The interactive Child Welfare Timeline was introduced to the Find & Connect web resource last year to provide a more engaging experience for people interested in an overview of the major events and legislation in the history of child welfare in Australia.

Image showing the text-based timeline

The Find & Connect website is known for its significant use of text, with images playing only a small role on the site. The timeline content was an example of this, with the previous version being displayed as a page of text.

Our primary audience, Care Leavers, made it clear during usability testing in 2011 and 2012 that they would prefer more images on the site. Therefore we are always looking for new ways to reduce the amount of text on the website. The creation of the interactive timeline using a Digital Humanities tool was one way of highlighting the images and multimedia already available on the website.

Interactive Child Welfare Timeline

Adding the interactive timeline to the website was not always a simple process and many technical issues and accessibility challenges had to be dealt with. One of our main conclusions was that the need to have two forms of the same content to meet accessibility needs should not be seen as a failure, but instead by providing both options it acknowledges an awareness of the needs of different audience groups. Therefore the interactive version of the timeline is available alongside the text based version. For more information about how to navigate the interactive timeline and what information is included see our previous blog post – We’ve made some changes….

The story of adding the interactive Child Welfare Timeline to the website was presented at February’s Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Online 2017 Conference in Sydney, in a paper titled “From Zero to Hero – The Journey of a Timeline From Text Heavy to Interactive: Creating More Inclusive Websites”.

Highlights of the paper include:

  • A background of the Find & Connect project;
  • The audiences of Find & Connect;
  • The need for repeated usability testing for sites like Find & Connect;
  • The three types of accessibility:
    •  Browser compatibility
    •  Readability
    •  Accessibility to web content for those who have disabilities
  • Self-hosting to remove reliance on external parties;
  • TimelineJS – the Digital Humanities tool, which provides the foundation for the Child Welfare Timeline;
  • The importance of responding to user needs and wants.

To see our presentation or read the paper in full please visit:

We always welcome feedback on the timeline and the rest of the Find & Connect website and in the future, with consultation from Find & Connect Support Services, there are plans to create an interactive timeline for each state.