Families SA Redesign Programme
Families SA

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Over the past 20 years, the child protection system developed in South Australian became focused towards those children and young people at significant risk of harm or where their families were unable to protect them. In recent years, like other Australian statutory child protection agencies, South Australia has experienced an increasing number of child abuse notifications. The number of notifications related to suspected child abuse reported to Families SA increased by 25.5% from 29,816 in 2006-07 to 37,434 in 2011-12. At the same time, there was little change in the number of notifications assessed as meeting the statutory definition of abuse or neglect and therefore requiring an investigative response from Families SA, with approximately 20,500 notifications assessed each year over this same time period. This increasing gap between the community's concerns about the wellbeing of children and what was being done to address abuse and neglect was a cause for concern. Since the introduction of the South Australian Children’s Protection Act 1993, the incremental, piecemeal refinement of the child protection system led to Families SA – the South Australian statutory child protection authority – becoming an incident-focused, ‘deficit’ oriented agency. The emphasis on incident-based investigation, child abuse and neglect substantiation, child rescue and family surveillance created a system that failed families and no longer improved child outcomes. Understandably, families perceived Families SA intervention as a threat to family coherence rather than as a source of support. This is the opposite of what Families SA wanted to achieve and was unacceptable for the families and children they were trying to help. The limited financial resources available for statutory child protection services were disproportionately focused on reactive rather than proactive, preventative, family preservation measures. This was marked by a five-year increase of over 50% (to 30 June 2012) in the number of children in out-of-home-care. Vulnerable families and children were presenting with different needs than those that the child protection system was originally designed to address. There was also evidence of increasing complexity and multiple vulnerabilities for those families and children assessed as requiring a statutory response. The co-existence of family violence, mental health issues and substance abuse is now increasingly common and occurring in the context of intergenerational disadvantage. Aboriginal children continued to be over-represented in all child protection categories in South Australia. While Aboriginal children aged 0-17 years comprise only 3.6% of this population sub-group is South Australia, Aboriginal children comprise account for approx. 23% of children involved in notifications of abuse and neglect and 30% of children involved in substantiation of abuse and neglect. There has also been an increase in the expectations of broader Australian society about the protection of children, brought about by a better understanding of child abuse and neglect and the nature and level of public and political scrutiny of the role of child protection agencies in delivering upon these expectations. Prior to the Redesign, the state of child protection in South Australia could be best characterised by: • Compartmentalised and fragmented services • The reactive nature of service provision • A community which at large is severely under utilised These myriad issues pointed to structural and systems issues that are unsustainable over the long term. More noteworthy, they lead to a significant minority of South Australian children not having the stability, care and protection they need to reach their full potential on a ‘good enough’ basis.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
There have been a number of “triggers” which have acted to ignite the far reaching Redesign discussion. Between 2010 and 2011, discussions were held with Families SA senior managers and practice leaders about the need for a stronger discipline and a different governance approach. In October 2011, the creation of the Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) led to significant opportunities to change the whole architecture for protecting children in SA. In February 2012, Every Chance for Every Child was announced as one of the Government’s Seven Strategic Priorities. The DECD and Premier’s agenda added further impetus for the need to improve outcomes for vulnerable families and children. Most notably, in September 2012, Families SA hosted the Rising to the Practice Challenge Conference in South Australia, stimulating significant debate about how to strengthen practice and improve outcomes for children and their families. This mounting evidence cumulated into a ‘tipping point’ in late 2012, where agreement was reached across Families SA for a case for change through the construction of a business case. The unique confluence of new governance arrangements and widespread community acknowledgement that something different needed to be done allowed this change to be driven from within Families SA, not by an external review of public services as is the norm in Australia. The key principle of the transformation is the shift of Families SA from an agency driven by organisational functional support services to one driven by direct service delivery to clients. This change is highlighted by: • A unique partnering of government department and private enterprise to drive the change through a unique program management and organisational transformation model • The integration of practice and business systems to redesign the statutory child protection system in South Australia across all levels • A new workforce structure where service delivery areas control 75% of the workforce (up from 61%) and the organisation's functional support services control 25% of the workforce (down from 39%). Delivery will be supported by end-to-end processes that integrate business operation and business practices. For process and accountability, individuals are able to add clarity about core business and the parameters for decision-making. This will allow for a structured and concrete approach, no longer vulnerable to interpretation