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How VACCA is Embedding Indigenous Culture and Practice in CSnet

This case study shows how VACCA and CSnet are working together to embed indigenous culture and practice in the CSnet case management system.

Who is VACCA?

VACCA or Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, is the largest provider of Aboriginal child, family and community programs in Victoria. VACCA believe strong Aboriginal families and communities means strong Aboriginal children.

Who is CSnet?

CSnet provides a case management system for human services organisations to support the workflows and data collection for service delivery, and report and measure outcomes.


1. How to ‘get going small’ when our technology transformation is big

VACCA decided to take a staged approach to rolling out CSnet for existing and new programs. Stage 1 started with Aboriginal child protection and other services. This allowed VACCA to ‘get going small’ when the technology transformation is big!

This case study tells the story at stage 2 of the CSnet roll out as part of VACCA’s four-year, five-stage organisational strategy. Stage 2 covers Child and Family Services Programs, seven distinct programs and more than 90 staff working across 6 regional offices.

The short videos below (4-6 minutes) tell the story of VACCA’s journey so far.

This story is told by VACCA’s Shantai Croisdale, Executive Manager of Outcomes and Evaluation, and Chia Bourke, Project Officer – Data Specialist, Cultural Therapeutic Ways & The Outcomes Project.


2. How to embed Aboriginal culture and practice in CSnet

Aboriginal culture and practice were embedded in CSnet through the VACCA practice and outcomes framework, the cultural aspects of data that’s collected, and other cultural elements such as artwork in cultural colour pallets presented in case plans and dashboard reports

The outcomes framework allows VACCA to measure and evaluate programs over time in order to deliver a high-quality service to the community.

“We have 3 overarching domains of outcomes …these are around healing, protecting and connecting our families.”

As an Aboriginal evidence-based organisation, the data collected is meaningful for the community and program staff, not just a requirement of their funders. This included cultural information which is essential to support children in the out of the home care programs:

“We want to ensure that the child knows who their mob is, that they know what their totem is, that they can feel connected.”

Aboriginal culture is embedded through the artwork that is displayed on templates within VACCA’s CSnet system. These templates are used for things like goal setting and are printed off and given to children and families.

The VACCA artwork, designed by Emma Bamblett, is in the form of a cloak, called Yinga which means ‘this way’ in Wamba Wamba language. The cloak comprises six panels, which are linked to the outcomes within VACCAs organisational community outcomes. These elements have been built into CSnet. The cloak was created to help the community feel safe, loved and supported.


3. How to plan for the success of the technology transformation

A dedicated project team, staff focused on research and evaluation, cultural practice, and reporting, as well as multiple governance groups, has enabled a successful technology transformation to date.

“We have some really strong project planning, governance structures around our project team.”

The project team took a ‘practice first’ approach, rather than a ‘systems first’ approach, to ensure that the configuration of CSnet meets VACCA’s needs. This meant VACCA taking the time to understand the requirements and communicating them to the CSnet team before jumping to the implementation phase.

VACCA worked closely with their funding body, Department of Health and Human Services (Victoria), to help extract the historical data from 6 government (IRIS) databases so that VACCA could supply their data from CSnet as a single source rather than using the multiple silos required by the legacy reporting system.

With the requirements of multiple levels of government in mind, regular structured meetings between CSnet and VACCA supported the work to be done to plan and test for the final cut-over to CSnet.


4. How to best support staff through the changes

Staff were supported through the changes with a range of training opportunities, access to local support from their teams and a community of practice in VACCA.

COVID-19 caused some delays to the project, and all previously planned in-person training was switched to online. Staff were kept engaged through more-frequent shorter training sessions that were run in smaller groups.

“We really had to think about what our long-term strategy was, to make sure that we could do all of what we needed to do to support our staff online.”

Training was provided in a variety of ways to cater for different learning styles including providing user guides and training up CSnet ‘Champions’.

The meticulous planning and level of support for staff certainly paid-off, with high engagement from staff from day one.

“We had … about 90 staff actually logging on and using the system on the very first day…. staff were interested and keen”


5. How VACCA and CSnet work together for good outcomes

Consistent project teams across CSnet and VACCA and a willingness to compromise on issues led to good outcomes. The teams worked closely and could have ‘difficult’ conversations to resolve issues as they arose.

As VACCA is a unique service, CSnet took the time to talk through all the requirements in detail and guide the team on the technical aspects of the implementation, including challenges around understanding technical language and data structure.

As a result of the discovery of new ways of using CSnet to do the work, and in collaboration with VACCA, CSnet has made improvements to the VACCA configuration since go-live. This is one of the benefits of software-as-a-service – it is not ‘set and forget’.

VACCA has also collaborated with CSnet to make upgrades to the system which has benefited other organisations using CSnet – a great outcome for all!

“It’s the combined effort that means that we’ve got a really good system that’s working for our staff and into the future.”