A holistic and integrated approach - Victorian Council of Social Service

advertisement
Strengthing DET regional
relationships and support
VCOSS submission
May 2015
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
1
About VCOSS
The Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) is
the peak body of the social and community sector in
Victoria. VCOSS members reflect the diversity of the
sector and include large charities, peak
organisations, small community services, advocacy
groups, and individuals interested in social policy. In
addition to supporting the sector, VCOSS represents
the interests of vulnerable and disadvantaged
Victorians in policy debates and advocates for the
development of a sustainable, fair and equitable
society.
This submission was prepared by VCOSS Policy
Advisor Carly Nowell.
Authorised by:
Emma King, Chief Executive Officer
© Copyright 2015
Victorian Council of Social Service
Victorian Council of Social Service
Level 8, 128 Exhibition Street
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
+61 3 9235 1000
For enquiries:
Llewellyn Reynders, Policy and Programs Manager
[email protected]
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
2
Contents
Executive summary......................................................................................................................... 2
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 4
An accessible and inclusive education system for all young people ................................................ 6
A holistic and integrated approach .................................................................................................. 9
The role of families and community services ............................................................................... 9
Providing increased resources and support for holistic models ................................................. 12
Schools ................................................................................................................................. 12
Early childhood education ..................................................................................................... 13
Vocational Education and Training (VET) .............................................................................. 13
Collaboration and integrated services ....................................................................................... 14
Collaboration ......................................................................................................................... 15
Integrated services ................................................................................................................ 16
Place-based approaches ....................................................................................................... 19
Lifelong learning and engagement ................................................................................................ 22
Lifelong learning ........................................................................................................................ 22
Transitions ................................................................................................................................ 22
Youth engagement .................................................................................................................... 23
Flexible learning programs ........................................................................................................ 24
Evidence-based policy and approaches ........................................................................................ 26
Using data to inform community responses and policy directions .............................................. 26
Australian Early Development Census .................................................................................. 27
The Middle Years Development Instrument ........................................................................... 27
Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System................................................................ 28
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
1
Executive summary
The Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback on
the Department of Education and Training’s approach to strengthening regional relationships and
support.
This submission outlines VCOSS’ recommendations to help support children and young people
who face disadvantage and barriers to fully accessing and participating in the education system.
VCOSS also recommends that a broader approach be taken through this review, which takes into
account the important role the community sector and families play in supporting children and
young people’s learning and school engagement.
In summary, VCOSS makes the following recommendations regarding Department of Education
(DET) regional structures and functions:
An accessible and inclusive education system for all young people

DET regional structures should support the education system to be inclusive, and provide
appropriate support to enable every child and young person to fully participate in education
and achieve their potential.
A holistic and integrated approach

DET functions should broaden their focus from schools, to also include greater support for
early childhood education and Vocational Education and Training, as well as supporting
other key determinants of education outcomes, including the roles of families and the
community sector.

DET regional structures should facilitate early intervention and prevention approaches, by
enabling more integrated service delivery and place-based approaches that respond to
local community needs.
Lifelong learning and engagement

DET structures and functions should support a lifelong approach to learning, helping
children and young people to successfully transition through each stage of education, from
early childhood, through to the middle years, adolescence, and on to further education and
training.

DET should provide greater support to help keep children and young people engaged in
education, by providing intensive case managed support for young people at risk of, or who
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
2
have disengaged from education, and by expanding flexible learning programs across the
state.
Evidence-based policy and approaches

DET regional offices should facilitate stronger links between policy development and
implementation, including the use of appropriate tools and processes to capture meaningful
data on outcomes, which can inform policy and drive continuous improvement.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
3
Introduction
In January 2013, the department moved from a nine-region structure to a four-region structure
covering: North Eastern Victoria, North Western Victoria, South Eastern Victoria and South
Western Victoria. 1 The new regions incorporate local government areas across both metropolitan
and rural areas into one region, which is a change from the previous structure. 2 Each of the
regions are serviced by a two or three regional offices which provide a range of varied functions
aimed supporting educational outcomes across the region.
Feedback on the current DET regional structure indicates that it is not providing adequate support
to education institutions and communities, particularly in relation to supporting disadvantaged
students. In many cases regional offices are too far removed from the communities, particularly in
rural parts of Victoria. It is therefore suggested that the department’s structure be modified to
provide more support at the local level, while still ensuring that early childhood services, schools
and VET providers remain linked into the broader network and central office.
To facilitate greater collaboration, regions should also reflect natural communities and not impose
rigid and artificial boundaries. The regions should also be more strongly aligned with other key
services, local governments and relevant state government departments. It is suggested that the
regional structure is amended in line with the following underlying principles:

Providing greater and more tailored support to early childhood services, schools and VET
providers, to assist them to improve the wellbeing of all children and young people,
particularly those who experience disadvantage. This will require supporting education
providers, through greater resourcing and the development of their expertise, to enable
them to take a proactive response to supporting their students.

Facilitating greater collaboration and enhanced integration of universal and targeted health
and community services, with schools and other educational settings. Providing greater
support to schools and communities to develop effective partnerships, recognising and
building on the work of the Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs), will help
facilitate these collaborative models. Changing the alignment of regional boundaries so
that they match up with health and community services and other relevant state
government programs, will also support this approach.
1
2
Department of Education and Training, Strengthening DET regional relationships and support: Consultation Paper, 2015, Melbourne.
Department of Education and Training, Structures, http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/structure/Pages/default.aspx
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
4

Supporting communities to develop place-based approaches. Providing greater support
and guidance can encourage and assist educational settings and community services to
develop locally-based and innovative responses that are tailored to community needs.
Changing the alignment of regional boundaries to better reflect community groupings will
further facilitate the implementation of place-based approaches.