and providing greater certainty for Families SA staff about the implications behind their decisions. The Families SA Redesign will deliver a family-focused child protection system that prioritises family preservation by supporting children and young people to remain in the care of their families whenever it is safe to do so. This approach was taken with the understanding that fewer children will be removed from the care of their parents and more children reunited with better-functioning families by: • diverting families early in the initial stages of vulnerability to local, targeted support; • working in positive partnership with families to identify their strengths; and, • building the skills necessary to manage situations that are difficult for them. For those children needing to be removed from their families, the intent was to develop a system that provides a safe and nurturing environment for children to grow and develop. While implementation of the Redesign is in the process of constructing the future state for Families SA, preliminary indications from early works of the Redesign have been promising. Internally, new reporting structures has lifted Families SA business and governance standards, leading to proactive work planning and better resource allocation. Tracking of communication messages has also highlighted a marked improvement in information flow, with Board members driving a consistent, unified message approach to organisational change. Further to this, Families SA staff are building stronger partnerships not only with families but also external stakeholders through the implementation of the new Solution Based Casework practice approach and through regular briefing sessions providing an update on the Redesign. Most importantly, the restructure of Families SA staff into specialising teams has enabled greater investment in the protective intervention space to preserve and reunify children and their families. Initial data also indicates a reduction in the number of children coming into and remaining in care in 2013, arresting an upward trend over past 10 years.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
A range of transformation processes undertaken through the Redesign are unique for Families SA, South Australian Government and in some aspects anywhere in the world. All of the change efforts have been undertaken within an existing, constrained budget, by making difficult decisions to temporarily reprioritise resources. This notably includes reassigning the best Families SA staff from ‘business as usual’ to the Redesign for the duration of their involvement, and further supporting these reassigned staff through intensive project management training. This is the first time that a strict project management approach has been used to undertake an organisational transformation within Families SA. Implementing the Redesign with military precision is: • shifting Families SA culture • instilling better fundamental business practise • redefining the role of project/program managers across Families SA • engaging staff through a new cascading communication model Fundamental changes were also made to existing business processes in areas such as work scheduling, artefact development, and the introduction of solution-focused approaches to achieving outputs and deliverables. The result of this unique approach to change management is an innovative blueprint for a better-functioning statutory child protection system in South Australia which bears the following hallmarks: • A dedicated ‘diversion’ team at the point of intake that specifically focuses on linking up the family to local, targeted support • A specialising approach to care and protection service delivery, with the development of specific family preservation and reunification teams in protective intervention hubs, and a focus on family preservation and reunification across all specialising teams • A Solution Based Casework practice approach in government out-of-home care sector, believed to be the first time in any jurisdiction across Australia or internationally.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Following a formalised agreement on the case for change outlined in the business case in December 2012, a Redesign Programme Charter and Operating Model were created in March 2013 by the Redesign Programme Board (consisting of Families SA Executive) to provide structure and detail to underpin the Redesign. Understanding that the Programme Charter is undergoing a review and update over the coming weeks, this has been attached with this submission as evidence of Families SA’s implementation plan. These key artefacts prescribe accountabilities and responsibilities about the implementation of the Redesign across Families SA and the broader Department for Education and Child Development. The Board is accountable for the success of the Redesign, and is tasked with determining Redesign priorities and driving the transformation. A key element to delivering the Redesign was the commissioning of the Redesign Programme Management Office (PgMO) and PgMO Manager in March 2013. The PgMO is responsible for ensuring Redesign deliverables are achieved. The role of the PgMO is to control the scope of the Redesign, deliver artefacts and assistance to the identified Redesign projects, apply and manage the overall governance of the Redesign, and provide status and performance management information to the Redesign Director and Board. To add structure and provide focus for this endeavour, Project Managers were appointed to transform business areas across intake, assessment and support, family preservation and reunification, entering care, legal processes and therapeutic services. Projects in these business areas were supported by projects on human resources, logistics, finance and information technology requirements to ensure that resources were re-allocated where most required. Complementing all areas of Families SA business is a practice support project, which was tasked with implementing Solution Based Casework® as a mandated practice approach for the whole agency. To guide the design, construction, commission and handover of key Redesign projects, a five-step process was designed, consisting of: initiation, justification, planning, delivery and close. For each Redesign Project, the Board created a Project