November took me to Australia and New Zealand to meet with colleagues working on community change, community-led development and Collective Impact. I was a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at ChangeFest, a gathering of 500 Collective Impact practitioners in Logan, Queensland.
Collective Impact is moving forward in Australia. Over the four days in Logan, participants experienced and exchanged ideas, strategies and challenges. Many of the more than 90 Collective Impact efforts currently operational in Australia shared their outcomes and learnings. Logan Together, Collaboration for Impact, Opportunity Child and Griffith University were the hosts of ChangeFest and each are leading and supporting Collective Impact efforts across Australia.
A major focus of ChangeFest was how Collective Impact can move the systems and policy landscape. The four-day festival of ideas, embraced the Uluru Statement from the Heart as an important path forward for those organizations and collaboratives employing Collective Impact. The Uluru Statement from the Heart recognized the ancient sovereignty of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander peoples. This sovereignty has not been formally recognized by the Government of Australia.
My next stop was New Zealand, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Inspiring Communities. Across New Zealand, Inspiring Communities has worked deeply with citizens and neighbourhoods in the practice of community-led development. Over the years, Tamarack and Inspiring Communities have worked collaboratively to advance the voice of citizens. The Inspiring Communities panel at the anniversary celebration reflected on their experiences attending Tamarack’s Community Change Institute and how this experience along with the connection to Inspiring Communities has informed their work. The Inspiring Communities anniversary celebration was not only a celebration but also an opportunity to look forward.
Back in Australia, I also met with groups including the Northern Territories schools initiative, Child and Youth Area Partnerships across Victoria, Family Life Australia, Beyond the Bell, the Local Community Services Association (NSW) and the Victoria Department of Health and Human Services.
During the conversations, presentations, workshops and gatherings, a number of themes kept recurring:
- Community change needs to value and embrace Indigenous knowledge and practice: Collective Impact and community change leaders can walk alongside Indigenous leaders to forge new paths of change.
- Community change needs to occur at many levels: Local Collective Impact efforts can make a difference in communities but sharing our experiences, challenges and learning can lead to deeper and larger-scaled impacts.
- Community impact requires investment: These investments include supporting community change leaders, capacity building, resources and time.
- Systems impact requires capacity and knowledge: Wishing to impact systems is not enough, community change leaders need to grow their knowledge and capacity to understand how to influence policy and systems.
- Collective Impact is movement building: Collective Impact leaders need to both look inward to their work and outward to the community.
Collective Impact, community-led development and community change are growing movements. To scale effective and impactful change, we need to focus on people, process and most importantly impact. Change is in the air.