Service Navigators in the Workforce: an ethical framework for practice

  • Jennifer Donovan University of Melbourne
  • Ralph Hampson University of Melbourne
  • Marie Connolly University of Melbourne
Keywords: Navigation, Service navigator, Personalisation, Relational autonomy, Framework, Self-determination, Advocacy


Aim and Context: This paper explores the current growth of service navigators in complex health and human services and details the development of the Service Navigation Relational Autonomy Framework as a guide to assist practitioners and managers implementing this role. 

Approach: The framework was developed using a research into action process. The three-stage process included knowledge inquiry: bringing together existing knowledge in practice fields and research; knowledge synthesis:debate and exchange of practitioner insights and messages from research; and knowledge framework: framework creation based on the key elements of evidence-informed best practice. 

Main findings:
 The framework centres on four practice domains: reinforcing ethical practices; fostering self-determination; supporting transitions and wellbeing; and mobilising service systems. It incorporates the concept of relational autonomy as a foundation for navigator practice by recognising the nature of relationships and power dynamics in the provision of care, and the central importance of self-determination. 

 A navigation framework is critical for practice guidance and to ensure service navigators and organisations have the capacity to meet the needs of service users and their families. 
The framework presented in this paper seeks to encourage debate about service navigation, its implementation, and its future in health and human service organisations.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Donovan, University of Melbourne

Social Work, 161 Barry Street, Carlton, Victoria 3010, Australia

Ralph Hampson, University of Melbourne

Social Work, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

Marie Connolly, University of Melbourne

Social Work, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

How to Cite
Donovan J, Hampson R, Connolly M. Service Navigators in the Workforce: an ethical framework for practice. APJHM [Internet]. 1Oct.2018 [cited 4Aug.2020];13(2):i36. Available from:
Research Articles