AbSec is currently working with Aboriginal communities and partners to explore ideas and co-design opportunities for investment to achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal children, families, communities and organisations.

Commissioning allows us to build a picture of what works, to leverage current strengths and build upon weaknesses in addressing needs and concerns. Under a commissioning approach, everyone has a stake in making success more likely, and service users have a say in how services are working and what could be done better.

The AbSec Commissioning Portal is now open for Aboriginal organisations to register and submit for opportunities to deliver initiatives. 

Background to Commissioning

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children, young people and their families continue to be over-represented across the child and family services continuum of care.

41.4% of children in out-of-home care are Aboriginal despite making up just 5% of children in NSW.

This is of particular concern because the situation persists despite multiple investments in system review and reform.

The current system:

  • fails to target investment
  • focuses on outputs rather than child and family outcomes
  • is inflexible and fails to deliver self-determination to Aboriginal communities in addressing child and family issues.

In responding to the evidence and data, AbSec is leading an innovative approach to designing and delivering tailored child and family-centred, holistic supports together. This approach aims at delivering what’s needed as a package of supports across the continuum, not just at crisis, rather than through a programmatic design creating inflexible practice; and to achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal children, families and communities in the statutory child protection system over time.

Why Commissioning?

In 2014 AbSec, Aboriginal agencies, Family and Community Services (FACS) and other NSW Government agencies were engaged in a co-design process looking at ways of addressing the alarming over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.

We need to place children and young people at the heart of planning strategies.

A Plan on a Page report was produced from the co-design process, determining that commissioning for outcomes was the favoured strategy to support a strong safety net of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to effectively meet the needs of Aboriginal children, families and communities through holistic and individually tailored Aboriginal child and family services across NSW. For further information, please see Plan on a Page.

A concept paper was put together in 2018 to outline a design for an Aboriginal commissioning approach to Aboriginal child and family services in NSW.

AbSec has developed a Commissioning Framework:

  • adopting a community-led commissioning for outcomes approach aligned to the needs of Aboriginal children in their family and community context
  • building on the principles of self-determination and accountability, and importantly, enshrined in a framework owned by Aboriginal people and communities.

Commissioning – what is it?

Simply, commissioning describes a set of linked activities to deliver services and supports for better outcomes, and includes needs assessment, priority setting, procurement through contracts, monitoring of service delivery, and review and evaluation.

Whilst there is no consensus on a definition of commissioning, it is recognised as being a strategic approach focusing on clearly defined outcomes and ensuring that services and implementation of services are based on design planning, procurement, monitoring, and evaluation.

Commissioning – a better way forward?

  • Across the globe, commissioning for outcomes is increasingly being viewed as a valuable approach to get better alignment between needs of service users and achievement of outcomes, resource distribution and policy.
  • It follows an emerging consensus that a “new” approach is needed.
  • AbSec supports community-led commissioning to address some of the deficiencies in the current model of service delivery for Aboriginal children, their families and communities.
  • Led by an Aboriginal peak organisation – commissioning can deliver self-determination.

AbSec’s Commissioning Framework

In 2020, AbSec released its Commissioning Framework model ready for trialling with communities and stakeholders across NSW.

The core focus and elements of AbSec’s Commissioning Framework are:

  1. Aboriginal children and families
  2. Cultural safety
  3. Co-design

The core elements are surrounded by a three phase model comprising a number of activities and processes in design planning, implementation including procurement and support of services, and evaluation and review of outcomes and processes.


The AbSec Commissioning Framework

Benefits of Commissioning:

  • Collaborative approach to service provision where Aboriginal people are driving Aboriginal solutions.
  • Localised programs to address the needs of Aboriginal children and families.
  • Collective and collaborative planning process using co-design, and where the co-design is embedded throughout the commissioning process to support the achievement of the desired outcomes.
  • Aboriginal children & families as a well as Aboriginal organisations and NGOs are in a position to drive change based on the needs of the community.

For further information on Commissioning, please contact the Commissioning team on (02) 9559 5299 or commissioning@absec.org.au.

Find out more about Commissioning in action!

To ensure Aboriginal children on guardianship orders have access to the supports they and their families need to thrive, AbSec has developed a Guardianship Support Model, establishing a network of available services and resources delivered by Aboriginal organisations.