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Build collaborative networks and partnerships


Many local governments do not directly provide disability services to people with disability so, to increase social and economic participation, they need to develop ongoing collaborative networks and partnerships with other organisations. These organisations may be at a local, regional or national level and the relationships benefit from local government knowledge about community needs and wants.

Local governments with strong partnerships which endure over time have organisation-based rather than individual-based collaboration. This is especially the case where partnerships involve an exchange of expertise and resources between businesses, NGOs and other levels of government.

This section provides information about how local governments work with a range of government and non-government organisations to increase the social and economic participation of people with disability.

Build strong networks

Local governments appear to increase social and economic participation when they build effective, collaborative networks with non-government organisations (nationally or locally based). These relationships establish local governments as leaders in their communities and help develop better understandings of and responses to the needs of people with disability. They also increase the reach and impact of local governments strategies, policies and programs and ensure a more joined-up approach to create inclusive communities.

Networks generally start when disability service providers are invited onto a disability advisory committee, and the national survey showed that the majority of these committees include representatives from one or more provider. Having this knowledge on the committee helps staff members engage with the local disability sector during planning processes. It can also provide a direct source of information about the needs of people with disability, identify ways to drive inclusion outside local government and highlight opportunities to pool resources for collective impact.

Some local governments go further and coordinate local networks of disability service providers for ongoing disability planning or specific issues such as the roll out of the NDIS.

Partner with state government

State and territory government partnerships mainly focus on grant funding but some local governments also consult with state and territory governments during the development of disability action plans. Funding is often around capacity building, for example, to assist local governments to develop processes to develop disability action plans, or for infrastructure improvements. Although funding is usually one-off and over a relatively short time frame, it can either kick start or enhance an already established project.

Collaboration with NGOs

In addition to forming networks, the national survey showed that about two-thirds of local governments directly fund NGOs to deliver programs and services and over half subsidise the use of recreation and aquatic centres, community halls, and libraries.

Some local governments also fund local NGOs to directly deliver services which increase the social and economic participation of people with disability.

In addition, most local governments also promote the services and programs offered by NGOs in their areas, often in an accessible format.

NGOs also often directly support local governments by delivering their services where it is more efficient for the NGO to do so or where the NGO has more direct access to people needing the service.

Many local governments provide a range of community grants for community groups and NGOs to deliver art and recreation programs. Whilst these are rarely targeted specifically for people with disability, local governments such as the City of Melbourne include provisions for universal inclusion in the weighted evaluation criteria for applications. The City of Melbourne partners with Arts Access Victoria to promote their grants to organisations which support people with disability and to help people with disability complete applications for arts grants. In addition, just over half of local governments in Australia support event organisers to make their events more accessible.

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Checklist of actions to build collaborative networks and partnerships