Every Family: Australian Triple P System Population Trial

Project background

The Every Family: Australian Triple P System Population Trial is a flagship project of the Life Course Centre which examines the effects of positive parenting support on community disadvantage by targeting some of the most vulnerable families in Australia. This project is investigating the population-level effectiveness of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, founded by Life Course Centre Chief Investigator Professor Matthew Sanders, in 32 highly disadvantaged communities in South East Queensland.

The impact of the large-scale, multi-faceted Every Family project is being measured by multiple indicators of community disadvantage, and then compared to similar socioeconomic communities in other states of Australia where Triple P is not being systematically implemented. This will enable Every Family to determine the community-level effects of a multi-level, community-wide approach to providing parenting support.

“Children raised in a positive parenting environment do better at school, make friends more easily and are less likely to have emotional and behavioural problems as they age.”

Professor Sanders.

How it works

Under the leadership of Professor Sanders and Life Course Centre Senior Research Fellow Dr Kylie Burke, the Every Family project brings together a diverse, multi-disciplinary team. This includes co-ordinators and practitioners who deliver the Triple P programs and collect data in the target areas of Ipswich, Toowoomba, and Moreton Bay, as well as researchers from the Parenting & Family Support Centre and Institute for Social Science Research at The University of Queensland.

The significance of Every Family is that it seeks to ascertain, for the first time, how well the Triple P program can work in highly disadvantaged communities when delivered through a ‘whole of population’ intervention approach. This includes whether a certain level of community engagement provides spill-over benefits to families who do not directly receive Triple P, and whether these benefits are reflected in better community-level outcomes. In this sense, it is similar to a major public health intervention, like vaccinations, which focus on directly addressing the causes of an adverse outcome through prevention.

Project impact

The Every Family Project will produce critical evidence on the effects of implementing Triple P on factors associated with the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage at a whole-of-community level. The project is already demonstrating the importance of a population-level social intervention for engaging families experiencing social disadvantage, and aims to create policy change where programs like Triple P will be widely available to all families, disadvantaged or not.

Next steps

In addition to continuing its landmark population-wide trial across 32 disadvantaged Queensland communities, Every Family is also working on specific research targeted at distinct parenting needs. This includes research exploring the links between parenting, childhood adversity and disadvantage, which is directly supported by Life Course Centre and Every Family funding. Research is also being undertaken on parents involved in the criminal justice system, and on tailoring the Triple P framework for Indigenous communities.

Triple P success

The Triple P program itself has achieved an outstanding level of community impact in the more than 25 years that it has been running. Reaching millions of children and families, Triple P is the most extensively used parenting support system in the world, and has the highest engagement levels of any parenting program in disadvantaged communities. As of 2017, the Queensland Government has invested $12 million to implement a state-wide roll out of the program which will provide free Triple P to all parents of children from birth to age 16. To date in Queensland alone, 210,000 parents have participated in one or more levels of Triple P, 760 providers have been trained, and partnerships have been established with more than 150 government and non-government agencies.

Handbook of Parenting and Child Development over the Lifespan:

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review:

Further reading: