Collaboration is “...characterised by strong and highly inter-dependent relationships which, by utilising multiple sources of expertise, knowledge and resources, focus on solving complex problems” (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, 2009).
A model for collaboration
Building Capacity, Building Bridges has adopted Winkworth and White’s model of collaboration. The model articulates a continuum of three levels of collaboration: networking, co-ordination and integration. Optimally the level of inter-agency collaboration is matched to client need.
There are three conditions for effective collaboration:
Collaboration needs to have both a reason and a purpose that are sufficiently valued. For example: Having an account of the value of the enterprise to provide a shared reason for collaboration. Having a claim about why collaboration is necessary. Being able to identify mutual benefits to collaboration.
Collaboration needs an environment that authorises and supports the participants to give it legitimacy. For example: legislation or policy documents, agreements, information-sharing protocols, approval from non-government and other agencies as well as from representatives of government, and evidence from research and practice.
Collaboration must have access to resources and skills to be effective. For example: processes to facilitate information exchange, sufficient resources and infrastructure, relevant expertise, knowledge and skill.
Winkworth, G & White, M. May Do, Should Do, Can Do: Collaboration Between Commonwealth and State Service Systems for Vulnerable Children, Communities, Children and Families Australia, Vol 5, No.1, May 2010.
Winkworth, G & White, M. (under review) Australia’s children “safe and well”: Aligning levels of collaboration and children’s vulnerability across Commonwealth Family Relationship and State Child Protection systems.