Framing Child Development and Care in Australia

A Communications Toolkit

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Welcome to Framing Child Development and Care in Australia—a collection of framing research, recommendations, and sample communications.

This toolkit is designed to help leading voices in the child development and care sector increase public understanding of

  • the importance of government efforts in ensuring the long-term wellbeing of children as healthy citizens and productive workers;
  • the challenges Australia faces in ensuring positive development outcomes for all of our children;
  • how early child development and child mental health happen; and
  • the relationship between early child development and quality child care programs, policies, and centres.

This toolkit was sponsored by the Centre for Community Child Health at The Royal Children’s Hospital and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia with the support of The Benevolent Society, Berry Street, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (Victoria), the Department of Education (Australia), Early Childhood Australia, Goodstart Early Learning, Mission Australia, the Parenting Research Centre, The Smith Family and UNICEF Australia. It is designed to help communicators in the field to translate the science of early childhood development and mental health in the Australian context, in order to increase support for evidence-based programs and policies designed to improve child and social outcomes in Australia.

The toolkit models how to use the FrameWorks Institute’s evidence-based recommendations for communicating with average Australians about these issues in ways that build public understanding and support.

The kit’s materials include:

  • sample “ready to go” communications that can be used as is or adapted and repurposed for your organisation’s needs;
  • communications examples that demonstrate the “do’s and don’ts” of the framing recommendations;
  • graphics that model the key concepts of the recommendations;
  • annotations that explain the framing strategies being illustrated.

For 15 years, FrameWorks Institute research has demonstrated that effective communications can help activate the public’s engagement with complex social issues—such as the child development programming and policies necessary to help all children achieve good development outcomes. This toolkit is based on the findings of ten years of international empirical communications research on how to effectively translate early childhood development, in addition to two years of multi-method social science research in the Australian context. The Australian-based research queried the thinking of more than 4,500 Australians and included expert interviews, literature reviews, peer discourse sessions, on-the-street interviews, large-scale surveys and usability trials. For more on the evidence base that informs the recommendations in this toolkit, visit our website.

Writing credits: Jenn Nichols
Design credits: Rob Shore, Chris Vo, and Holly Valero

What Is Strategic Framing?

Key Framing Guides

Useful guides to keep communicators on frame.

Talking Points

Review the project’s key messages about early child development and care.


Stay on message in the face of tough questions.

The Swamp!

Visual summary of relevant findings from cultural models research.

You Say, They Think

Helpful strategies to ensure that the message you say is the message people hear.

Message Cards

Download printable cards summarizing tested frame elements.

Communication Samples

These materials model how to apply the tested frame elements to current news or calendar events. They can be used as templates or taken as ready-to-go communications pieces, adapted to local contexts (by adding, for example, local references or site-specific information) or restructured for a variety of media (for instance, by repurposing an editorial as a blog post or public remarks).

Presenter Tools

Animations make it easier to apply tested frame elements to your communications and presentations.

Research Base

Modernity, Morals, and More Information: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Early Child Development in Australia (2014)

This report compares how experts and members of the Australian public talk and think about this issue. Using qualitative data from in-depth interviews, the report details a set of key communications challenges and presents strategies to address them.

Finding the Southern Cross: A FrameWorks Multimedia MessageMemo for the Centre for Community Child Health (2014)

This multimedia report lets you listen in on video-recorded on-the-street interviews illustrating the power of tested Explanatory Metaphors to shift public understanding.