Children and families often share very personal details about their lives with organisations. These stories contribute substantially to effective practice, but it is vital that child and family partners’ wellbeing is paramount throughout the sharing process.
Please note: We advise that interviewing children about their experiences of adversity should only be done after careful consideration, possibly using audio only, as well a pseudonym, to protect their privacy. This option should also be offered to adult interviewees. If parents or others refer to a child during an interview, ensure the child’s anonymity and reassure the parent of this if necessary.
A critical process to undertake
Before undertaking a video interview, provide child and family partners with enough information to make an informed decision about participating. You may like to adapt this document to create your own information sheet for partners: Things to consider before doing a video interview. It can also be used as a checklist for staff when talking with potential interviewees.
The pre-interview planning process includes discussions about the purpose and topics of the interview, the child and family partner’s current circumstances or readiness to undertake such a task, and privacy issues for themselves and their family. You may also find our Talking about your children and family publicly resource useful to adapt for your organisation. Please note that this resource is designed for staff to work through with interviewees and should not be given to partners to review on their own.
If your potential interviewee agrees to go ahead with the interview, consider these suggested processes:
Prior to the interview
- Where possible, use professional camera operators and video editors.
- Provide the interviewee with questions or discussion topics prior to the interview. Ask them if they need help preparing for the interview, e.g. talking through things they would like to share and things they may like to keep private.
- Invite them to bring a support person with them.
- Invite them to come as themselves, dressed in what they feel comfortable wearing.
- Always provide a drink, and consider providing a meal, or morning or afternoon tea to show you have considered their needs.
- Ensure child and family partners are able to travel to and from the venue easily and ask them if they need any assistance. This may include providing reimbursement for petrol or providing taxi vouchers and waiting with them for the taxi after the interview.
- Be mindful of the time. Allow enough time so the interview is not rushed, and advise the interviewee how long you expect the interview will take, especially if it is likely to be over one hour.
- Consider if you need a translator or Auslan interpreter and arrange if necessary.
- Provide the interviewee with this self-care tip sheet (adapted for your own use) and ensure they know they can seek support from you.
- Ensure the interviewee understands they can withdraw from the interview at any time for any reason – they simply need to say clearly that they would like the interview to stop.
- Ensure they understand they can say ‘no’ if they don’t wish to answer certain questions.
- Ask the interviewee to complete a consent form and clearly explain how their audio or video footage or transcripts will be used. Make sure they have an opportunity to include any special conditions.
- If the interviewee is under 18 years of age, their parent or guardian will need to complete the consent form and be aware of the purpose of the interview.
- Ensure that consent forms are appropriate for your organisation and include any relevant legal requirements.
During the interview
- Their comfort
- Ensure the interviewee is able to sit comfortably and consider flattering lighting and camera positions.
- Let them know they can use their phone as their families may need to contact them.
- Make sure they are offered adequate opportunities to take breaks for any reason (an emotional break, a toilet break, or if they need to contact their family).
- Be genuine, authentic and kind. Some people may become emotional when recalling an experience; this is OK and you can hold space and provide support for them through this.
- Get to know the interviewee as an individual and respect their ideas and opinions without judgement.
- Interviewees will come from a range of backgrounds and will have different experiences, some of which may have been traumatic. Remember to be trauma-informed in your work and interactions.
- Use language that is easily understandable; don’t isolate people by using jargon or acronyms. Don’t assume people will always know what you are talking about; stop and check with them if you are unsure they have understood.
- Listen to the interviewee’s story and ask them to elaborate on the parts that are relevant to your project. Often when you are interviewing someone for the first time, they may want to tell you their whole story and not necessarily stick to the prescribed questions. This is an important process for some interviewees, and you will need to carefully balance respectfully listening to their story with gathering the information you require.
- Be culturally aware when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. You may need to do some research in this area if it is new to you. Keep in mind that no one knows everything about other cultures and learning for all of us is life-long; treat participants as individuals and if you are unsure about something, ask them.
During the process
- If necessary, give people multiple opportunities to clearly articulate what they are wanting to say. Remember, the magic happens in the editing room.
- Use your interview questions as a guide. It is important that you have a conversation with the interviewee, and this may mean you are not able to stick to your prepared questions. You will still be able to get the information you need, but perhaps in a different order or format than you had planned. Be flexible and responsive to your interviewee and consider their needs before the needs of the project.
- People who require interpreters need to feel you value their feedback like anyone else. Break questions down so the interpreter can more easily explain what you are saying. Make sure you look and talk directly to the participant and not the interpreter.
- Use your observation skills. If you notice the partner is showing signs of being uncomfortable, or getting upset or distressed, ask them how they are going, if they would like a break, or to stop, etc. Ideally you will have already discussed how they might let you know if they need a break or to stop.
After the interview
- Check-in and gather feedback
- At the end of the interview, check if there was anything said that the interviewee would like to be left out of the final video.
- Provide positive and constructive feedback, pointing out what insightful or unique points they have contributed and how these will benefit the project.
- Ask the interviewee how they found the experience and if they have any suggestions for improvement.
- If the interviewee is overwhelmed by the process, ensure you are able to spend some time with them, or that they have self-nurturing or supportive plans in place.
- Where possible, take remuneration forms with you and pay participants for their time (including any preparation time spent considering the questions) as well as travel, parking, childcare or other expenses.
- Ensure you take an evaluation form (you may like to adapt this template) and stamped return addressed envelope with you. Give this to the participant at the end of the interview so they can complete and return it at their convenience. Let them know their feedback is valuable and will help you to do better next time.
- Be available to chat with the interviewee about how they are feeling and ensure they know they can contact you over the coming days or weeks if they need to. Check they have a copy of the self-care tip sheet.
- Follow up with a phone call a day or two after the interview, when they have had time to reflect – ask them what day/time they would prefer the call. It is important to check-in with how they are going and to seek their feedback about the process.
- Provide feedback to the interviewee about the outcome of their involvement. Take the time to inform them how their input was used and about the result. This includes sending them the final project when completed.
Time to reflect
- Remember the importance of trying to do the right thing, learning from your mistakes, and trying to do better next time.
“There was always the message of ‘just do what you’re comfortable with. You don’t have to say anything, you don’t have to talk about anything. You might have intended to talk about something, you might have flown here to talk about something, and if you don’t want to talk about it, you need to care for yourself first. That’s the most important thing.’ So we were valued as people first, and our message and experience was second. And that makes you feel safe, and it also engenders trust. And when you have trust and safety, of course you’re more willing to share and you’re more able to share, so it works really well as a partnership in that way.”
– Child and family partner