Vulnerable families: Healthcare That Counts project

In 2017, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released the Healthcare that counts (HCTC): A framework for improving care for vulnerable children in Victorian health services. The HCTC framework was developed to support all Victorian health services to strengthen their response to children at risk of abuse or neglect and drive system-wide improvements to deliver coordinated and high-quality care. All health organisations across Victoria are expected to implement the HCTC framework – whether they be a community health service, acute hospital, Aboriginal health service, rural health service, mental health service, drug and alcohol service or integrated health service.

A survey of PCP partners established that there were low rates of awareness of the HCTC framework.  DHHS has funded the HCTC project to support six health organisations in the Loddon area. These organisations were selected through an expression of interest process: Boort District Health, Castlemaine District Community Health, Cobaw Community Health, Echuca Regional Health, Kyabram District Health and Kyneton District Health. The HCTC project is committed to identifying areas of good practice as well as areas requiring support.

Learnings from this project are being shared with the Department via the project steering committee to inform the ongoing review of the HCTC Framework. The project model supports pathways for both advocacy and information sharing across Victoria. A final report will be submitted upon completion of the project in June 2019.

A collaborative approach

The HCTC Project: Implementation in Loddon is a collaborative project between the three Primary Care Partnerships (PCP) in Loddon – Central Victoria PCP, Bendigo Loddon PCP and Campaspe PCP alongside the Loddon Children and Youth Area Partnership.

The strength in a collaborative approach to address complex health and social issues is well acknowledged and has resulted in multiple partnership models at commonwealth and state levels. A collaborative approach between these partnerships can result in greater efficiency, less duplicated effort, more access to resources and increased political and lobbying strength.

Project objectives

DHHS has funded this 12-month pilot project to work with six health organisations across Loddon with these primary objectives:

  • to identify ways to best support health organisations to implement the HCTC framework
  • to identify barriers and enablers in this process
  • to aid alignment with broader service reforms (e.g. family violence information sharing, the child information sharing reforms, NDIS).

Participating organisations

Participating organisations have self-nominated through an expression of interest process, each with an allocated staff member who is the Clinical Champion of the HCTC project and the direct contact point for project coordinators.

HCTC Project Loddon area

Interactive referral pathways

A referral pathway and local service directory for vulnerable children has been developed for the participating organisations as part of this project.

Training for health services staff

Training was delivered in the first week of April 2019 to 28 frontline staff and 16 managers on identifying and responding to vulnerable children in the healthcare setting.

The package was developed between the HCTC Project Coordinators and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare in response to needs identified through a staff awareness survey, HCTC organisational self-assessments, discussions with Clinical Change Champions in the six participating organisations, and feedback from the HCTC forum held in November 2018.

Overall, the training was highly successful with strong results on raised confidence in the workplace in relation to frontline staff and manager’s roles around vulnerable children and families. “It was an amazing seminar and I would definitely recommend it.”

The powerpoint presentations are available for:

  • Managers – leading the way- vulnerable children and families
  • Frontline staff – identifying and responding to vulnerable children and families

Healthcare That Counts forum

The Healthcare the Counts forum was held in Bendigo (Nov 2018) promoting improved healthcare and responses to vulnerable children and their families.  The forum was attended by 56 executives, managers and staff representing 25 health and related services across the Loddon area, including 11 people from DHHS.

Attendees said the forum significantly raised their awareness of the HCTC framework and their responsibilities to protect vulnerable children and families. Attendees highly praised the calibre and presentations of the four key speakers at the forum: Assistant Director Child Protection (Loddon Area) Shane Wilson, DHHS Loddon Area Director Nathan Chapman, Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People (Victoria) Liana Buchanan and Echuca Regional Health’s Aboriginal Liaison Officer Sonya Parsons.

Resource development




Central Victorian Primary Care Partnership acknowledges the traditional owners on whose land we live and work, their rich culture and spiritual connection to country. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and celebrate their living culture and unique role in the life of our catchment.

website by