National Centre for Place-Based Collaboration (Nexus Centre)
The Australian Government has engaged a Foundation Partner to undertake the first phase of work over 2023-24 to inform a potential National Centre for Place-Based Collaboration, also known as a Nexus Centre.
The Nexus Centre is envisaged to be an independent, non-government entity to support more inclusive and effective place-based partnerships between communities, governments, the non-government sector, business, and investors. It will recognise that place-based approaches differ and the ‘right’ approach reflects the needs and local arrangements that work best for that community.
The Foundation Partner
The Foundation Partner is a consortium of partners: the University of Queensland, Australia and New Zealand School of Government and not-for-profit organisation Collaboration for Impact.
The Foundation Partner will undertake two key activities to inform a potential Nexus Centre. The first activity is a design and consultation process to explore the demand, opportunities, needs and barriers to place-based change, and how a Nexus Centre could add value to the work already being undertaken by a range of different stakeholders.
This process will inform a proposal to Government outlining the potential scope, role, functions, service offer, governance, funding arrangements and future work plan of a Nexus Centre.
The second activity includes the design and testing of community supports that a Nexus Centre could deliver to support current and emerging place-based initiatives.
Consultation on the design of a potential Nexus Centre
The Foundation Partner will be undertaking a design and consultation process from May to September 2023. This will inform a proposal that the Foundation Partner will deliver to government in late 2023 for consideration on whether and how to fund the Nexus Centre.
The Foundation Partner is interested in exploring and understanding:
- The needs of different stakeholders working in place-based and community-led change.
- The opportunities of a Nexus Centre and the barriers that establishing a Nexus Centre might address.
- How a Nexus Centre might work in partnership with and support other activity in the sector.
There will be many different opportunities to participate in the consultations. For further information and details on how to be involved in the consultation process, please visit the Foundation Partner’s website at https://ncpbc.org.au/
Alternatively, you can contact the Department of Social Services (the department) directly at PlaceBasedStrategy@dss.gov.au
Background to the Nexus Centre and early phase work
Over the last few years, stakeholders have identified a need for a national entity to advocate for and facilitate place-based collaboration in Australian communities.
The department undertook initial consultations with communities, philanthropic experts, Commonwealth, and state and territory governments. A discussion paper was developed based on these consultations outlining the broad requirements for a grants process to engage a Foundation Partner.
In 2022, the department undertook an open competitive grants process to select the Foundation Partner. A consortium of partners, including the University of Queensland, Australia and New Zealand School of Government, and Collaboration for Impact, were announced as the successful applicant.
What does place-based mean?
Place-based approaches are about local people, government, service providers, and other stakeholders working together towards a shared vision to create a thriving community. They rely on teamwork, shared decision-making, and everyone being accountable for positive change.
- focus on the unique situation of a particular place,
- include local people in decision-making, and
- use strategies tailored to the community's needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
Place-based approaches work best when:
- the focus is on fixing the entire system, not just specific programs or services,
- local people are empowered to take part in decision-making and actions, and
- all stakeholders are open to experimenting with new ideas.