Resource: Developing capacity through partnerships

Resource: Developing capacity through partnerships

9 December 2013

A promising model for capacity-building partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and non-Indigenous services

A ground-breaking approach to building capacity for Aboriginal child and family service delivery is emerging in New South Wales. A partnership model is supporting two-way learning between mainstream non-government organisations (NGOs) and Aboriginal communities.

This model has a strong capacity-building focus. It is opening up new space for the empowerment of Aboriginal communities to effect unique and quality service responses to the significant challenges facing their children and families.

The partnership model has been designed and spearheaded by the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care Secretariat (AbSec), the peak body for Aboriginal child welfare services in New South Wales. It is being implemented in the context of the transition of all out-of-home care placements to non-government organisations in New South Wales.

Government and the NGO sector have agreed that all placements for Aboriginal children will transition to being supported by Aboriginal agencies. This will ensure that services meet the needs of Aboriginal children and build on the strengths of Aboriginal communities.

The five-phase partnership development process is ensuring that Aboriginal communities across New South Wales are ready to take on all placements.

The partnership model is bringing the Reconciliation Action Plans of established mainstream service providers to life as they work closely with Aboriginal communities. They are learning from these communities about culturally strong ways to support families and care for children, and giving back by supporting community and organisational development.

At the end of the day, the Aboriginal communities involved will take on full operation of their own quality and culturally strong services.

AbSec is playing a critical role to facilitate partnerships and enable local community leadership to engage in the change process.The AbSec support role has helped to build community trust and increase negotiating strength for Aboriginal communities building relationships with established service providers. Detailed attention to the time, resources and supports needed to make the partnerships work is creating a strong platform for sustainable relationships.

Capacity-building plans are being flexibly tailored to the specific circumstances and needs of each community. Importantly, the New South Wales approach has recognised that not all Aboriginal communities require partnerships where capacity is already strong.

Direct capacity-building support provided by AbSec, and additional resourcing through the New South Wales Government, has seen the number of out-of-home care placements supported by Aboriginal agencies almost double in the first twelve months of the transition.

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) has joined with AbSec to profile the partnership model in a new resource that is available to download from the SNAICC website.

This resource comes at a critical time when governments and NGOs across the country are responding to recent inquiries highlighting the need to increase capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled children and family services.

It provides practical guidance and inspiration that could inform implementation of partnership capacity-building models in other jurisdictions and sectors.  

Further reading and resources

Effective practices for service delivery coordination in Indigenous communities

Enhancing out-of-home-care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people  

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