Child Protection Lab, Australia

Child Protection Lab, Australia

Melbourne, Australia

my social services

• Process Design & Facilitation
• Speaking & Teaching
• Integration of theory & practice
• Creativity & its Social Applications
• Consultation

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I am currently working with my Melbourne, Australia partners to improve the lives of children and families in the largest child protection system in the state.

In May 2009, a range of voices from the child protection system in Victoria’s North West Metropolitan Region (NWMR) came together for the first time. This included representatives from all levels of the child protection program, child youth and families division, children’s court, and community service organizations.

We concluded that first workshop having forged greater connection among participants and eight ideas or seeds for initiatives.  A second series of events in September 2009 enrolled further participants from across the child protection system.  

Between September 2009 and June 2010, these seed innovations were evolved further. During this time they endured turbulent conditions across the system as both the public and ministry authorities sought to overhaul the child protection system from the top down.

In June 2010, we re-evaluated the lab and learned that our efforts have greatly helped participants identify and make progress on key needs across the system, in spite of and alongside the political turbulence. On this basis we helped the eight innovation teams create near term action plans to begin piloting innovations in specific "high leverage" areas within the heart of the child protection system.

We are currently working to help these innovations become pilots and new practices that improve the way children and families are served in the region.

At its heart, the project is striving to tangibly respond to the following question: “How can the NWMR child protection program, within current legislative and resource parameters, enhance its interventions in the lives of vulnerable children and families and build a highly effective workforce that ensures the wellbeing of staff?”

The project arose in the wake of a work culture and wellbeing audit from Atkinson-Consulting! that detailed the presence of significant systemic issues – issues that could no longer be addressed with ‘work arounds’ and ‘band-aid solutions.’ Department managers then concluded that addressing the root causes would require a substantial and unprecedented level of collaboration and innovation.

The Change Lab process was chosen in this light as it is designed to address such complex and unprecedented challenges at individual, group and systemic levels.