Bring the key agencies together. The lead agency or champion would organise an interagency meeting or forum to discuss key issues and challenges related to service provision in the area. The need for partnership between the agencies would be decided at this meeting and potential members of the consortium would be identified. This meeting would also help to:
- Define and create a shared understanding of the local ‘big picture’ of community services issues and challenges.
- Encourage service providers and government agents to see service planning within a larger system of local programs and services.
- Raise awareness of the government program and policy context that needs to be taken into account.
- Begin developing an initial strategic vision for the MTSC.
Box A2: Resources for establishing and managing NGO and local partnerships
For a resource that aims to help those who are trying to overcome challenges and make difficult decisions in developing local strategic partnerships go to:
If the agencies involved lack the appropriate expertise and capacity, apply for and obtain funding for a project coordinator and other resources for the initial establishment, research and planning process from various grants and funding programs. One potential source of funding is mining companies such as BMA or Rio Tinto which provide funds for community partnership projects. They are currently investing strongly into communities, using a social responsibility approach.
The selection criteria for the project manager or coordinator could include the following:
- Excellent knowledge and understanding of the management of NGOs, financial and legal issues regarding collaboration models or the ability to access this information.
- Strong track record and experience in project management and planning, and change management.
- Flexible, with high level ‘people skills’ as well as excellent skills and experience in communication, collaboration, negotiation and engagement with others.
- An understanding of systems thinking, a community development approach, and collaborative and participatory planning, research and evaluation.
- Must have the ability and skills to move the process forward.
- Excellent understanding of the needs of service agencies regarding building design and layout.
- Prepared to undertake the practical work involved and to see the whole project through to completion.
While a minimum qualification for the project manager such as a Certificate IV or Diploma in Project Management is recommended, it is more important that they have the necessary experience and track record and the ability to engage and negotiate well with others as ‘so often strong relationships are the foundation for success’.
The project coordinator ideally needs to be funded until all the agencies have moved into the centre. He or she should be able to support organisations for at least another month after the move. While it may be necessary for the project coordinator to be located with one of the agencies, it is crucial that they are autonomous of all the partner organisations.
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