Ensuring every young Australian has a great start to life, and an even better future


With Goodstart, Australia

Goodstart is a thriving and successful not-for-profit early learning provider with extraordinary reach across Australia. With one in five children starting school behind their peers, Goodstart have set out to better understand the challenges families face accessing the early learning and care they need to meet the lived realities of 21st century family life.

The problem


Australian children arriving at school each year vulnerable and already behind their classmates

650 centres

that need to be locally responsive and meet the future needs of families

We know that early learning is critical to children’s health and wellbeing, their chances of future success in school and in later life, and that it plays a key role in reducing child vulnerability. But we also know that, in Australia, the cost of early learning is quickly becoming unaffordable to many families as it outstrips wage growth, and the standard model of early learning and care isn’t responding to the changing needs of family and work life. The requirements for our young people to thrive in a 21st century society and economy are also rapidly evolving, leading us to ask – what might we need to do differently in order to prepare children for a Goodfuture?

“My hopes and dreams for the future are to raise kids not to just be successful but to live life independently and be happy. Not necessarily that ‘you got to do this’ and ‘you got to do that’ ... I don’t want to raise robots, I just want to raise good healthy kids that are independent and make their own decisions, wherever they want to go in life.” Taylor

Through the Goodfuture program, Goodstart have set out to have an impact on many more children by creating irresistible new, future focused offers for families. At the heart of Goodfuture is the desire to understand in detail and without judgement the reasons that some families find it hard to engage with early learning support, so we can design better solutions that truly meet their needs. For some parents, asking for help means being judged and feeling inadequate for not being ‘perfect’. Others find it difficult to ask for help from their families for fear of being a burden, or simply don’t have anyone close by to rely on. But in some cases parents find that services in their local area aren’t able to cater for their specific needs, especially if they are shift workers.

“The team immersed themselves in the families' lives and quickly saw that the things that would make the biggest difference for the parents and children were not the things they had expected.” Jake Garber

Our Impact

25 families

contributing to insights about unmet needs through deep user research

5 days

of intense prototyping

300 educators

engaged as co-designers of new early learning offers

12 early stage ideas

to be explored and tested further

We spent time with 25 families from a wide range of contexts across Australia to learn more about their lives – their daily routines, their family trees, how they interact with different kinds of services and organisations around them, their biggest struggles and most cherished values, and what hopes they have for their children’s future. From their stories we were able to crystallise some of the key challenges and opportunities they faced.

“I never thought I had the ability to think so radically and away from my comfort zone but I surprised myself. Now I have had a taste of radical futures thinking I want to keep practising and sharing this newfound skill with others.” Goodstart staff member

Using the rich insights gained from spending time with families, the Goodfuture design team – comprised of Innovation Unit staff, educators and directors from early learning centres and members of Goodstart’s central support team – started designing irresistible new offers that were firmly focused on the areas of greatest need and impact. The team took part in intensive week-long design sprints, drawing upon the experience of families and staff along the way, which culminated in twelve prototypes ready for further testing with users.

“The way we all were given a chance to have a voice and be heard was the best part. That inclusion and belonging and being a part of this revolution will always be cherished.” Goodstart staff member

For many of the Goodstart team, design sprints were an introduction to service design in action, and they revelled in the opportunity to explore and deeply understand the challenge. As the team moves into testing ideas, the engagement of such a wide group of educators – and families – at different touch-points in the process has created high demand from staff who want to get involved in developing these ideas further.