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Centre for Innovation Research and Practice for Children and Youth

A feasibility study to establish a Centre for Innovation Research and Practice for Children and Youth is being led by Federation University, funded in partnership with Gippsland Regional Partnership and the Inner Gippsland Children and Youth Area Partnership (IGCYAP).

The proposed Centre aims to help children, families and young people in Gippsland to thrive by giving them the opportunity to live their lives safely, happily and healthily.

It will establish and build on existing collaborations, partnerships and networks to identify solutions for the delivery of health and community services.

Concept design

The concept design for the Centre has been developed in a collaborative process with the community and involves four key functions:

Development and Growth – growing sector capability; Workforce Skills and Capability – building the future workforce; Research – advancing and applying research and evidence; Discovery and Innovation – driving innovation and discovery.

It is envisaged that these functions will connect research, workforce skills and capacity, innovation and sector stability to potentially provide the following offerings, objectives and benefits to the region:

Discovery and Innovation

Co-designing solutions to complex social and economic challenges.

  • Build our local culture of innovation and design thinking
  • Establish and monitor a shared measurement of impact and the development of evidence-based practice
  • Provide local advocacy and policy insights

Workforce Skills and Capability

Building an agile workforce and growing sector capacity.

  • Undertake sector workforce planning, pathway development and skills-gap analysis
  • Develop strategies for talent attraction and retention
  • Cultivate short- and long-term planning initiatives for workforce development and sustainability


Advancing and applying research and evidence

  • Create research knowledge and practice that informs service provision
  • Cultivate cutting-edge co-design leaderships culture and research to strengthen the local evidence base
  • Advance research knowledge, capability and skills

Sustainable Development and Growth

Providing opportunity to foster pride of place through best practice, innovation and discovery

  • Develop thought leadership, expertise and industry agility that is sought by others nationally and internationally
  • Build generational knowledge and expertise of local communities

Project timeline

A feasibility study was undertaken by Federation University between December 2018 and July 2019 to explore the merits of establishing this Centre.

Following are the various stages of the process:

Funding awarded (December 2018)

Funding was awarded by Regional Partnership Victoria, Inner Gippsland Children and Youth Area Partnerships and Federation University.

Project Advisory Group established (January 2019)

Project Advisory Group established to assist and guide Federation University to identify a model of best practice for The Centre to support strong and confident services, systems, research, consultancies and learning platforms to enable Gippsland children, young people, families and communities to thrive.

Sector data analysis and market environment scan undertaken (January-April 2019)

A sector data analysis and market environment scan were undertaken to provide preliminary insights into effective practice for collaborative and innovative work in the children and youth services sector. This informed further consultation and formulation of a ‘wise practice’ framework for the proposed Centre.

The sector data analysis identified the following principles as preliminary recommendations of wise practice:

  • community-centred
  • committed to addressing inequality
  • informed by and responsive to first nations perspectives and knowledge
  • conducive to collaboration
  • effective leadership
  • innovative and enriching.

Consultation undertaken (May-July 2019)

DCW Consulting Pty Ltd, a local consultant from with experience in the health and community sector, was engaged to work collaboratively with the project team across Gippsland’s six local government areas: Bass Coast, Baw Baw, East Gippsland, Latrobe, South Gippsland and Wellington.

This thorough consultation process was undertaken to draw on the expertise of industry and the community, who identified potential service offerings and features and examined the objectives relevant to the Centre. A series of surveys, interviews and co-design workshops were run to gather and test the information provided.

Surveys and interviews

Surveys were distributed to key stakeholders, and relevant organisations including educators, government and community groups were invited to undertake direct interviews. Thirty-eight survey responses were gathered and 27 interviews undertaken.

Feedback from the surveys and interviews identified the need for the proposed Centre to help formalise existing connections in the region while also fostering new links:

"I think if there’s a little bit more collaboration from a needs sense, looking at the...Gippsland space as well as the needs of the healthcare organisations [and] the expertise from our academic partners, I think that we can drive research in a much better way."

"We have got to be working collaboratively and we’ve got to be working really creatively and think outside the box because otherwise we don’t exist."

Co-design workshops

Stakeholders participated in a series of four co-design workshops held across the region in Leongatha, Churchill, Warragul and Sale. Based on the feedback provided in the surveys and interviews, these workshops tested the information gathered, generating feedback that added greater value and a deeper understanding of the final model and service offering framework.

The following ‘Top 10 hopes for the Centre’ were gathered through the workshop process:

  1. Innovation
  2. Strengths-based
  3. Capability
  4. Inclusive
  5. Collaboration
  6. Community
  7. Reputation
  8. Policy-driver
  9. Outcomes-driven
  10. Engagement

Business case developed (July 2019)

The Centre’s service offering and key areas will be examined, tested and refined as part of The Centre’s business case development, ensuring that they address the needs of all stakeholders across the region.