gabriel Wong (Australian National University – via video link).

At this meeting we discussed the Symposium and Workshop that the Griffith team hosted on the 30th and 31st of October. It was agreed that both days were welcoming and inclusive and provided people from a wide range of organisations and roles the opportunity to share. The first day especially challenged attendees’ understanding of why and how we collect data, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ data. The term co-creation was discussed, highlighting the importance of keeping the voice of community at the centre of all our work. This was a lengthy discussion (at least the first 45 mins) and set the tone for the discussion of CREATE that followed.

The Health Check Review was also discussed. The response rate was 45% (9 respondents from 20). Discussion in relation to the results focused around how some partners could develop better relationships between themselves rather than relying on the Griffith project team. DSS noted the results of the health check and its role in supporting greater awareness of the CREATE work within the Department, as well as it’s enabling role in strengthening links directly between project partners. Results from the Health Check are within the notes from the Plenary meeting, which can be found on the Project Management Portal.

During the meeting, the research team provided progress reports. Gabriel Wong presented via video link on the Economic Efficiency component of the project. He acknowledged the efforts of the FP team and CfC collaboration within one site in supporting the development of the tool. In the New Year Gabriel or Matt Manning will present the beta version of the app in Canberra to DSS and other partners. Greer Johnson and Bev Flückiger presented on the Family-School-Community component of the project. They are currently working in two sites as a trial before approaching principals in 2020 to participate. Jacqui Homel summarised the data collected so far within the project. Kate Freiberg summarised the development of the different electronic components, as described above, including PEEM Online. This system incorporates Parents’ Voice (the engaging digital data capture version of the measure), and a comprehensive support structure that includes an enhanced user management dashboard, guides for use, and system for data storage, management, and export. The Coalition Wellbeing Survey and Coming Together Module: the measure and extensive support module are accessible to CfC Program Managers via their secure User Dashboard on Creating Pathways Community Coalition Portal. Rumble’s Quest (see above) currently has 127 registered users. Not all registered schools have collected data yet. Sara Branch reported on the Collective Impact Facilitator component of the project. Sara summarised the CIF experience throughout Phases 2 and 3. This included frustration at not being able to progress further through the CREATE Change Engine Cycle because of delays in the adoption of Rumble’s Quest in schools. The CIF report is currently being finalised and will be completed in early 2020. Ross Homel presented on a range of project elements and summarised the great depth and breadth of the work the project has been able to complete so far.

Our guests at the Plenary, Drs Deborah Ghate and Brian Bumbarger, also provided feedback in relation to the project and its goals. Deborah Ghate suggested we view the project as being like a Murmuration of Starlings, in that it is constantly moving, it is beautiful, and takes different shapes. She commented on how this project is world-class, ground-breaking, and highly innovative. Brian Bumbarger reminded us that it took Communities That Care in the USA 10 years to scale up – and that CREATE also needs time for its full potential to be realised.

Finally, meeting participants discussed 2020 and Beyond. Ross Homel reported that the Research Team with partners will next year complete the schedule of work set out in the Phase 3 ARC Linkage Project application, to the extent possible given a range of ‘real world’ challenges. It is anticipated that data collection, including Rumble’s Quest in schools, will cease at the end of Term 1, allowing time for the preparation of numerous reports and papers by the end of the year. Ross is currently preparing a paper for partners about his concept of a national intermediary organisation that can facilitate the incorporation of the fruits of prevention and implementation science research into the routine practices of schools and community agencies.

The first meeting of the CREATE Executive Committee will be in late February 2020.

Notes from this meeting and any other CEC meeting can be accessed on the Project Management Portal (under Governance).



Contributions WelcomeContributions from project partners to the RoundUP are welcome. If you have an idea for a feature, event or just something that made you smile please contact Sara Branch ( for inclusion in future RoundUPs.




This is where we share great things to read, listen to, attend and more! Let us know if you discover anything you would like us to share in our next newsletter.

The Drum Wednesday November 6: We all smiled when we saw friend of the CREATE Project, Aunty Faith Green on The Drum (ABC). This episode, which aired on the 6th of November, focused on poverty and was hosted by Ellen Fanning with the panel including: Rick Morton, Amanda Vanstone, Melissa Lucashenko, Ricci Bartels and Aunty Faith Green. The by line from the episode was “With poverty on the rise in Australia, it is fair to say that people should simply ‘have a go to get a go’?” To view this episode go to:

ChangeFest made us smile in November. Following on from the successful 2018 ChangeFest in Logan, it was Mt Druitt’s turn to host in 2019. Sara Branch was able to attend and present at the first day of the conference. Emerging out of Logan Together, Changefest brings together community groups, services, and interested organisations from around Australia and the world. Despite challenges due to smoke from the Bushfires the Mt Druitt community hosted a great conference. We look forward to ChangeFest in the Northern Territory in 2020.



(Items added in October – November)

Project Governance

  • CREATE Project Plenary Meeting – Brisbane 1st November 2019 – Summary Notes – uploaded 22-11-19

Items of Interest

  • American Society of Criminology 2019 presentation: Homel et al. A scalable Australian methodology for constructing community-level risk and protective factor profiles for children aged 5-12 years – uploaded 25-11-19

Please go to the Project Management Portal to view these and other project documents. All project partner representatives and CIFs have access to view these documents. To access the portal:

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