Service Access Working Group

 

Practical Guidelines to Improve Service Accessibility for Families

Written by East Gippsland Service Access Working Group

The East Gippsland Early Years Committee – Service Access Working Group recently launched the ‘Practical Guidelines to Improve Service Accessibility for Families’.  The guidelines were developed in recognition that there are families that don’t access services readily for a range of reasons and it is the way in which services are delivered which makes a difference to how accessible they are.

There are a number of individual circumstances that create barriers to accessing support through services which can include; difficulties in communication, fear, resistance/lack of support from family members, complexities and challenges faced that take time and energy to deal with (Cortis, Katz and Patulny, 2009).

To label clients as ‘hard to reach’ puts the responsibility on clients, rather than the service. Services are funded to provide support and need to make sure they are accessible to families and children who need them the most.

Eleven principles and actions to improve service access have been collated from a range of sources.

•             Meet Parents Needs

•             Start where the Family is at

•             Every family is different

•             Support To Access

•             Accessible Locations & Times

•             Coordination of Services to Meet Family Needs

•             Availability & Response

•             Build Relationships

•             Comfortable Setting

•             Parents Know Service Is Available

•             Affordable Service

An important component in the development of the guidelines was to get feedback from families across East Gippsland on their experiences of accessing services for their families.  58 parents and carers (mothers, fathers, young parents, Aboriginal parents and parents with children with additional needs) provided feedback through interviews (via phone and in person), surveys and group focus groups.

The guidelines include a self-assessment checklist designed to get agencies to reflect on current practice around service access. The checklist can be used to identify what organisations are committed to changing/improving.

Contact the Communities for Children East Gippsland team for more information about this document.

References

Corits, N., Katz, I. & Patulny, R. (2009), Engaging hard-to-reach families and children, Department of families, housing, community services and Indigenous Affairs, (FaHCSIA) Occasional Paper Number 26, www.fahcsia.gov.au

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