Child protection agencies will soon be able to check the status of vulnerable children across all states and territories, with a new information sharing platform to be launched next year.
The “world-first” platform will be delivered by intelligent software company Itree, which has been awarded a $5.9 million five-year contract by the government.
The federal government has provided $3.9 million to the project, and states and territories will provide supplementary funding for the final years of the contract.
This solution is a search tool with machine learning capability which can match data from disparate sources based on demographic information.
The platform is expected to be running by mid-2020, and will be implemented by state and territory child protection agencies.
Checking status of vulnerable children
It will run on Itree’s child safety intelligence system REACH, which uses advanced search technology and alarm features to enable child protection agencies in all states and territories to check the status of vulnerable children.
Michelle Landry, Assistant Minister for Children and Families, said the innovative project is about helping the department ensure vulnerable kids don’fall through the cracks.
It will ensure that caseworkers across the nation have the information they require to respond to child protection incidents without delay, she said.
“This solution is a search tool with machine learning capability which can match data from disparate sources based on demographic information,” she told Government News.
“By using fuzzy and phonetic matching algorithms, REACH is capable of finding matches even where names and other data might be rendered differently.”
According to Itree’s website, there is currently no existing system that notifies caseworkers about background information that exists outside of the state they are in.
“While protocols exist for the transfer of child protection information, this relies on the agency being aware of the child having moved,” the website says.
Ms Landry said strong measures would be taken to ensure data on this platform is secure.
“The data shared on this platform is encrypted and protected by secure protocols in accordance with Australian government standards,” she said.
Improving communication between government agencies
The platform will make it possible for state-based agencies to exchange relevant information to help prevent, identify and respond to situations where children are at risk of harm.
Gareth Ward, NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, would like to see this platform, to be launched in by the state government next year, will improving the way government agencies share information across different borders.
“Children deserve to grow up in a safe, stable and loving home, and I know that all governments share a common goal to help ensure that and to prioritise child protection,” he said in a statement.
“There is a need for better information sharing at a national level and this landmark platform will enable states and territories to improve communication in the best interests of vulnerable children and families.”
The project goes towards addressing recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and aligns with the Third Action Plan of The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children.
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