Enhancing links between policy development and implementation ‘on-the-ground’ within
regions. This information exchange should be two-way, with better support from the central
office to the regions to help support the implementation of policy and initiatives, as well as
ensuring regions have the opportunity to feed information back up the line to inform future
policy.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
5
An accessible and inclusive education
system for all young people
Recommendation: DET regional structures should support the education system to be
inclusive, and provide appropriate support to enable every child and young person to fully
participate in education and achieve their potential.
Educational attainment is an important predictor of an individual's future social and economic
wellbeing.3 Children are likely to achieve better life outcomes if they are given access to a high
quality education from early childhood through to school and on to further education and training.
However, many children and young people experiencing disadvantage face barriers that prevent
them from obtaining a quality education and developing the skills they need to set them on a
positive trajectory.
Educationally disadvantaged students are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable than their
peers when they start school.4 For example, approximately one third of children living in
disadvantaged communities are behind their peers in at least one main developmental area when
they start school; such as communication skills, language and cognitive skills, or social
competence.5 Given the importance of the early years in shaping an individual’s life outcomes, the
impact of this is significant and long-lasting. If children do not develop important skills and
knowledge in their early, middle and adolescent years, they can find it increasingly difficult to
overcome these gaps in later life.6 Children in families experiencing disadvantage can benefit
enormously from a range of services, particularly when accessed early, before problems escalate
and knowledge and skill gaps widen. VCOSS therefore suggests this review consider how to best
meet the needs of children and young people facing disadvantage, from early childhood through to
school and onto further education and training to ensure that they get the best possible start in life.
A significant proportion of children and young people have complex social, health, emotional and
cultural needs that place them at risk of poor educational outcomes. Evidence suggests that
children from low-income families, Aboriginal children, children with disabilities, those with low
English proficiency and children living in remote areas are most at risk of poor educational
3
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia, CEDA, April 2015.
D Gonski, K Boston, K Greiner, C Lawrence, B Scales and P Tannock, Review of Funding for Schooling: Final Report, Canberra,
December 2011, p. 112.
5
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia, CEDA, April 2015, p.
50.
6
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia, CEDA, April 2015.
4
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
6
outcomes.7 Children who are in state care are also at risk, with evidence indicating that around
half of all children in care are below the national benchmarks for numeracy and literacy, and only a
small percentage of these students go on to complete year 12 or equivalent.8
About one in five children also start school with a developmental or health problem, which if not
adequately supported in these early stages, can lead to poor academic achievement, poor school
adjustment and potentially, disengagement from school.9 These children and young people require
additional support to help them stay on track and engaged, particularly those who face multiple
disadvantage factors.10 Research suggests that between four to six per cent of Australians
experience chronic disadvantage.11 This can lead to intergenerational disadvantage and poorer
outcomes for children and families as well as the broader community.12 There is strong evidence to
suggest that access to quality education can help tackle disadvantage and break the cycle of
poverty.13
There is also a significant gap in education outcomes between rural and metropolitan students in
regards to school attendance, engagement and performance.14 This is not surprising given the
additional barriers that children and young people living in rural areas face. Rural students often
have limited access to health and social services, lack alternative education models (both within
and outside of mainstream education) and are more likely to have lower educational aspirations.15
They may also need to travel significant distances to access services and education facilities. 16
Limited public transport options can further impede their access, particularly for families who don’t
own a private vehicle. Often students need to move away from home to attend further education
and training, creating further financial difficulties for them and their families. 17
For children and families who already experience disadvantage, this combination of factors can be
very challenging. For example, almost one quarter of families living in rural Victoria experience a
high level of socioeconomic disadvantage and more than half of Victorian’s Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander population live in rural areas.18 This means that enabling rural students to access
7
D Gonski, K Boston, K Greiner, C Lawrence, B Scales and P Tannock, Review of Funding for Schooling: Final Report, Canberra,
December 2011, p. 111.
8
S Wise, S Pollock, G Mitchell, C Argus and P Farquhar, CIAO: Care-system impacts on academic outcomes, Anglicare Victoria and
Wesley Mission Victoria, Melbourne, 2010, p. 8.
9
M O’Connor, S Howell-Meurs, A Kvalsvig and S Goldfeld, ‘Understanding the impact of special health care needs on early school
functioning, a conceptual model’, Child: Care, Health and Development, May 2014, p. 15.
10
D Gonski, K Boston, K Greiner, C Lawrence, B Scales and P Tannock, Review of Funding for Schooling: Final Report, Canberra,
December 2011.
11
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia, CEDA, April 2015, p.
9.
12
T.G Moore, H McHugh-Dillon, K Bull, R Fry, B Laidlaw and S West, The evidence: what we know about place-based approaches to
support children’s wellbeing, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child
Health, Parkville, Victoria, 2014.
13
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia, CEDA, April 2015.
14
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Access to education for rural students, Victoria, 2014.
15
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Access to education for rural students, Victoria, 2014. p. 2 & 4.
16
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Access to education for rural students, Victoria, 2014. p. ix
17
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Access to education for rural students, Victoria, 2014. p. 3.
18
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Access to education for rural students, Victoria, 2014, p. ix & 4.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
7
local, high quality education combined with targeted support, is critical to improving their wellbeing
and educational outcomes.
To do this, the department’s structure needs to provide greater support, in the form of expertise,
assistance and resourcing, to education institutions, to better support the needs of all children and
young people, particularly those experiencing disadvantage. Universal services, such as early
childhood services and schools are uniquely placed to support the wellbeing of children and their
families, and to link vulnerable families into additional, targeted supports as required. The
department’s structure can assist universal services to become inclusive and accessible to all
children and young people by adopting a range of principles. Structures need to become culturally
safe, located near the communities they are servicing, with adequate transport options available
for reaching them, physically accessible, particularly for people with disability and welcoming to all
members of the community.19 This is particularly important in rural and regional areas, where
accessibility to education and other services is a key barrier for young people’s continued
engagement in education and training. 20
This support can be underpinned by a needs-based funding system, in line with the
recommendations from the Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling.21 Vulnerable children and
families also need to be supported by a strong service system that provides a broad range of
services and interventions that meets their specific and complex needs.22 Together, universal
services and targeted services can help support Victoria’s vulnerable children and young people,
and ensure they get the support they need to reach their potential.
19
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010.
20
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Access to education for rural students, Victoria, 2014. p. ix
21
D Gonski, K Boston, K Greiner, C Lawrence, B Scales and P Tannock, Review of Funding for Schooling: Final Report, Canberra,
December 2011.
22
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
8
A holistic and integrated approach
Recommendation: DET functions should broaden their focus from schools, to also include
greater support for early childhood education and Vocational Education and Training, as
well as supporting other key determinants of education outcomes, including the roles of
families and the community sector.
Recommendation: DET regional structures should facilitate early intervention and
prevention of issues, by supporting communities to develop more integrated service delivery
and place-based approaches that respond to community need.
The role of families and community services
As a universal, compulsory service, schools play an important role in supporting children and
young people in their learning and adjustment; however, they don’t do it alone. Early learning and
Vocational Education and Training are also important components in determining children and
young people’s trajectories for life outcomes. Families and the community sector are also key
determinants of students’ educational outcomes and their overall wellbeing, particularly for
vulnerable students who require additional support. To best leverage the potential of all these
