Joined-up work

Although there are many definitions, ‘joined-up work’ is a term used to describe collaboration across organisations, industries, and sectors, to achieve a common goal. Joined-up work is not a new concept; it has been explored by a range of organisations throughout the world for some time. Governments at all levels have experimented with joined-up ways of working to deliver better responses to complex social and economic issues.

More recently, ‘boundary spanning’ is being used to describe collaboration across organisational and sectoral boundaries to achieve identified objectives (ANZSOG 2020).

For place-based approaches, joined-up ways of working are critical. The success of place‑based approaches is often dependent on the extent to which partners, stakeholders and government can work together to achieve positive outcomes and impacts for local communities. Place-based approaches require government to adopt bottom-up, collaborative, locally embedded and participatory ways of working.

This report

This report sets out the key learnings on joined-up work in the place-based context. It provides guidance and policy advice for Victorian Public Service (VPS) employees with a view to strengthen the culture, skills, and capacity of the VPS to effectively partner with place-based initiatives. It is intended to inform learning and to encourage constructive change.

The report draws on desktop research on joined-up government from Australia and overseas, as well as practice insights gathered through targeted interviews with VPS employees and a workshop with Working Together in Place learning partners.1

The report begins by exploring the various definitions associated with joined-up work and how these apply to different contexts.

It proposes a framework describing the supporting conditions needed for effective joined-up work, alongside practice examples of effective collaboration.

The report concludes with tools for further reference and a call to action for next steps.

Whole-of-Victorian-Government Place-Based Agenda

This report was developed as part of a Victorian Government Place-Based Agenda that was designed to strengthen how government partners with place-based initiatives to better support and enable the achievement of locally identified priorities. It focused on increasing the capabilities of the VPS and creating systems change within government in the areas of funding, community access to data, research, monitoring, evaluation and learning, and VPS culture and capability.


Thank you to VPS staff from the Latrobe Valley Authority, Department of Education and Training, and Department of Justice and Community Safety for your valuable contribution. Thanks to Cynthia Lim and Carolyn Atkins from the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), and Deb Blaber from EMS Consulting for sharing their experiences of joined-up efforts in past Victorian initiatives. Thanks also to Working Together in Place learning partners from Go Goldfields, Upper Yarra Partnership, Our Place Robinvale, Impact Brimbank, and the Mornington Peninsula Foundation for generously sharing their knowledge and insights.

1 The Working Together in Place initiative (WTIP) was established to identify how the Victorian Government can work better to support and enable communities through collaborative, community-led place-based approaches to achieved improved outcomes at the local level. The initiative was part of the government’s broader Whole-of-Victorian Government Place-based Agenda led by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.