Reform overview

Their Futures Matter is a cross-government reform delivering whole-of-system changes to better support vulnerable children and families. The guiding vision is to significantly improve life outcomes for current and future generations of children and families, and to ensure that every child has a safe, permanent and loving home.

Our approach to the reform involves:

  • moving away from a placement-based system to one where children and families are at the centre of everything we do. Their needs are considered first, to determine the support they require
  • using an investment approach to focus on achieving large-scale benefits for individuals and the system, now and into the future
  • leading a whole-of-government approach to transform the lives of vulnerable children, young people and families.

Children and families at the centre

Previous approaches to child protection and wellbeing have been program-based and siloed. They have failed to address the increasing numbers of children entering out-of-home care and their continuing poor outcomes.

Their Futures Matter is breaking the status quo. Placing children, young people, and families at the centre of program design and decision-making means services are specific and targeted to their needs.

We’re gathering information from across government and the sector to better understand the needs and aspirations of vulnerable children and families. Their individual needs and aspirations form the basis of our coordinated packages of support.

An investment approach

Delivering whole-of-system change to improve the lives of many thousands of individuals is a sizable challenge that will take several years to take full effect. Our initial focus is to direct funding, effort, and other resources to cohorts of children and young people with the greatest needs, and where there are the largest opportunities to improve life outcomes.

This is referred to as an ‘investment approach’ because our targeted work will see benefits for both individuals and the system, now and into the future.

Leaders of the reform

Their Futures Matter is both a landmark reform and a cross-agency implementation unit, established to lead how government responds to the needs of people at risk of poor life outcomes.

We have central decision-making responsibility, working to gain a holistic view of services and supports across all government agencies.

Leaders of the reform include our Implementation Board and NSW Government departments of Education, Family and Community Services, Health, Justice, Premier and Cabinet, and Treasury.

Implementing the reform

Implementation involves redesigning systems and processes to transform life outcomes.

A number of initiatives are being delivered as part of the reform under the three key pillars:

  • Needs-based supports: designing and delivering services that address the needs and aspirations of children, young people and families, and improve their wellbeing
  • One connected response: providing vulnerable children, young people and families easy-to-navigate access to the services they need to improve their lives
  • A smart system: bringing together data, evidence and investment to build an integrated and accountable service system.


The reform is being implemented across a four-year program:

  • 25 August 2016: Cabinet approves the approach in response to the Independent Review of Out of Home Care in NSW
  • 2017: Immediate work begins
  • 2018: Our implementation team is focused on:
    • Rolling out evidence-based packages, drawing on a whole-of-government investment approach
    • Building stronger evidence of which programs and services work best for Aboriginal children and families
    • Redesigning the child protection and child wellbeing access systems.
  • By 2020: Reform initiatives will be realised:
    • An investment approach will be adopted across services for vulnerable children and families to align funding and evidence to wellbeing outcomes
    • A dedicated commissioning entity, independent of service delivery, will drive a single response for vulnerable children and families
    • Children in or at risk of entering out-of-home care and their families will be receiving a coordinated package of supports based on their needs
    • A redesigned access system will connect vulnerable children and families to child protection and child wellbeing responses and services suitable for their needs.

Throughout the implementation, stay up to date with reform news.

The Future System – pillars of the reform

Our vision is to create a coordinated service system that delivers evidence-based, wraparound supports for children and families to transform their life outcomes.