components, DET structures and supports can be changed in ways that enable holistic
approaches to be taken. Structures can support the interrelated nature of individual students,
families, the community sector and all education institutions, and the cumulative effect these have
on a young person’s development.
Typically, policies have separated the impacts of schools from the impacts of the family and
community; however this distinction is artificial and does not reflect students’ reality.23 A recent
report by the Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy illustrates this well. It draws on a
meta-analysis of educational achievement by Professor John Hattie 24, whose work showed that a
range of factors impact on educational outcomes, the most significant being the student’s
individual circumstances (50%) followed by teachers (30%), the home (5-10%), schools (5-10%)
and peers (5-10%).25 There is strong evidence that parental engagement has a significant effect on
23
T Bentley and C Cazaly, The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration, Mitchell Institute
research report No. 01/2015, Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy and the Centre for Strategic Education, Melbourne, 2015.
24
John Hattie, Visible Learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement, London, Routledge, 2009.
25
T Bentley and C Cazaly, The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration, Mitchell Institute
research report No. 01/2015, Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy and the Centre for Strategic Education, Melbourne, 2015,
p. 21.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
9
children’s educational achievement, even when controlling for other factors such as socioeconomic
status and parent education levels.26 If DET systems and policies focus solely on individual and
school factors they ignore some of the key factors found to impact on student outcomes. 27
O’Connor, Howell-Meurs, Kvalsvig and Goldfeld propose a conceptual model to help understand
the impact of special healthcare needs on early school functioning.28 This model, outlined in Figure
1, provides an alternative framework to the narrowly focused, diagnosis-based model currently
used within the Victorian Program for Students with Disabilities. Connor et al suggest that a child’s
needs can be better understood and addressed by considering the full range of factors that impact
on their learning, including family and community supports, as well as risk and protective factors.
This model considers four interrelated domains of children’s functioning: body functions and
structures, activities of daily living, social participation and education participation. These domains
can be affected by a range of risk and protective factors such as socioeconomic status, the quality
of interactions between the family and school system, and parental engagement in the child’s
learning and development.
26
C Desforges and A Abouchaar, The impact of parental involvement, parental support and family education on pupil achievements and
adjustment: A literature review, Department for Education and Skills, 2003, p. 86; T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to
early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for
Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010
27
T Bentley and C Cazaly, The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration, Mitchell Institute
research report No. 01/2015, Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy and the Centre for Strategic Education, Melbourne, 2015;
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia, CEDA, April 2015.
28
M O’Connor, S Howell-Meurs, A Kvalsvig and S Goldfeld, ‘Understanding the impact of special health care needs on early school
functioning, a conceptual model’, Child: Care, Health and Development, May 2014.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
10
Figure 1: Conceptual model of the relationship between special healthcare needs and children’s
school progress
Source: M O’Connor, S Howell-Meurs, A Kvalsvig and S Goldfeld, Understanding the impact of special health care
needs on early school functioning, a conceptual model, Child: Care, Health and Development, May 2014.
This model, as shown in Figure 1, could provide a useful tool for better supporting the needs of
children with special healthcare needs and could be considered as part of the review of the
Program for Students with Disabilities later this year. Similar models, which consider the broad
range of influences on a child’s learning and development, could also be considered across early
learning, school and further education and training, to help improve life outcomes for all Victoria’s
vulnerable children and young people.
The department could better support the needs of children and young people by amending its
regional structures to raise the profile of early childhood services and Vocational Education and
Training and better supporting these sectors. This will help ensure that children and young people
are supported throughout their education journey, not just in school. The department could also
take a more holistic view in its policies and planning, which better recognises the role of families
and community organisations on a child’s educational attainment. Models that consider the broad
range of influences on a child’s learning, such as the example in Figure 1, could be promoted and
incorporated into departmental policy and frameworks. This could also translate to enhanced
training and tools for education institutions.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
11
Providing increased resources and support for holistic models
Schools
A recent study reviewing educational attainment and collaboration in Australia found that in general
schools are “not serving the needs of all students” and the consequence is “a widening gap in
inequality”.29 This is supported by feedback from the community sector, which indicates that many
schools are under resourced and lack support from the department to meet the needs of students
with additional needs, such as those with mental health issues, newly arrived and refugee young
people, and students who are disengaging from school.
There was a strong sense that schools need more dedicated resources, both within the school
environment and within the community sector, to help support vulnerable students, particularly
within the context of the family. For example, the ratio of Student Support Services (SSS) to
students was said to be extremely low, and inadequate to meets students’ needs. This is
particularly the case in growth corridors, which have seen huge increases in student numbers that
has not been matched with additional resources by the department. For example, a primary school
in the Epping North growth corridor of Whittlesea has grown from having about 200 students in
2008 to 1,400 students in 2015, and is set to increase by another 200 students by next year. This
sort of increase is occurring across the education and community sector in these growth corridors,
and needs to be recognised, adequately resourced and adequately supported. Schools, as well as
early childhood services and VET providers, including alternative education providers, need to be
adequately resourced and supported to meet growing demand and to better support vulnerable
children and young people.
Many organisations also highlighted the lack of integration between health and community services
and education institutions as an issue. Feedback was provided that a stronger interface between
schools and the community sector is needed to help provide more ‘joined-up’ services that better
support students. It was suggested that a dedicated resource both within and outside of schools
may help to facilitate links between schools, other education providers and community services,
such as Child FIRST and Integrated Family Services. Feedback also suggested that schools need
to be better supported to work with one another, particularly in relation to students moving between
schools, to help continue their education seamlessly. Working with highly vulnerable students and
supporting students who are expelled from a particular school was highlighted as an area of
significant stress for schools.
29
T Bentley and C Cazaly, The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration, Mitchell Institute
research report No. 01/2015, Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy and the Centre for Strategic Education, Melbourne, 2015,
pg. 1.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
12
Early childhood education
Problems presenting in school aged children, such as physical and mental health issues, low
academic outcomes and difficulties with social adjustment can often be traced back to early
childhood. 30 A high quality, accessible early childhood education system and early family
interventions can help to prevent these issues from developing by supporting children’s learning
and development and setting them on a positive trajectory. Longitudinal studies have shown that
quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children can bring significant benefits,
including higher levels of school performance, reduced need for special education and higher
school completion rates.31 A recent study by the University of Adelaide also found that high quality
childcare, which includes warm relationships and activities that fosters early learning, can help
address developmental gaps in children from low socio-economic backgrounds. 32 Despite these
benefits, too many children experiencing disadvantage are not getting access to the additional
support they need. Evidence suggests that integrated service models which incorporate early
childhood learning and care, with parental support programs and other family health and
community support services, can help to overcome this issue and result in significant benefits to
children. 33 Facilitating stronger integration between the early childhood education and schools,
around strategies to support disadvantaged children, would also help to ensure that these children
have the best possible start to their education. 34 DET structures could help to support vulnerable
children and their families by facilitating communities to provide high quality integrated early
childhood education and care services.
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
VET is an important pathway for many vulnerable young people, including early school leavers,
