Best Practice Unit

The NGO sector is increasingly responsible for a growing proportion and range of service delivery in the child and family welfare area. ACWA’s role is to support the sector’s capacity to provide high quality services that result in good outcomes for children, young people and families.

The NGO sector has a history of commitment and leadership in the area of quality assurance. The Best Practice Unit (BPU) builds on this history and the expertise already developed by ACWA members across training, practice and research. The BPU seeks to underpin the sector’s current growth by developing a workforce building strategy and developing accessible pathways for professional development for staff within the sector. It will also work with members in identifying best practice models and the development of an outcomes and evidence base for capturing the effectiveness of NGO sector work.

Code of Ethics

Suggested steps in using the ACWA Code of Ethics:

  1. Identify the ethical issue
  2. Read through the CoE and identify the values/principles that are relevant
  3. Discuss/consider the values/principles and how they intersect and inform your thinking
  4. Arrive at a considered position or decision
  5. Record your decision

Purpose of the ACWA Best Practice Unit

To provide information, resources and training to support key areas of practice in NSW and to raise the standard of practice across the whole NGO sector, to ensure children and young people receive high levels of practice.

The Unit defines best practice, and investigates models of practice in key areas. It also undertakes work to enhance the ability of agencies to collect data related to robust systems that will provide for the measurement of outcomes using staged steps to the implementation of new initiatives.

The ACWA Best Practice Unit always test decisions against the principle of what is in the best interests of the child - outlined in the framework below.


Three Strands of Work

ACWA Best Practice Framework

(Each section of the Framework links to a section further down page - please use the number to find the related text)

1. Best Interest of the Child.

This involves always testing practice decisions against the question:

“What is in the best interests of this child?”

  • With key systems, support and plans being put in place to meet the individual child or young person’s needs.
  • Starting with accurate assessment or re-assessment of the child or young person’s needs on entry into care.
  • Children and young people are to be involved in the decisions and plans that affect them, taking into account their age and ability.
  • Children and young people are to always have at least one significant relationship.
  • Young people are to be provided with the opportunity to learn independent living skills, develop relationships and to have the resources to support them, to the best of their ability – benefiting from clear planning and support.

Children and young people are to then have the opportunity to experience:

  • Greater safety, as well as more consistent support and care.
  • With greater placement stability - leading to improved wellbeing, health and educational outcomes.
  • And, as they are to be consulted on decisions, to feel more confident and empowered.

2. Children’s welfare practice framework.

Key principles:

Improving positive experiences for children and young people, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, to strengthen the sector’s ability to respond to the needs of children, young people and families.

Creating a unifying framework that provides consistent best practice amongst organisations delivering services to vulnerable children, young people and their families.

Resourcing so that expertise and services are equally accessible, regardless of geographical location, socio-economic status or cultural background.

Supporting improved connections and networks through organisations and individuals linking with each other to provide support, share information and develop regional and specific solutions.

3. Evidence & outcome-based practice.

Best practice policy and resources need to be produced that support and drive change, with:

  • Knowledge and practice to be evidence-informed.
  • Evidence and knowledge to be practice-informed.

Working to identify gaps as well as maximise knowledge and skill development through:

  • Targeted research.
  • Policy and services development.
  • Professional, responsive, transforming training.

Best practice principles and knowledge are to be practical, acknowledged and understood with a clear purpose, meaning and direction:

  • So that every area of each organisation, as well as their staff and carers, acknowledge and understand the importance of best practice.
  • Practice to be based on the best available knowledge and research - informing each area of work undertaken by the membership.

Children, young people and their families will then benefit from the best possible resources and skilled practice available to those working with them.

4. Respectful, ethical standards.

Ethical standards are set and reviewed through consultation and in line with recommendations from the Royal Commission and relevant statutory bodies.

A clear set of ethical standards will enable robust decision-making and accountability.

Children, young people and their families can rely on and benefit from ethical accountable carers, staff and organisations.

  • Organisations acknowledge the unique status, rights and issues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Valuing and collaborating with, as well as seeking feedback from, culturally and linguistically diverse organisations and refugee advocates.

Respect becomes the core of all interactions with others:

  • Respect for where people have come from and how this impacts where they currently are.
  • Always using respectful and inclusive language.
  • With interactions by staff and carers being trauma-aware and trauma-informed, respectful of the experience and journey of those impacted.

5. Capable & sustainable organisations.

The sustainability of organisations is to be strengthened through the work of the capability framework:

  • By being supported through evidence and research-based policy.
  • Assisting these organisations to be strong and adaptable.
  • While maintaining the core principles and individual strengths as well as the unique contribution of each organisation.

Assisting with improved recruitment and development of staff across the sector, so organisations support and help their staff and carers to become:

  • Skilled and resourceful, so better able to be part of a sustainable organisation.
  • With knowledge and experience, to be strong, supportive and creative contributors to that organisation.
  • For organisations to then retain these skilled staff and carers.

Organisations are to maintain an openness and willingness to share knowledge, information and resources - with creativity and wisdom valued and shared.

Yet retaining flexibility, for organisations to individualise practice and resources for their specific clients and for them to feed their successes back to inform the sector.

6. Develop staff & carers.

Important skills will be identified for each role and area of work across the sector, assisting in more effective:

  • Recruitment.
  • Training.
  • Supervision.

There will be a strong focus on the ongoing development and support of all workers and carers.

Staff and carers implement sound cultural practices and plans for children and young people:

  • Exhibiting cultural competence.
  • With a focus on improved placement stability.

So children, young people, their families and carers feel:

  • Respected and valued.
  • Culturally connected.
  • Increased trust.
  • Reduced conflict.
  • And greater stability.