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Department of Human Services

Background

In 2019, the South Australian Government released Safe and Well: Supporting families, protecting children (“Safe and Well Strategy”). This strategy outlines a whole-of-government approach to how we will organise and prioritise what we do to support vulnerable families to thrive and keep children safe. It outlines the actions to be taken across three focus areas:

  • Supporting: We will provide earlier, intensive, targeted support to families with multiple and complex needs, to reduce incidents of child abuse and neglect and prevent children entering the child protection system in the first place.

  • Protecting: We will protect children from harm, including when they come into care. We will deliver trauma responsive, development-focused services designed to meet the individual needs of children and young people in care, with an emphasis on family-based care, reunification and permanency.
  • Investing: We will invest in children and young people in care and during their transition from care to support them to independence.  We will support them to lead productive lives as adults and assist them to break intergenerational contact with the child protection system. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is working with our government, non-government, and community partners to achieve the objectives of the Safe and Well strategy. As an agency, DHS is responsible for leading the design and delivery of a new Child and Family Support System (CFSS), a major action under the Supporting focus area.  DHS is also responsible for a range of other actions under the Investing and Strong System focus areas.

In March 2019, Cabinet approved the implementation of the new CFSS to address growing rates of child abuse and neglect and increasing numbers of children needing to enter care. The CFSS aims to bring together government and non-government delivered services to create a connected, evidence-informed service system.

A state-wide, comprehensive co-design process was undertaken from June to October 2019 to support the CFSS. This process brought together service users of diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal leaders, government and non-government service providers, and researchers to inform approaches to and priorities for the reform of the child and family support system. In total, there were approximately 1,000 workshop attendances.

The co-design process resulted in agreement on seven shared directions:

  1. Designing the system with Aboriginal families and communities
  2. Embedding trauma-responsive practice to create a healing system
  3. Establishing mechanisms for early help and support
  4. Ensuring equitable access for regional and rural families
  5. Supporting and strengthening our workforce
  6. Implementing mechanisms for robust monitoring and evaluation
  7. Commissioning for outcomes

More recently the journey to implement this reform has been incorporated into the Safe and Well Roadmap for reforming the Child and Family Support System in South Australia. Importantly, it was agreed that genuine progress in all areas of reform requires an ongoing commitment to continuing to bring together knowledge from diverse sources (data, research, practice and lived experience) to create and sustain a more evidence-informed and culturally responsive support system for children and families.

Through this co-design process, significant agreement across government, the sector and communities has been reached about how we can work together to better support families living in South Australia. The environment of collaboration, respect and authorisation established in the co-design process continues as we now move deeper together into system reform implementation.

This discussion paper aims to start a conversation with community partners about how DHS can support the establishment of a Communities of Practice model within the CFSS to support the workforce across the sector. The Model will provide an ongoing mechanism to enable collaboration, learning and shared approaches as the CFSS reforms are implemented. Key questions have been embedded within this paper to help focus the conversation on how to do this.  Responses to these questions will be vital in helping to build and develop the CFSS Communities of Practice model, enabling a collective approach to problem solving and implementing shared decisions.

Question:
How will the Communities of Practice contribute to ongoing sector development and reform?

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Page last updated : 27 May 2021

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