The Kids Early Years (KEYS) Network is the first of its kind in New South Wales. It is designed to align social and health sector agendas to deliver cohesive client services. KEYS relies on multi-sector collaboration to develop a coordinated care model for those stuck in a cycle of disadvantage. The KEYS Network is a collaboration between the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN), Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), Department of Education (DoE) and WentWest, the Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WSPHN).

James* is a 16-year-old male diagnosed with Autism. His family moved to Australia from New Zealand after February 2001, therefore, are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The family have always supported themselves financially through both parents working. ​

James’ school raised concerns with his parents around his inappropriate behaviour in class. A communication breakdown between the school and the parents caused by a language barrier, resulted in the family feeling shamed. They responded to these feelings by removing James from the education setting he was in and moving back to New Zealand where they felt they would have more family support. Unfortunately, relationships became strained in New Zealand, with the extended family punishing James physically in a response to his behaviours.

The family returned to Australia, however, James was not re-enrolled in school and his mum ceased employment to care for him full time. When he became physically aggressive towards his siblings and his mother, his dad also ceased employment to help care for him and protect the other family members. The lack of income resulted in the family having to relocate to a granny flat in Western Sydney.

The family hoped the new area would have less birdlife, as James was triggered by the noise of birds.  The family managed these outbursts with food, which contributed to his emerging obesity.

When KEYS became involved, there was view from services involved, that James was incapable of learning and changing. KEYS were able to gather information in relation to James that the service provider working with the family had not been successful in obtaining. This information indicated that James had many strengths and there was great potential, that James, with support would be able to seek supported employment. The school also held valuable information in relation to how they managed James when he was triggered.

With the connections built and consultations made available through the KEYS Network, the support workers connected James with a pediatrician and a psychiatrist specializing in disability. Through these interventions, he has settled and made considerable improvements, including moving towards building the necessary skills to engage in the workforce. His parents have both been able to return to work and James and his siblings are now interacting more positively with each other.​ The family report things are going well now, and the parents can spend more time focusing on their younger children.

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*Name has been changed to protect the identity of this client