The Queensland government’s lead agency for child safety is wasting no time getting to work on its much-needed child protection IT system overhaul after securing $51 million for the build last month.
While much of the nation was enjoying a well-deserved break on Monday, the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women kicked off the search for partners to replace its integrated client management system (ICMS).
The ICMS, which was introduced in responses to recommendations from a 2004 inquiry into foster care practices, has been the state’s main system for the delivery of child safety and youth justice services for the last 15 years.
But since 2017, there have been calls from Queensland’s Family and Child Commission to replace the “outdated” system with a integrated alternative.
Successive audits dating back to 2015 have also found ongoing data integration issues with the system, the latest of which said child safety information held across Queensland’s various system was “still almost completely unintegrated”.
Last month the government signed off on the department's business case for a new system and, just days after the findings of the latest audit, committed $51 million to the build.
The funding, which will be provided over the next four years, will support the first stage of the system replacement project, which has been dubbed the ‘unify program’.
But with the funds now secured, the department has revealed it has “an immediate need” to secure implementation partners for the five-year project, which is expected to begin in July.
The department expects to establish a panel for the build, with "multiple suppliers" appointed to service domains like system implementation, testing, data management, organisational change management, and business design.
It has already decided that a Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform hosted in Azure will underpin the new system.
Apart from “cross-agency information and data sharing”, the new system will automate business tasks where necessary and be adaptable to future changes to child protection and youth justice.
“The new System will be highly agile, flexible and adaptable – the Department has a genuine need to make configuration changes quickly, efficiently and at little to no cost,” tender documents state.
The department plans for a staged rollout of the system that will see the ICMS retained to support critical service delivery during the implementation phase.
“A critical success factor will be establishing the new system in a way which ensure [sic] seamless co-existence with the existing ICMS during the transition period,” tender documents state.
Initial work will focus on “delivery functionality to end users that is not currently address in the existing ICMS”, the department said, with future stages to replace existing functionality.
“Following successful completion of the initial stage, future stages will implement core System functionality to replace the existing system capability and transform business process and practices to new ways of working,” tender documents state.
“Future stages may also include process and solution enhancements to continue to improve efficiency and functionality of the new System.”