Tessa Boyd-Caine has worked in health, criminal justice and human rights organisations in Australia and internationally. She was previously Deputy CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, is a graduate of the AICD Company Directors course and is the recipient of the inaugural Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Nonprofit Leadership. Her PhD was published as a book, Protecting the Public? Detention and Release of Mentally Disordered Offenders, by Routledge in 2010.
Securing health and justice through partnerships for children and families at risk (Policy Think Space)
Across Australia a quiet revolution has seen community service lawyers moving out of their legal services and into the most unlikely of settings: health organisations. The health-harming effects of unmet legal need are reflected in both access to justice and social determinants of health literature. Health justice partnerships respond to this evidence by embedding lawyers into health care teams to tackle the underlying drivers of poor health, from mould in public housing causing respiratory problems, through to family breakdown and family violence.
Health justice partnerships advance a systems change agenda, bridging the gaps (siloes) between health, legal and human services that people vulnerable to unmet need continually fall through. They do this by working at three levels:
i. supporting individuals through direct service provision in trusted settings;
ii. redesigning services systems around client needs and capability; and
iii. policy advocacy for systemic change to address the social determinants of health among people vulnerable to unmet legal need.
Early indications from this collaborative service model point to potential gains in several of the supporting outcomes of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, specifically that:
• children and families access adequate support to promote safety and intervene early; and
• risk factors for child abuse and neglect are addressed.
Using examples drawn from health justice partnerships across Australia, this Policy Think Space explores the opportunities and challenges of collaboration across service siloes and professional disciplines to improve service effectiveness to support the health and wellbeing of at-risk children and their families.