Integrated Journey Maps Improve the Wellbeing and Safety of Children


To rethink the way child welfare information is shared, Victoria’s Department of Education and Training engaged Nous to work with participants in the child safety system to create integrated user journey maps showing current and potential future experiences. These are being used to design a centralised information-sharing system, Child Link.

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  • The Victorian Government wanted to improve information-sharing among organisations working with children and families, under the Child Information Sharing Scheme. Its aim was a new system that aids collaboration among practitioners. This followed information-sharing emerging as a theme in earlier royal commissions and reviews into the deaths of children. Nous Group was invited to undertake design research with end-users of information-sharing systems to understand their current experience, and to co-design the future state. The challenge was to use human-centred design to create visual representations of the current and future states so opportunities and challenges could be identified and responded to.

  • In previously responding to this challenge there have been technology-first failures. We sought to understand the context, environment, relationships and behaviours that drive information-sharing, being realistic about technology and taking a people-first approach. We used HCD to understand current information-sharing and collaboration among agencies to support children. We developed an understanding of the wider system, including organisations that support people who have experienced family violence. We worked with practitioners to understand their current experiences, identify opportunities, and co-design future-state experiences. We spoke with 72 practitioners, conducted 19 co-design workshops and eight validation sessions. The process was complex given COVID-19 lockdowns.

  • From this co-design process emerged several design products: - five current state journey maps - five future state journey maps - five current state network diagrams, which represent information flows - five future state network diagrams, which represent indicative information flows and service referrals - a comprehensive insights report that brings together the threads of the research. These products are being used to guide implementation, including messaging and communications, change management and training, along with the design requirements of the system itself. The products reflect the reality that practitioners need information that helps them understand the events and risk factors to make better informed decisions.

  • Good system design takes a human-centred approach and good human-centred design takes a systems approach. Designing with the people impacted by the new system rather than for them moved stakeholders toward a shared understanding and greater engagement and endorsement of the reforms. Undertaking HCD involved extra complexity during COVID-19. Ideally we would have run in-person co-design workshops with participants, however with Victoria under lockdown and many participant cohorts, such as schools and the Department of Health and Human Services, facing additional workloads, this was not possible. We remained flexible in our approach, eschewing a "one size fits all" method, and made adjustments to ensure everyone involved could participate fully. Our philosophy for engagement design was "Getting it right, not being right." We conducted design critiques with Nous experts in public policy, health and human services, and education to challenge assumptions and push the thinking. Our critiques brought together people with different perspectives to consider the work, ask questions and offer feedback. This created opportunities to spot patterns, problems and solutions and to rethink approaches if they were not delivering outcomes. The research has provided insights for designing and developing the information-sharing system, influencing strategic policy, system usability, functionality and data.