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Complex public policy issues often require collaborative responses that cross departmental lines. Examples of such issues include climate change, social inclusion, literacy and numeracy, and health inequalities.
‘Closing the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is an issue requiring a collaborative response. This is why policy approaches such as the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER, now Stronger Futures), have been undertaken as ‘whole-of-government’ initiatives, working between agencies and tiers of government.
Definition coordination and collaboration
The term ‘service delivery coordination and collaboration’, along with its diverse range of idioms - including joined up services, interagency collaboration, cross-agency work and multi-agency partnerships - is rarely defined in the literature.
While some describe coordination and collaboration as distinct analytical constructs, others, including service delivery practitioners and program evaluators, continue to use the terms interchangeably as part of a common purpose to deliver achievable outcomes to clients. (Stewart et al 2011; Keast 2011; and Sullivan et al 2002)
One definition that is fitting to the purpose of partnership agreements to reduce Indigenous disadvantage is:
‘…to improve the connections between services or between people and services in order to improve outcomes for individuals, families, communities and societies’. (Leigh 2008, p.1)