Collective Impact

    Collective Impact (CI) brings together participants from diverse sectors within a particular community who have a shared commitment to solve a specific social issue through collaborative planning, implementation, monitoring and review. It is based on the belief that no single policy, agency, organisation or program can tackle the increasingly complex social problems we face.

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    Collective impact: Cairns South

    In late 2016 Cairns South and Yarrabah Communities for Children Facilitating Partner kick-started a CI project (the ‘Project’) within Cairns South. There was widespread agreement amongst relevant agencies and others for the need to come together to jointly plan and align their efforts in order to better address complex issues affecting the development of 0 12-year olds in Cairns South. The Cairns South population is expected to almost double by 2036, which also provided impetus for commencing work on CI in this location.

    The Project brings together representatives from government, community and service organisations, and a wide range of service providers to focus on this particular social issue. It aims to support the Early Years sector (those working with 0 to 12-year olds in Cairns South) to lead the development of a detailed child development 'agenda' and to establish long-term system improvements that will increase support and enhance outcomes for children and their families in Cairns South.

    The Project was initially informed by the State of the Children 2016: Children and Young People in the Cairns Southern Corridor. The report, commissioned by Mission Australia, aims to provide a snapshot in time of the state of children and young people 0 to 19 years of age living in Cairns South and Yarrabah. It established a baseline for work to be carried out by the Project, including measurement of our progress over time and the setting of priorities for change. The report will be updated in 2019.

    How is JCU involved?

    The Cairns Institute (TCI) based at James Cook University has partnered the Early Years sector in this long term and strategic approach (the backbone organisation). In particular, The Cairns Institute is providing significant support to the CI Project through the Project Lead of Allan Dale, Senior Researcher Fiona Allison, Project Manager Jennifer McHugh, and TCI Director Stewart Lockie.

    A primary task of the Project has been to establish a backbone organisation to support a local CI approach in the medium to long term. The Project team helps with overall strategic coherence of the initiative and coordinates and manages key aspects of its planning and implementation, including stakeholder engagement, communications, and data collection and analysis, while supporting the CI framework.

    The Five Conditions for Effective Impact

    The process so far

    The process of shared measurement was made easier as we were fortunate to have baseline data in the 2016 State of the Children Report. We also conducted over 70 interviews with stakeholders to try to get a clear picture of the system governing outcomes for children in Cairns South. This information provided data that led to the creation of specific detailed data tables and indicators used to rank the risk of poor outcomes for children in Cairns South and place them in the domains outlined in the State of the Children Report, with an additional domain of Integrated Governance.

    Taking this data back to the group via workshops and further interviews created the five strategic change projects.

    1. Cairns South Community Services Hub: In recent meetings between the State, Council and the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital Board, we secured agreement to jointly explore the concept of establishing some form of Community Services Hub in Cairns South.

    2. Integrated Needs Assessment: The Project has set up a small working group with representatives from key organisations to guide work designed to bring community, families and organisations together to improve responses to needs of children in Cairns South. Consultations and other research is underway, with a strong focus on community input.

    3. Schools as Networks of Support: Efforts in this strategy include the FNQ office of Education Queensland is implementing the ‘Whatever it Takes” initiative, focused on innovation and capacity building of schools to ensure optimal educational outcomes.

    4. Towards an Indigenous Service Alliance: We are currently supporting the Southern Cairns Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Organisation for Families and Youths in a deep listening phase in order to strengthen and support Indigenous Community Development.

    5. Place-based leadership: A similar process to that involving Integrated Needs Assessment has been undertaken and conversations around what is Civic Capacity have begun. Additionally, community screenings have taken place of the film Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope, which outlines the impact of toxic stress on children.

    You can view our newsletters HERE and for the recently released Cairns South Needs and Risk Summary of Findings 2020

    For further information, please contact (07) 4232 1718 or

    Cover page for Cairns South Needs & Risk Findings 2020

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