Brief (initiation) during March/April 2013, which was then translated by the Project Manager into a Project Justification (justification) artefact (April/May 2013). Following approval for this piece of work, a detailed Project Plan outlining key outcomes, deliverables and artefacts was created (planning) in May/June 2013. The construction of the deliverables agreed to in the planning phase, where the bulk of the Redesign work is occurring, is where the Redesign is presently operating. The focus on execution is to ensure that Families SA processes are integrated and that processes and procedures are meaningful and ‘add value’ to the family and child. Solution Based Casework acts as a key enabler of this intent. Family goals are converted into actions plans which are then tracked for key milestones. This information is then fed back up through Families SA Supervisors and Managers to ensure that execution is correct. By following this feedback-loop and quality assurance mechanism, Families SA is applying proactive systems thinking, not event-driven reactive work which has created the fragmentation to date. The Redesign is using a strict organisational transformation model that focuses attention on mobilising leaders, enabling the organisation, preparing the people and sustaining the vision. This model is transferred and converted into a monthly status report as part of ongoing organisational analysis. The organisational transformation approach is further grounded in the McKinsey Seven S Change Model to ensure that all aspects of the agency are transformed through the Redesign. The McKinsey model is applied to the Quarterly and Annual reporting to ensure that the Redesign is on track. External validation through a High Commendation from the Australian Institute of Project Management in September 2013 for the change process and procedure undertaken to date has provided further evidence that Families SA are going about this transformation the right way.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Redesign Programme Director • Mr David Waterford PSM – Deputy Chief Executive, Child Safety, Department for Education and Child Development Redesign Programme Board • Ms Susan O’Leary – Director, Metropolitan Services • Mr Rod Squires – Director, Country Services • Ms Nicole Stasiak – Director, Residential Care • Ms Rosemary Whitten – A/Executive Director, Families SA Operations Redesign Programme Management Office • Manager, Redesign Programme Management Office: currently vacant • Project Coordinator: Mr Matt Mooney • Strategic Communications Advisor: Mr Stefan Kmit • Programme Office Assistant: Ms Courtney Trimboli • Project Managers: Mr Brenden Boyce, Mr Chris Campbell, Ms Jackie Campbell, Mr Justin Coote, Ms Lisa Farina, Ms Anne-Marie Scanlon, Mr Paul Searston, Ms Robyn Skilbeck, Ms Daniela Suarez and Mr Hugo van Roermund The following internal parties will also play a major contribution to the development of the Redesign: • 1000 randomly-selected Families SA staff invited to participate in Focus Group sessions The following external parties have played a major contribution to the development of the Redesign: • GKforge Pty. Ltd. (Ms Genéne Kleppe, Executive Director; Ms Kasia Panayiotiou, Project Portfolio Coordinator; Mr Alistair Punshon, Tranier, Project Scheduling) Key contributors – design and construction (external) • Families and children who come into contact with the child protection system • Children and young people under Guardianship of the Minister • Guardian for Children and Young People • Other Government child protection and community welfare services (SAPOL, SA Health, Crown Solicitor, Youth Court and Family Court) • Tertiary institutions (Flinders University, University of South Australia, Adelaide University) • Peak bodies (SACOSS, Child and Family Welfare Association, Connecting Foster Carers, Grandparents for Grandchildren, CREATE Foundation, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction) • The Australian Centre for Social Innovation • Families SA funded non-government organisations (Ac.care, Anglicare SA, Aboriginal Family Support Services, CARA, Centacare, Baptist Care SA, Leveda, Life Without Barriers, Lutheran Community Care, Junction Australia, Key Assets, Salvation Army, Service to Youth, Time for Kids, Uniting Communities)
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
One of the unique challenges posed in realising the Redesign was the need to ensure the transformation was cost-neutral. The constrained fiscal environment meant that no extra funding was available to facilitate the critical change needed to improve the child protection system. The decision was therefore made that Redesign Programme Office staff (i.e. Project Manager, Project Officers and Programme Office staff) be reassigned from their existing positions within the agency. No extra funding has been apportioned from outside the existing Families SA budget. The Board also shared the load of this burden, as Families SA Director’s undertook Redesign Board responsibilities on top of their ‘business as usual’ duties. As of 17 December 2013, the Redesign consisted of 17 staff members, with 9 Project Managers, 9 Project Officers and 3 Programme Management Office personnel; this compromises 1% of the Families SA staffing quotient. A dedicated Project Coordinator was employed by the Redesign Programme Management Office in September 2013. The Project Coordinator was tasked with working with Project Managers to increase their knowledge and proficiency in the theory, development and utilisation of key project methodology tools and products, along with assisting them to design and construct critical project management components such as work breakdown structures, scheduling and end-to-end process maps. A software investment was made on two fronts: first, the introduction of dedicated project management software to better track the progress of the Redesign projects in achieving their deliverables. Microsoft Project® licences were purchased for all Redesign Board members and staff; dedicated training is continuing to be provided for project scheduling. Second, work undertaken during the project justification phase identified the need for a greater understanding of process mapping and the connection between different parts of the business. Therefore, Microsoft