Finalist 2023

West Kimberley System Design: Child and Family Wellbeing and Youth Justice

And Projects / West Kimberley Futures: Empowered Communities

Indigenous led decision making through a whole of system approach.

In 2022, in local partnership with West Kimberley Futures: Empowered Communities, an umbrella organisation, And Projects delivered the West Kimberley Child and Family Wellbeing and Youth Wellbeing (CFWYW) Service Systems Design Initiative – a comprehensive, evidence-based, system design and social impact tool developed through a deeply participatory and indigenous led approach that provides greater visibility of services across the remote Kimberley region, whilst enabling informed decision making among community, service providers and government.

With over 200 services and 500+ programs the complexity of this system is significant; there are multiple different mobs, languages, ecologies, songlines, community paradigms and external economic pressures.

Design Brief:

Indigenous people in the West Kimberley have some of the worst social and health indicators in Australia and globally - including poverty, literacy, youth incarceration, domestic violence, and the highest suicide rate in the world. Currently, people fall through the gaps within and between programs, the social safety net is threadbare, traditional social structures have deteriorated and services cannot reach outcomes - this forms systemic failure.

Comprehensively discriminatory, indigenous communities are kept in perpetual crisis with little agency in the decisions that affect their lives and future. Beyond this, trust in services is extremely low, consultants are an eye roll, and there is little community accountability, funding transparency or real impact measurement.

And Projects was commissioned to deliver a deeply participatory and genuine approach to explore and develop a structural understanding of the whole service system, according to the experience of the community using services - to together build a future system.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

And Projects utilised a unique and demonstrated systems design methodology to tackle the large system complexity, and led by how people experience services day to day. This approach means that we engage and connect service providers, organisations and communities around a shared community led framework and co-created definitions of sustainable wellbeing outcomes. This forms a prioritised implementation approach that can be used by anyone.

1/ Participatory design + iterative design cycles - Working together with the community at every stage.

Validating value proposition > Journey mapping individual experiences > Developing and feeding back insights
> Building the draft framework > Building user scenarios for the tool > Developing and refining the framework
> Developing gaps, barriers, strengths, enablers > Validating the maps > Refining the maps > Capability building with local teams
> Adopting the maps > launch and feedback > 3 months testing and further feedback and iteration

2/ Engagement approach

A deep critique informed this process (outlined in the Research + Engagement Guide) of consulting practice, white fella ways, indigenous methods of dialogue, trauma informed design, spatial rebalancing of power, fieldwork techniques, systems research methodology. A significant amount of time was spent conducing fieldwork research in the Kimberley at multiple stages in the project, this time was extended twice as was being seen locally as valuable.

3/ Genuine partnership with client and stakeholders to ensure long term outcomes are adopted and the work continues after the consultant leaves.

"What was different about working with And Projects - it was a true partnership'
'Exceeded our expectations...this work forms the foundation of our next generational fight (the last being Native Title)

- Commissioned Tobias Titz to take and give polaroid portraits of participants to form 70 voices to ensure we provided immediate value back to the participants.

- The project was delivered in scope and in budget for a considerably large piece of work within a short timeline.

Design Excellence

The Child and Family Service System Framework is structured according to self identified community needs and tailored to specific users across all stages of their wellbeing journey, ensuring that decision making is centred around the lived experience of community members. It reflects local paradigms of wellbeing and repositions culture at the centre of service system design. This helps local families and young people clearly identify their needs based on their circumstance and know where to turn for support, in a self-referred process that encourages empowerment and a sense of control while interacting within the system.

The 3 key user scenarios co-developed and adopted are:

  • Service user (or natural helper) with potential service user with an identified need or wanting to identify a need
  • Service providers working together or coordination purposes to develop or deliver programs
  • Government and oversight bodies within larger strategic decisions to ensure community needs are embedded.

The visual service system map informs decision-making across community and government levels and promotes accountability through providing a clear view of what is needed, what is effective, and what is not productive. This will encourage more effective provision of resources by identifying where services are overlapping, and redirect investments toward service gaps to improve the continuity of care and support children and families across all life
stages, needs and priorities.

