Between June and August 2019, SNAICC undertook a survey of child and family service organisations. The purpose of the survey was to seek input from organisations on their experiences in partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and mainstream services, and on what is most important in partnership development.
The survey was completed by 106 organisations and had responses from every state and territory. Below is a summary of the key findings:
Profile of respondents
Ninety per cent of survey respondents were non-Indigenous organisations. The low participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations may correspond with the literature that suggests a low level of trust of partnerships among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, and that non-Indigenous organisations have significant work to do to establish the necessary cultural competence and community relationships to engage in genuine partnerships.
Interest in partnerships
Survey respondents expressed a very high level of interest in engaging in partnerships. It was also clear that a significant number of partnerships exist, though capturing detailed information about the quality and level of development of the partnerships was beyond the scope of this survey and will be explored further through the planned partnership audit process.
Importance of partnerships
Most respondents indicated that they believe that partnerships are important for their organisation in order to support non-Indigenous organisations to understand and respond to the needs and priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (87.7%); 84.9% of respondents indicated that they believe partnerships are important for their organisation to develop sustainable relationships built on trust; and 78.3% of organisations indicated that they believe partnerships are important to enable sharing of resources to enhance organisational capability.
Key positive themes
Key positive themes identified by respondents regarding what is working well in and supporting existing partnerships were:
- establishing mutual respect and trust and identifying shared values
- building collaboration
- a focus on capacity building
- strong communication
- investing in relationships
- creating transparency around roles and responsibilities
- a genuine commitment to cultural safety and improvement of cultural safety.
Key challenges that respondents identified in existing partnerships were:
- competing priorities limiting partnership work
- mistrust of mainstream organisations from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities
- distance and the ability to access remote locations
- dedicating the time required to develop strong relationships
- inconsistent workforces impacting on progress of relationships and partnership work
- a shortage of funding, and short term funding impacting on the ability to invest in building and maintaining long-term partnerships
- establishing boundaries around money and resources.
The support most required by respondents to engage in partnerships or further enhance their existing partnerships is access to resources (65%) and partnership facilitation workshops run by SNAICC (56%). Respondents also commonly highlighted that funding is a limitation on their ability to engage in or enhance existing partnerships, with respondents indicating that funding bodies need to recognise the additional time and costs that are required to facilitate strong relationships and enable partnerships to happen.
The next stage of the partnership project calls for all organisations currently involved in a partnership providing service supports to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to complete a voluntary audit of the partnership using SNAICC’s online partnership audit tool. Available during February 2020, this tool provides a framework for measuring progress towards achieving genuine partnership goals. Your participation can help you to assess your progress and plan for improvement in your partnerships.
The responses received through the audit will also be used to better understand the development of partnerships across Australia and to assist SNAICC in identifying organisations to be involved in the third stage of the project – partnership workshops and case study profiles, facilitated by SNAICC.
The audit can either be completed with partnership organisations together, or individually, and all information collected will be used by SNAICC to support its work promoting genuine partnerships. No identifying information about any service received through the audit will be published without permission.
If you have any questions about the partnership project, please contact Andria Mastroianni on (03) 9419 1921 or firstname.lastname@example.org