The Secretariat for the Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision is seeking input from individuals and organisations on the second What Works project (box 1). This project investigates what is known about systems that enable the ‘public health approach’ to protecting children. The focus will be on systems that protect children from abuse and neglect that occurs within families (to minimise duplication with recent work on child abuse in institutional settings, for example, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse).
Australian governments have committed to taking a public health approach to protecting children under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020. A range of approaches have been used to date, but there is growing concern that efforts are still too crisis oriented, focused on responding to child abuse and neglect after they have occurred, rather than on prevention. This project will look specifically at system design: what is known about ‘what works’ to build a system where all the parts are working together to enable the public health approach to protecting children. It will highlight system-change approaches that appear effective, but will not assess the effectiveness of individual programs or interventions.
The feedback provided on this consultation paper will be incorporated into the final research report, along with other research and evidence, including on national and international system reforms and global peer-reviewed and grey literature on systems that enable the public health approach to protecting children. International research is limited to high-income developed countries with a similar social structure to Australia, as these are more likely than other countries to have system design features that could be replicated in the Australian context.