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Principles of cross-sector collaboration

Principle 1: Begin by creating an authorising environment

The ability of services to create an authorising environment in which to support and enable collaboration is central to the success of cooperative ventures.

Begin by creating an authorising environment
  • Things to consider
    1. Government, organisational and clinical leadership is needed to promote and reward collaborative practice and establish incentives to facilitate integrated care.
    2. Governance structures need to be established (independent of clinical partnership mechanisms) that regularly identify potential problems, key issues, similarities and differences between the cultures of participating agencies, and define the goals and outcomes of the collaboration.
    3. A clear rationale for collaborative work needs to include how it will benefit clients, workers and organisations as well as identifying what challenges are likely to arise.
    4. An understanding of shared goals across organisations need to be coupled with shared structures and systems for practice such as screening and referral tools, care coordination and case documentation
    5. Implementation is maintained over time by agencies prioritising sufficient resources to the initiative until the mode of work becomes standard practice.
  • Case examples

    Creating an authorising environment at a inter-government level

    Creating an authorising environment between the Ringwood Magistrates' Court and a Gambler's Help agency

Principle 2: System integration is an essential element of collaboration

System integration involves the interaction of different service components so that through working together agencies can deliver services in a more efficient and holistic manner which ultimately benefits clients, particularly those with multiple needs.

Professional Development

Principle 3: Social Capital provides the fuel for the machinery to run

Social capital is about how people interact and the quality of relationships between individuals, groups and organisations. Without sufficient time being invested in relationships between senior management, managers, staff and practitioners from different sectors, the necessary goodwill and motivation may not exist to sustain collaborative work.

While structures and shared systems can provide the mechanisms for collaboration to occur, social capital is what provides fuel for the machinery to run.

Social Capital provides the fuel for the machinery to run
  • Things to consider:

    1. Trust and respect can be developed by participants seeking to understand each agency's culture, the capacities and skill set of partner services and through acting generously and cooperatively.
    2. Involving staff members in planning and decision-making processes engages them with initiatives where they feel that their contribution and practice knowledge are valued.
    3. Regular communication, project team-building events, project team meetings as well as whole cross-sector team visits promote relationships between individuals and services.
    4. Clinicians can find working in multi-disciplinary teams highly satisfying, as they create a more collegiate atmosphere where the burden (and opportunities) of complexity (are) shared and work related stress is reduced.

  • Case examples

    Building social capital - Collaborative care pathways for clients with mental illness and problem gambling

    Improving client pathways through communication, meetings and team-building

Principle 4: Co-location can be a useful mechanism for facilitating collaborative work

Both formal and informal contacts promoted through co-location can generate mutual understanding, sharing of information and a sense of trust on an inter-personal and cross-sectoral level.

Co-location can be a useful mechanism for facilitating collaborative work

Principle 5: Joint training can help develop staff commitment to collaboration

Practitioners are more likely to engage in collaborative practices if they understand the advantages of collaboration and are confident in their knowledge about how to collaborate.

Such knowledge and skills can be developed during joint training sessions where practitioners from different programs and services are brought together.

Joint training can help develop staff commitment to collaboration
  • Things to consider:

    1. Staff training programs can create a common language between services and help overcome barriers to cross-sector collaboration.
    2. Co-ordinated cross-sector training has the potential to improve workers understanding of other services, strengthen professional relationships and increase confidence to refer.
    3. Through training together a 'community of practice' can be fostered where practitioners from different professional disciplines begin to see themselves as a team.

  • Case Example

    Joint training in family inclusive practice

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