Opportunity Child is humming with the energy our communities, core team and our partner agencies are generating.
OC Connect will be held next week and we’re working hard with our team of codesigners from across our national collective, to add the final touches.
OC Connect brings together our partners involved with, or interested in Opportunity Child’s collective impact initiative. It is a key event for learning, connecting, aligning our efforts and growing a movement. It’s about being together on this learning journey towards achieving our shared goal of dramatically improving the lives of one in five Aussie kids considered to be developmentally vulnerable.
We aim to continue strengthening our collective, to align and mobilise our partners and our partners’ partners.
There is an excitement around OC Connect which is widespread and I wish to thank so many of our friends for joining us in Melbourne from all corners of Australia, and for their contribution to our collective learning. I think it is invaluable for our partners to come together to share; it is a rare opportunity indeed.
Our investment in making sense of the collective impact approach has been significant. We have drawn from the social innovation lab that is Opportunity Child and we are testing constantly with our learning network and partner communities.
With that in mind, if you are coming to OC Connect, you can expect to see our new innovative suite of tools to inform monitoring and evaluation which have been developed with our partners. Excitingly, there is already international interest to support the further strengthening of the resources and tools emerging from Opportunity Child.
In other news, I was delighted this month to be invited to be on the program at the national Parent Engagement Conference, co-hosted by our partners Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.
Our partners for the session were Centre for Community Child Health (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute) and our combined strong messages of parents and families at the centre of this work were supported by robust and authentic examples of community engagement. I had the opportunity to engage in a conversation on the podium with Debbie Dunn, community convenor at Together in the South, part of the Opportunity Child Collective.
We contributed a piece around parental engagement in governance for social impact. Debbie shared her insights into equity and power, movement building, myth busting and meaningful engagement in decision making.
As well, last week we saw the release of a draft report from the Productivity Commission into human services, “Introducing competition and informed user choice into human services”. Opportunity Child will be taking a close look at the report during our ‘Community only’ second day of Connect and building together a considered response to the work.
I wrote about opportunity in the lead up to the federal Budget. Budget night announcements included $96.1 million for the ‘Try, Test and Learn’ fund to help the Government identify groups at risk of long-term welfare dependency and design policies to address barriers to work, $428 million to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education for the 2018 school year and several other positive announcements of note for our work and bold goal.
There is a real sense that the conditions are strengthening nationwide to support real change for children through place-based endeavour.
I look forward to seeing you in Melbourne next week at OC Connect to continue our critical work together.
About the author: Dr Michelle Lucas is Executive Director of Opportunity Child