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Supporting Families Changing Futures reform program

The Commission of Inquiry's report has 121 recommendations to improve Queensland's child protection system. The implementation of the 121 recommendations forms the base of the Queensland Government's Supporting Families Changing Futures Reform Program (Supporting Families).

Supporting Families focuses on delivering the right services at the right time to support families and keep children safely at home. The reform vision is that:

Queensland children and young people are cared for, protected, safe and able to reach their full potential. Queensland families and communities are empowered to become stronger, more capable, more resilient and are supported by a child and family support system that understands and respects the importance of family, community, and culture.

Key principles and strategic approaches

The key principles and strategic approaches needed to support the reform program are:

Integrated approach

The Commission of Inquiry stressed that:

  • recommendations are inter-dependent and strategies need to be prioritised and scheduled to ensure the success of the reform program
  • child protection outcomes are the responsibility of all agencies and non-government organisations that provide human services, therefore these agencies must work together to deliver on the reform roadmap
  • the reforms will need to consider and be consistent with the approaches of broader social services policies, programs and frameworks.

Co-design with the non-government sector and service users

The non-government sector and service users play a critical role in the reformed child protection system. The Commission of Inquiry recommended Queensland Government grow a strong partnership with the non-government sector by:

  • having a non-government representative at all levels of the governance structure,
  • establishing a stakeholder advisory group (recommendation 6.2).

The Queensland Government has committed to working with partners to co-design the new child and family system in Queensland.

Reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are over-represented at all stages of the child protection system. They are:

  • five (5) times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be the subject of a child safety notification
  • six (6) times more likely to be substantiated for harm
  • nine (9) times more likely to be in out-of-home care.

Reducing over-representation needs to start with understanding and addressing the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (as per Section 83 of the Child Protection Act 1999) recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the knowledge and experience to make the best decisions about their children and the importance of each child staying connected to their family, community and country. It promotes a partnership between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in making decisions about children's welfare.

Place-based/regional approach

The Commission of Inquiry recommended forming regional committees to develop regional priorities for implementing the reforms in line with state-wide directions (Recommendation 12.4). This approach also allows regional committees to map the needs of the local population and plan regional services to match place-based needs.

Adaptive management and evaluation

The Commission of Inquiry stated past inquiries lacked ways to track the progress of reform. Reform leaders need to ensure they have qualitative and quantitative data to support decision-making processes.

Formal evaluation and review processes are essential to make sure programs are on the right track for success. They also allow projects and products to be refined and adapted in responses to changes and new information.

Recommendation 12.14 stated all agencies with child protection responsibilities are required to develop an evaluation framework in the initial stages of program design. The QFCC led the development of the main evaluation framework for the reforms. The program will be formally reviewed in year 5 (2018–19) and year 10 (2023–24).

The QFCC is also responsible for developing a rolling 3-year research schedule with research institutions to build the evidence base for child protection practice (recommendation 12.13).

Last modified: 
17 October 2016