Garden Route District is ready to trial an app that allows social workers to be assigned to all child sexual & related offences cases at 1st reporting. The team identified numerous systemic failings through this process which gives insight into the reasons for under-reporting of cases and low perpetrator conviction rates
Data flow mapping | Systems audit | Baseline assessment | Qualitative victim/survivor service satisfaction survey tool developed | Improved inter-departmental communication | Developed an abuse reporting app – an electronic version of Form 22 (used by DOH, WCED & the public) and Form 581B (used by SAPS) | Manual Form 22 tracking
Interdepartmental communication and accountability | Social barriers | Gaps in the system | Tech-assisted activation of services | Mandate | Stakeholder involvement | Resources | Way of working | Critical success factors
FOCUS AND GOAL
South Africa has one of the highest incidences of rape in the world, according to SAPS statistics, around 45% of rapes in South Africa are perpetrated against children. According to research conducted by the Dullah Omar Institute, it is estimated that only 1 in every 20 womxn raped reports to the police. It is clear that current statistics are, at best, inaccurate based on various barriers to reporting. Data collected by various roleplayers in this ecosystem is not integrated, responsibilities are not clear, visibility of progress is limited, and delays and blockages in the system impact service delivery to victims, survivors, and their families. Ultimately, this is part of the reason for under-reporting & the low conviction rate of perpetrators of sexual and related offences against children.
The following focus area options were presented to stakeholders by the Pillar 6 Ambassadors based on the outcomes & indicators of the National Strategic Plan on GBVF and the Western Cape Government Gender-Based Violence Implementation Plan:
- Develop and institutionalise coordinated and Integrated Data Management, Information and Collection system, OR
- Increase number of stakeholders in child sexual assault case ecosystem who are sharing information to reduce process/systemic blockages to perpetrator conviction and survivor support, OR
- Generate useful insights from existing data to improve the quality of service delivered to the survivor and family.
The child sexual and related offences case ecosystem was chosen because it has the most stakeholders involved in every case. The rationale was that if data could be integrated with a complex system, it would be easier to scale the model in simpler systems.
Long term impact
Successful integrated data collection and collation would result in:
- improved quality of service delivery to victims, survivors, and their families
- reduced process delays and blockages
- improved perpetrator conviction rates
- motivation for adequate resourcing based on true needs
- easy identification of training needs and/or supportive action for service providers
- early intervention by system flags on repeat offenders and/or victims
- interconnectedness between Government Departments strengthening efficiency
During the leaders design session, the focus area options were refined into a challenge note: Expand and improve current data management systems to include all relevant stakeholders in the child (under 18 years of age) sexual and related offences case ecosystem.
From the key interventions of the GBVF National Strategic Plan – Pillar 6, the national pillar team selected one area for the district to choose an Impact Challenge.
The original 100-Day Goal was to keep victims, survivors and/or their families informed about their rights and responsibilities and the progress of their cases through the criminal justice system by improving communication between the roleplayers in the ecosystem.
Within a few weeks, it became obvious that this goal would be unattainable because of how data is collected and managed within departments and the barriers limiting interdepartmental data sharing. A revised 100-Day Goal was developed.
In 100 days, start using an integrated case management application for centralised victim/survivor-centred data to improve inter-departmental accountability and service delivery by having 100 percent of suspected child abuse cases in Knysna & Bitou registered on the system and referred to DSD for assignment of a social worker.
Results in 100-Days – The aim was to have 100% of cases reported to DSD, via Form 22 or Form 581B assigned to a social worker. Form 22 submissions from each of the points-of-entry were collated and compared with the Form 22 receipts by DSD, and the number of cases opened at SAPS. There were mixed results due to the inaccuracy of tracking Form 22s because it is currently not a mandatory reporting requirement. Complexity due to multiple points-of-entry and the potential for duplication caused by no unique identifiers makes it hard to know what caused the discrepancies.
Garden Route District is ready to trial an app that allows social workers to be assigned to all child sexual & related offences cases at 1st reporting. Originally, the sample area was the entire Garden Route District but due to the complexities resulting from different departments defining their geographical zones of operation differently, it was narrowed to Knysna and Bitou only as these 2 towns are part of the same zone across all departments involved. When the team started mapping the existing data flow in an effort to find ways to improve interdepartmental communication so that victims, survivors and their families could easily track the progress of their cases through the justice system; they realised that unless social workers were assigned to cases at their point-of-entry into the system, there were bound to be unnecessary delays as they progressed. As such, they focused their attention on correcting this issue. They have identified numerous systemic failings through this process which gives insight into the reasons for under-reporting of cases and low perpetrator conviction rates.
