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Source: New South Wales Community and Justice

I recently met with a local community elder who shared with me some of the progress she has seen in Aboriginal-led programs for vulnerable children. One of the things she said really struck a chord with me: “If we can get it right for Aboriginal children, we can get it right for everyone”.
This sentiment was also reflected in a keynote presentation, delivered at our conference last week by Michael Chalmers, Director for Children and Families in the Scottish Government. Michael’s speech has left a powerful impression on the near 700 delegates, as he spoke about the Scottish Government’s goal of getting it right for every child.
We had the pleasure of listening to a number of experts from right across the sector speak passionately about what is needed to create lasting change at our Their Futures Matter: Improving Outcomes Together conference held on 12 and 13 February 2019.
To get a glimpse of what we heard, saw and felt, some of the presentations are now available at our conference page.
It was humbling and inspiring to hear and reflect on our learnings, experiences and progress.
This information sharing is so valuable – the conversations and exchange often lead to new partnerships, innovative thinking and a renewed sense of why we are all here.
We are here because their futures matter.
Gary Groves
Executive Director

On the first day of Their Futures Matter conference (12 February), Professor Elisabeth Murphy announced a newly released framework: The First 2000 Days.

Professor Murphy’s presentation gave the audience an insight into the importance of the first 2000 days in a child’s life, from conception to age 5. This is a critical time for a child’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional health, which has shown to impact children’s academic performance, health issues, involvement with the criminal justice system and risk of drug and alcohol misuse later in their lives.

These and other fascinating findings have been captured in the First 2000 Days framework strategic policy document that also incorporates a range of policies, programs, services and models of care to make sure that the right health services are available for everyone.

Everyone is impacted by their first 2000 days, and through effective and collaborative support and intervention during this period, there is an opportunity to give our children the best possible start in their lives, as well as to address the escalating prevalence of adult disease and morbidity.

Their Futures Matter will work with cross-agency partners to support the Framework.


Case study: Partnering with Aboriginal organisations

Their Futures Matter has implemented the Aboriginal Evidence Building in Partnership project-pilot that aims to support Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities across NSW, in a culturally appropriate way.

To achieve this we’re partnering with five Aboriginal and one non-Aboriginal organisations to improve their capacity to build evidence for their programs, and then to use evidence to inform ongoing service and quality improvements. One organisation TFM is working with is Tirkandi Inaburra Cultural and Development Centre, based in Coleambally that aims to empower Aboriginal youth to develop and draw on their own resilience in order to take responsibility for their own lives.

During our TFM conference Matt Watts and Damian (Dookie) Thorne from Tirkandi Inuburra Cultural and Development Centre spoke about their partnership with ARDT consultants to develop capacity in collating and using evidence to support their local program. Through linking Aboriginal service providers with evidence building partners, the centre was able to build an evidence base of promising programs and services that are improving outcomes for Aboriginal male youths and families.

Matt Watts, the Centre Manager, commented on the partnership: “It’s been a privilege for the Tirkandi program to partake in a change management and improvement journey with TFM. We’ve been able to not only identify opportunities for service improvement, but also consider, review and action such”.

While the pilot required providers to embed standardised, validated tools to measure wellbeing outcomes, TFM worked closely with the providers to identify their additional data collection needs. We did it to ensure the data collected reflected what was most important to the service and its community, and could be used to inform and improve program delivery.


Project update: Their Futures Matter initiatives

Thriving Families NSW brings together NSW Government and non-government services to deliver integrated solutions for young expectant parents and young parents with children aged 0-5 years. Since the launch of the pilot in October 2018, a total of 41 families have been referred to Thriving Families NSW and currently 10 young vulnerable families are receiving support and access to age-appropriate, strengths-based wraparound services that meet their needs.
You can learn more about Thriving Families NSW here or by contacting
A Place to Go aims to improve supports and deliver a better response for 10-17 year olds entering and exiting the juvenile justice system, with a focus on young people in remand. It draws on services from across the NSW Government to deliver a coordinated and multiagency service solution that can support a young person to change their life trajectory. As part of the pilot a FACS Court Liaison Officer has been introduced to Parramatta Children’s Court in September 2018 to support vulnerable young people with sourcing accommodation to avoid remand, working with FACS Caseworkers and liaising with out-of-home care providers. Since then 208 young people have received support from the FACS Court Liaison Officer on 347 occasions.
You can find out more about A Place to Go here or by contacting

The three year Futures Planning and Support pilot, scheduled to commence in the FACS Mid North Coast District in July 2019, is in the strategic commissioning phase. Their Futures Matter is working closely with FACS Central Commissioning and the FACS District Commissioning and Planning to confirm the service model, governance, stakeholder involvement and budget. Model Identifiers is one of our most critical commissioning documents that communicates the mandatory elements of the Futures Planning and Support pilot.

Our cohort approach is changing and we will publish updates related to this area of TFM’s work on our website later this week.  

TFM Access System Redesign team is seeking feedback into the redesign of the child wellbeing and child safety access system. We would like to hear your views about what is important in designing a future child and family system. You can choose to respond to all questions, only those that relate to your interests, or respond in general to the evidence review and discussion paper.

How will the information be used?
Responses will be used to inform, test and refine options for the Access System Redesign, particularly as they relate to:

  • young people, families and communities, to reflect what they really need;
  • service providers, to build on what’s working and address the limitations of the current system;
  • experts and peaks bodies, to build on evidence of what works and respond to the needs of communities, particularly Aboriginal children, young people and families; and
  • government and non-government agencies, to create a genuinely multi-agency system and facilitate cross-government collaboration.

How can I provide feedback?
We invite you to review the discussion paper and evidence review available here, and provide your feedback. There are three ways you can submit your feedback:

Their Futures Matter
Department of Family and Community Services
Locked Bag 10
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012.

Please send your feedback by close of business on 29 March 2019. For more information please email the Access System Redesign team at


Upcoming events: is all trauma same?

To ground your understanding of trauma, its impact and learn about the most up to date research and evidence that transformed the way we support children, young people and adults, affected by trauma and adverse experiences, you can sign up to The Neuroscience of Multiple Trauma workshop.

This two day workshop with Dr Martin Teicher is being organised by The Australian Childhood Foundation. Visit their website to sign up or find out more.