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The Munro Campaign: The Journey Continues

by PeakCare on 20th July 2011

Home -> Articles -> 2011 -> July -> The Munro Campaign: The Journey Continues

The journey so far…

* On 8th June 2010, PeakCare Queensland launched “The Munro Campaign” to comprehensively examine the implications for Queensland of the recently completed UK Review of Child Protection conducted by Professor Eileen Munro.
* On 15th June 2010, in a post by Lorraine Dupree, PeakCare’s Policy and Research Manager – “The Munro Campaign: The Difference between Saying and Doing” – provided an overview of key themes addressed within the Munro Report and noted parallels with the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children that was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2009.
* On 21st June 2010, in a post by Fiona McColl, PeakCare’s Training and Sector Development Manager – “The Munro Campaign: Conspicuously Silent” – questions were posed about whether or not there exists within Queensland, the same range of UK associations, bodies and institutions able and prepared to identify, critique, influence and support the reforms needed within Queensland’s child protection system and practice.
* On 6th July, 2010, Lindsay Wegener, PeakCare’s Executive Director, in a post entitled “What does a British Bulldog and a Queensland Koala have in common?”, challenged all members of the child protection sector to now “shift gears” and “get down to business” in our examination of the Munro Report and its implications for Queensland.

Very importantly, this post included our first Munro Campaign survey conducted for purposes of finding out how familiar people are with the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and how relevant they perceive this Framework to be to their work. Given the parallels noted by Lorraine Dupree between the Munro Report and the National Framework, we thought that these were important questions to ask. If you have not yet responded to this survey, please do so – the more responses we receive, the more informed we become in collectively planning for the future.

Reflecting the key stages of the Munro Review

Professor Eileen Munro is obviously very smart. In preference to releasing a single report at the conclusion of her review of the UK’s child protection system, she elected to conduct the review in three key stages and produce a report at the end of each stage.

In commencing her review during June 2010, Professor Munro used “systems theory” to examine how the current conditions within the UK’s child protection system had evolved over time. Her first report was published in October 2010 and provided an analysis about why problems had come about in the UK’s child protection system and why many of the reforms that had been previously attempted had unforeseen, negative consequences.

The second report that was released in February 2010 approached the review from a different perspective, by considering a child’s journey through the child protection system – from a starting point of “needing help” to an end point of “receiving help”.

In her third and final report, called “A child-centred system”, Professor Munro built on the findings of her initial reports to make recommendations aimed at creating long-term change with a range of fundamental shifts to the ways in which the UK’s child protection systems works.

It seems to PeakCare that Professor Munro’s staged release of her findings was a very clever way of allowing people to remain informed about the progress of her review, to reflect on and consider her findings over a period of time and remain engaged and committed to the review process.

PeakCare is taking a leaf out of the book of Professor Munro. Before jumping into an examination of the key themes of Professor Munro’s final report, we thought that it is also important for us to consider the valuable information contained within her preliminary reports. In the same way that Professor Munro made use of her preliminary reports to “set the scene” for the release of her final report, PeakCare is hoping that our replication of this process will “set the scene” for the debates and discussion that will occur at a future time when we focus our discussion on a detailed examination of the Munro recommendations.

To this end, in this post, you are asked to consider the key themes identified within the first and second reports of the Munro Review.

Key findings of the Preliminary Munro Reports

Within her first report, Professor Munro identified that the UK child protection system had, in recent years, been shaped by four driving forces:

1) Firstly, a belief in the importance of the safety and welfare of children and young children and the understandably strong reaction that follows when the system is seen as failing when a child or young person has been seriously harmed or killed.

2) Secondly, a (mistaken) belief that the complexity and associated uncertainties of child protection work can be completely eradicated.

3) Thirdly, a readiness during the conduct of high profile inquiries, to focus on “professional error” without looking deeply enough into its causes – that is, what were the factors that contributed to or allowed these errors to be made.

4) Lastly, an undue importance assigned to the use of performance indicators and targets that provide only “a part of the picture” and which have inappropriately skewed attention away from evaluating the quality and effectiveness of the help that is given towards the “processes” involved in providing help.

Professor Munro concluded that these forces have combined to create a “defensive system” that:

  • places too much emphasis on “procedures’ and “record-keeping”, and
  • a subsequent lack of attention given to developing and supporting the expertise needed to work effectively with children, young people and families.
  • concludes that, rather than concentrating solely on “doing things right” (that is, following procedures), the system needs to increase its focus on “doing the right thing” (that is, checking on whether or not children and young people are actually being helped).

Once again, we’d like to ask for your participation by filling out this week’s survey:

What are the “driving forces” currently shaping Queensland’s child protection system?

Lindsay Wegener – PeakCare Executive Director