The NDIA identifies a key outcome for the ILC program that ‘investment in community education, broad-based interventions and capacity building sustains and strengthens informal support and promotes the social and economic inclusion of people with disability.’
Social and economic inclusion requires the involvement and commitment to inclusion by a huge range of local players. Despite this need for local level engagement, there has been considerable concern raised that many smaller yet highly effective disability support networks and organisations may not survive in the NDIS competing against larger organisations with economies of scale. There is also concern that the vast majority of NDIA ILC funding support will be directed to large national organisations. In many areas, this will mean larger organisations may replace (or crowd out) smaller local groups with long held relationships, local knowledge and specialist local expertise. This is a major threat to the success of the ILC program and inclusion.
The NDIA needs to adopt an approach to the ILC and LAC that has a central focus on maintaining local networks and promoting local engagement. Recent system level developments that are highlighting the success of supporting local organisations through collaboration include the Collective Impact and Prime Provider approaches. These highly complementary approaches have much to offer the NDIA in the implementation of the ILC and supporting community engagement in the pursuit of a more inclusive society.
The foundation for Collective Impact is the widely accepted idea that complex problems cannot be solved by individual organisations acting alone – complex and difficult changes require a wide range of people and organisations working together.
Collective Impact is a disciplined approach to bringing cross-sector organisations together to focus on a common agenda that results in long-lasting change. Collective Impact sets five key conditions for success
• Common Agenda
• Shared Measurement
• Mutually Reinforcing Activities
• Continuous Communication
• Backbone Support
In the United States, Collective Impact has been a key approach used by governments to make significant inroads to addressing complex social problems. The wider adoption of Collective Impact was promoted by the significant gains in child and family outcomes achieved in the ‘Harlem Children’s Zone’. Collective Impact has been used over the past decade to reduce binge drinking by 50% in Massachusetts , reduce youth in custody in New York by 45% and increase employment opportunities in Chicago and Memphis . Following these successes, the US government has recently announced $210 million for Collective Impact to be used to improve student educational outcomes through the ‘Promise Neighborhoods Program’.
Collective Impact is also being used in some of Australia’s most effective and widely recognised programs. Communities for Children (CfC) is viewed as one of the Federal Government’s most effective efforts to improve outcomes for children in communities across Australia. CfC’s model is based on Collective Impact and includes funding for a Prime Provider (a backbone organisation in Collective Impact terminology) that brings together stakeholders from across the community, including government, private, non-profit and philanthropic organisations.
The Backbone organisation that is seen as central to successful collaboration in Collective Impact, has many similarities to the Prime Provider approach with its six core functions:
1. Guide vision and strategy
2. Support aligned activities
3. Establish shared measurement practices
4. Build public will
5. Advance policy
6. Mobilize funding.
The Prime Provider approach have developed separately but offer a comprehensive policy foundation for the lead or backbone provider required in Collective Impact. The Prime Provider approach is now well established in Australia and it arguably more easily accommodates the collaboration of government (and the NDIA) in addressing social problems than the backbone organisation of Collective Impact.
While there are many variations of the Prime Provider approach the Prime Provider organization (existing or formed for purpose) can be commissioned by Government to take responsibility for coordinating service delivery and other activities through a network of local or specialist providers. Some of the common shared elements in Prime Provider networks can include:
• Quality control
• Data collection, program evaluation and research
• Communities of practice
• Service development
• Management support, coaching and mentoring
• Staff training, learning & development
• Client related software and accounting supports or systems
• Marketing and program promotion
• Administration of contracts.
Prime Provider models in Australia tend to be locally based, partnership-type approaches, providing a ‘backbone’ organisation supporting the delivery of services to a specific client group. A prominent Prime Provider model in the disability sector is Partners in Recovery (PIR). Other examples of Prime Provider approaches in Australia are the Headspace program and a number of government funded, BSL operated, models that include:
• Communities for Children (CfC)
• Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY)
• Work and Learning Centres
• Saver Plus.
Each of these programs are showing significant success in developing innovative approaches to tackling complex problems that require collaboration across sectors. The programs can support the ILC to achieve the diverse goals of delivering inclusion that is supported by local communities within an approach that ensures national consistency and quality.