Community Engagement

The voices of people with lived experience are helping to shape the reform of the Child and Family Support System (CFSS).

In 2020, a Lived Experience Network (LEN) was established by the Early Intervention Research Directorate to enable people with lived experience to have an ongoing role in advising the CFSS reform.

LEN is part of a commitment to bring together knowledge from diverse sources — research, practice and lived experience — to create and sustain a more evidence-informed and culturally responsive support system for children and families.

Lived Experience Network

The Lived Experience Network (LEN) is a group of people of diverse ages, cultures and backgrounds who have experienced significant stress on their families, and needed the support of services to keep their families safe and well.

Lived experience is defined as experience of:

  • Significant family stresses that make it harder for children and families to feel safe, secure and valued.
  • Supporting family, community members or friends who have been living with family stresses.
  • Seeking and/or receiving help from child and family support services or helping others to do so.
  • Diverse cultural knowledge about what services need to be and do to be truly helpful.

The LEN is made up of around 15 people called System Advisors. They provide advice on, and participate in various projects and initiatives. This includes advice on how the Child and Family Support System (CFSS) can better reach, and work with families in need, and how to strengthen the voice of children and families in all that we do.

The Lived Experience Network have played a central role in the development of the following CFSS reform initiatives.

Examples of the Lived Experience Network's achievements

Adults Supporting Kids (ASK) website

DHS and LEN created the ASK website, where families going through tough times (and anyone with a concern about children's safety and wellbeing) can access information and support. The LEN were keen advocates for the website, contributing to the vision, planning and creation. They were part of project committees, and gave advice on content, photos, and layout. LEN System Advisors also take part in activities to promote the website. For example, speaking at the Communities of Practice forums.

Trauma Responsive System Framework

This framework is intended to embed trauma-responsiveness in the department's work to create a healing system. The framework is designed to assist at all levels of the Child and Family Support System (CFSS) — child/family, practitioner, organisation and funder levels. The LEN helped to write the framework, advised on content and language, and how to strengthen the voice of children and families. They also advised on how to ensure Aboriginal ways of seeing were reflected in the framework's design. Advisors also take part in activities to promote the Framework. For example, as guest speakers or recording videos about what it means to be trauma-responsive.

Practice guides for practitioners

The LEN gives DHS advice about the language and content of our practice guides used by practitioners working in Intensive Family Services. This includes how to engage effectively with families who may be fearful or resistant to services. An example of this work is the Assertive Engagement Practice Guide.

Culturally responsive and trauma-responsive training

Aboriginal System Advisors in the LEN worked with an Aboriginal consultant to inform the design of a training package for Intensive Family Service practitioners - Yaitya Mingkamingka Purrutiapinthi (Aboriginal Trauma Healing). The training package features videos of these System Advisors discussing the strengths of culture, Aboriginal parenting practices and how to work with families who have experiences of trauma.

Further information about the LEN

DHS meet with the LEN fortnightly. We have developed a Practice Guide for staff seeking advice and engagement with LEN (PDF 612.8 KB)

We use a Terms of Reference (PDF 487.5 KB) co-designed with System Advisors.

If you are interested in joining the Lived Experience Network

See our Recruitment Flyer (PDF 1.4 MB)

Complete the Registration of Interest form (DOCX 164.6 KB) and email to

Contact us

Paula McKenzie-Brown
Phone 0435 366 394

Page last updated 30 June 2023