Co-design for policy & public service innovation

Family By Family by the Australian Centre for Social Innovation

1 in 5 children in Australia are notified to child protection services before the age of 15. That statistic is 1 in 2 for Indigenous Children. Since 2005 there has been a 51% increase in children removed from their families and placed in out-of-home care in Australia. Family services are overwhelmed, whilst child protection services are only able to respond to the most extreme cases. The financial costs are significant. Every year in Australia about $1,944m is spent addressing the long-term impact of child abuse and neglect. The cost of setting up and running Family by Family in an area is equivalent to the money saved by preventing a family of three from entering long term care.


Family by Family emerged from a co-design process with 100s of families that was framed by the question: “How can a new service enable more families to thrive and fewer to come into contact with crisis services?” Over 12 months The Australian Centre for Social Innovation worked with government child protection services, local NGOs, child protection academics, a local city, a design team and most importantly families to design what became Family by Family.

Family by Family is a new network of families helping families. It enables families to set and achieve their own goals with the support of other families who have 'been there, done that'. Goals like improving kids behaviour, making better friends, getting out more, or learning about Australia. The service finds and trains families (kids included) who have made it through tough times, matches them with families who want things to change, and coaches family pairs through a 10-30 week link-up. The aim is to enable families to thrive, not just survive.