The Laying Foundations for Business Excellence project was a joint initiative between the QFCC and the CSIA who engaged heavily with the broader family and child sector as they navigated the stages to developing a robust future-focused sector-wide agenda.

This particular body of work came in response to the 2012 Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry which resulted in the development of the Child Protection Reform Roadmap, and then the QFCC’s Strengthening our Sector Strategy.

“The Laying Foundations project was set against a backdrop of transformation and reform,” says Belinda Drew, CSIA CEO.

“We set out to develop a strong plan for strengthening the community services businesses operating within the sector.

“Now we have an evidence base, collected through the Laying Foundations project, which offers a deeper understanding of the current state of the family and child sector,” she says.

“We can use this evidence to ensure any future development of the sector enables it to flourish.”

Laying Foundations’ key findings describe some of the challenges and opportunities ahead but also establishes a platform for further work, focusing on sector excellence and sustainability.

Specifically, there are five key recommendations which provide a way forward for industry development.

The five recommendations

1.    Make the business maturity scorecard tool widely available to support business development in the industry

First action: digitise the scorecard to include assessment and priority setting, promote and support industry uptake, and aggregating data for industry-wide insights.

2.    Develop an industry-led approach to reform agendas

First action: Industry to lead a collaboration in designing an industry-led commissioning approach for child and family services in Queensland.

3.    Develop an industry-level strategy for workforce supply and capability development

First action: review current workforce initiatives to improve coordination and identify priority gaps.

4.    Establish an excellence agenda for the industry that moves the focus beyond mere compliance

First action: develop and Excellence Framework for Child Safe Organisations; showcase examples of business excellence already occurring in the industry.

5.    Industry should continue to provide leadership in defining and delivering an industry development agenda over time

First action: work with industry, government and other stakeholders to ensure industry development priorities are understood and addressed.

The pathway to those recommendations

During the staged approach of the Laying Foundations project:

  • 200 organisations were subjected to a desktop analysis designed to ascertain their business performance across eight domains. The eight domains come from the Forecasting the Future report
  • scorecard results revealed that the sector’s business performance is:
    • somewhat mature in terms of funding and financing, collaboration and cooperation, and digital capability
    • less mature in terms of transparency and accountability, research and innovation, and being outcomes focused
  • the results of the scorecard were explored through consultation with 84 industry leaders via workshops and interviews to identify barriers and benefits to the sector’s ability to strive for excellence across the eight domains
  • the combined results from each stage provide a clear picture of where the sector needs to focus its internal business development.

“We did find a number of persistent external systemic issues that negatively impact the way organisations operate, including: prescriptive contracts, unrealistic outcome expectations and competitive tendering,” says Belinda.

“It’s exciting though when you realise you have evidence that industry leaders not only have a strong appetite for change, but that they’re already embracing business transformation in varying ways.

“Just by way of a few examples, we’re seeing: amalgamations, innovations around internal systems and processes, peer mentoring arrangements, and digital capacity building in businesses,” she says.

“Our industry leaders have been quite clear with us that an industry-wide, systems-level approach to transformation is required for the sector to survive and thrive.

“It’s now widely understood that transformation needs to start with organisations seeing themselves as a business, and that creating an environment where excellence is recognised and measured will create deep cultural change.”

Earlier work on the Forecasting the Future report described a future where the government’s capacity to invest in services will not match the growth in demand, and where broader reforms will take place across the industry, to which the sector will be required to respond

(Community Services Industry Alliance, and Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, 2016, pp 3, 6)

“Knowing what we know about the way services will be funded in the future, its positive to see organisations embracing the notion of themselves as a business,” says Belinda.

“The work done through the Laying Foundations project sets up a strong, evidence-based and measurable agenda for the future of the family and child sector.”

All three reports resulting from the Laying Foundations project are now available on the CSIA website:

  • Stage One Report – Industry organisational profile and maturity scorecard

  • Stage Two Report – Industry insights into business development priorities and systemic changes

  • Final Report – Future directions for an industry development agenda for the child and family support sector.

A forum will be held on 14 November 2017 to share the agenda with you as well as to announce two exciting projects that are already underway to progress the agenda.

Stay tuned for details.