In mid-2017, around 120 child and family support sector workers attended Brokering Better Partnerships workshops, run in collaboration by the Partnership Brokers Association and the QFCC.
Attendees in Bayside, Beaudesert, Toowoomba and Gympie used internationally proven, real-world tools to explore the partnering cycle and key principles of good partnerships – and the flow-on benefits they can deliver for children and families.
We asked Marcia Dwonczyk, facilitator of the workshops, her top tips for a good partnership.
What does it take to partner well?
In a few words? Diversity. Equity. Openness. Mutual benefit. Courage.It’s that last one that can help you with all the others. Being courageous enough to accept that you can’t do everything on your own. Seek the collaboration, wisdom and expertise of others so that, together, you can do more for children and families. It’s about being brave and working through when things get difficult. Partnering can mean different things to different people. Make sure you work out what kind of partnership you need, and for what purpose, at the outset.
What are some of the biggest challenges that organisations face in partnering well?
I think the 2 biggest perceived challenges are time and competition. I’d ask anyone thinking about partnering to turn those 2 short term challenges around and think about the long term gains. We all share the core aim of delivering much needed support for vulnerable children and families. We need to partner with families if we are going to achieve effective and sustainable change, and we need to partner with organisations across the sector. It’s important to commit the time it takes to develop and nurture a partnership in the early days to build upon it for future projects. Commit to sharing information– maximise your strengths, draw on your collective experience to overcome challenges and deliver a better service together.
Why partner? What makes it worthwhile?
There aren’t many simple solutions to the challenges we face in the work that we do. Every family is different and issues can be complex. We know that vulnerable families often need the support of multiple organisations and services. Partnering can help these organisations to connect and deliver a more connected service. Partnering is a means to an end, not an end in itself. We need to be clear about why we are partnering, and our shared purpose and really keep a focus on this.
The workshops generated a lot of positive feedback, with comments praising the quality of the content, process and delivery.
Attendees found the partnership model presented to be practical and relevant to their practice.
Liz Power from The Benevolent Society said, “this workshop has offered us an insight into a way of working within our regional network that will greatly enhance the progress and direction of actions/partnership in the future.”
A Logan-based attendee credited the workshop with providing him with the skills to establish a much needed partnership between a private enterprise, his employer, and the school where he works to support students. This will help to fund his role at the school.
Marlo Bronzi, from Scripture Union Queensland said, “I’m now going to be the broker in the partnership and I’m excited to take what I learned and use it in what will be my biggest opportunity yet – to broker a community partnership.”
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