Independent Review of Out of Home Care in NSW
In November 2015, the NSW Government commissioned David Tune AO PSM to carry out an independent review of the out-of-home care system in NSW.
The case for change
The Review made some important observations about the way government as a whole relates to vulnerable children and families.
It found that, while the current system responds to immediate crises, it’s failing to address the complex needs of vulnerable children and families or arrest the devastating cycles of intergenerational abuse and neglect. Outcomes are particularly poor for Aboriginal children and young people.
- The system is not centred on the needs of children and families, designed instead around programs and service models.
- Vulnerable children and families have needs that cross the boundaries of government agencies.
- Even though government collects a lot of information, we currently don’t share it or utilise it effectively. This results in a lack of coordination across the system.
- While the Department of Family & Community Services (FACS) holds primary accountability for very vulnerable families, it has little influence over the drivers of vulnerability or the levers for change.
- Expenditure is crisis-driven and it’s difficult to know how much we spend on each child and family. Investment is also not optimally aligned to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families long-term.
The Review concluded that a siloed approach to service design and delivery, with its dependence on goodwill for coordination across agencies, was inadequate to address the needs of vulnerable children and families.
The way forward
The Review recommended a vision for a whole-of-system reform to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. It recommended changes to ensure:
- children and young people are safe and supported to reach their potential
- vulnerable families receive help specific to their needs, to improve their outcomes and future wellbeing
- Aboriginal children and families have access to effective, culturally appropriate services to address current needs and future opportunities.
Their Futures Matter
Their Futures Matter is different to reforms attempted in the past in key aspects. The reform:
- applies an investment approach to service design and delivery to direct funding, effort and resources to those with the greatest needs, significantly reforming service delivery for vulnerable children and families
- uses data to identify the most vulnerable groups to prioritise their specific needs
- employs evidence to ensure that children, young people and families are receiving the best possible services
- introduces child- and family-centred wrap-around support packages
- establishes a single commissioning entity responsible for driving the reform process
- aligns cross-government funding and resources to form a single view of the services a child, young person or family receives, with coordinated assistance driven by their needs.