Visio® licences were purchased for Redesign Board members and selected Redesign staff. Potential Project Managers were identified by the Board and invited to lead one of the projects. Project Officers were selected following an internal Expression of Interest process undertaken at various stages as project officers were required. All staff engaged to work on the Redesign underwent an induction process led by their Project Manager or respective Programme Office Manager/Coordinator. To ensure the Redesign message was fully embedded in those working on the Redesign, all new Redesign staff underwent multiple induction processes (usually 3 sessions). Regarding fiscal expenditure, the Redesign will cost an estimated $2.259M in salaries, wages and related payments and $879K in goods and services per annum with the current staffing figures. It is anticipated that this will increase over the coming months as more project officers are recruited to action project deliverables.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1) Building the case for change to drive the transformation from within The significance of achieving Redesign outcomes is unique: in almost every other Australian jurisdiction, major transformational changes in child protection services are driven by the reports of independent, commissioned reviews. 2) Greater engagement within the organisation Three facets helped in gaining traction with Families SA staff: • Expression of Interest recruitment - A number of internal Families SA recruitment drives have been held for the Redesign. The application rate has improved over time, signalling Redesign work is of great interest for staff. • Cascading communication model - A cascading communication model has been employed provide clarity about the Redesign, starting with the Redesign Director and filtering down to all Families SA staff through Managers and Supervisors. • Focus groups - Comments about proposed approaches and processes are gained through facilitated focus group sessions with randomly-selected staff. Feedback obtained from these sessions form a key step in ensuring Families SA is driven by delivery. 3) Development of a new practice framework A new practice framework has been established through the Redesign, outlining in clear detail the vision, aim and goals for Families SA. Business and practice have been merged through the introduction of the Solution Based Casework practice approach. 4) Instilling better business practices Four key areas have transformed Families SA’s application of good business practice: • Understanding of resourcing schedule versus a timeline - Families SA Executive have undertaken training and development in Microsoft Project® and scheduling to better address future resourcing issues. • Changing the perception of ‘management’ in Families SA - Families SA managers were expected to decide on scope and direction and both work on and manage projects. The Redesign is changing this perception by modelling better management behaviour, acknowledging the role of Managers is project management, not content experts. • Clearer reporting requirements - The Redesign has introduced weekly, monthly and quarterly reporting across milestone reporting, prioritisation reporting, programme control management and forecasting. • Introducing business assurance mechanisms - An assurance group consisting of Principal workers validate the overall process and assess the impact of assurance from cultural, psychology and social work perspectives. 5) A new child protection system grounded in safety and family preservation Families SA has introduced a specialising approach, dedicating resources to protective intervention efforts with families in the reunification and family preservation space. This has been introduced to focus support where it is needed the most and enable more Families SA staff to work intensively with vulnerable families.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
During the Redesign, a number of mechanisms were initiated in order to monitor progress and evaluate implementation. Initiatives correspond to the following categories: Assurance • Creation of an Assurance group consisting of Principal Aboriginal Consultants, Principal Practitioners and Principal Social Workers. This group played a key role in validating the overall process and assessing the impact of assurance from three perspectives – culture, psychology and social work. The group was also tasked with developing and testing the tool/s required to assure the new processes, including templates, instructions, definitions, terminology and duration. • Development of Focus Groups to enable participants to provide feedback on distinct parts of proposed core business processes. Comments about the proposed approach and processes outlined during the discussion provided the Redesign Programme Management Office and Project Managers with a critical, independent perspective on key delivery functions. The feedback obtained from the sessions formed a key step in ensuring Families SA created an agency driven by delivery. Risk Management • The Redesign Programme Management Office implemented a Risk and Issues register to log all potential factors that may impact the completion of project deliverables. Alongside this, a Decisions register has also been created to note any decisions arrived at by the Board. Outstanding items on the Risk and Issues register are presented for discussion and action (where possible) at every Board meeting. Exit Interviews • Each Redesign Programme staff member undertakes an exit interview upon leaving the Redesign. The results of these interviews are presented to the Board for consideration and are utilised to evaluate what changes can be made to improve the implementation of the Redesign.