Innovative technology that allows child protection authorities to identify when a child at risk, or an adult of interest, is known to child protection authorities in other jurisdictions.
Status: The funding round closed on 30 November 2016. Grant applications are no longer being accepted.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, each year around 330,000 (3412.0 – Migration Australia, 2014-15 - Net Interstate Migration) people move interstate in Australia. When families with children at risk move between jurisdictions they can “fall between the cracks” until such time as some event brings them to the notice of child protection authorities in their new location. These children are often at heightened risk of harm if their relevant background in another jurisdiction is not known or easily accessible to the child protection authorities in the new location. Similarly, when an adult who is known to child protection authorities moves between jurisdictions their background information is of great interest to the relevant authorities in other jurisdictions.
The latest Child Protection Australia report developed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that, in 2014-15, there were more than 320,000 notifications to child protection authorities involving around 208,000 children across Australia. Notifications consist of contacts made to an authorised department by persons or other bodies alleging child abuse or neglect, child maltreatment or harm to a child. Following a notification, the relevant department would assess the information provided and determine whether an investigation is warranted to further progress the case. The ability to access relevant background information with ease and timeliness is paramount at this stage to reduce the workload on caseworkers and to protect children from potential harm.
A near real-time ‘check’ system which interacts with the existing information systems of child protection authorities nationwide will significantly improve child safety when a child at risk or an adult of interest moves between jurisdictions.
Concerns about barriers to inter-jurisdictional information sharing, and the consequences of those barriers have been around for some time. Improvements to inter-jurisdictional information sharing are specifically highlighted as a key national priority under the Third Action Plan of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children which has been endorsed by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. This collaborative work involving all Australian governments and the non-government sector, includes addressing barriers to information sharing within and across jurisdictions for government and non-government agencies where there are concerns about child safety and wellbeing, by developing a best practice model of information exchange.
Most recently, the lack of a national technical solution for child protection related information sharing between jurisdictions has been highlighted by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and by some state coroners and ombudsmen.
In this challenge, we are looking for an innovative digital solution that assists states and territories to fulfil their legislative and policy obligations for child protection. We are not looking for a national database or a system that enables transfer of case files. In addition, we are not seeking a solution that creates a new administrative workload for the child protection staff or that would fulfil a predictive function. The proof of concept does not need to consider areas for legislative change or identify how the proposal meets the legislative requirements or restrictions of each State.
We are seeking a digital solution that is able to interact with the existing information systems in jurisdictions and be able to allow the relevant authorities to identify when a child at risk, or an adult of interest, is known to child protection authorities in other jurisdictions and if so, provide contact details for a caseworker or hotline. The system is expected to apply to children and adults who are, or who have been, clients of statutory child protection systems and their relationships (including parent, parent’s partner, foster carer, guardian, sibling, child protection worker).
What criteria does the solution need to fulfil?
The solution must address the provisions of the Privacy Act(s) and to protect the sensitive information and privacy of parties involved and should:
- Identify the business rules required to capture information from disparate data sources governed by different legislative requirements
- Have a high degree of information security and comply with relevant security standards
- Be accessible by state and territory government authorities providing statutory child protection
- Be available via various digital channels e.g. mobile app, tablet or PC to facilitate timely access to relevant information
- Be able to cope with partial data for matching
- Include audit log function
- Have the potential for notification to caseworker where information changes post-search; and
- Be scalable to allow for implementation incrementally to include further categories of related information, and across various government bodies, such as justice, health, education, child support etc., and the non-government sector, as legislative, policy and cultural barriers to information sharing are addressed.
What are the deliverables?
Deliverables at the end of the proof of concept phase would be a prototype that:
- Demonstrates the high level architecture for the solution;
- Demonstrates the proposed user interface;
- Demonstrates how the alert feature would work;
- Demonstrates the processes involved in near real-time matching, between a limited number of jurisdictions as a pilot, with the appropriate governance arrangements;
- Provides detail on how the technical solution will address ongoing management and maintenance (e.g. to support future legislative changes) and links to other related policy developments such as the sharing of information with other government bodies and non-government sector.
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