Australia's Children ‘Safe and Well’? Collaborating with Purpose Across Commonwealth Family Relationship and State Child Protection Systems

Gail Winkworth, Australian Catholic University
Michael White


So ubiquitous is reference to collaboration in policy documents that it is in danger of being ignored altogether by service deliverers who are not clear about its rationale, how it is built, or its real value. This is evident in the child and family services context where for example the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children calls for collaboration and a ‘shared responsibility’ across the state, Commonwealth and the non-government sectors to keep children safe and well. This article describes a project undertaken to analyse and ultimately increase levels of collaboration between state and Commonwealth government family service providers. The research reinforced an important message that levels of collaboration should align with the vulnerability of children and their families: the greater the level of risks to children, the greater the level of collaboration needed within and between systems to keep children safe.