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Gippsland Learning and Knowledge Exchange codesigning innovation in the health and community services sector

The Gippsland Collaborative Centre for Innovation, Research and Practice, an initiative of the Inner Gippsland Children and Youth Area Partnership, hosted a Learning and Knowledge Exchange Dialogue at Federation University, Gippsland campus, on 26 October 2018. The theme of the dialogue was ‘Place-based intervention and co-design for innovation in the health and community services sector.’

This workshop presented the latest thinking and research on place-based initiatives and using co-design to support innovation in the health and community sectors. Presenters shared knowledge of how to use co-design to involve diverse community stakeholders beyond the usual ‘vocal locals’, and how to embed place-based initiatives in practice. 

Health innovation using place-based approaches and co-design 

Ellen-Jane Browne, Principal Adviser Latrobe Health Innovation Zone opened the dialogue with a discussion of how place-based approaches and co-design has guided and continues to inform health innovation in the Latrobe Valley following the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry. 
The Latrobe Health Innovation Zone was established to ensure community voice and aspirations were considered in the planning and delivery of health and wellbeing plans. Following the inquiry, it was recognised that the Gippsland community ’had not been listened to, and that if we were to achieve better health and wellbeing in the Latrobe Valley, we needed to both engage and listen to what the community had to say.’

The Latrobe Health and Wellbeing Charter was co-designed through a series of community and stakeholder workshops, surveys and collaborative discussions to reflect the beliefs and aspirations of the community. The Federation University Charter team, in conjunction with DHHS, consciously sought out community members outside of ‘the normal group of people, what we call the ‘vocal locals’. They were from a broader cohort of people that we normally didn’t engage with.’ 

Drafting through co-design forced a transition away from bureaucratic and academic language to a more ‘authentic’ and inclusive language to ensure the Charter would be accessible and owned by the Gippsland community.  This process brought to the fore the challenges to train well-educated and qualified experts to listen to the communities they work in, to allow their expertise to be challenged, and to resist imposing pre-determined models that may not address local issues.  

(This was) an opportunity for a large group of people to shape and influence services, to shape and influence policy. It’s a bold experiment, it hasn’t really been done in the Australian context before, and it’s been a rough ride in terms of the learning process.

 - Elle-Jane Browne 

Dr Joanne Porter from Federation University took attendees through the same co-design activities that were used to guide the drafting of the Charter. Attendees were asked to identify the things that were important to them, their family and the community, and what needs to be improved in the Latrobe Valley. The exercise demonstrated how a multiplicity of views and opinions could be collected, and how the assumptions of experts can be challenged through community consultation.     

The panel discussed how co-design challenged conventional thinking around health planning in the Latrobe Valley, and how expertise can be valued without needing to be imposed. The co-design process in Latrobe has demonstrated how the expertise and knowledge of government and the lived experience of the community can honour and respect each other when brought together. Further discussion centred around the tension between accessing government resources to undertake community consultation and the constraints of delivery timelines, reporting requirements and expectations. 

Doing Service Differently

Kay Lancefield is undertaking an industry-sponsored PhD scholarship through the IGCYAP as part of the Gippsland Collaborative Research Initiative. Her research will identify key factors related to youth contact with the criminal justice system across their social environment. Kay spoke to the assembly about the impact of place-based approaches on youth justice, and her own research into youth offending in the Bass Coast LGA.

Most youth contact with justice systems occurs within their own neighbourhood. A place-based approach takes into account the local ecology in which youth offending takes place. Therefore, the focus for prevention activities need to be localised, as state-wide programs often do not take local contexts into account:

Specific contexts or locations reflect both vulnerabilities and strengths, so the place in which an intervention is to be operationalised is critical to positive outcomes.

 - Kay Lancefield

Kay’s research will further delve into factors related to youth offending that respond to the needs of the Bass Coast community, where the level of disadvantage is not as extensive or entrenched and intervention programs have high expectations of success. 


Reboot is a pilot program run through the IGCYAP Youth @ Risk taskforce. The program develops targeted early intervention responses for children aged 10-14 years who are at risk of entering the justice system, with a strong focus on strengthening protective factors for young people and restorative justice principles. 

Reboot was developed in recognition that some families’ capacity to manage children’s behaviours was limited and that available services could not reduce all risk factors. The program aims to keep children and young people engaged in education and community participation, but also support families to rebuild relationships and build parenting capacity.

Reboot was co-designed with young people who were currently accessing or had previously been engaged with support services from the partner agencies. The workshops were facilitated by the Department of Justice and Regulation, who is the key funder of the initiative. 
Amanda Thomas, Community Services Program Manager with Anglicare Victoria, spoke about Reboot’s underlying principles and presented a case study of how the program has been successful thus far:

A key premise of the Reboot program is the collaboration between the partner organisations. And the co-design process not only enabled a collaborative approach between the like-minded agencies – Anglicare Victoria, Quantum Youth Services and Berry Street - but also facilitated the coming together of complimentary service such as Victoria Police and the Department of Justice. This encouraged a multi-disciplinary approach to a whole-of-community issue

 - Amanda Thomas 

Amanda spoke about the supportive factors, such as the flexibility that has been provided to the partner organisations in order to ‘do things differently’ and having a local liaison person in Department of Justice, rather than a centrally-based contact.  A good example of this was when the pilot was initially unable to recruit suitable staff to meet its milestones. Rather than progressing the initiative, Anglicare Victoria requested more time to find staff who would fit the program’s principles. The Department of Justice and Regulation was able to delay the implementation of Reboot until suitable staff were hired and the program could proceed with the resources it needed to succeed.  Amanda described how the collaborative relationship between the partners enables different ways of working to gain traction and demonstrate outcomes:

When we’ve have challenges, traditionally agencies wouldn’t go to their funding bodies. But because we’ve been able to establish really good relationships locally we can go to them with our challenges and it was a collaborative approach to address them. It made a huge difference.  

 - Amanda Thomas

The stronger relationship has been key. I think ‘pushback’ isn’t the right term, I think it’s part of the relationship. Everyone’s got the same vision so it’s not a big ask. I think that’s been the strength of the Children and Youth Area Partnership to enable these things to happen

- Regina Kalb

Reboot’s most telling success has been enabling families articulate what the right thing is for them to feel supported, rather than the service providers leading with their professional expertise.

It’s really hard to argue against that this is what the family wants. If we’re putting in place very simple strategies and seeing a good outcome from that, it’s really hard to argue against it. They’re not these crazy, far-out ideas -  they’re very simple things, and things that we can help them achieve
The Reboot program was successful in securing two years of further funding. 

- Amanda Thomas

The panel discussion explored challenges around the timely implementation of a successful place-based intervention and how to secure ongoing funding and support for long-term intervention strategies. The discussion also explored the tension of government’s role as both economic manager and as an agent for social change, and how flexibility in project delivery might be managed to allow for pilot programs to yield results. The panel further discussed the role of the IGYAP to advocate to government leaders and secure their cooperation to enable this ‘different way of working’ to succeed.