The Burnie response to the Child youth wellbeing strategy
For over seven years, Burnie Works has been facilitating a place-based systems change response to create the conditions for positive change in Burnie. Burnie Works, on behalf of its partners and collaborators, presents Burnie’s response to the Tasmanian Government’s Child Youth Wellbeing strategy, It Takes A Village.
Over 60 people have contributed their lived personal and professional experience to consider the actions and the recommendations contained in this response. This includes the Burnie Works Justice and Families Working Groups; the North West Action on Youth group; the Burnie City Youth Council; and representatives from the community and service systems that focus on the First 1,000 Days, trauma and education.
We would like to congratulate the Premier of Tasmania, Ministers and the Departmental teams who have worked hard to get the strategy to this point. We acknowledge that this strategy and the process of its development, from design and consultation to the final plan, leads the way for child and youth wellbeing in Australia. The Premier and his team listened and responded to the messages from the community consultation process and elements of the strategy were changed as a result. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to listening to and working with community to increase the wellbeing of children and young people.
Those who contributed their feedback to this response congratulate the Premier on the number and scope of actions outlined in the strategy. We particularly acknowledge the ecological model, the focus on the First 1,000 Days and the commitment to report on activities, actions and outcomes. We commend the increased investment in:
- The number of, and access to, child health professionals and Child and Family Learning Centres
- Support for mental health in schools including trauma informed training
- Supporting the pathways from school to employment and further education
- Supporting young people at risk of homelessness
- Contributing to the expansion of Connected Beginnings to Burnie and the North of Tasmania
The Burnie community has a proven record of working together to create positive change for individuals and families. We offer this response to contribute to the successful implementation of the strategy. It includes what parents, young people, educators, and support services know about what works well in a community like Burnie and what it takes to collaborate and create community driven solutions. It also includes suggestions to overcome the systemic barriers and challenges that may get in the way of the Government achieving the strategy’s intended outcomes.
For the strategy to support Tasmania to be the best place for children and young people to thrive, the actions need the best chance of being implemented well in local communities. Burnie’s response includes recommendations to enable:
- The systems change needed for successful implementation of the strategy’s actions
- The strategy to address barriers that will impact on the effective implementation of the actions; and
- Place-based approaches to strengthen the impact of the strategy’s actions.
To create the systems change needed, Burnie Works recommends:
- A mechanism for a whole of Government and cross departmental approach to work together to address the systems change needed to implement the actions
The strategy acknowledges that the implementation will require cross-department action, particularly across the health, education, and communities portfolios. Burnie Works has been supporting community driven work across governments and departments through its collective impact approach. A significant barrier is the lack of formal mechanisms to bring together the Commonwealth Government with the relevant State Government Departments to address the unintended impacts of disconnected policies and programs.
- Localised flexible funding and resourcing to ensure actions work on the ground
Place-based funding provides the mechanism for government to partner with community to amplify local outcomes, and work across silos to address the impact of systemic barriers. Place-based funding is an ideal way for Burnie to partner with the government to assist it to implement the goals of the strategy. It offers:
- Shared accountability between government, community and other contributors underpinned by empowering community-owned, evidence-based decision-making.
- Heightened impact through catalysed social innovation, involving authentic community voice and leadership, on the ground feedback loops for learning leading to stronger, more effective implementation of government policies.
- Commitment to sharing data with communities
Communities need access to a range of demographic and administrative data to understand what is happening and to formulate innovative and high impact actions. The state government is a critical data custodian for this knowledge. For the Government to be able to report against its outcomes in the strategy and for collective action to be effective at a place-based level Burnie Works recommends that all Departments agree to work with Burnie Works and relevant Commonwealth Departments to develop a place-based data sharing agreement and framework.
- Supporting communities to become aware of the impact of trauma on child development and thriving.
The investment to expand the roll out of trauma informed training for teachers is just the first step. Being trauma informed means that everyone who engages with children and young people realise how trauma affects their lives, physically, emotionally, and socially. It means that everyone has a basic understanding of how the human brain develops and what we can all do to support a connected and nurturing community.
To address the barriers that will impact the successful implementation of the actions outlined in the strategy, Burnie Works recommends:
- Training and workforce planning for all the additional professionals that will be needed to implement the strategy.
This includes Aboriginal early childhood educators and other professionals. From our systems work in Burnie we know that there are currently gaps due to not enough qualified and trained people.
- Amendments to legislation to better support young people within the family violence system.