The whole process is built around the user needs and delivery context through:

  • Extensive fieldwork with community and frontline service providers
  • Check-ins with all levels of government (external stakeholders) through each phase
  • Provided to all service providers, embedded in communities and showcased to key external stakeholders at all levels
  • Capability building with local WKFEC team to adopt and continue the dissemination of the maps, adoption of the tool and shared process and ongoing updating and implementing priorities uncovered.

Design Innovation

Every service represents a thread, how these are threaded together forms a social 'warp and weft'. The final artefacts - the systems framework and sets of maps - represents this weave, woven by the many voices of the Kimberley. This provides a framework to navigate and rebuild this safety net, to build a future together that lifts indigenous people out of perpetual crisis, builds relational wealth and real longer term outcomes together.

We used a highly innovative research methodology - evidencing how to do systems level design research within a community led approach; through ongoing development and tool capability building, impact measurement and organic adoption across different user scenarios.

This project is innovative because:

  • Building solutions to one of the most complex, generational issues within Australia (and globally)
  • Systems level design research techniques
  • Pushing the benchmark of service design systematically
  • Regional, remote and place-based
  • The research toolkit builds inclusive practice, culturally integrated and trauma informed design practice
  • Adapting to a remote and highly complex cross cultural environment
  • Ongoing live mapping, prototyping and iterating together
  • Cocreation with all cohorts from 5 years old to Indigenous elders, homeless people living on the street, Government ministers’ and agencies
  • Capability building and adoption for ongoing use
  • Ensuring accessibility regardless of literacy by keeping it printed and place based
  • Through over 70 one-on-one and group yarning sessions (phase 2) with over 120 people
  • Through 18+ co creation on Country + prototyping sessions
  • Over 450 people participating
  • This has been successfully adopted across community, service providers and government ongoing to inform decision making, collaboration, coordination and building structural systemic support mechanisms
  • Successfully marrying storytelling of individual experiences threaded up to a system’s level response. We pushed the boundaries of participatory design research to engage all groups in the process and support relational wealth building between these groups.

Design Impact

  • Participant engagement was higher than expected, creating ongoing stakeholder relationships, coordination between service providers, opening up dialogue and collaboration with communities and stakeholders
  • We were invited into the KLC AGM - key strategic week meeting of Kimberley Elders and the map was seen as key to the next generational ‘fight’ and a key strategic tool
  • Hand-over was effective due to community buy-in, the client team continued to present and iterate the maps, and build decision making protocols once And Projects were gone
  • The tools were visually iterated and validated multiple times by over 400 people and a large cross section of organisations
  • Capability building successful and ongoing updating of the map with the community and service providers on a 6 month cycle
  • First set of maps printed over 50 times and given out to organisations and communities, iterated and second set printed and given out in March 2023
  • Demonstrated the tool works and has been adopted in the multiple scenarios of use including across 30+ service providers, community general stores and clinics and Federal government (NIAA), Joint Decision Making process and youth leadership forums across the Kimberley, within major projects for the
  • Kimberley Development Commission, and adoption/integration into state government and WA justice process
  • Anecdotal and organic uses of the maps (true measure of success) is widespread, it is being adapted across the region. Other initiatives have organically sprouted from this.
  • Hailed as best practice, highly innovative and fundamentally important by Federal government leadership and adopted at a Federal level by NIAA (National Indigenous Australians Agency).
  • Ongoing measurable impact that is community owned, service provider owned, government owned.
  • All impact hypothesis were proven and all guidelines within the Research Plan were evidenced to work, proving the methodology is high impact, and a true method of reconciliation and systems change.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Social impact/circular design outcomes aren't covered within this criteria unfortunately.

However there are ones!

  • Linking all services together through a common journey led framework
  • Identifying systems barriers, enablers, gaps and strengths and work through ways to approach these, removing latency between services, spending and effectiveness of services in individual and shared outcomes.
  • Building Culture and Country and preservation of ecology into wellbeing frameworks
  • This is the second project in the Kimberley - the East Kimberley was completed in 2021. These projects form evolving puzzle pieces that are produced with a key local partner and then are linked together to work towards creating a national framework over time that is effectively developed from each region and local voices and builds a comprehensive ground up picture that learns and interacts to give a tight knit relational weave across Australia.

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