The Western Sydney 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 WentWest, the Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WSPHN), the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN), Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) and the Department of Education (DoE).

Louise*, a caseworker in Western Sydney, has spent many years juggling the demands of working with multiple families whilst doing her best to provide them with quality support. Louise identified that she was having challenges navigating and connecting the service system with one of her Aboriginal families.

‘The family were slipping through the gaps. I was trying to understand their specific needs whilst navigating my way through the Centrelink and Housing systems. I felt like I was letting the family down because I did not always have the capacity to make phone calls and chase things up for them.’

Desperate for additional help, Louise reached out to the KEYS Network seeking assistance. ‘When I spoke with the KEYS team, I felt incredibly excited as I knew we could start making some real traction and positive changes for the family’. KEYS Network coordinated with partners across the service system to help the family access the right pathways, connecting together a holistic picture of the family and their challenges to service provision and using escalation pathways to break through the barriers when needed. The team’s familiarity working with diverse communities helped Louise gain a deeper understanding of the complexities Aboriginal families experience when navigating services. Cultural awareness is critical to ensure that the right providers and resources are allocated and families feel empowered in their future interactions with the system.

The multitude of stakeholders engaged in the health and social systems can cause huge delays in connecting families to the right care. The KEYS Network took the stress out of system navigation so that Louise could concentrate on liaising with the family. Louise stated, ‘I believe KEYS is an invaluable program for families, and I would love to see more collaboration in the future.’

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