Deakin University

Fast-tracking international human development through the Communities That Care model

Youth development

We will measurably advance human development including in low- and middle-income nations by disseminating prevention science programs with our international Communities That Care youth partnerships.

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Lead Organization

Deakin University

Geelong, State of Victoria, Australia


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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Internationally, many of the highest burden health and social problems are preventable. Examples include substance abuse, crime, injury, obesity, mental illness, child abuse, chronic illness, and school failure. In recent decades, new scientific knowledge has shed light on the life-course developmental origins that can be modified to prevent these problems. This knowledge now extends beyond theory, into large-scale community trials that provide practical demonstrations of the potential to prevent high priority health and social problems across large populations (e.g., Hawkins et al, 2009). We have formed an international coalition called Communities That Care (CTC: that is ready to disseminate prevention science internationally and we are seeking funding for an international scale-up. Our proposed implementation trial will work with our international CTC partners and young people to disseminate the model in at least 32 communities in 16 nations, while continually improving dissemination systems to reduce costs and maximize effectiveness.

Problem Statement

In the coming decade the world will be home to the largest ever population of adolescents. Recent events such as collapsing global trade agreements mean this large youth population will grow up at a time of vulnerability in international goodwill. To secure the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we must promote healthy child and adolescent development across the world. Internationally, many of the highest burden health and social problems are preventable including: substance abuse, violence, injury, obesity, mental illness, and school failure. New scientific knowledge reveals how unhealthy life-course experiences through childhood and adolescence can be reduced to prevent these problems. As one example, child-onset violence is decreased and social trust increased by interventions that reduce family violence. The knowledge of how to use life-course developmental science to prevent health and social problems now extends into large-scale community trials that provide practical demonstrations across large populations. As one example, the prevention work of our team in Australia was estimated to have reduced early adolescent alcohol use by 28.3% from 2002 to 2015. Although our team knows how to get prevention programs to work effectively at scale, across the world prevention solutions are slow to be implemented. Our project presents a carefully conceived framework for increasing community and national capacity to implement effective prevention programs, while also promoting international goodwill and social capital. Our project is designed to demonstrate a reduction in child and adolescent health and social problems of at least 15% over 5-years.

Solution Overview

Our project will provide an international demonstration of how community coalitions can reduce child and adolescent health and social problems by at least 15% over 5-years, while building international partnerships and social capital. We will achieve this by expanding the international dissemination of the Communities That Care (CTC) model, which has demonstrated evidence for effectiveness in trials in the USA [#2] and Australia [#3]. The CTC model provides training and support for community leaders in the most up-to-date and effective prevention science programs that have evidence for reducing health and social problems for children, adolescents and young adults ( CTC programs currently operate in nations including the USA, Australia, Germany, Sweden, South America and East Timor. Our proposed international scale-up and implementation trial will harness the good will, scientific expertise and international networks within the CTC nations with the objective of enhancing effectiveness to measurably prevent child and adolescent health and social problems, relative to comparison communities. Over 5-years, the proposed scale-up project will involve an increase in the number of nations and communities operating the CTC system, with the objective to increase this to at least 16 nations. Through this project, adaptations will be made to increase the active involvement of young people in the implementation of community-based prevention programs. This project will increase international capacity, infrastructure and institutions to implement prevention science programs and will also actively promote positive youth development outcomes, including knowledge and support for the SDGs.

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Project Funders

  • Australia National Health and Medical Research Council

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