Nous wins Good Design Award for Victorian child safety project

12 October 2021 3 min. read

The 2021 Good Design Awards have honoured Nous Group for its design strategy work on a new child welfare information platform for the Victorian government.

The management consultancy was recognised in the public sector category for the development of a web-based child well-being information sharing system on behalf of the Victorian Department of Education and Training. Nous Group was cited by the award jury for its human-centred design approach on the ‘Child Link’ project, which is the firm’s second to be awarded in the past two years.

Administered by Good Design Australia, which has a history dating back to 1958 when the organisation was established as the Industrial Design Council of Australia to promote the worth of high-quality design and manufacture, the Good Design Awards cover more than 35 categories across twelve primary design disciplines. Under the theme ‘Design for a brighter future’, this year’s awards-cycle received a record number of entries.

Nous wins Good Design Award for Victorian child safety project

With Victoria embarking on information sharing reforms for better childhood protection, the Department of Education engaged Nous to help develop the Child Link platform, described as a web-based register that enables quick and effective collaboration among practitioners working with families and children and serves as a starting point for sharing information. But an effective implementation would first have to address significant obstacles.

Chief among those was helping practitioners to understand their obligations and then translating those obligations into practice, along with building relationships among professionals working in the broad field of child protection and shifting long-held behaviours. Even with people doing their best and with the best intentions, the firm says, sharing information was challenging – a challenge which Nous sought to overcome through human-centred design.

To understand their current experience of information-sharing and cross-agency collaboration, for the project’s research phase Nous Group engaged with more than 72 end-users from a variety of agencies and service providers across 19 co-design workshops and eight validations sessions. The end result was an array of journey maps and network diagrams that illustrated the current and potential future information-flow states, as well as producing an insights report.

Along with influencing strategic policy, system usability, functionality and data requirements for the Child Link project, these insights the firms says are also supporting implementation planning, including around messaging and communications, change management, and training.

According to the Good Design jury, the human-centred approach and journey maps demonstrate how such design tools “can engage a client to frame a complex challenge.”

“This work demonstrates that designing with the people impacted by a new system rather than for them moves stakeholders toward a shared understanding, greater engagement and endorsement of reforms,” said Nous principal Kirsty Elderton, who led the project team. “Information-sharing systems require a people-first rather than technology-first approach, so it is essential to understand the context, environment and relationships that drive behaviour.”