Experiments, Innovations and Actions
Data flow mapping
The team mapped the data flow for sexual offences against children from various points of entry into the system to the finalisation of cases.
The team listed which systems are used by the various departments to identify if and how these systems connect. They are not yet integrated.
The team collated the Form 22 submissions from each of the points-of-entry and compared these with the Form 22 receipts by DSD and the number of cases opened at SAPS to establish a baseline. It is important to note that the Form 22 is designed to activate DSD in the case of any and all suspected child abuse cases but not to isolate GBV as a causative factor, as such all Form 22 submissions were collated.
Qualitative victim/survivor service a satisfaction survey tool developed
Originally, the team had thought to establish a baseline by means of a satisfaction survey however they decided against this in favour of a quantitative baseline. The tool remains available for use in future.
Improved inter-departmental communication
By meeting on a weekly basis to work on the 100-Day Challenges, relationships between stakeholders from different departments were established.
Manual Form 22 tracking
The team recognised the value of tracking Form 22s and added this as a standing agenda item in their monthly interdepartmental meetings.
Developed an abuse reporting app
The app that has been created in response to the needs identified by the team is as follows:
For the purposes of a strictly controlled trial:
1) Designated people within WCED, DOH&W, and SAPS will be able to complete the Form on a handheld mobile device.
2) The completed Form will be emailed to the person who captured it for their records, any designated supervisors within these departments, and the canalisation officer at DSD.
3) The canalisation officer will be able to assign a social worker to the case using their desktop computer so that the person who completed the Form22 will be notified of who the contact person is.
Permission to trial the app was not secured within the 100-Days & as such, functionality was tested with dummy data.
After the 1st phase controlled trial, the app has the functionality to be able to extend users to Child Protection Agencies, NGOs, and possibly even community reporting in the future.
Insights gained and lessons learned
Inter-departmental communication and accountability
- Currently, no integrated case management nor clear systems to easily track cases between departments.
- Every department has its system, and the systems do not link or communicate.
- All suspected sexual offences against children, including teenage pregnancies, should be assigned to a social worker immediately and reported to SAPS for investigation. The implementation of this is not systematic.
- There is some confusion about how to deal with reporting teenage pregnancies to SAPS for investigation as they do not necessarily have the capacity, and not every teenage pregnancy is a crime. The “Kissing Act” Teddy Bear clinic amendment regarding consensual sex under 16 may reduce this confusion.
- Better interdepartmental comms are needed concerning Form 22s – Health, DOJ, SAPS, WCED, and NPA. This would be facilitated by alignment and efficiency of systems, moving to electronic capturing where resources exist.
- Tech-enablement of this process will make it easier
- The biggest barrier to a cohesive and integrated response is that no one has a deep understanding of how others’ systems work.
- Interdepartmental monthly meeting – From 22 standing agenda points
- Quarterly forum – focus on service delivery
- Integrate core services – – Make tracking and reporting on form 22 a departmental requirement at the National level. Inclusion on the National Data Indicator Set – submission and Receipt appropriate to Department
- To cover all entry points – Monthly reports to DSD by DSD-funded organisations
- Geographical Stakeholder mapping
- Central electronic repository for stakeholder information
- Clients & their families often beg first respondents not to complete a Form 22
- Some people fear victimisation if DSD or a CPU do home visits
- There is a level of mistrust in SAPS which may limit reporting cases
- Perpetrators may be breadwinners as such victims are reluctant to seek help
- Perpetrators are generally not held in custody during the investigation phase and may intimidate or harass victims
- A culture of victim-blaming leads to stigmatisation
- Awareness of legal responsibility and availability of services is not well communicated
- Service delivery booklets become outdated very quickly
- Awareness campaigns to educate the public on their rights & responsibilities when it comes to sexual offences against children
- The shared platform between key departments to reach clients in waiting rooms, for example DoH&W, SASSA, Home Affairs, Banks etc
- Sensitisation training for first respondents
Gaps in the system
- Currently, the tracking of Form 22s is not a mandatory reporting field
- There is no formal system or reporting mandate to track submission, progress and feedback of Form 22s
- Service providers understanding of legal mandates is unclear as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act No. 32 of 2007; The Children’s Act No. 38 of 2005; and the National Health Act No. 61 of 2003 are not aligned.
- There are communication challenges between key Governmental Departments
- It appears the Government departments are under-resourced to manage the scale and complexity of GBV
- School-based support systems are inadequate
- SAPS refuses to open cases based on a flawed understanding of their mandate
- Training – stakeholders need to be trained regarding their legal mandates
- Parent information campaigns
- Better communication between SAPS and governmental departments involved in the first response will assist in making sure that cases do not fall through the cracks
Tech-assisted activation of services
- This is needed to help track cases easier and also create visibility for those accountable
- This could be a standalone app or a module linked to current systems
- Having information is just the start; operating procedures are needed to ensure that the data is used to improve access to justice and to ensure security concerns are addressed
- Flags can be built into systems, but operating procedures will need to be in place to ensure that the responsible people respond appropriately.
