Improving information sharing to protect vulnerable children

Australia’s most at risk children will be better protected by a world-first information sharing platform from next year which is designed to improve collaboration between state and territory child protection agencies.

Assistant Minister for Children and Families Michelle Landry today announced NSW-based company Itree has been awarded a $5.9 million, five-year contract to deliver the project.

“This innovative project is about doing everything that we can to stop vulnerable kids falling through the cracks,” Minister Landry said.

“The new platform would ensure that Australia’s child protection caseworkers have access to a more extensive and accurate insight into a child’s history.

“It’s an encouraging development because it will improve the way that government agencies share information across different borders, to prevent at risk families who move interstate from evading the gaze of those who have a duty to protect them.

“The aim of this streamlined national platform is to make sure that caseworkers across our nation have all the information that they require at their fingertips, which will allow them to respond to child protection incidents without delay.”

Each year about 330,000 people move interstate in Australia. Vulnerable children are often at heightened risk of harm if their background in a previous jurisdiction is not known, or not easily accessible, to child protection authorities in their new location.

Itree’s platform will enable state-based agencies to exchange relevant information for purposes related to preventing, identifying and responding to situations where children are at risk of harm.

NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the platform would improve how child protection services are delivered across the country.

“Children deserve to grow up in a safe, stable and loving home, and I know that all Governments share a common goal to help ensure that and to prioritise child protection,” Minister Ward said.

“There is a need for better information sharing at a national level and this landmark platform will enable States and Territories to improve communication in the best interests of vulnerable children and families.”

Itree CEO Ben Hobby praised the joint effort across the Commonwealth, states and territories to provide solutions to interagency data sharing.

“The solution is truly a world-first development, in using a technology platform to search diverse data and information storage systems across state and territory governments,” Mr Hobby said.

“It has been a pleasure to witness the dedication of so many diligent individuals, whilst developing the transformative technology that will deliver very real outcomes for the safety of our children.”

The Morrison Government has provided $3.9 million to the project with states and territories to provide supplementary funding to fulfil the final years of the contract.

State and territory child protection agencies will implement the system on the ground. The platform is expected to be up and running by mid-2020.

The project aligns with the Third Action Plan of The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, and goes toward addressing recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.