- Access to affordable housing as a significant protective factor for vulnerable families.
- Access to transport that is frequent and within a close distance to where people live.
Many of the actions in the Strategy rely on people being able to access services or activities. Access to transport was raised by youth as a barrier to their participation in community and sporting opportunities.
- Developing a positive cultural identity that acknowledges and includes the increasing diversity of cultural groups that make Burnie their home.
To strengthen the impact of the actions outlined in the strategy, Burnie Works recommends:
This would build on the community story-telling approach and catalyse what has been achieved in the last 12 months in Burnie. Burnie Works has developed a costed proposal in partnership with the Burnie Child and Family Learning Centre and UTAS.
Burnie Child and Family Learning Centre is embedded in the community. It might take years, but the Centre staff is now seeing parents come regularly. Community voice and leadership is a central part of the development and governance.
- The Burnie youth networks are involved in the co-design of the actions that relate to them.
This includes involvement in the Climate Leadership Conference, the action to strengthen youth volunteering in Burnie, the design of the youth smoking program, the roll-out of the Ticket to Play program and youth week activities. Our young people are motivated and keen to participate in making sure the implementation of these actions address the issues faced by the young people in Burnie.
- The review of, and a comprehensive roll-out of, Respectful Relationships across grades K to 12 in all Burnie schools.
- That, in addition to increasing the wellbeing supports in schools; key partners, such as police and youth workers are trained, and students are trained and supported to accompany their peers.
It will take more than training social workers and teachers. If we are taught how to support our friends who are struggling, we can be part of the solutions.
Everyone needs to be trauma informed, not just teachers and service providers; everyone. It’s about the information becoming common knowledge to reduce stigma and shame
- The Government commits to expand successful pilots into Burnie and the Northwest such as the Risdon Bike Collective and Fit for Work, using a place-based approach.
This means that what has worked in other areas can be shared and adapted by communities to deliver similar positive outcomes.
Burnie Works stakeholders, First 1000 Days at the Burnie Child and Family Centre, October 2021.
Burnie Works is a place-based collective initiative making change in the areas of child, youth and families, education, employment, justice, and wellbeing. Burnie Works’ objectives are long-term and aimed at addressing system issues. Burnie Works Plan on a Page reflects the community strategy and supports the Making Burnie 2030 municipality plan. The work is enabled by on-the ground relationships with community members, service providers, business and industry and academic institutions.
A priority focus for Burnie Works is to strengthen cultural recognition of and respect for the pirinilaplu people of pataway land.
This relationship-based approach assumes that there is already desire for collective action, and great things happening across the Burnie community within the various sectors who have a presence in this place. The primary role of Burnie Works is to amplify the conditions for impact so that innovative community led actions that address the issues that are most important to the people of Burnie can be collaboratively designed and implemented.
Burnie Works is supported and resourced by the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments and Non-Government Organisations. Everything the backbone team does – from helping identify the issues to addressing them – is guided by the lived experience and hard work of pataway / Burnie locals.
Burnie Works’ Theory of Community Change
Burnie Works is guided by a Theory of Community Change.
In an ecosystem of relationships where collective change principles, leadership and accountability frame the way of working And when community, partners and the backbone team apply:
- Conditions for Collective Impact
- Systems thinking
- Place-based practice
- Chaos and complexity practice
- A trauma-informed lens
To issues identified by the community in the following focus areas:
- Children and families
- There will be amplification of services and efforts to produce innovative actions
- The resulting collective actions and initiatives will create changes in the conditions for collective impact, systems, the lives of individuals and at the population level
The long-term impact is positive community change.
Burnie Works’ ecosystem and how we are organised
The ecosystem and the interaction of all who are part of creating action for impact is broad and expansive.
Burnie Works acknowledges the contribution of the following parts of the social ecosystem who enable the work in each of the focus areas:
- The Burnie community and community engagement groups
- The Burnie Works Board and the North West Regional Jobs Hub Board
- The BIG Committee, Employment Partnerships Group, Youth Employment Pathways Project Steering Group, Families Working Groups, the Local Drug Action Team, North West Action on Youth, the Burnie City Youth Council.
- Government funders, including the State Department of Communities, Skills Tasmania, and the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and Burnie City Council.
- Philanthropic contributors, including the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF) and The Dusseldorp Forum.
- Other formal and informal partners, including University of Tasmania (UTAS), yourtown, Crawford School of Public Policy, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Books In Homes, Beacon Foundation.