NSW Department of Communities and Justice on behalf of all Australian State and Territory child protection agencies

The innovative platform helping to protect vulnerable children in Australia

The number and rates of children not living with parents for child protection reasons has continued to rise since 2015, with one in 33 children receiving child protection services in 2018/2019. Each state and territory of Australia has their own child protection agency, all using separate technology systems for managing their records. With 330,000 Australians moving interstate each year, there can be an information gap when an at-risk child moves across borders.

In 2016, Australia’s Third Action Plan 2016-2019 of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children provided a recommendation “to investigate the sharing of information across jurisdictions to enable services to better work together to support women and their children.” The desired outcome would be to create a solution which would connect all Australian child protection jurisdictions in near real-time.

The NSW Department of Communities and Justice has been the lead agency on this initiative. Objective (formerly Itree), was awarded the project under the Australian Government Business Research and Innovation Initiative. As a result, the cloud-based solution REACH was developed, and in October 2019, with funding support from the Australian Department of Social Services, a five-year contract was established to provide REACH to all Australian child protection agencies.

REACH is a unique technology solution enabling State and Territory child protection agencies to find, match and share vital information in a timely manner, meets the required privacy constraints and is designed to securely share sensitive information.

This solution is a game changer for child protection agencies, in keeping children and vulnerable people who cross multiple jurisdictions safe. I am so incredibly excited to see the solution working, and am grateful to the collegiate work between all states, territories, the Commonwealth and Objective REACH that has made this possible.

Briony Foster

Executive District Director, Sydney, South Eastern Sydney and Northern Sydney Districts, Department of Communities and Justice