Reimagining Kids Helpline with the Imaginarium

  • 2022

  • Service
    Public Sector Services

Designed By:

  • Imaginarium
  • Kids Helpline Redesign Team

Commissioned By:

Tracy Adams yourtown CEO

Designed In:


Kids Helpline (KHL) has been at the forefront of youth mental health in Australia for over 30 years. To continue to meet the needs of a digital generation, we reinvented not just the service experience itself, but also the role that young people play in service design, evolution and delivery.

Image: Co-design sessions with young service users
Image: Co-design sessions with young service users
Image: Co-design sessions with young service users
Image: Co-design sessions with First Nations service users
Image: Co-design sessions with service users
Image: Project meeting with co-facilitators
Image: One of the co-facilitators
Image: Co-design workshop with First Nations Service users
  • MORE
  • The design responds to four key challenges : 1.How can the service equip young people with advocacy and design skills to continuously redesign the service themselves? 2.How can we design an experience across a broad spectrum of barriers and needs – from the 5 year old first time caller experiencing crisis to the 25 year old regular client with a wrap-around care plan? 3.How can we reach underserved young people, those who are not contacting KHL? 4.How can we build a service that learns and responds to the ever-changing needs of young people?

  • In a sector first, we established the Imaginarium, yourtown’s design lab that trains young people as service designers, advocates, ambassadors and youth leaders. As its first project we redesigned yourtown’s flagship service, Kids Helpline. KHL now features needs-based service lines – a crisis text line, direct access for regular callers, personalised, smart triaging and wait experiences, a rapid response line for underserved/high complex clients and dedicated partnerships pathways. It can now reach more underserved young people because of a sector-first proactive community outreach program, dedicated supporter/referrer program and a grassroots community-partnership approach building early warning systems and capacity to reach out.

  • The biggest impact of the design is that it allows more young people to be served better, in the way that they want it, designed by them through the Imaginareum, empowering them as advocates and designers. However, the design also positively affects the business from a staff experience, efficiency and revenue perspective. Specialised service lines mean a better match and rewards responding to staff’s nuanced skill sets. The associated technological change in the back end (CRM) makes staff’s lives easier and processes faster and more efficient. And the dedicated service lines offer opportunities for additional revenue streams and partnerships.

  • This work is all about KHL helping more young people in deeper and more meaningful ways that are matched to them, by redefining how services for young people are designed – by, and not to them. This impacts our communities at both individual and collective levels – help-seeking becomes normalised, impacting systems at large, such as schools and communities. Training young people as co-designers shifts their identity from being a consumer to having agency of a service, resetting expectations for other services as well. This agency continues throughout the lifecycle of the service, with users continuously evaluating and re-designing supported by the Imaginarium. This is yourtown’s design lab that trains young people as service designers, advocates, ambassadors and youth leaders. For the business, the new backend drives greater efficiency through technology investment and workforce redesign, while remaining flexible to respond to emergent needs such as natural disasters. The detailed contact routing drives efficiency in service delivery and improved staff and client experience, prioritisation of service lines offer opportunity for additional funding streams and partnerships. KHL will build capacity for the utilisation of a volunteer workforce, increasing opportunities to reach more young people. Feedback loops and measurements throughout drive the continuous service redesign.