Department of Human Services

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Common Elements

Common Elements are discrete techniques or practice, grounded in evidence and can be used to build client engagement and facilitate changes in family functioning to ensure the safety of children. The common elements approach is being implemented by DHS in partnership with the Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI) to build the capability of our workforce across the Child and Family Support Services (CFSS) sector to form positive, productive relationships with families.

CEI is a global, not-for-profit evidence intermediary dedicated to using the best evidence in practice and policy to improve the lives of children, families, and communities facing adversity.

CEI work with clients, including policymakers, governments, practitioners, program providers, organisation leaders, philanthropists and funders across three key areas of work to:

  • understand the evidence base
  • develop methods and processes to put the evidence into practice
  • trial, test and evaluate policies and programs to drive more effective decisions and deliver better outcomes.

DHS, along with CEI, have identified 10 common elements as being most valuable for the CFSS sector, along with supporting practice guides that have been designed to be used in a flexible way and can be tailored to the needs of the family. The Department’s previous co-design and consultation work highlighted priority areas and target populations that an evidence-informed response needed to address. In particular, client engagement and child and family safety and were identified as priority areas.

The common elements identified have been grouped into four modules:

  1. Building Engagement
  2. Preparing for Change
  3. Family Safety
  4. Enhancing Family Functioning

Each module aims to achieve specific client outcomes through discrete practices (common elements).

In this way, the common elements approach is not like a program with a starting and finishing point. Instead, this approach provides practitioners with a set of discrete techniques and practices which can be drawn upon as needed. The modules are intended to compliment or sit alongside other evidence-informed approaches

It is important to note that evidence-informed practice consists of using the best available evidence, alongside practitioner skill and expertise, and considers the needs and values of the family.

Page last updated : 20 Sep 2021

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