people with low level literacy skills, people with disability, Aboriginal students and students from
rural and regional areas. However, factors such as recent funding changes, cuts and inadequate
quality control of VET providers, have negatively affected the ability of this sector to support young
people experiencing disadvantage. For example, recent data shows a considerable drop in
enrolments for a number of vulnerable young people, including a 12 per cent drop in enrolments of
students in regional areas, compared with a seven per cent drop in metropolitan Melbourne,35 and
a 10 per cent drop in enrolments for Aboriginal students.36
30
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010, p. 4.
31
J Currie,‘Early childhood education programs’ Journal of Economic Perspectives, 15(2), 2001, p. 213.
32
A Gialamas, M.N Mittinty, M G Sawyer, S.R Zubrick, J. Lynch, ‘Social inequalities in childcare quality and their effects on children's
development at school entry: findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children’, Journal Epidemiology and Community Health ,
2015.
33
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010, p. 1.
34
D Gonski, K Boston, K Greiner, C Lawrence, B Scales and P Tannock, Review of Funding for Schooling: Final Report, Canberra,
December 2011, p.112-113.
35
Department of Education and Training Victoria, Victorian Training Market Report 2014. Melbourne, 2015, p.29.
36
Department of Education and Training Victoria, Victorian Training Market Report 2014. Melbourne, 2015, p.75.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
13
For the VET system to meet the needs of young people facing disadvantage and to ensure that
TAFEs continue to meet their community service responsibilities, the VET system must be
adequately resourced and supported, particularly in rural areas. Adequate resourcing is also
required to enable rural and regional students to access local education institutions, including
TAFEs, so that distance is not barrier to their continued education and training. A greater focus on
the compliance of providers, including the development of a complaints mechanism, will help to
ensure that training meets quality standards for all students, including those who are most
vulnerable.
Collaboration and integrated services
Evidence suggests that vulnerable children and families have difficulty finding out about and
accessing the services they need. This may be due to these families lacking the skills needed to
negotiate the service system, or the confidence to seek help. 37 They may have cultural or
language barriers, or lack networks to help put them in to touch with the services they need. As a
result, many vulnerable children and young people do not receive the help they need and risk
‘falling through the cracks’, or only getting support once a problem has escalated.38 These findings
further highlight the important role universal services have in linking families to additional supports
to ensure they can access early intervention and prevention services.
While education institutions have an obligation to ensure they are accessible and inclusive to all
children and young people, a significant proportion of young people have complex social, health,
emotional and cultural needs that cannot be met by education providers alone. It also needs to be
recognised that no individual health or community service will have all of the resources or expertise
needed to support all vulnerable children and young people.39 Instead, education institutions and
health and community services need to work together to better support these young people.
Greater collaboration will help to provide early identification and intervention in issues before they
escalate. While there are some great examples of collaboration in some areas of Victoria, overall
the evidence suggests this is an area that requires significant improvement. 40 The department can
therefore achieve better outcomes for vulnerable children and their families by encouraging and
supporting communities to develop integrated service models and facilitating greater collaboration
between schools, other education institutions and community service organisations. Appropriate
resourcing is also required to enable educational sites and communities to collaborate effectively
across the entire system, and not just in pockets.
37
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010, p.6.
38
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010.
39
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia, CEDA, April 2015.
40
T Bentley and C Cazaly, The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration, Mitchell Institute
research report No. 01/2015, Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy and the Centre for Strategic Education, Melbourne, 2015.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
14
Collaboration
Collaboration between the education sector, the community sector and families has been shown to
be highly effective in supporting students, particularly highly disadvantaged students and families,
who may face numerous challenges.41 Partnerships and collaboration can occur between
education sites, local community services such as primary health and family services, and local
employers.42 These partnerships can be initiated by early childhood services or schools, but can
equally be driven by other organisations in the community that are well placed to do this. These
partnerships can also be enhanced by collaboration at other levels, such as within the education
system, between teachers, to help support each other and share expertise, and between other
similar or nearby schools.43 Collaboration can also occur between government departments, such
as DET and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and between all levels of
government in areas of shared responsibility. These approaches are complementary to one
another and together help to provide the best possible support for all children and young people.
They facilitate the sharing of ideas and best practice as well as providing holistic and joined-up
service delivery. Changes could be made to the DET regional structure to help facilitate local
collaboration, and enable community-based projects, such as Anglicare Victoria’s TEACHaR
program, to be more widely developed in response to community need.
Transforming Educational Achievement for Children in Home-based and Residential
Care (TEACHaR) program44
Anglicare Victoria’s TEACHaR, is an innovative program, targeted at improving educational
outcomes for children in out-of-home care. It was developed in response to findings that
children and young people in care generally experience poorer educational outcomes than
their peers and are at risk of disengaging from school.45 The program employs specialist
teachers to provide one-on-one support to children, such as tutoring, mentoring,
assessment and advocacy. It is flexible and tailored to match the needs and strengths of the
individual student. TEACHaR staff work collaboratively with carers, case managers,
residential care staff, DET, DHHS and TAFEs. Initially started as a two-year pilot program, it
has now been extended to a third year, to build on its early success. The trial has resulted in
41
T Bentley and C Cazaly, The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration, Mitchell Institute
research report No. 01/2015, Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy and the Centre for Strategic Education, Melbourne, 2015.
42
T Bentley and C Cazaly, The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration, Mitchell Institute
research report No. 01/2015, Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy and the Centre for Strategic Education, Melbourne, 2015.
43
T Bentley and C Cazaly, The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration, Mitchell Institute
research report No. 01/2015, Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy and the Centre for Strategic Education, Melbourne, 2015.
44
Anglicare Victoria, Learning with TEACHaR, February 2013, http://www.anglicarevic.org.au/blogs/learning-with-teachar; L David,
Anglicare Victoria’s ‘TEACHaR’ program: Closing the ‘education gap’ for children and young people in care and the value of researchinformed innovation, Anglicare Victoria, http://www.cfecfw.asn.au/sites/default/files/TEACHaR%20Program%20-%20Anglicare.pdf
45
S Wise, S Pollock, G Mitchell, C Argus and P Farquhar, CIAO: Care-system impacts on academic outcomes, Anglicare Victoria and
Wesley Mission Victoria, Melbourne, 2010.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
15
significant improvement for young people across a range of key measures, including literacy
and numeracy skills, school engagement and attitudes, confidence and overall academic
performance.
Integrated services
Where possible, collaboration should be extended to include integrated services between schools,
community, social, welfare and health agencies, and with other education providers, such as early
childhood education, alternative education and further education and training providers. Integrated
models may involve elements of both co-location and virtual integration, depending on what will
best meet community needs.46 Integrated models provide children, young people and their
families, as well as the broader community, with better access to a range of services and activities,
helping to reduce the fragmented nature of the service system, and helping to link people with their
community. It also helps create a more efficient and effective system of support, by reducing gaps
in services, as well as potential duplication of services.
There has been growing interest in this concept, due to the range of benefits that can be achieved
when integration is successfully implemented. Integrated models have been shown to result in a
range of better outcomes for children and young people, including improved school readiness,
increased engagement in learning and enhanced education and employment pathways for young
people.47 Integrated services also facilitate prevention and early intervention of issues, as they help
children and families to access appropriate support when they need it and not when the problem
has escalated or become entrenched. It also helps ensure that children and families don’t fall
between the cracks.48
The design of an integrated services model will vary based on the needs of the particular
community. However, the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute highlights some of the main type
of services to consider in the design. These include:

mainstream child-focused services such as childcare, early childhood education and
playgroups to support parental engagement;

schools;

other education institutions, including TAFEs, alternative education providers and
universities;

health services, such as Maternal and Child Health services;
46
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010.
47
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010.
48
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
16

family support services, such as parenting programs and child protection services;

services for families from CALD and refugee backgrounds;

services that support Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders;

disability services such as early childhood intervention services;

mental health services; and

housing, employment services, and transport services.49
There are a number of innovative and effective models of integrated service delivery being
developed across the state to improve children’s and families’ wellbeing and education in areas of
entrenched social disadvantage. A review of the literature by the Royal Children’s Hospital Centre
for Community Child Health and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute provides a summary of
the key models that have gained support in Australia and overseas.50 Some of the models which
may be useful to consider in this context include:

schools as community hubs – where health and community services collaborate with
schools to help support children who are disadvantaged or at risk of disengaging

extended school models – which work in partnership with a range of different
stakeholders, including government and community services, to provide a range of
services to students and families as well as the broader community

full services community schools – which are community schools that are open to all
members of the community, before, during and after school and all weekend, and provide a
range of community services.
Each model varies in its focus, breadth and level of collaboration and the model that is suitable
for a particularly community will vary based on the unique characteristics and needs of that
community. Integration may also begin with small initiatives, such as integrating early
education, childcare services and playgroups with a school, and then move to a more fully
integrated service system that involves a wide range of services.51 Doveton College is a good
example of an integrated service model supporting a highly disadvantaged community.
49
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010.
50
S Sanjeevan, M McDonald and T Moore, Primary schools as community hubs: A review of the literature, The Royal Children’s
Hospital Centre for Community Child Health and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, 2012.
51
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
17
Doveton College52
Doveton College is the outcome of a unique partnership between the Victorian state
government, the Commonwealth government and a non-profit philanthropic organisation.
The college is a birth-to-Year 9 government school, located in an area of high
disadvantage in Melbourne’s outer east. It provides ‘whole-life’ opportunities for children
and young people through early intervention, family support and community integration.
Mainstream services such as kindergarten, structured playgroups, childcare and traditional
schooling are integrated with a wide range of services that ‘wrap around’ children and their
families, including Maternal and Child Health services, and specialist services such as
mental health and Aboriginal services. The college also uses outreach services, such as
parenting programs, to help reach vulnerable families. The key to Doveton College’s
success is that it is based on strong partnerships and a shared vision. It also represents a
local response to community need, and was underpinned by two years of
intensive consultation with the community.
The Children and Youth Area Partnerships (Area Partnerships), is another promising initiative
aimed at facilitating greater coordination between a number of Victorian government departments,
local government and the community sector, to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and
young people.53 Eight trial sites were introduced in 2014 across the state, and the results from
these sites will provide valuable information for the roll-out of the program as well as to inform
other similar initiatives.
DET can build on these successful models and expand integrated service models across the state.
The design of the models will vary from community to community, but common elements needed
for success include:

embedding targeted services into mainstream services to help reach vulnerable children
and families who may otherwise not engage with these services

facilitating partnerships at the local level that ensure integrated models meet local need
(ideally there would be an identified person or agency funded to facilitate or coordinate the
project)

