What do we mean by reshaping the service system?

In Australia, young children and families have access to a range of health and community-based services, such as maternal and child health, playgroups, general practitioners, early learning and schools.

There is also an established network of professionals and community-based agencies that provide a range of targeted services to deliver additional supports, such as counsellors, speech therapists and psychologists. Yet we know that the families who need these services most are often the ones that are not accessing them.

What is the problem with the existing approaches to addressing disadvantage?

  • The service system is confusing, complex and fragmented with differing sectors and service system across health, education and welfare and with funding streams from multiple sources including government (federal, state and local), as well as private and charitable funds
  • Absence of family-centred practice, with service providers typically working in silos
  • Significant variations in the methods and quality of service responses across different sectors
  • Services being provided do not always have a shared philosophy, approach or language that they use with the families they work with. A simple example is whether families are clients, participants, learners, parents, service users or consumers
  • There is often a lack of coordination between services, even within the same program or service setting

How can we help the system to work better for children and families?

  • Improve service and program flexibility, recognising that a ‘one size fits all’ approach fails to take into account the differing needs and available resources of communities across the country
  • Develop service delivery models in consultation and in partnership with local communities, reflecting local parent/child/community needs and expectations and the best available research evidence
  • Strengthen the capacity of existing services rather than establishing new services
  • Introduce individual and family case management to improve service coordination
  • Break down silos and deliver services with one thing in mind – the needs of the child and the family.

What do we want the service system to look like after supporting its redevelopment?

  • Family-centred, recognising that ultimately it is the family that will have the biggest impact on the child
  • Delivered from a universal base in a community setting, with all children and families having access to universal services and effectively targeting those who need the more intensive services
  • Built on existing structures, rather than introducing new ones
  • Draw on service delivery partnerships of different government and professional groups, working together rather than in silos, to deliver more effective services
  • Sustainable, long-term solutions that are beyond the term of an elected government
  • Flexible and adaptable across the diverse range of communities
  • Informed by research and policy and backed by evaluation
  • Organised as part of a clearly articulated mission and measurable goals