Embedding Cultural Practice and Outcomes

The Outcomes Practice Evidence Network through their OPEN Forum events are a chance to learn, share and shape the network.

OPEN supports Victorian child, youth and family services to use and build evidence from research, practice and client experience to deliver better outcomes for children, young people and families.

In a recent webinar Mandy Doon Co-Founder of CSnet recently co-presented with Chie Bourke, project lead on implementing Cultural Therapeutic Ways across VACCA and Celleste Regan, Family Services Training Lead for VACCA.

The following is the summary, recording and presentation download for the session which can also be found here. For more detailed information about the VACCA project and embedding cultural practice and outcomes you can read our Case Study.

VACCA’s Aboriginal-led design of a client information system

Watch the recording here!

Download the presentation slide deck here.

This OPEN forum shared insights from VACCA, as they drive an Aboriginal-led design of a client information system (CSnet), to embed culture and practice to deliver outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.

VACCA has partnered with CSnet to provide a whole of organisation system that houses all the organisations data in one place. This has enabled VACCA to move towards having all its programs and records managed in its own database and to making design decisions more effectively about how to embed cultural practice and outcomes in their work.

Key Takeaways from this OPEN Forum Discussion:

  • VACCA partnered with CSnet to provide a whole organisation system that houses all data in one place, allowing for easy access and analysis.
  • VACCA’s approach to embedding cultural practice is through Culturally Therapeutic Ways (CTW), which formalises the way VACCA has been practicing and working with families for decades,
  • CTW brings together practice informed by culture, trauma, and self-determination, guiding the way of working so that people who access VACCA’s services and staff who work there can expect practice that embeds these pillars,
  • VACCA’s partnership with CSnet allowed them to have ownership and control of their data, collect meaningful data, and analyse it to tell the story that is important to Aboriginal people.

Gathering Meaningful Data

VACCA has embedded its Community Outcomes, which is a part of their CTW Outcomes Framework, into CSnet, with each outcome linked with indicators and measures.  The Community Outcomes allow VACCA to measure their progress in delivering culturally appropriate services and provide goals for clients to work towards.

VACCA has implemented this across all their Child and Family services programs, supporting staff through information gathering, assessment, goal setting, case review and closure. The narratives of the casework are built around themes that fit with these outcomes – in working with a child or family, a worker records their observations and case notes using one or more of these practice themes.

Building the Aboriginal Evidence Base

VACCA’s Community Outcomes are embedded into CSnet and over time, session by session, the notes become the story or narrative of their work with children and families, and the themes link to their key outcomes. Collecting this meaningful data supports an evidence base of what works for Aboriginal people using VACCA’s services and has allowed VACCA to have ownership and control of this data. This evidence base will also help VACCA design and improve their programs, and advocate to government about what Aboriginal people need.

Measuring Impact

This holistic, strengths-based client information system allows VACCA to:

  • collect meaningful data,
  • gain better insights into the impact of their programs on Aboriginal children and families,
  • design and improve their programs,
  • advocate for the needs of Aboriginal children and families external to their organisation.

Relevance for the Sector: a shift towards integrated, culturally appropriate, and evidence-based practice

The event was relevant to the child and family services sector as it demonstrated how a whole organisation system can help an organisation like VACCA to move from siloed data, and towards a more integrated, holistic approach to client management and outcome measurement. The event emphasised the importance of having a fit-for-purpose data management system that allows an organisation to collect meaningful data and use it to design and improve its programs. In doing so, organisations can better meet the needs of their clients and communities and measure their impact more effectively.