Media release: Their Futures Matter

The Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released a report today examining whether the Department of Communities and Justice had effective governance and partnership arrangements in place to deliver ‘Their Futures Matter’.

Their Futures Matter was intended to place vulnerable children and families at the heart of services, and direct investment to where funding and programs deliver the greatest social and economic benefits. It was a four-year whole-of-government reform in response to the 2015 Tune Review of out-of-home care.

The Auditor-General found that while important foundations were put in place, and new programs trialled, the key objective to establish an evidence-based whole-of-government early intervention approach for vulnerable children and families in NSW was not achieved.

Governance and cross-agency partnership arrangements to deliver Their Futures Matter were found to be ineffective. 'Their Futures Matter lacked mechanisms to secure cross portfolio buy‑in and did not have authority to drive reprioritisation of government investment', the Auditor-General said.

At the reform’s close, the majority of around $380 million in investment funding remains tied to existing agency programs, with limited evidence of their comparative effectiveness or alignment with Their Futures Matter policy objectives. The reform concluded on 30 June 2020 without a strategy or plan in place to achieve its intent.

The Auditor-General made four recommendations to the Department of Communities and Justice, aimed at improving implementation of outstanding objectives, revising governance arrangements, and utilising the new human services data set to address the intent of the reform. However, these recommendations respond only in part to the findings of the audit.

According to the Auditor-General, ‘Cross-portfolio leadership and action is required to ensure a whole-of-government response to delivering the objectives of Their Futures Matter to improve outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and their families in New South Wales.’

Further information

Please contact Scott Stanton, Acting Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email