appropriate governance, resources and funding put in place to enable sustainable
partnerships to be developed.54
Doveton College, http://dovetoncollege.vic.edu.au/about-doveton/principals-welcome/; Victorian Council of Social Service, ‘Doveton
College Opening Doors out of disadvantage’, Insight, Issue 9 , Melbourne, 2014, http://insight.vcoss.org.au/doveton-college-openingdoors-out-of-disadvantage/.
53
Victorian Government, Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Strategy - Our Shared Responsibility 2013-2022, Victoria, 2013; Department of
Health and Human Services, Children and Youth Area Partnerships http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/plans,-programsand-projects/projects-and-initiatives/children,-youth-and-family-services/children-and-youth-area-partnerships.
54
T Moore and A Skinner, An integrated approach to early childhood development: Background Paper, Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, 2010.
52
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
18
DET’s structure could also be amended to facilitate greater collaboration and enhanced integration
of universal services and targeted health and community services. The department could provide
greater support, in the form of expertise, training, tools and resourcing, to help communities to
develop effective partnerships. Greater support at the local level, along with better alignment of
regional boundaries with health and community services and other relevant state government
programs will support this approach. The department could also recognise and enhance the role of
LLENs, which help facilitate communities to develop regional partnerships. Collaboration and
integration take time to develop, making sustained commitment and support from the department
essential for their success.
Place-based approaches
A key theme emerging from the research and stakeholder feedback is that a ‘one-size-fits-all’
approach is not appropriate in addressing the complex needs of communities. This is particularly
true for vulnerable young people and their families, who may experience multiple complex forms of
disadvantage. Any approach needs to be tailored and responsive to the unique needs of the
community, and driven by meaningful consultation and data. There is growing evidence of the
benefit that place-based approaches bring to preventing and responding to vulnerability and
disadvantage for children, young people and families.55
Place-based approaches (also known as area-based, comprehensive community initiative and
collective impact initiatives), aim to address complex issues experienced by communities within a
defined geographic area, largely through stakeholder collaboration and partnerships.56 Given that
place-based models are responsive to community need, they vary significantly in their design,
including in their focus, rationale, geographic scale and target populations.57 However, each of the
models share common goals to empower the community to work together to improve outcomes, to
help improve service delivery and coordination, and to improve specific issues such as poverty, as
well as driving positive outcomes more generally for the community.58 They are therefore
particularly useful when trying to address complex social problems and entrenched social
55
T.G Moore, H McHugh-Dillon, K Bull, R Fry, B Laidlaw and S West, The evidence: what we know about place-based
approaches to support children’s wellbeing, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre
for Community Child Health, Parkville, Victoria, 2014.
56
T.G Moore, H McHugh-Dillon, K Bull, R Fry, B Laidlaw and S West, The evidence: what we know about place-based approaches to
support children’s wellbeing, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child
Health, Parkville, Victoria, 2014; S Wilks, J Lahausse and B Edwards, Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives, Key
Learnings project, Australian Government's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Australian Institute of Family
Studies, April 2015.
57
S Wilks, J Lahausse and B Edwards, Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives, Key Learnings project, Australian
Government's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2015.
58
T.G Moore, H McHugh-Dillon, K Bull, R Fry, B Laidlaw and S West, The evidence: what we know about place-based approaches to
support children’s wellbeing, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child
Health, Parkville, Victoria, 2014
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
19
disadvantage. 59 The Go Goldfields Alliance initiative is an example of an effective place-based
initiative driven by the community to respond to entrenched social disadvantage.
The Go Goldfields Alliance60
Go Goldfields is a partnership of service providers in Victoria’s Central Goldfields Shire,
created to deliver locally relevant responses to complex and entrenched social issues. The
place-based approach was initiated and implemented entirely by the community and
therefore has strong community ownership. The alliance has developed a suite of
integrated strategies to improve social, education and health outcomes for children, young
people and families, with a strong focus on prevention and early intervention.
Place-based approaches provide a mechanism for the delivery of an integrated and holistic
suite of services and supports.61 They incorporate many of the elements highlighted earlier that
are effective for supporting vulnerable young people and families. A recent review of Australian
Place-based Initiatives has outlined four design features common to all approaches. 62 These
include:

flexible delivery – in both program design and funding

local autonomy – including meaningful community consultation and active participation in
delivery and decision-making

joined-up services – integrated service delivery and/or the development of partnerships
between organisations within a local area

good governance – from both government and communities.
Other reviews have also identified a number of factors to help strengthen the outcomes of placebased initiatives.63 These include:

building on community strengths

adapting the response to local circumstances and needs

using evidence-based practices

developing integrated service systems, based on a strong and inclusive universal service

co-design approaches that involve input from consumers in the design of services
59
S Wilks, J Lahausse and B Edwards, Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives, Key Learnings project, Australian
Government's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2015.
60
Go Goldfields Shire Council, Go Goldfields: aspiring and achieving, http://www.centralgoldfields.com.au.
I Byron, ‘Placed-based approaches to addressing disadvantage: Linking science and policy’. Family Matters, Issue 84, 2010, p. 20-17.
62
S Wilks, J Lahausse and B Edwards, Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives, Key Learnings project, Australian
Government's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2015.
63
T.G Moore, H McHugh-Dillon, K Bull, R Fry, B Laidlaw and S West, The evidence: what we know about place-based approaches to
support children’s wellbeing, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child
Health, Parkville, Victoria, 2014
61
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
20

