Putting our heads together to build the social systems of tomorrow

24 04 22 Tqkp Case Study

Across Queensland, there are many local leaders, organisations and communities working to improve outcomes for children, young people and their families.

Communities, and practitioners and young people themselves know what’s needed but all too often the system structures aren’t set up to centre this expertise.

This is where the Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership (TQKP) comes in. TQKP brings different sectors, communities, and voices together to think differently about ways to co-design the systems of tomorrow to improve the outcomes for children and young people in Queensland. Hosted by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), the TQKP backbone team was established in 2022, with $1.2 million in philanthropic funding provided over three years from Hand Heart Pocket. Further philanthropic support was then leveraged from The Bryan Foundation, The John Villiers Trust, and the Paul Ramsay Foundation, increasing the total committed funding to $7.7 million over three years. TQKP has been successful in securing a further $9.3m in direct cash investment by other philanthropists, universities and governments.

TQKP currently has 10 initiatives underway, each firmly focused on ‘connecting, catalysing and learning together’ about what works and what doesn’t in local communities, listening to those with lived experience, and taking collaborative action for long-term, systemic impact. Data and evidence-based solutions play a big part in all of this, with roadmaps and strategies being put forward to inform policy-makers and governments, driving smarter investment and best practice across sectors.

Building new social systems takes time and TQKP is establishing structures and connections now that will scaffold and build on this work for the next decade. Alongside this long-term view, a range of practical activities are already having an impact across communities, including:

The Thriving Kids Brain Builders Initiative: Making neuroscience knowledge more accessible to those that support children and families in communities across Queensland, through access to online resources and modules. Since its launch last year, the free Understanding Brain Development e-learning short course produced by TQKP and Emerging Minds, together with The University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) has been downloaded 1,126 times. A recent survey of participants said that it gave them ‘common language around brain development in the early years’ and prompted the delivery of community workshops about how to support positive brain building in young children. The resources are also being used for broader learning and development opportunities within community organisations and as part of postgraduate programs for students studying health.

Thriving Kids Data Roadmap: Establishing a common, cross-sector approach helps to demystify data, meaning more organisations and communities can access it, learn from it and use it. In turn, this supports effective targeting of resources and better collaboration across Queensland amongst community members, community services, and government. The Place Data Framework sets out the types of data that exist, how data is captured, and how it is used, highlighting gaps and equipping Place based Initiatives with practical resources in their journey to shared decision making and measurement.

Thriving Kids Framing Initiative: How we talk about child development and wellbeing matters and can impact the way we understand, prioritise and respond to children’s needs individually as well as within the broader social context. Having a common language across sectors will help to drive the cultural shift that’s needed to support systems change efforts. Two workshops and two webinars have been held with experts from Frameworks Institute, for practitioners whose work involves speaking and writing about child- youth- and family-related matters, and for anyone curious about framing messages more effectively. The Framing Initiative also runs an ongoing framing-focused community of practice and seeks to support capability building and opportunities for collaborations on work underpinned by communication framing research. Work with Queensland Family Child Commission on its Growing up in Queensland Report, codesign of a resource for State Library of Queensland’s First Five Forever program, and cocreation of shareable resources for Children’s Week are some examples of the work so far.

The TQKP reach doesn’t stop there. TQKP have also shared their learnings on the world stage, attending the Global Partnership on Brain Health in New York last year, an event connected to the 78th United Nations General Assembly Science Summit for Brain Health, and regularly hosting national and international collaborators for workshops, masterclasses and communities of practice open to participants across sectors whose shared goal is to identify and apply what works for the benefit of children, young people and families. Frequent international collaborators to date include the Alberta Family Wellness Institute (Canada), FrameWorks Institute (US) Harvard Center on the Developing Child (US).

TQKP is currently focused on bringing their 10 initiatives to fruition as far as possible to demonstrate value and impact. And they have already started engaging their eco-system in envisioning what’s next for TQKP and testing the value and appetite for another phase. Options will be scoped and a case prepared to present to philanthropic and agency partners by late 2024.

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