Co­design for policy & public service innovation

Family by family

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 out­of­home 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 long­term 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 co­design 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 10­30 week link­up. The aim is to enable families to thrive, not just survive.



The Citizens’ House

How can you create a better environment for when public sector meets citizen in a municipal context? The Odense Municipality is trying to establish a new physical meeting place in the municipality. The new House has the potential to accommodate everything from public services and culture to entrepreneurship and citizens’ meetings. The House could also be a place where various administrative departments can meet to collaborate and create new solutions that will benefit both citizens and municipal employees alike.

Rather than just launch the idea, the Odense Municipality is testing a prototype of the projected Citizens’ House, in the middle of Odense’s pedestrianised shopping street. Here, representatives of the Municipality try things out before the real house becomes a reality. 

The prototype therefore serves to provide a space for experimentation and to try out ideas, projects and where it is possible to collaborate more freely and without obligation. This allows the finished house get off to the best possible start.

The prototyping of the Citizens’ House has contributed to a better understanding between administrations about which potential collaborations and projects it would be possible to establish in the new House. The collaboration has also strengthened the project’s own work on user involvement.


Open Works

The Open Works was an experiment by Lambeth Council to see how they could create more opportunities for all citizens to participate in public life, and actively shape where they live in real and practical ways. The idea was to test these ideas and to see if these new networks of activity can benefit everyone and help us to bridge some of the social and economic divides. The types of experiments it looked at included:

● Can we connect with each other more, through everyday activities such as working, eating, learning, making, growing  and cooking, rather than doing many of these things alone?

● Can we do this as an intergenerational community of peers, working together not as consumers, but as creative and open citizens?  

● Can we work collectively across institutional and governmental boundaries to build a new system of spaces and activity that are sustainable and shape a positive future?

● Can we design new types of inclusive and generative local projects that have multiple effects ­working to improve individual and collective health, education, safety, employment, wellbeing ... ?

● Can we create more equality of opportunity for people to grow their ideas, whether for community projects or to start a business ... or even invent new livelihoods which might be a mixture of both?