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Stories of change

Stories of change and innovation from Area Partnership sites - demonstrating positive change in practice and impact on children, young people and families.

A pioneering program on trauma-informed practice has been rolled out to nearly 300 staff members of the Latrobe Regional Hospital mental health services – from clinicians to cleaners and has had a profound impact on the way that teams and individuals think about and work with people seeking mental health support.The program was the first stage in an Inner Gippsland Youth and Area Partnership initiative to 'put trauma informed practice on the map', that emerged from the 2016 Inner Gippsland Innovation Bootcamp that focused on designing a better care system for children and young people in the area.

With one of the goals being to develop a whole-of-agency approach to trauma-informed training, Latrobe Regional Hospital took the lead to develop and trial an approach across its mental health services. As one of its staff put it:

'This is a game changer, it changes the way we do our business. It lit up light bulbs for me.' (Mental Health Nurse)

Inner Gippsland Children and Youth Area Partnership

‘What if all kids in care were supported to get a part-time job, in the same way we support our own kids?’

This was our aspiration as we launched the Stronger Futures pilot – a new approach to deliver improved wraparound care for young people transitioning from out-of-home-care, while identifying gaps in the system.

The pilot took place between April and November 2016, and brought together diverse services and stakeholders in an intensive case conferencing approach for 10 young people. 

Early evidence suggests case conferences helped young people to get mentoring and mental health care supports they otherwise would not have received, and that better connections between out-of-home care agencies and schools, TAFE and universities have been built.

Work is underway to embed the case conferencing approach, along with other supports, in 2017. 

We plan to:

  • scale-up the initiative to provide transition support to 60 young people aged 16 and over. This will include case conferencing, but also other supports such as secondary consultation processes and professional development for case managers and other key stakeholder groups.
  • engage with business and community members to identify new work, housing and community connection opportunities for young people leaving care
  • work with local partners and young people to co-design a range of local supports for young people and their carers and case managers.

Some of the feedback so far:

'This has highlighted the need to know how young people will transition earlier on, so we don’t end up with risk focus.'

Outer Eastern Melbourne Children and Youth Area Partnership

Central Highlands, Loddon and Inner Gippsland Area Partnerships have increased total participation in Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) by 60% in one year, compared with the average 27% increase in Victoria. This includes the two groups eligible for ESK - Aboriginal children and children known to child protection.

What is making the difference?

Key learnings have been identified from the Central Highlands, Inner Gippsland and Loddon Area Partnerships regarding Early Start Kindergarten and what is contributing to improved enrolment.

  • A shared commitment across cross-sector partners to improve outcomes for vulnerable children provides a foundation.
  • Promoting Early Start Kindergarten and the Early Childhood Agreement for Children in Out-of-Home Care is required at the local level as people were not aware of their responsibilities.
  • Using data to ground people to the local experience: local government partners did not know how many children were missing out on the universal services they provide (Maternal and Child Health and kindergarten).
  • Conducting quarterly audits to ensure that eligible children are identified and referred to MCH and kindergarten.
  • Inner Gippsland Area Partnership is testing an email notification tool: when a child enters OOHC, an email is sent to local government partners (the email is password protected).
  • Successful engagement in ESK is about more than identification and enrolment. Inner Gippsland has surveyed kinship and foster carers to better understand their needs. Central Highlands is talking with families about what factors support successful engagement and participation.

What's next?

The Vulnerable Children’s Reform Unit is working with each of the Area Partnerships and the Department of Education and Training Early Learning Participation team to:

  • document the learnings and identify what can be scaled-up
  • identify how learnings can be shared to inform practice across Victoria to increase participation in ESK and better support foster and kinship carers, and
  • partner with DET to support further intensive audits to increase access to ESK in 2017. 

Children and Youth Area Partnerships are improving access to data and evidence to drive the work of the partnerships.

  • Improving access to data: several Area Partnerships are supporting local schools to use the Middle Years Development Instrument, a population level measure of wellbeing for children aged 8 to 14 years, providing information regarding their experiences inside and outside of school. The data provided helps target efforts at a school level and broader community level, ensuring that all involved are working together effectively around issues that children have identified themselves.
  • Strengthening the connection between evidence and practice: relationships with research partners have been developed, including with Federation University, to help build local service system capability and inform ongoing practice development. 11 PhD positions have been funded by partners across two Area Partnerships to drive action research aligned to the priorities of the Area Partnerships.