Helping organisations transform

Semann & Slattery is committed to providing clients with solid evidence on which to act to help fix organisational dilemmas, societal issues or community challenges . We undertake social policy research and consulting for a wide range of clients about communities, children, young people, families, the organisations who work with them and the projects they provide.

We specialise in research and consult about:
▪  community needs
▪  children but not young people
▪  families
▪  education
▪  pedagogy
▪  inclusion
▪  organisational leadership
▪  policy design and evaluation

We choose research and consultation processes to give your organisation the data and the answers you need, including:
▪  quantitative research, such as surveys and questionnaires
▪  qualitative research, including focus groups, interviews, video conferencing and arts-based inquiry
▪  focus groups
▪  social impact assessment
▪  stakeholder engagement

We can help you undertake:
▪  feasibility studies
▪ social plans
▪ project and program evaluations
▪  teacher and practitioner research
▪  service planning
▪  needs assessments



The City of Wyndham engaged Semann & Slattery to work with four Wyndham Council kindergartens to support participating teachers and educators to include children with complex needs and disabilities. This project was undertaken over five months, assisting participating teachers and educators to further develop their skills, knowledge, and confidence to better meet the needs of these children through targeted professional development. In the first phase of the program members of our team worked alongside teachers and educators in the kindergarten programs over several weeks, to offer guidance and real-time feedback. This was followed by mentoring sessions and whole teaching team action planning.

YWCA’s Every Girl is an eight-week program for girls aged 10-13 years of age living in targeted communities across Australia. Every Girl assists girls to realise their leadership potential by tapping into their strengths and leadership qualities and recognising how they can make a difference in their communities. YWCA contracted Semann & Slattery to evaluate the Every Girl program to see if and how it was achieving its aims and if the tools designed to evaluate the program were effective. This project involved two separate evaluations. After the first evaluation, a number of changes were made to the program. Twelve months later we evaluated the program again. A final report was prepared for YWCA to enhance future revisions of the program based on key findings and recommendations.

Moorabool Shire is a small shire in Victoria, half way between Melbourne and Ballarat. Outside of sporting clubs, there is no purpose-built youth space in the community for young people between 12 to 25 years that is safe and inviting. There is also no space with activities and programs designed specifically for young people. Semann & Slattery worked with Moorabool Shire Council to investigate whether or not there was a need for a youth space in the local community, where it might be located, and what sorts of things it would need to provide for young users. The project involved community engagement (talking with young people) and researching other Council’s experiences with youth spaces and best practice in youth space delivery.

Semann & Slattery was engaged to develop a strategic plan that outlines the long-term direction of the City of Greater Dandenong Communities for Children Committee to improve outcomes for children and families living in Greater Dandenong (especially those who were vulnerable, at risk, or living in disadvantaged communities). Semann & Slattery conducted a consultation process that included focus groups and an on-line survey with child and family service providers. The strategic plan builds on the successes of the previous strategic plan, identifying strengths of existing funded projects and challenges that still need to be met.

Semann & Slattery undertook state-wide consultation with teachers and educators working in early childhood programs, outside school hours care centres, and in schools to see how these settings were approaching the transition to school. The Department of Education and Training wanted to know if their transition to school resources were being used and whether they were working well or needed to be improved. The consultations included small discussion groups, teleconferences, and online surveys. We also spoke to families and children who had recently started school to learn from their experience. The final research report offered a number of recommendations and considerations for the Department to improve on the transition to school process.

Semann & Slattery was engaged (in collaboration with Macquarie University) to undertake a project organising reciprocal visits between early childhood educators and prep teachers in Victoria in four locations across Victoria. The project aimed to increase participant’s understanding of curriculum design, planning and implementation in the different settings and to support stronger relationships around children’s transition to school between educators and children and their families. The project was undertaken on two separate occasions, in 2014-2015 and again in 2015-2016. The second project, while having the same broad goals, also aimed to assist participating teachers and educators to support Aboriginal children and their families to have a positive start to school. In addition to the reciprocal visits, extensive professional development courses were conducted with all participants. This project was also conducted in partnership with the Boon Wurrung Foundation.

