Data driven solutions: from driving quality in technology to violence prevention

Data is everywhere.  Our ability to harness the insights it offers can genuinely change the world.

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I came into my role at ANZ knowing we have enormous potential to use technology to achieve better outcomes for our customers. But this can only happen if we turn data into intelligent insights that tell us important things about customers’ lives. 

“The stories brought forward as part of the Royal Commission were heart breaking, and our data only made it more real.”

I’ve worked in Quality Engineering (Testing, Environments, Assurance) for close to 30 years and have been fortunate enough to manage some very large delivery programs and groups and I’ve always had this attitude. 

The stories about what and how we are doing are important but when combined with facts it supercharges our ability to achieve quality changes.

Let me share an example from my own work life.

In 2013, after many years working in technology, I was at the point in my career where I really wanted to give back to the community.  I needed some sort of change that would use my skills but give back in a deeper way.

I joined Leadership Victoria and was given the opportunity to join the board of  Kara Family Violence Service.  Kara FVS is a women’s domestic and family violence refuge and outreach service.

When I joined the board in 2013, they had one property operating as a shared refuge that could accommodate up to five women and eight children.

There was a need to add IT, risk and change management skills to the board and my skills were a good fit. 

Early on in my tenure I identified we lacked actionable data about the people we were serving, though we had a lot of anecdotal information.

The sector more broadly had lots of data they collected but at that point there was no way of aggregating or analysing the data in an actionable way for Kara FVS.  I saw an opportunity to start making decisions based on facts. So we decided to start something new for Kara. 

Interviewing the case workers, the service manager and the board helped set the frame for the types of data they wanted insight into. 

We started collecting the answers to these key questions about our clients:

  • What intervention pathways led the client(s) to our refuge service?
  • What sort of violence had they experienced?
  • How many children were they bringing into refuge?
  • What was their cultural background?
  • Were there any identified / diagnosed mental health issues?
  • Any substance abuse issues?
  • What was the client(s) age?
  • Had the client been in refuge before?

Royal Commission into Family Violence

In 2011 the Department had started collecting data from services via the “SHIP” Data Collection Platform but actionable insights for services like Kara weren’t available.

When the Royal Commission into Family Violence commenced in 2015, all Family Violence services organisations were invited to provide submissions.  Kara FVS prepared a submission and brought our data in support of what our service saw needed focus.

The Kara FVS data was able to reinforce what the sector knew was a problem anecdotally – there were issues in supporting children and Non-Permanent Residents in refuge and with outreach services.

Prior to the Royal Commission, domestic violence was treated as a homelessness issue in which funding was provided only for the person in need of refuge. No funding was provided for the children who were caught up in it all. This was rectified with the Royal Commission and now the whole affected family unit is supported.    

Also prior to the Royal Commission, people without permanent residency were unfunded to enter any refuge or care.  This community is particularly vulnerable and many services were unable to help this group because of the lack of funding or pathways out of care.  Kara FVS always took in these women and we had significant data to share about this group to help drive policy decisions.

The stories brought forward as part of the Royal Commission were heart breaking and our data only made it more real. As of January 2023, all 227 recommendations out of the Royal Commission into Family Violence have been implemented. 

This included putting IT systems and processes in place to ensure the collection and analysis of data across all providers in the Domestic & Family Violence sector. 

Kara FVS grew a reputation for being thought leaders in the sector, influencing far beyond their small size. 

One of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission was the redevelopment of the communal refuges in Victoria into “core and cluster” accommodation models. In 2019, as a part of this, the Victorian Government awarded Kara FVS a second, purpose built, refuge site – more than tripling the number of women and children Kara FVS could assist.

Kara FVS genuinely changes the lives of those they touch with their refuge services and outreach, helping hundreds of women and children affected by domestic and family violence each year.

Why am I sharing this story?

My belief in the power of data to inform strong decision making was confirmed a hundred-fold through the work done for Kara FVS. 

At ANZ we have data and more data and more data. But to turn that into information is the real challenge. Quality Engineering is a discipline rife with data points – cost of quality, number and priority of test scenarios, number of defects and severity distribution, defect aging, velocity, automation percentages, phase leakage. There are nearly infinite ways to measure each metric, so when our Division wants to tell a story about quality we don’t have a consistent structure.

We’ve been working closely with our partners and the folks in Architecture & Engineering to establish an extensive Quality Engineering metrics and measurements platform for our Australian Retail and Commercial division.

We are at early stages of the project but our goal is to ensure the QE function is run and optimised based on data – we can measure ourselves accurately, increase the predictability of change and further improve production quality.

When we put up an innovation or improvement suggestion, we will be able to measure the benefits.

As we saw at Kara FVS, data has a real-world impact and can change life for the better.   

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the 1800Respect helpline at 1800 737 732.

Catherine Lockstone is Capability Area Lead, Quality Engineering at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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