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Sensitivity Warning

First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


On 13 February 2020, SNAICC launched the online partnership self-audit reporting tool, inviting all organisations involved in partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous organisations to support children and families to complete a voluntary audit of their partnerships using SNAICC’s new online partnership audit tool. The voluntary audit was completed by 19 partnerships, representing a mixture of organisations in urban, regional and remote settings.

Key findings:

  • The average response out of five was highest for phase one ‘establishing the partnership’ questions, and then fell off at phase two ‘sustaining the partnership’ and continued this downward trajectory for phase three ‘reviewing the partnership’. This indicates that initial interest, motivation and engagement in establishing a genuine partnership between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations is strong; however, as time goes on, less attention and effort is placed on process elements and the work required to maintain a genuine partnership.
  • When discussing the challenges involved in sustaining the partnership, organisations noted “the geographical distance and finding the time to facilitate face-to-face meetings”, situations of “business decisions not aligning to partnership aspirations” and a “lack of ongoing funding to sustain the partnership” resulting in the inability to commit to meaningful long-term planning. One of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait organisations that completed the audit notes that a key challenge it faces in sustaining the partnership is ensuring their partner organisation is committed to the practice of doing work “with" them and not "for” them.
  • Results of the audit process provide encouraging signs that there is high enthusiasm and strong initial commitment in the establishment of partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous services.
  • It is a concern that results suggest that as the partnerships progress, the level of commitment to the partnership from the organisations appears to drop off, and various complexities and challenges result in a loss of momentum and less output than may have once been envisioned. This aligns with the negative experience that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had of tokenistic relationships labelled as ‘partnerships’, and which has led to a belief that some non-Indigenous organisations may use partnership to ‘tick boxes’ 9 of cultural competence and community engagement, without a deeper commitment to sustainable relationships or local community empowerment.


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