True collaborative contribution to national review

Adaptive, agile, a shared responsibility for reaching a common goal…these requirements of successful collaboration were crucial to a recent joint submission to the Productivity Commission by Opportunity Child and community partners.

Three weeks ago, the Opportunity Child communities and friends left OC Connect aligned behind our key frameworks and powered up by the possibilities of our strong collective voice.

OC Connect brought together our partners involved with, or interested in Opportunity Child’s collective impact initiative. An advocacy session on the final day of Connect gave rise to our first collective response as a national community to influence policy.

The draft report from the Productivity Commission review into human services, “Introducing competition and informed user choice into human services”, offered an opportunity for OC communities to present our learning around the systemic conditions necessary to impact the lives of vulnerable children.

Nine urban, regional or remote communities across the country (where collective impact is alive and well) collaborated on the joint submission.

These organisations are Children’s Wellbeing Initiative-East Gippsland (VIC), Connecting Community for Kids (WA), Go Goldfields (VIC), Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project (VIC), Logan Together (QLD), Sanderson Alliance (NT), Strong Kids Strong Centre (NT), The Hive Mt Druitt (NSW) and Together in the South (SA).

Our experiences and growing insights across urban, regional and remote locations are vast in regard to place-based service provision and systemic reform and the joint submission we produced needed to be a fully collaborative effort. What is more, we only had two weeks to build it.stopclock image

The ensuing co-production truly reflected the depth of understanding and the commitment of the OC communities. The team adapted their contributions to emerging needs as the paper was continually strengthened through the cumulative body of knowledge the collectives offered. And talk about dedicated…we even received a critical contribution from Lisa McKenzie (Greater Shepparton Lighthouse) who added her input whilst relaxing on a sailing boat in Croatia!

The resultant response* to the Productivity Commission is one of which we can all be proud. On reviewing the work, Fred Chaney AO said of the submission, “… it is a fine effort and in line with OC’s usual professionalism and quality. My congratulations to all concerned.”

Most of all, the response provided another opportunity for OC to codify our learning on the ground and to contribute to the national conversation. As Sharon Fraser said of the collective effort “you really do take me to another level in my thinking.”

Logan Together’s backbone leader, Matthew Cox, said the submission was a highly credible response that made some important and, hopefully, influential points.

It is truly inspiring to work with communities who are so mobilised and so focussed on achieving impact for Australia’s vulnerable children. This is all made possible by the funding support from our founding funders, the ten20 Foundation.

How fantastic to be coordinating our efforts in this way.

If you’d like to be a part of our national movement, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or contact us to learn more about how you can make a difference for the one in five developmentally vulnerable Australian children.

*The response to the Productivity Commission Draft Report was jointly built by communities, and informed by partner organisations of Opportunity Child, including the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY)

About the author: Dr Michelle Lucas is Executive Director of Opportunity Child

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