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Outer Eastern Melbourne

Brighter Futures: Improving outcomes for young people

Improving outcomes for young people at risk of entering into, and transitioning from Out-of-Home-Care

The Outer Eastern Melbourne Children and Youth Area Partnership is engaged in a variety of activities to help all children and young people:

Brighter Futures: Leaving Care Partnership

Leaving Care Case Conferences

What if all kids in care were supported to get a part-time job, in the same way we support our own kids?’ Brighter Futures Steering Group Member

This was our aspiration as we launched the Brighter Futures Leaving Care Case Conferences pilot – a new approach to deliver improved wraparound care for young people transitioning from out-of-home-care, while identifying gaps in the system.

Since commencing in 2016, case conferences have helped more than 20 young people access a range of supports they otherwise may not have received, including mentoring and employment support, and have built better connections between out-of-home care agencies and local government youth services, TAFEs, universities and jobactive providers. 

Case conferences demonstrate the importance of spotting a young person’s strengths, mapping a young person’s passions, and supporting them to achieve their goals as articulated by them.

Now that we have a solid understanding of what works, we’re seeking opportunities to share what we’ve learned across out-of-home-care providers in the Outer East, so that more young people can be linked with local community support. 

Co-design Sprints

To have a house you need to get a job, to have a job you need to get an education, and to get an education you need to be surrounded by people who care” Young Person

The goals of young people transitioning from out-of-home-care are often inextricably linked, and require the support of many to achieve. Recognising this, the Brighter Futures Steering Group brought together a diverse group of stakeholders between March – May 2017 to co-design innovative solutions to assist young people with a care experience to achieve their housing, education, employment and community connection goals. Co-design teams comprised young people, carers, community members and service system representatives from State and Local Government, TAFEs, universities, and community service organisations.  
Over the course of seven, two and half hour co-design workshops, teams were guided through the three phases of co-design to:

  • Clearly identify the problem area (inquire)
  • generate a range of innovative ideas for solutions (ideate)
  • develop and test a series of prototypes for implementation (implement). 

The result of this collaborative effort was five innovative prototypes to support young people to achieve their goals, presented at the Brighter Futures Co-design Showcase on 24 May 2017. We are now actively testing our prototypes, and seeking a range of opportunities to bring them to life in a sustainable way.   

Community Connection Pilot

“We want people who are in our lives because they want to be, not because they are paid to be” Young Person

Brighter Futures is linking young people with an out-of-home-care experience with community members who can support them to develop their individual strengths and passions, and achieve their personal goals. This approach was co-designed with young people in 2017, who repeatedly gave us the above quote.

Since commencing in September 2017, this approach has resulted in young people being linked with free gym memberships; mentors in the performing arts industry; opportunities to become paid football umpires with the Eastern Football League; and an opportunity for one young person to travel to Vanuatu to act as an official in the Mini Pacific Games. 

This new approach is being led by Edwina Ricci, who embodies the principles of Collective Impact, and wears a number of local ‘hats’ including Head of Positive Education at Heathmont College, President of Croydon Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Member. 

“Rather than focussing on risk and deficit, this is all about starting where young people are at, working with them to support their passions, and linking them with people in the community who can help them to achieve their goals, and give them confidence and hope that things can be better in the future” Edwina Ricci

For more information contact:

Our 'Prevention Matters working group' has worked to build a shared understanding among local partners of why and when  children and young people enter the care system. 

Drawing on local knowledge and international research, we have learned family violence is a big driver of children going into care, along with mental health and alcohol and other drug concerns. Children in our area enter out-of-home-care at the highest rates during early childhood (0-4 years) and the middle years (8-12 years). 

Guided by these findings, we are focused on supporting families better and earlier to prevent children aged 8-12 years having to go into out-of-home-care. To do that, we are looking at respite care, and mentoring models such as the Aunties & Uncles Program and the Family by Family initiative. We are also seeking feedback from families involved with ChildFIRST and integrated family services regarding the supports they want and need.

For more information contact:

“Contact between Maternal Child Health and Child Protection practitioners when making out-of-home-care referrals has been very positive… It is beginning to feel like we are truly working together to support children in out-of-home-care.” Child Family Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, City of Knox.

Our 'Out-of-Home-Care Implementation Group' is set up to ensure all children in Out-of-Home-Care are engaged with early childhood services, and are enrolled in, attending and succeeding at school. We want to ensure that all children in out-of-home-care are receiving support from Maternal and Child Health and accessing Early Start Kindergarten, as we know that two years of kindergarten are better than one.

Young people with lived experience have helped us shape our priorities to improve school attendance, the quality of Individualised Learning Plans, and coordination between Student Support Group meetings led by the Department of Education and Training and Care Team meetings led by the Department of Health and Human Services.

This work is underpinned by the Early Childhood Partnering Agreement  and Education Commitment and will be supported by the introduction of the LOOKOUT Support Centres in 2017.

For more information contact:

Jennifer Small at

Brighter Futures - Improving Outcomes For Young People Leaving Care

Six young people aged 18-21 years with a lived experience in care are now members of our new 'Out-of-Home-Care Youth Advisory Group', where they are asked to share their views on the issues that matter most to them.

The group and others who join them later will be provided with a range of supports, including Speak Up training delivered by the CREATE Foundation

Setting up the group is part of our commitment to work alongside young people and keep their voice at the center of everything we do.

It builds on workshops we hosted in 2015 with Ingrid Burkett from the NSW Centre for Social Impact, which led to the development of the

Are you, or do you know a young person aged 18-21 years who has been in Out-of-Home-Care and is eager to share their story and advice on how we can improve the system? Contact Simone Ruscuklic at

The video is an introduction to the ideas of co-design. 

What is Human-centered Design? from on Vimeo.