Family by Family: Co-Designing and Implementing Responses for Family-led Change

  • 2019

  • Social Impact

Designed In:


Family by Family is a network of families supporting families to make lasting change in their lives. Co-designed with families for families, the program has been in full implementation since 2012 and has supported over 1500 families to make lasting change in their lives.

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  • The design challenge was to co-design a response that would reduce the rising demand for crisis services in South Australia. The design context saw: - The number of children in state care exponentially increasing across Australia; - The resultant costs of this care also increasing; - Research detailing that many of the children in care had a higher incidence of complex mental health issues and a higher likelihood of engaging in the justice system in their juvenile and adult lives; and - Many children entering the system were the offspring of adults who had had an experience of the state care system.

  • Family by Family, co-designed with over 100 families is a peer to peer, strengths based model linking families who have been through tough times and come through thriving [Sharing Families] with families who want to make change and want to learn new ways of doing family with another family [Seeking Families]. Families connect for 10, 20 or 30 weeks, dependent on the size of change they want to make. The family connection is supported by a Family Coach - a trained professional - who provides coaching and mentoring to both families to stay focused on change goals.

  • Family by Family has been in full operation since 2012 beyond its design prototyping phase, and has supported over 1500 families to make lasting change. External evaluations have evidenced impact as: - Reducing social isolation; - Increased parenting skill; - Increased personal wellbeing; - Reduced stress; and - Reduced child protection notifications. Ultimately reducing the demand for crisis services. In addition families gain confidence and self-agency resulting in: - Stronger families; - Increasing educational outcomes; - New employment and career pathways; and - Creation of social capital. There are examples of the program supporting families to break cycles of intergenerational disadvantage [see].

  • The design vision is to enable families to be their own change makers, to have thriving families and communities and build community supports before crisis builds. The service design has successfully created a platform to deliver a new service and practice approach which enables professionals to relinquish power and enables families choice and control, equalising power and building confidence and community across the service design system. Furthermore, Family by Family demonstrates the efficacy of design led processes, resulting in a unique service design that: - Actively engages families; - Motivates families throughout their change journey; - Supports frontline practitioners deliver a designed service model with relevant and effective tools supporting the spread of the model; and - Is able to create multiple social outcomes that families choose, which cut across multiple government departments and outcomes, ranging from strengthening families, fostering community and reducing social isolation through to employment and education outcomes. Ultimately, it delivers a valuable business case for investment into social innovation and design led methodologies to create alternative social models for all Australians to benefit from. Importantly, it is cost effective and can be applied across the service system to meet the needs of a broad cross section of families.