allowing sufficient time to achieve outcomes.
The varied and complex nature of place-based approaches has made it difficult to measure their
effectiveness, and there has also been a general lack of focus on evaluating these approaches,
particularly in Australia.64 However, where evidence has been obtained, the results generally
indicate that place-based approaches are effective for communities and can achieve significant
cost savings for governments. 65
DET could help facilitate a progressive expansion of place-based responses across Victoria,
incorporating design elements that are found to be effective. The department’s structure could be
amended to facilitate and encourage communities to develop locally-based and innovative
responses that are tailored to community needs. Changing the department’s regional boundaries
to better align with natural communities and provide more support at the local level would help
achieve this. This is particularly important for rural and regional communities, which are currently
very removed from their current offices, meaning regional departmental offices can lack sufficient
local knowledge and the ability to provide practical support.
To be more effective in supporting children and young people facing disadvantage, it is important
that any new regional structures developed provide communities with adequate resourcing and
support, including access to expertise to deliver place-based initiatives. Support and resourcing will
also need to be flexible, rather than prescriptive, to enable local communities to retain their
autonomy when developing and implementing these models. Support also needs to be sustained,
to allow sufficient time for projects to develop. The department could also promote and facilitate
the use of datasets and tools to help evaluate projects and drive continuous improvement and
sharing of learning. Long-term evaluations could also be undertaken to help provide a stronger
evidence base and inform best practice.
64
S Wilks, J Lahausse and B Edwards, Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives, Key Learnings project, Australian
Government's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2015.
65
T.G Moore, H McHugh-Dillon, K Bull, R Fry, B Laidlaw and S West, The evidence: what we know about place-based approaches to
support children’s wellbeing, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child
Health, Parkville, Victoria, 2014.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
21
Lifelong learning and engagement
Recommendation: DET structures and functions should support a lifelong approach to
learning, which supports children and young people to successfully transition through each
stage of education, from early childhood, to the middle years, adolescence and on to further
education and training.
Recommendation: DET should provide greater support to help keep children and young
people engaged in education, through providing intensive case-managed support for young
people at risk of, or who have disengaged from education, and by expanding flexible
learning options across the state.
Lifelong learning
Children and young people need consistent support throughout their education from early
childhood through to school and onto further education and training. Evidence suggests that
making investment throughout a young person's life, rather than targeting support at particular
stages, such as early childhood or adolescence, leads to better outcomes for individuals and their
families as well as governments.66 Integrated learning models, which strengthen links between
early childhood, school and further education and training is one way of achieving this. Strong
support and appropriate resources from DET is also important to support children at each of these
life stages.
Transitions
Children and young people also need support to successfully transition between key education
stages, as this can be a challenging time, particularly for vulnerable children. There are two key
transition points, the transition from early childhood education to primary school, and the transition
from primary school to secondary school. While most children and young people transition
successfully, their outcomes are influenced by a broad range of factors, including socioeconomic
and cultural background, disability and learning difficulties, gender and prior learning. Research
shows that some children, such as Aboriginal children, boys, children with disabilities, and children
from low socioeconomic families, are at a higher risk of poor transition and therefore require
66
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia, CEDA, April 2015.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
22
greater support.67 Poor transitions can result in low educational attainment and can place students
at risk of disengaging from school.68
Victoria has developed a framework for early years transitions for students moving from
kindergarten to primary school, and for students with disabilities as they move into secondary
school. However, a similar strategy for managing the transition for children moving from primary to
secondary school does not exist. This period of transition occurs during the ‘middle
years’, between Grade 5 and Year 8, when children are entering adolescence. It is a time of
significant physical, emotional and developmental change and therefore increases the likelihood of
children experiencing difficulties in adjusting to this transition.69 Evidence suggests that many
children experience a drop in educational achievement and school engagement in the years
following their transition to secondary school.70 If not addressed, the effect of this can be
cumulative, leading to poor educational attainment and possible disengagement from secondary
school. Developing ‘middle years’ transition plans for all students moving from primary to
secondary school, would better support young people and help identify and respond to any early
warning signs of disengagement.
Youth engagement
Educational attainment is an important predictor of a young person’s future employment prospects,
health and wellbeing. Evidence suggests that young people who do not complete Year 12 or
equivalent are at risk of long-term economic and social disadvantage.71 Despite this, in Victoria
more than 10,000 young people disengage from school every year 72 with students experiencing
disadvantage being most at risk73. Evidence also suggests that students are starting to disengage
at younger ages than previously. Research initiated by Youth Connections and undertaken by
LLENs in northern Melbourne, found that majority of disengaged young people were aged 13-15
years and some as young as 11 had completely disengaged from school.74 This further highlights
the need for better support during the middle years. The loss of the federally funded Youth
Connections program in 2014 will only compound this problem in Victoria. DET could help students
remain engaged in school by implementing a statewide education re-engagement program that
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Education Transitions, Victoria, 2015.
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Education Transitions, Victoria, 2015.
69
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Education Transitions, Victoria, 2015.
70
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Education Transitions, Victoria, 2015.
71
Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia, CEDA, April 2015.
72
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Reforming Support to Vulnerable Young People: A discussion paper,
Melbourne, 2012.
73
Deloitte Access Economics, The socio-economic benefits of investing in the prevention of early school leaving, prepared for Hands
On Learning Australia, 2012.
74
Hume Whittlesea Youth Connections Consortium, The Hume Under 16 Project Out of School - Out of Sight Final Report, 2012
http://www.nmit.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Hume-Under-16-Project-Out-of-School-Out-of-Sight-Report.pdf; Hume Whittlesea
Youth Connections Consortium, The Whittlesea Under 16 Project, 2012, http://www.nmit.edu.au/wpcontent/uploads/2013/06/Whittlesea-Under-16-Project-Report.pdf; Inner Northern Local Learning and Employment Network Inc, U16:
Invisible & Ineligible: The Moreland Under 16 Project, 2012, http://inllen.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Moreland-Under-16-ReportFinal-1.pdf.
67
68
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
23
provides intensive, case-managed support targeting students who have disengaged, or are at risk
of disengaging from school.
LLENs play a critical role in supporting young people to remain engaged in education and to
successfully transition into meaningful employment.75 LLENs take a place-based approach to
addressing the complex issues faced by young people in the community. They identify and
respond to local services gaps and develop collaborative locally-based responses. The unique
value of LLENs is their role as an independent arbitrator and their ability to work strategically
across a region. Their coordination role also helps to provide ‘joined-up’ approaches to respond to
community needs.
LLENs have developed very productive relationships with key stakeholders across the education,
training, community and business sectors, and are well-placed to help drive and support placebased initiatives. They are a strong community resource and play a key role in helping to link
schools with other education providers, health and community services, industry, local government
and state government. DET can utilise this key strategic, coordinating and supporting role of
LLENs to help develop and deliver its policies and planning. DET can further support the needs of
young people, particularly those experiencing disadvantage, by funding LLENs beyond the $32
million already committed, to become more in line with 2014 funding levels.
Flexible learning programs
Flexible learning programs play a key role in enabling young people to remain engaged in
education, particularly those who experience disadvantage. Evidence suggests one-in-five young
people do not complete Year 12 in a linear process from the start to the end of secondary school.76
Flexible learning programs provide an alternative setting for these young people, for whom
mainstream approaches to school may not work well.
Flexible learning program designs can vary considerably, but can be grouped into three broad
categories:

programs embedded within mainstream schools

programs within TAFEs and community colleges

separate alternative programs for students who need more targeted options.77
75
Department of Education and Training, Local Learning and Employment Networks,
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/pathways/Pages/llens.aspx?Redirect=1; The Allen Consulting Group, Review of the
Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN) Model of Network and Partnership Support: Summary Report, Department of
Education and Early Childhood Development, 2012,
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/about/programs/pathways/llenmodelreviewrpt.pdf.
76
K te Riele, Putting the Jigsaw Together: Flexible Learning programs in Australia: Final Report, The Victorian Institute, 2014, p.18.
77
K te Riele, Putting the Jigsaw Together: Flexible Learning programs in Australia: Final Report, The Victorian Institute 2014, p. 15.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
24
The advantage of flexible learning programs is the support they provide vulnerable young people
to help them address the complex issues they may face, such as housing, transport, legal issues,
health, and childcare, as well as providing a supporting learning environment and enabling
students to remain engaged in education.78
DET could better support disadvantaged students by expanding flexible learning programs across
Victoria, particularly in areas where these programs currently do not exist, such as in parts of rural
Victoria and in growth corridors. DET could achieve this by supporting communities and schools to
develop standalone flexible learning programs, or ones that integrate within existing systems, and
by providing ongoing funding to support their operation.
If students were in mainstream education their schools would receive government funding,
therefore there is a strong argument to fund these alternative education programs, which support
students who may otherwise disengage from education. These programs should build on the
findings and good practice of the large number of successful models across Victoria and Australia.
One example is the Brotherhood of St Laurence Community VCAL Program.
Brotherhood of St Laurence Community VCAL Program79
The Brotherhood of St Laurence Community VCAL Program operates in a suburb of
Melbourne’s south-east and provides a tailored education program for young people aged
15-19 who have left mainstream schooling, through either mutual agreement or as a result
of expulsion. The program delivers the Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Levels of the
Victoria Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) (Years 11 and 12). It combines classroom
learning with vocational training and work placements, as well as access to School Based
Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBATs), and stand-alone apprenticeships. A key focus
for the program is supporting the wellbeing of all students, many of who have complex
needs including: carer responsibilities, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, mental
health issues and low levels of literacy and numeracy.
While the program operates in a community setting, it maintains formal partnerships with
mainstream schools to ensure students remain linked to a government school and are
enrolled concurrently in both educational sectors. The program also maintains partnerships
with vocational training organisations, government agencies and a wide range of youth
support services, to provide more integrated support. Students can be referred to the
program by local schools, community services and the youth justice system.
78
K te Riele, Putting the Jigsaw Together: Flexible Learning programs in Australia: Final Report, The Victorian Institute 2014, p. 30.
G Myconos, Lessons from a flexible learning program: The Brotherhood of St Laurence Community VCAL education program for
young people 2010–2013, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Melbourne, 2014; The Victoria Institute for Education, Diversity and Lifelong
Learning, Brotherhood of St Laurence Frankston High Street Centre CVCAL, 2013, http://dusseldorp.org.au/wpcontent/uploads/2014/06/BSL-Frankston-CVCAL-v6.pdf.
79
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
25
Evidence-based policy and approaches
Recommendation: DET regional offices should facilitate stronger links between policy
development and implementation, including appropriate tools and processes to capture
meaningful data on outcomes, which can inform policy and drive continuous improvement.
Using data to inform community responses and policy
directions
Place-based initiatives and integrated service models need to be informed directly by the
communities themselves. However, community level data is also highly valuable in informing
stakeholders of the community’s key issues and strengths during the planning stages. Community
level data is also essential for measuring the outcomes of any initiatives, to help drive continuous
improvement and achieve the best possible outcomes for children, young people and their families.
Collecting data is not only beneficial for the communities themselves, but also helps support the
sharing of best practice and lessons learnt, to assist other communities. It is also a useful method
of providing feedback to the department, to inform future policy development. Data collection
improves the evidence base around integrated services and place-based approaches. Local
government is a key source of community-level data and there are also a number of other useful
tools, such as the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), the Middle Years Development
Instrument (MDI) and the Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System (VCAMS).
DET’s structure could be amended to better facilitate a two-way exchange of information, providing
more support to regions to implement policy directions, as well as enabling community level data to
be fed back to central office to inform future policy development. DET could also promote and
facilitate the collection and use of community-level data and tools to inform and enhance project
delivery on the ground. It is critical that the department works with communities to undertake
thorough and long-term evaluations of projects to feed in to policy, and to enable the sharing of
best practice between regions and communities.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
26
Australian Early Development Census80
The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), formerly the AEDI, is a population measure of
early childhood development at the time children commence their first year of primary school. It
measures how well children are doing across five key developmental areas, as measured by their
teacher. These include: physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity,
language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge.
The results are reported at a community, state and national level, and are a useful tool to inform
the development of place-based approaches, as well as being used to monitor the progress that
place-based initiatives are having over time. The AEDC has been shown to predict later health,
wellbeing and academic outcomes and is a useful tool for government when considering how well
the education system is responding to the needs of the community. It can help highlight issues and
gaps in the community to better inform the mix of universal and targeted services required in a
region.
The Middle Years Development Instrument81
The Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) is a population-level measure of children aged 814, which covers non-academic factors relevant to learning and participation. The MDI is a selfreport survey that asks children how they think and feel about their experiences both inside and
outside of school. The survey covers five areas of development, including social and emotional
development, connectedness, school experiences, physical health and wellbeing and constructive
use of after-school time.
MDI results are reported at school, community and state level. It provides valuable data to inform
communities planning integrated service models and place-based initiatives. It is also a useful tool
for capturing meaningful data on the progress of these initiatives, to inform their ongoing
development and to feed back to the department. The MDI tool was developed in Canada, but has
since been adapted for use in Australia. It has since been trialled in regional and metropolitan
South Australia and in two areas of Victoria; Whittlesea and North Frankston.
MDI pilot in Whittlesea
The Local Government Area of Whittlesea, with support from the Whittlesea Youth
Commitment (WYC) trialled the MDI with 936 Grade 5 students in 2013 and with 628 Year 8
80
Commonwealth of Australia, Australian Early Development Census, 2014, https://www.aedc.gov.au/communities.
Middle Years Development Instrument Australia, Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI), 2015,
http://www.mdi.sa.edu.au/pages/default/MDISurvey/?reFlag=1.
81
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
27
students in 2014. For participating schools, the survey results provided valuable insight into
students’ wellbeing, highlighting areas of both strength and weakness.
A unique benefit of the survey is that it captures the ideas of the children and young people
themselves, and therefore helps schools and communities to tailor the services and
supported offered, to best meet the needs of their students. For example, one school found
that its low attendance in a range of extracurricular activities was not due to a lack of
interest, but because of transport issues and clashing timetables. As a result of this
feedback, the school was able to re-align its services to enable greater numbers of students
to attend.
The MDI is a very useful tool to inform school and community planning, including resource
allocation and the mix of programs and services. As a result of the survey findings, schools
in Whittlesea undertook several actions to support its students including:

setting up a breakfast club to support disadvantaged students

providing greater support to parents through developing parent workshops and a parent
skills register

introducing a positive education program for students

running focus groups to further explore some of the results.
Whittlesea was also able to compare the results from the Year 5 Report 82 and the Year 8
Report 83 which revealed some key differences. Most notably, Year 8 students had poorer
outcomes than the Year 5 students across a range of areas, including self-esteem, school
belonging and academic self-concept. These findings further highlight the difficulties
experienced by many young people when entering adolescence, and following the transition
from primary to secondary school.
Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System84
The Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System (VCAMS) measures and tracks the
progress of Victoria’s children and young people across a range of outcomes, including health,
wellbeing, safety, learning and development. Importantly the monitoring system recognises the
broader context of the child’s environment and includes indicators across four domains, including
children and young people, family, community, and society. The results are collated at the local
government area level and can be broken down into demographics at the state level.
VCAMS has an interactive portal which allows users to view and customise data relevant to their
needs. This allows communities to compare and monitor the progress of children, young people
82
South Australian Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) , Whittlesea MDI Year 5 Report: LGA Community Data,
Oct 2013, http://www.hwllen.com.au/images/files/whittlesea%20mdi%205%20year%20report.pdf
83
South Australian Department for Education and Child Development (DECD), Students’ Wellbeing: Results from the Middle Years
Development Instrument: Whittlesea cohort: Year 8, 2014.
84
Department of Education and Training, Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System (VCAMS), 2015,
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/research/pages/vcams.aspx
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
28
and families over time and helps to identify trends and emerging issues. It is therefore a useful tool
to inform community planning and identify areas for intervention as well as inform the evaluation of
services and programs.
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
29
VCOSS Submission – DET Strengthening Regional Relationships and Support
30
Download
Related flashcards
Management

61 Cards

Create flashcards