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Adopting a programme management approach is fundamentally different for human services and government organisations. Families SA is a government agency, built by and built on human services. Products are services to vulnerable children and their families. In that sense it’s quite different to an average commercial organisation, where the focus is on financial profits, and therefore efficiency in internal processes. Within a governmental environment, it is a different challenge to create a culture which is accepting towards efficiency arguments. Until the moment that the programme management methodology was introduced in the organisation, decision making was all about consensus seeking, making sure everybody is on the same page; there was no focus on costs or efficiency gains. With the introduction of a programme management methodology Families SA had to come from far. Build acceptance in the organisation, even among executives, took time and has proven to be a challenging journey. A shift in thinking was necessary, and continuous focus on the ‘new’ methodology and adopting it in everyday business is an ongoing challenge. Within the Redesign Programme, every project manager and project officer attended multiple induction meetings, in which the essential aspects of the methodology are articulated, where new rules are made clear. This process has proved to be very challenging, as not every employee was ready to adopt the new methodology. Some employees who were seen as potential project managers were not able to adopt the methodology and returned to their everyday jobs. Others still struggle with the methodology, but are determined to make it work, as they see the benefits over the old way of working. It is work in progress, but a basis for acceptance and enthusiasm is established, which will drive the future phases of this long process of organisation change.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The transformation implemented through the Redesign is having a substantial impact for the delivery of both statutory and non-statutory child welfare services in South Australia, changing the dynamic and interaction of families and children with the public child welfare service. Families SA is making a concerted effort to ensure that the systems and processes ‘add value’ to families and children at every opportunity. There is a pronounced focus on diversion and intervening early in the life cycle of the problem to local, targeted support, emphasising the role and place of the community and secondary child welfare service sector to assist families when they display early signs of vulnerability. A solution-focused practice approach, adapted to South Australia from Minnesota Child Welfare, and reconfigured staffing structure now enables Families SA to refer non-statutory child protection matters directly to secondary service providers and other government agencies directly from the point of intake, providing families with greater access to services. This change has had a positive result – early indications are that families are getting the services they need in a more timely manner. A reconfigured end-to-end process of a family and child’s interaction with Families SA, alongside the introduction of a specialising approach for care and protection service delivery, has opened up greater efficiencies in other areas of Families SA work. It is anticipated that the staffing restructure and the commissioning of a range of new processes regarding family preservation, intake, assessment and support, entering care and reunification will enable Families SA to: • more than double the number of child protection assessments made per year • increase the number of cases attended to by up to 450% per year The introduction of Solution Based Casework as the Families SA practice approach has significantly altered the way that Families SA staff interact and work with vulnerable families and children. Once fully operational, case managers will take a more proactive approach, working in partnership with families to help identify their strengths, keep parents and children focused on everyday life events while working with the family to build the skills necessary to manage the situations that are difficult for them. When children come into care, a new Children in Need of Care Panel will establish a best-practice approach using a consistent decision-making process aligned with Solution-Based Casework for all placement matching procedures. Wherever possible, children will receive care and support in the family context, with Families SA increasing the use of innovative, alternative care arrangements such as Other Person Guardianship and Kinship Care. The expansion of the Families SA Reunification initiative across all Families SA sites is another step to work with families to increase their resilience and child safety behaviours in efforts to return children to a safe and loving home environment. The Redesign has also had a positive impact upon Families SA’s interaction and work with key external partners and service providers. Children and young people have a better chance of positive life outcomes when provided with consistent care and support. This is one of the main reasons why steps have been taken to introduce Solution Based Casework as the practice approach with key funded child welfare service providers. The implementation of the Redesign using strict project management methodology used in resource and infrastructure projects has also raised the bar for public service corporate business operations. Families SA has started to practically apply greater business and data reporting through the roll-out of Microsoft Project® to schedule work activities and work breakdown structures to increase business efficiency. Reporting mechanisms have also been enhanced, with greater detail and clarity provided to Department for Education and Child Development Executive around milestone achievement and work prioritisation, project controls such as resource efficiency, cost, risk and issue management, and future forecasting. The introduction of standards and benchmarks to guide work will drive Families SA to become an agency that undertakes a continuous quality improvement process. This has been initially facilitated by the introduction of internal audit positions, tasked with ensuring that what these standards continue to drive Families SA business.