CSnet to ‘join up’ key elements of the information systems and practice that underpin family violence service responses.

CSnet is partnering with family violence services and government agencies in Victoria to use ‘systems thinking’ and innovative technology for better outcomes for children and families.

The father of systems thinking Peter Senge said

“Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing ‘patterns of change’ rather than ‘static snapshots.”

This kind of systems thinking, multi-stakeholder collaboration, and innovation is critical to solving ‘wicked social problems’ such as family violence. CSnet is working alongside community service organisations, Family Safety Victoria and Victoria’s Department of Families Fairness & Housing (DFFH), to innovate through the use of CSnet to ‘join up’ key elements of the information systems and practice that underpin family violence service responses.

What The Numbers Tell Us

What the numbers from 2021-2022 tell us about family violence in Victoria[i] is that more children and families are impacted, not less

  • Nearly 130,000 people including approximately 55,000 children and young people (including unborn children) were referred to The Orange Door network and provided with a response.
  • Compared to 2020-21, this represented a 68.3% increase in the total number of people and an 80.6% increase in the number of children and young people provided with a response.
  • Nearly 11,000 people provided with a response from The Orange Door network identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Of these, 50.1% were adults and 49.9% were children or young people (including unborn children). This represented 8.3% of all people who were provided with a response from The Orange Door network in 2021-22
  • Aboriginal people remain significantly impacted and over-represented among The Orange Door network’s client base, highlighting the strong need for culturally safe and appropriate responses, and the need to invest in Aboriginal culture, leadership and decision making as the key to ending family violence for Aboriginal children and families[ii]
  • Practitioners undertook more than 23,000 family violence risk assessments. Of these, more than 17,000 assessments were undertaken for adults and nearly 6,000 were undertaken for children and young people. This reflected a 12.4% increase on the previous year
  • Practitioners in The Orange Door network recorded 15,782 safety plans to help keep victims of family violence safe. This reflected a significant increase (31.8%) in the number of safety plans being completed.

What Research and Experience Tell Us

Family violence practitioners know from research and experience that –

  • Holistic wrap-around services and multi-disciplinary teams are needed to address the systemic and long term barriers to reducing family violence
  • Responding to a request and referral for support in a timely way will increase the chances of better outcomes for families
  • Reducing the amount of manual handling of data and information will reduce the risks that people ‘fall through the cracks’ in a complex maze of services & programs
  • Consistency in practice tools and embedding cultural approaches improves the way risk and safety is assessed to meet the needs of victims of family violence
  • Real time data about what’s changing over time can provide ‘line of sight’ evidence of what works and why
  • Trusting relationships between children, families and support services are the foundations
  • Streamlining government reporting to meet compliance requirements can ‘give time back’ to workers that can be spent supporting children and families.

Removing the Barriers

Until now, the technical barriers to being able to share and integrate information safely across multiple human services government platforms have seemed insurmountable. Progress has been made to remove those barriers through the efforts of family service providers, Victorian government agencies and CSnet, working together. These efforts have resulted in CSnet being able to support family service providers to access information and tools, embed culturally safe practice, and integrate reporting, all from one place.

CSnet offers a solution that is critical to making a positive impact on three areas of practice –

  • Referrals and intake through the integration between CSnet and The Orange Door
  • Risk and safety assessments to underpin planning and delivery of targeted support through embedding Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM) tools in CSnet
  • Government funding reporting to DFFH for compliance through the integration between CSnet and IRIS

Conclusion and References

CSnet is part of a growing movement of people and organisations who want to try new ways of thinking and working together.

[i] https://www.vic.gov.au/orange-door-annual-service-delivery-report-2021-22/referrals-and-access

[ii] Dhelk Dja Agreement: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples and Strong Families the Aboriginal 10-year Family Violence Agreement 2018-2028  and Nargneit Birrang – Aboriginal holistic healing framework for family violence

Embedding Cultural Practice and Outcomes – VACCA’s Aboriginal-led design of a client information system