Department of Health

Healthcare that counts

A framework for improving care for vulnerable children in Victorian health services.

The Healthcare that counts framework supports the Victorian government's reform direction to deliver effective, integrated services to vulnerable children and families at risk of or experiencing child abuse, neglect, family violence and other forms of social disadvantage.

The framework drives system-wide improvement and supports Victorian health services by:

  • Articulating the role of all Victorian health services in the early identification and effective response to vulnerable children at risk of child abuse and neglect.
  • Supporting health service organisational change management and quality improvement.
  • Guiding health services to embed organisational governance, systems, processes, and structures focused on children and families experiencing vulnerability.

The framework outlines five key action areas for health services to embed as part of a continual quality improvement process. Each of these areas includes best-practice indicators and case examples of effective implementation:

  1. High-quality governance for vulnerable children and families – leadership and systems in place to protect and promote the health, safety and wellbeing of children and families
  2. Access for vulnerable children and families – health services are accessible, flexible, inclusive, safe and responsive to the needs of vulnerable families
  3. Family-sensitive and inclusive practice – uphold rights of the child; consider the needs and interests of children when working with adults and promote family safe practice.
  4. Working together – health services and health professionals must work together and with others to ensure care is effective, comprehensive and coordinated
  5. Effective communication and information sharing – communication is open, transparent and information is shared between professionals and services in the best interests of the child

All Victorian public health services should ensure that organisational systems are in place to support vulnerable children in line with these key action areas. The Healthcare that counts framework aligns with and supports the implementation of mandatory Child Safe Standards.

Services required to implement the framework

Under section 18.12.2 of the 2022-23 Policy and Funding guidelines, Expectations, Policies and Performance, all health services funded to provide a range of health services and programs by the Department of Health must implement the framework. These include:

  • hospitals (admitted and non-admitted services), including early parenting centres
  • integrated and registered community health services
  • public health units
  • alcohol and drug services
  • mental health services, clinical and community mental health support
  • dental services
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services
  • counselling, parenting, and other support services
  • public and preventative health services
  • maternal and child health services
  • bush nursing centres

Other health providers can use the framework to support practice improvement, including general practitioners and private hospitals.

Supporting implementation and continuous improvement

Health services are encouraged to undertake annual self-assessments to measure their progress against the framework. This involves reviewing the indicators of best practice, rating progress and identifying gaps in practice.

Key resources for implementation of the framework include:


Date published
26 Jun 2017

Reviewed 13 September 2023

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