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Redesign process will take a number of years to be achieved – 2015 has been earmarked as the tentative completion date of the Redesign. As mentioned earlier, the Redesign is presently in the ‘constructing’ phase; the building and development of new standards, procedures, guidelines and processes will take time, needed to ensure that the right foundation is established from the start. As mentioned earlier, the new Families SA reporting structure is influencing corporate business operations across the Department. The provision of clear, concise information enables key decision makers to gain a detailed picture of what is happening within Families SA, and is being considered to inform other public service agency reporting. New reporting procedures developed through the Redesign will be continued and commissioned to ‘business as usual’ practices, building in greater stability. Sustainability Financial • As mentioned previously, the transformation has been undertaken ‘cost-neutral’ after identifying systemic and structural issues are at the heart of the problem. • It is agreed that more can be done with the same funding through increasing the number of allied health professionals and direct operational staff rather than administration and corporate sections. Social and economic • By emphasising broader responsibility for child safety and wellbeing, Families SA can better engage with the wider community welfare and secondary services sector to support families showing signs of vulnerability before they become statutory child protection interventions. This has been aided by engaging with key community welfare stakeholders through briefing sessions at milestone points in the Redesign. Cultural • Specific considerations are being made to address how Families SA can work in partnership to build resilience and family strength with Aboriginal cultures which are over-represented in the Australian child protection system. Institutional • The new Families SA future state will be built from an evidence-based, strong theoretical grounding. This will be enhanced through the institution of through the implementation of Solution Based Casework across all levels of the agency Regulatory • The Redesign is making specific previsions to enhance the use of protective interventions and better utilise Families SA interface with the Family Court and Youth Court. There are two unique aspects of the Redesign that can be applied in other jurisdictions: • The implementation of the Solution Based Casework practice approach across the whole organisation, not just direct care and protection service delivery, is the first of its kind. • The application of a strict project management methodology to organisational transformation in the public service community welfare space. Families SA is building a suite of products that can be applied to other child protection agencies in Australia and internationally for the implementation of Solution Based Casework. Families SA is also in the process of developing a public resource about public service organisational transformation in the child welfare space to assist other Australian and international jurisdictions with their change management approaches.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
A number of key lessons have been learned through application of a strict project management methodology to this organisation transformation. Building the case for change was, by design and necessity, a prolonged process. It takes time to prepare an organisation like Families SA for a change of this significance. In fact, it took much longer than Families SA had ever expected. Previous change, including significant whole of organisation change like the previous restructure of Families SA in 1991, had been undertaken in an ad hoc or disconnected way. The McKinsey Seven S Change Model was an ideal tool to improve on this. So too, introducing further core components of good corporate governance (business, policy and practice) and action-research methodology. Government also knew change was needed anecdotally. Families SA staff had been told so by an ever-present media who “blamed” the Department for child deaths and adverse events, and were accused by a Legislative Council of South Australia Select Committee in 2008 of having a “rotten” culture. Social media sites created a new issue – where individual workers could be targeted by a disgruntled community. All this coupled with a system being under considerable strain with a workforce focussed on gate-keeping rather than diversion, child rescue rather than family support and surveillance rather than service access. This type of work demoralised Families SA staff, keeping them desk-bound rather than doing the work they trained for and giving limited job satisfaction. Despite this, changing a dysfunctional system can seem harder (or viewed as pointless) than staying with the status quo. Getting the support of 1600 members of staff to proceed with this change process was more difficult and involved more investment of time than first envisaged. Using a combination of direct communication (blogs, emails to staff, targeted presentations), and trickle-down (diffusion) communication (whereby presentations were targeted at particular staff groups who then shared this information with other staff) was particularly successful in harnessing across the board support for the Redesign. So too, advising staff that their expertise, skills and knowledge would be needed during different aspects of the Redesign; that they would be invited to participate on working parties, working on one of the ten identified projects or by providing feedback through focus group or intranet . One further key challenge encountered as Families SA started to implement the Redesign into standard practice has been working in the ‘business as usual’ space during key transition periods. In the implementation of the specialising teams approach, Families SA set up a specific ‘transition’ team located within the Families SA Call Centre to coordinate and undertake assessment and support services to ensure business continuity for areas affected by staff relocations. Thinking outside the square and maintaining a flexible approach while keeping the end-goal in sight has helped in driving this transformation in a positive, proactive manner.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Families SA
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   David Waterford
Title:   Mr  
Telephone/ Fax:   +61 08 81244116
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   decdfamiliessaredesign@sa.gov.au  
Address:   Level 15, 31 Flinders Street
Postal Code:   5000
City:   Adelaide
State/Province:   South Australia

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