- Expand the app and include Form 23 to close the data loop and add a reporting mechanism in the app
- Integrate with existing systems – API to existing systems & link to the national reporting system (NIDS)
- Investigate existing system capabilities such as HPRS – national system (already has capacity for referral); CAReS to replace VULA; NICD.AC.ZA; Office of Health Standards and compliance OHSCA; EVDS
- Develop and get approval for SOP to include notifications (4 weeks notify social worker to follow-up and 6 weeks notify canalisation officer to follow-up if no social worker report-back); Reports to track and discuss in monthly meetings and security measures including locking of screens after a certain time, and encryption.
- Concept not well socialised at the top & no clear roles and responsibilities
- A clear mandate from National and Provincial Departments would have made this easier
- Ensure Department or organisation heads understand the goal, and objective and mandate the right people to be in the room
- Authorisation to delegated team members – clearer mandates
- Leaders at provincial level should have mandated people to be at the leaders’ design session
- Invitation to workshops should have come via top leadership
- Should inform the National and provincial managers 3-4 months before the start of 100-Day Challenges to gain support
- Directives must come from the National ministers
- Mandates should come from the top – DWYPD >Nat Dept >Prov dept > Local
- Mandate provincial and district depts to communicate and coordinate
- Availability of key role players was an issue – the Team leader was not always available, and it made it difficult to bring all the members together for weekly meetings and tasks needed to sustain the momentum
- Canalisation officers and NGOs that are Child Protection Agencies and provide services on behalf of DSD should have been included in the team to make the work easier
- For future 100-Day Challenges, select a co-team leader to make sure there is someone to step up if the team leader’s participation is limited
- Get a clear mandate from managers or HODs to ensure that people prioritise the meetings
- If the team realises someone is missing from the team, ask the mentors to engage those people and add them to the team
- Mentors who are closer to the problem may have been a better fit.
There is a lack of adequate resources in the districts, which impacts the quality of service delivery
- DSD office at every SAPS
- Appoint suitably trained staff, Psychologists, Registered Counsellors, Counsellors, and Social Workers at DSD or DOH to support victims of sexual offences/assault
- A 24hr safe haven – registered & resourced people on call 24/7.
- A TCC in Knysna
- FCS at every police station
- The Municipalities should have gender as a focal point, it should be included in their strategic planning and implementation.
- Ways of working together to use available resources must be institutionalised.
- Have social workers and CPOs that are dedicated and committed with manageable caseloads and meaningfully compensated
- Access to resources like an office, smartphone, data/airtime, and transport is essential.
Way of working
Advice to future 100-day Challenge teams:
- Realise it is not just 100-days; once you are in, you are in
- Decide on something and retain your focus
- Set short-term goals so that you can experience small wins
- Make adjustments quickly on the run –
- We could have pulled in higher-ups earlier to accelerate our progress.
- We were slow in reacting to the changes once we recognised the issues.
Critical success factors
- Recognise that we limit ourselves – government departments, by nature, are “in the box”
- More opportunities to come together and brainstorm
- Quality of the current stakeholders and identification of stumbling blocks.
- A finite time helped create a sense of urgency.
- Ambassador enthusiasm and tenacity were key.
- Openness, honesty and participation by stakeholders enabled the work to happen.
- Passion and willingness to go the extra mile.
- The next steps for the team to see the work they have put to use would be to secure the necessary permissions to trial the app in a controlled trial using live data with user permissions in Knysna and Bitou.
- This process is likely to take 3-4 months. As such, the team will continue working with the developers to ensure that all desired functionality up to Form 23 is in place, initially they had limited the extent of the app because they had hoped to secure permission to trial within the 100-Days.
- Liaise with those developing the IJS and related modules to share learnings and decide how to integrate with existing systems.
- Extend the scope of the app by including the option for all those involved with Child Protection to activate DSD by capturing Form 22s.
Survivors and victims directly impacted
in 100 days
To what extent would you recommend the 100-Day Challenge experience?
To what extent did the 3 behaviours emerge during the 100-Day Challenge, compared to before?
"I am extremely excited about it...it's a fantastic App...covers everything."
FCS Garden route
01 April - 09 July
"Don't give up...! it seems rather daunting in the beginning, maybe even towards the middle BUT suddenly, things start coming together"
People not part of the 100-day team but without whom the results would not be possible:
Candice Ludick & Thando Gumede – 100-Day Challenge Ambassadors