The solution enabling child protection agencies to “reach out”

After a successful 15-month proof of concept, Reach is ready for development

As a result of a successful 15-month proof of concept (2017–2019) undertaken through the Business Research and Innovation Initiative “BRII Challenge 5 – Child Safety”, Reach (now Objective Reach) is now ready for production deployment and to be rapidly extended beyond child safety and into new domains.

Itree (now Objective) continues to refine and develop the Reach platform which has been built from the ground up as a genuine product offering, supported by a product vision and roadmap.

Addressing the challenge

Every day, child protection workers across all States and Territories in Australia operate within a high-pressure environment, being required to make immediate assessments for children-at-risk without timely access to historical information in other jurisdictions, which may be very relevant to critical decisions. 

The solution is reach

Itree’s Reach child protection information sharing and linkage interface is a secure, robust integrated solution enabling State and Territory child protection agencies to “reach out” and share vital information about children-at-risk and adults-of-interest “DSS linking State-based systems”.

Building momentum

State, Territory and Federal government agencies have combined forces to tackle this serious challenge:

  • 28 October 2016 Australia’s Third Action Plan 2016-2019 of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children recommended: “to investigate the sharing of information across jurisdictions to enable services to better work together to support women and their children.”
  • 18 September 2017 the NSW Government response to the recommendations put forward in the report of the Legislative Council General Purpose Committee No.2 titled “Child Protection,” states under ‘Recommendation 24’ that a primary objective is to “improve information sharing across jurisdictions for child protection matters.”
  • December 2018 Australia’s Fourth Action Plan 2018-2020 for Supporting Families, Communities and Organisations to keep Children Safe, recommends: “Building on the work of the Child Protection Information Sharing Project, the states and territories will improve protocols and procedures to share child protection related information between jurisdictions.”

Addressing Australia's Fourth Action Plan

Greater national collaboration and information sharing underpins the 4 key focus areas of Australia’s Fourth Action Plan:

  • Improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. REACH caters for identifying these children within the search, match and link technology.
  • Improving prevention and early intervention through joint planning. REACH provides quick access for all State agencies to find critical information, enabling early action.
  • Improving outcomes for children in out-of-home care. REACH has the ability to assist government with co-ordination between organisations serving to protect children.
  • Improving organisations’ and governments’ ability to keep children and young people safe from abuse. REACH is designed to find, link, and match vital information to enable critical decisions to be made quickly.

Key features and unique strengths

  • Powerful search components. Partial and fuzzy person matching, sorted in order by a match confidence score. Finding people using name permutations and relationship pattern matching.
  • Machine learning. Reach makes recommendations learned over time as search volumes increase, for example, suggesting more appropriate match confidence score weightings based on user activity.
  • Clean, intuitive user interface. Easily embed Reach within existing systems and business processes. Easy to navigate, clean design. Minimises manual data entry using already known agency data as a starting point
  • Strict privacy controls. Provides agencies with deep configuration control of their data based on agency and role levels, as well as record protection level, source, field and location.
  • Advanced administration & dashboard reporting. Agencies can easily configure roles and permissions, and fine tune search algorithms unique to their needs.
  • Flexible integration. Industry best practice APIs provide flexible integration options, for example, agencies can connect seamlessly to Reach to perform searches using their existing case management systems, and others where allowed.
  • Uses existing agency authentication. No need to create and manage additional user accounts, Reach utilises existing agency IT credentials.
  • Subscriptions. Agency workers are proactively notified when new and important person information becomes available.
  • Interstate request workflow. A central hub for agencies to manage and track interstate requests, replacing inefficient manual processes.
  • Support from Service Desk & Online Tutorials. Reach is fully supported by Itree’s regionally located technical centre. Online help modules are available 24x7

As the proof of concept concluded, Itree demonstrated Reach at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science inaugural Challenge Based Innovation Forum. This forum provided an excellent platform for government and industry to debate the benefits of challenge based innovation initiatives such as BRII.

Interagency data sharing is an imminent national priority across many areas of government. Itree has built Reach from the ground up as a genuine product offering that complements the existing RegWorks (now Objective RegWorks) product catalogue, supported by a product vision and roadmap. Reach is ready to be rapidly extended into new domains.