Event Reflection: Community Listening – What happens when we start with children and families? (31 May 2022)
This webinar explored a framework for an ‘inside out’ approach, where families and communities sit at the same table as government and practitioners to inform strategies for change.
Organisers: Hosted by the Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) as part of their Thriving Children, Thriving Communities series focussed on equity and innovation in community child health, with speakers Dr Tim Moore (Centre for Community Child Health), Catherine Thompson and Kerry Laming (Hands Up Mallee), and Tara Day-Williams: (Department of Social Services).
Watch the webinar here
Stronger Places, Stronger People is a collective impact initiative lead by the Australian government that brings together state and territory governments and community to create better futures for children and families through locally tailored and evidence-driven solutions. Tara Day-Williams described the need for place-based solutions to solve complex problems facing the most vulnerable in those communities. Ten communities across Australia are involved in this initiative which focuses on building a shared commitment to a local strategy where community voice is at the centre of identifying problems, making decisions and results.
Dr Tim Moore discussed the Framework for Collaborative Decision-Making, which the initiative drew from. It was driven by a recognition that while we understand the need for inclusion of lived experience in service design and decision-making, the effectiveness of engagement has been limited. Dr Tim Moore presentation highlighted the need for alternate forms of knowledge and evidence based on the inclusion of lived experience around ‘what works’ and explored how the Framework for Collaborative Decision-Making can be used to ensure decision-making power is shared equally across the community, service system and government.
The Framework for Collaborative Decision-Making promotes the involvement of community or clients to share their voice, alongside that of service professionals, to identify problems and highlight what has worked in their community to address them. Through such community involvement, place-based initiatives can be more successful in targeting resources for improved outcomes.
One of the communities involved in Stronger Places, Stronger People is Hands Up Mallee located in Mildura. Hands Up Mallee support local community and services to understand local needs, use data and evidence to advocate for change. Hands Up Mallee have taken community engagement to a rich new level, where strong relationships have been built to promote ongoing community engagement. The foundational work put into developing these relationships has ensured the value of community voice is heard at both the service level and government level.
Hands Up Mallee commenced their initiative with a discovery phase, where a survey was developed to identify community needs. They tested this survey with a small group of community members already engaged with Hands Up Mallee. The community members tore up the initial survey, directing staff to rethink and reframe the questions in order to garner more community interest. The flexibility of the Stronger Places, Stronger People approach ensured that the Hands Up Mallee team could take this feedback on and recreate a survey that the community would engage with. This worked, sparking interest in many community members including Kerry Larning who provides insights into her journey as part of this initiative. Kerry says that from that little spark, she has been able to encourage additional community members to take part and share their voice, and now Kerry is considering ‘what can I do’ to help.
This webinar is of value to professionals at any stage of their Journey to Better Outcomes. Community involvement can and should be promoted at all levels of design, implementation and evaluation for initiatives in that community.
Critical elements of the Framework for Collaborative Decision-Making:
- Three sources of information are used to inform decisions: evidence, data and voices
- These sources of information (voices) must be drawn from both the family and community perspective, and the professional/service system perspective
- All perspectives must be provided equal value
Key success factors in engaging with community
- Persistent and consistent communication from the Hands Up Mallee team. Community should be involved continuously throughout a project, rather than in an ad-hoc manner. The Hands Up Mallee community project partner described this as a crucial element for her ongoing excitement and engagement with the project.
- Sharing power dynamics. Through simple measures such as levelling the playing field by introducing professionals with just a first name, without titles whicgh are associated with power, which contributed to community members feeling empowered to share their insights into the problems faced.
- Financial reimbursement for community members’ time. This further promotes recognition of the value of community members’ time, and their insights.
Dr Tim Moore: Senior Research Fellow, Policy and Equity, Centre for Community Child Health. Dr Tim Moore is a developmental psychologist who heads a small Research and Policy Team with responsibility for monitoring, reviewing and synthesising research literature on a wide range of topics relating to child development, family functioning and service systems..
Catherine Thompson: Community Engagement and Action Teams Coordinator. Catherine’s role at Hands Up Mallee means she regularly connects with our community, learning what life in our region is like for children, young people and their families. Catherine’s team works to create safe, empowering spaces where families, the community, and services can work together to improve children’s outcomes in our community.
Kerry Laming: Community Project Partner. Community member Kerry is a mother of six and grandmother of three who has played an active role in the work of Hands Up Mallee. As someone who enjoys helping others, working with Hands Up Mallee gives Kerry a chance to contribute to her community and leaves her with a sense of fulfillment. Kerry is also a talented photographer who is passionate about birding. She has captured over 140 birds through her lens as she travels, seeking out new species to photograph.
Tara Day-Williams: Director, Stronger Places, Stronger People Initiative. Department of Social Services. Tara’s formative professional experiences included working with an Aboriginal community on Cape York, the Kuku Yalanji (pronounced goo-goo yal-en-gee), from which she still draws learnings and which sparked her passion for enabling community-led change. Tara has worked in research, consulting and for all three levels of governments. Since 2019 Tara has led the design and implementation of the Stronger Places, Stronger People initiative for the department of Social Services.
Watch the webinar here
- Hands Up Mallee Discovery session resources: Check out the feedback videos for a recap on the conversation sessions with community members.
- Stronger Places, Stronger People: This is a community-led, collective impact initiative of The Australian Government Department of Social Services.
- Community listening research overview: This resource outlines Dr Tim Moore’s webinar presentation.
- More about Collective Impact: Take a look at the Event Reflection of Liz Weaver – Collective Impact and how to evaluate it here