Huon Valley Service System Network Analysis

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The Huon Valley Place Based Initiative is aiming to support greater coordination and communication by government and community sector service providers to more effectively to serve the needs of the Huon Valley community.  In collaboration with a core group of Huon Valley service providers, the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is supporting a ‘Lead Working Group’ (LWG) to guide and oversee this initiative.  This initiative compliments a number of other programs and activities already being delivered by local service providers and the Huon Valley Council.

What does the Huon Valley Place Based Initiative involve?

DHHS and the LWG believes that with a strong, collaborative and cooperative service system, clients and community will have improved communication and information sharing. Service providers will be better informed about what services are available across the service system and where assistance for community and clients can be found. This increased knowledge of services will make it easier for the community to connect with services and access the right information to make decisions on what services best suit them.

To this end, DHHS has committed to a service system network analysis (SSNA), in partnership with social network researchers from Swinburne University of Technology. This analysis uses cutting-edge analytical tools known as Social Network Analysis to understand networks of collaboration, competition, and trust that exist among your organisation and those you work with. The aim is to understand how certain patterns in these networks help – or hinder –the provision of health and human services.

What organisations are participating in this research?

Organisations generally involved in the delivery of services that support the health and wellbeing outcomes of people within the Huon Valley area, have been asked to take part in this research.   The research will be delivered in two parts.  Participants are being asked to complete an online survey on two occasions – one as a baseline and the second to understand how the service system may have changed.

For network research, participants are being asked to provide the name of their organisation so that their responses can be linked into interconnected network data, as well as to re-contact them for the second survey. However, in all public reports or presentations, all information provided will be de-identified so that no-one will know the identity of an organisation, or the organisations that people work with. All information will be presented in general themes and patterns.

The online survey asks participants to state their views on their organisation’s characteristics, its culture, and its mission.  Most important, participants are being asked to provide information about various types of relationships that their organisation has with other organisations.

What are there any potential benefits of this research? Any risks?

The aim of this project is to provide a highly detailed look at the service system using advanced tools for investigating social structure. This research will serve as a starting point for actions to be developed that will allow for more effective coordination, sector communication, funding structures, and project collaboration. The participation of every organisation in the service system is extremely valuable in achieving these aims.

We do not anticipate there to be any serious risks to participating. All responses are made completely confidentially – only the research team at Swinburne knows the identity of the participants or the organisations they work for. Individuals will remain anonymous. Organisations will not be advised as to who has participated.

Any reports or publications arising from this survey will also not provide any identifying information. The identities of individual organisations are not being shared with DHHS.  Instead, responses are being reported by general themes and patterns, and special care is being taken by an experienced research team to ensure that organisations are not re-identifiable within reports. All data will be securely stored electronically by the research team.

While some questions may suggest a perceived negative response, the purpose of the SNA is not to malign or judge any organisation or participant.  All responses, both negative and positive are considered constructive.  The SSNA is an opportunity to constructively look at the issues that weaken the network and develop strategies that will strengthen the service system for the benefit of Huon Valley clients and communities.

This survey and the approach to the research was assessed by Swinburne’s Human Research Ethics Committee in line with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.

What is the timing for this research?

The first 30 minutes survey was completed during October – November 2016.  The second online survey will be undertaken in early 2018.

Who is the research team?

Swinburne University of Technology, Faculty of Business and Law, Centre for Transformative Innovation was successful in submitting a tender to DHHS to complete this research.  The team undertaking the research is:

  • Associate Professor Dean Lusher
  • Dr Colin Gallagher
  • Dr Peng Wang
  • Dr Julien Brailly
  • Dr Julia Brennecke

What happens between the two surveys?

The first survey saw 57 community sector organisations (CSOs) participate in the online survey.  This approach provided an opportunity to understand the level of collaboration and information sharing across the service network and the level of trust between organisations.

A $20 000 grant was provided to Huon Regional Care to develop the action plan and implement the strategies in the action plan, which is aimed at addressing the gaps identified in the survey and to strengthen the service system.

The second online survey will identify if the strength of the relationships and connectedness of the Huon Valley service system has been increased.

The results of the first survey and a brief summary of its findings can be found under Huon Valley Service System Network at www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/joinedup

Further information, Project Updates and Fact Sheets on all five Joined Up initiatives are also available via this link: www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/joinedup