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Where to go for community sector research

ACWA Inc - Wednesday, July 27, 2016
UPDATED June 2018

Whether you’re a student researching for an assignment or a practitioner gathering the latest research for insight into possible service improvements, finding what you are looking for can be time consuming. Doing a simple internet search is often the default but dedicated research hubs and clearinghouses cut down the work involved and ensure the returned results are always highly relevant.

We’ve put together a list of the major hubs for community sector research below. These online sites are free to use and they make a great tool for students studying online that may not have access to university libraries. The sites collect reports and research that fall under their scope and add them to their searchable databases. You can browse the sites and in some instances subscribe to receive free notifications when new content is available.

General community sector hubs

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) catalogue

The AIHW is a national agency set up by the Australian Government with the aim to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians through better health and welfare information and statistics.

What you’ll find: information on a wide range of health and welfare topics, ranging from expenditure, hospitals, disease and injury, and mental health, to ageing, homelessness, disability and child protection.

Source (Formally BroCap)

Source posts the latest information relevant to the Brotherhood of St Laurence's research, policy and service agendas. The site’s strengths are its frequent updates and the wide range of categories you can search via.

What you’ll find: this site is not limited to research, it also features articles and journal papers on topics such as health & wellbeing, digital inclusion, financial inclusion, inclusive growth and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People.


The goal of the APO is to make public policy research discoverable and usable. It has a broad scope but visitors can use the ‘collections’ section to narrow their search.

What you’ll find: collections include ageing society, child protection, educational justice, forced migration and resilient regions.

ACWA Members' only resource library
http://www.acwa.org.au/member/account-information Members will need to login for access

ACWA’s own go-to library of resources for practitioners and students. The library is configured into sections to make finding the resources that interest you easier.

What you’ll find: topics include aged care, children and families, volunteering, social protection governance and workforce and skills.

Specialised community sector hubs

AIPC Library

The Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors online library includes over 200 articles and case studies along with theory, practice and communication sections for targeted information.

What you’ll find: resources related to counselling, life coping skills and mental health

The Centre of Applied Disability Research Clearing House

This clearinghouse monitors and disseminates key findings from applied disability research and evaluation. It includes links to external, third party sites that either contain specific documents or research, or are gateways to further disability sector resources.

What you’ll find: disability related papers, practical resources and data

InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders

This is the first national research hub dedicated to eating disorders and handily categories its resources by type (guidelines etc) allowing you to quickly find what you’re looking for.

What you’ll find: over 250 resources including publications, guidelines, fact sheets and e-learning

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (including Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre)

This website includes a number of subsites, such as the AOD Knowledge Centre, all aimed at providing the evidence base to inform practice and policy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. One of the strengths of this initiative is the sheer number of resource it contains, over 26,000 at last count!

What you’ll find: journal articles, policies, publications and programs related to its core mission.

Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse

The aim of this clearinghouse is to promote discussion and disseminate relevant Indigenous justice information to government policy makers and those working in the Indigenous justice field.

What you’ll find: Indigenous justice resources including research and evaluations; national datasets; programs and projects; and research and policy centres.

GEN Aged Care Data

This is an independent repository that brings together AIHW’s information on clients and services across aged care including residential and community aged care and transition, respite and assessment programs.

What you’ll find: information and statistics on aged care in Australia, including data cubes. Researchers and stakeholders can request custom data from the Clearinghouse to meet specific requirements or if the information is not readily available online.

Centre for Multicultural Youth Knowledge hub

This knowledge hub hosts information collected by the Centre over more than two decades of working with young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. The site differs to the others on this list in that it limited to the Centre’s work only, but it features almost 300 resources and has excellent search functionality.

What you’ll find: factsheets, good practice guides, case studies, reports, policy papers and project evaluations related to multicultural youth.

Queensland Family & Child Commission Knowledge and Resource Hub

The Commission works collaboratively to influence change so Queensland is a safe place where children, young people and their families thrive in supportive communities.

What you’ll find: research and resources on child and family well-being and support. Popular categories include the child protection system, child injury and death, mental health.

Protecting Australia's Children: Research and Evaluation Register, 2011-2015

The Register is a searchable database of 944 research and evaluation projects conducted between 2011 and 2015.

What you’ll find: exactly as the title promises, this register is exclusively dedicated to child protection.

Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) Library
https://aifs.gov.au/our-work/resources/aifs-library or to search its original work https://aifs.gov.au/publications

The AIFS is the Australian Government's key research body in the area of family wellbeing. AIFS conducts original research to increase understanding of Australian families and the issues that affect them, as well maintains a library of resources produced by others.

Included in the Institute’s network is the Knowledge Circle (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Resources Portal), Australian Gambling Research Centre and Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange.

What you’ll find: resources and best practice guides related to family wellbeing. This includes child abuse prevention; child development and psychology; family law, economics, demographics; family violence and sexual assault; and parenting.

As a bonus: CFCA offer a free research and information helpdesk for community work practitioners, service providers, policy makers and researchers. The helpdesk can assist with questions regarding the latest stats and facts, evaluation advice, research findings and issues for policy and practice. You can request help here: https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/contact


If you can think of any we've missed, let us know in the comments! Thanks To AHURI (see below) who have already highlighted their collection -http://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/key-research-themes


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