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May Do, Should Do, Can Do: Collaboration between Commonwealth and State Service Systems for Vulnerable Children

Communities, Children and Families Australia
Volume 5 Issue 1 (May 2010)

Abstract: The National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 (Council of Australian Governments [COAG], 2009) recognises that, despite significant investment in family support and child protection, separate efforts by service systems still fail many children and young people. A major shift in government policy, it lays a foundation for working together across Commonwealth and state boundaries. However, collaborative models within state jurisdictions are at best emergent in Australia and are even more scarce across Commonwealth and state jurisdictions. In this paper, the authors set out the case for collaboration between Commonwealth family relationship and state child protection and family support systems. Drawing on Moore's Public Value model (Moore, 2000), together with other literature of specific relevance to collaboration, they propose a theoretical framework for examining the status of collaboration across these systems in two Victorian localities. Consultations with service providers indicate that there are lessons to be learned from existing successful partnerships, especially the use of multiple channels for communication. These are dedicated positions that work in the interface between systems and roundtables which regularly bring people together to address complex issues. However, in specifically answering the questions posed by the theoretical framework, the authors found that although there are creative examples of working together within and between services, overall collaboration between state and Commonwealth systems is at best emergent. The authors argue that, if these emergent collaborations are to expand, there is a need for action in three key areas: policy and legislative authorisation of collaboration (what may be done); common agreement on the value of collaboration (what should be done); and specific actions to support collaboration (what can be done). The paper proposes that the elements of the framework used in this project could also provide the basis for analysing the status of cross-sectoral collaboration and for implementing improved collaboration in other localities and contexts. With this in mind, the authors have included a tool that services and funding agencies can use to assess the readiness of service systems to undertake collaborative engagements.

To cite this article: Winkworth, Gail and White, Michael. May Do, Should Do, Can Do: Collaboration between Commonwealth and State Service Systems for Vulnerable Children [online]. Communities, Children and Families Australia, Vol. 5, No. 1, May 2010: 5-20. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=180740802818560;res=IELHSS> ISSN: 1833-6280. [cited 09 Dec 16].

Personal Author: Winkworth, Gail; White, Michael; Source: Communities, Children and Families Australia, Vol. 5, No. 1, May 2010: 5-20 Document Type: Journal Article ISSN: 1833-6280 Subject: Council of Australian Governments; Interagency coordination; Child care--Government policy; Children--Social conditions; Child welfare--Government policy; Identifier: Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FAHCSIA) Peer Reviewed: Yes Affiliation: (1) Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University, email: Gail.winkworth@acu.edu.au
(2) MW Group Consulting Pty. Ltd, Level 4, 411 Collins Street, Melbourne Victoria 3000, email: michael@mwgroup.net.au

Database: Humanities & Social Sciences Collection