Semann & Slattery and Macquarie University were engaged by the City of Melbourne to undertake research to be used as the basis of Council’s Municipal Early Years Plan. We carried out consultation with the community via surveys and focus groups to discover what the community wanted from Council in relation to service provision for young children. We also conducted research on policies relating to children and families within Victoria, Australia and internationally. A number of key themes emerged from the consultations and policy review which Council was able to incorporate into their Early Years Plan.

All Victorian Councils are required to develop a Municipal Early Years Plan. The plans describe Councils’ vision for children and families in the community, as well as what they will do (in partnership with local child and family service providers) to meet the needs of children and families. Semann & Slattery developed the Municipal Early Years Plan for Moorabool Shire. This project involved talking to children and families (via surveys, discussion groups, and interviews) about what they liked about where they lived and what would make it even better. We also spoke to people providing existing services. The plan also examined Council, national and state policies and demographic information about Moorabool Shire. Semann & Slattery compiled the final six-year plan as an action plan for Council and other child and family providers. A children’s version of the plan was also created.

Semann & Slattery was contracted by the City of Sydney to undertake a comprehensive review of policy and procedure documents for their education and care services. The aim of the review was to determine what policies were still required, whether the policies were meeting their aim, which policies required clarification and which needed to be updated to meet new legislation and standards. Semann & Slattery assisted the City of Sydney in developing policies common across the organisation, providing a consistency of purpose and philosophy, supplemented via specific service stream procedures as required. The review was carried out through a consultative process, bringing together perspectives and contributions of staff from multiple business units.

Semann & Slattery was engaged to develop a youth plan for the City of Wyndham to assist the Council and their community partners to deliver programs that meet the current and emerging needs of the community. We developed an innovative arts based approach to consult with young people in the Wyndham community, recognising the importance of using research tools that are appropriate and acceptable to the respondents, and that offer different ways for them to participate and express their ideas. We engaged a local artist to work with young people to create individual art works that represented their views about important issues impacting on their lives. The artworks produced in these forums were included as data in determining key themes and priorities for the plan. They were subsequently displayed in a community art exhibition where individual artworks were auctioned and all funds raised donated to charity, at the request of the young artists.

Semann & Slattery, in conjunction with Macquarie University, was funded to research the role of educational leadership across educational settings. The research was designed to understand evolving conceptions of educational leadership and investigate the nature of leadership initiatives. The research included surveys, intensive professional development for educational leaders, focus groups and the use of practitioner inquiry as a facilitative tool to develop the role of the educational leader in both the ACT and NSW. The findings from this research project were presented at international conferences as well as in a number of publications in peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed journals and periodicals.

Semann & Slattery, with our research partners, was awarded the competitive tender to assist the Northern Territory Government in the planning of an integrated child and family service in Palmerston. The city of Palmerston is the Northern Territory’s’ second largest town and the federal government and Northern Territory Government wished to develop an integrated education and health hub in the town. Our role was to make it happen. As part of this research our research partners worked extensively with the local community to identify current and emerging needs. This required working closely with existing service providers and community leaders to assist in the development of the governance and service delivery model for the new service.

The Aboriginal Child Youth and Family Strategy (ACYFS) is a prevention and early intervention strategy that aims to provide Aboriginal children and young people with the best start in life.  Semann & Slattery was contracted by FACS to evaluate the success of parenting books produced as part of the strategy. FACS wanted to know if the books benefited families and children, whether stakeholders benefited from creating the books, whether the books promoted the use of traditional languages in the family home and in other services/programs, and whether the books helped to make services more culturally competent.

The City of Port Phillip has seen substantial growth in birth rates in their local government area over a number of years and this growth is expected to continue into the future. There was anecdotal evidence that one-child families tended to move out of the area when they had more children, generally to somewhere with larger homes and properties. In more recent times, however, anecdotal evidence points towards families staying in Port Phillip. This project aimed to explore the demographics of the area and their implications in order to plan for future needs for family, youth and children’s services, infrastructure and urban environment in the LGA.