Stronger Places, Stronger People
There is significant government and philanthropic investment in a number of vulnerable communities across Australia, yet positive changes have often been limited. Recent events, including widespread drought, bushfires and the global coronavirus pandemic, have presented additional challenges for communities.
Most experts agree that no single policy, government department, organisation or program can solve the complex problems facing most children and families living in communities where disadvantage is concentrated. Ongoing engagement with a community to assess its strengths, needs and existing investment is required to make informed decisions that are driven by the community. This approach can allow real change to be enacted.
The Response: working in partnership, working differently
Stronger Places, Stronger People is a community-led, collective impact initiative, stewarded by the Australian Government in partnership with state and territory governments and 10 communities across Australia. It seeks to disrupt disadvantage and create better futures for children and their families through locally tailored and evidence-driven solutions to local problems, in partnership with local people.
A unique feature of collective impact is the shared commitment to a local strategy by communities, governments, service providers and investors, with shared accountability for planning, decision making and results.
The Australian Government is investing $35 million over five years in Stronger Places, Stronger People. There is also significant investment from state and territory governments and in some cases philanthropic organisations.
Stronger Places, Stronger People Communities
Stronger Places, Stronger People has commenced in nine communities. These include; Logan, Rockhampton and Gladstone in Queensland, Bourke and Kempsey in New South Wales, Mildura in Victoria, Burnie in Tasmania, the Far West Region of South Australia (including Ceduna) and the Barkly Region (including Tennant Creek) in the Northern Territory. The Australian Government is working in partnership with state and territory governments to identify the remaining community to join the initiative.
Several factors are considered when selecting partner communities, including:
- markers of disadvantage
- existing community collaboration
- strong local leadership
- established local governance structures
- a promising degree of readiness to work differently
- an existing collective impact practice is preferred
- a level of social cohesion and
- a shared vision for change.
Supporting Stronger Places, Stronger People communities
Stronger Places, Stronger People communities receive funding to support a local project team (‘backbone team’) in each community. The backbone team facilitates local planning, inclusive engagement, measurement and evaluation, joint decision-making, governance and local action. The backbone team works with, and is accountable to, a local community leadership group, supporting the community in developing and implementing their tailored strategy and plan of action.
Communities also receive funding for capacity building support, which is provided to enable local backbone teams to develop the skills and expertise necessary to implement community action plans.
Communities participate in a Partnership Exploration Process, which is designed to develop a shared understanding of collective impact practice in the community, plan for the year ahead and confirm the commitment from all partners.
National Leadership Group
Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, the Minister for Families and Social Services and Minister for Women’s Safety, convened the Stronger Places, Stronger People National Leadership Group to drive and shape the strategy and approach to implementing the initiative.
The National Leadership Group brings together leaders from communities, business, philanthropy, academia and service delivery, along with Special Advisors from the Commonwealth and state/territory governments.