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Client partnership with specific groups

This section highlights partnership considerations for individuals, groups and communities for whom there are particular sensitivities and challenges for client partnership, due to trauma, vulnerability or barriers to accessing services and contributing to service system improvement. These should be considered as part of an intersectional approach to implementing the strategy. As detailed in the previous section, an intersectional approach is necessary to fully understand and respond to overlapping discrimination, stigma and power imbalances inherent in the system.

Aboriginal people and communities

Partnership with Aboriginal people and communities is critical to realising Aboriginal self-determination (see this section of the strategy for a detailed explanation). There are a number of considerations that should be taken into account when partnering with Aboriginal people and communities, described below.

The role of Aboriginal Elders in enabling partnerships.

Elders play an important role in Aboriginal communities, with respect to both leadership and the cultural knowledge they hold. Elders should be drawn on to support and facilitate client partnership with The Orange Door, and have their contribution recognised financially or by other means.

All ‘knowledges’ should be respected equally.

There are many different Aboriginal communities, each with their own culture and knowledge. All of these should be shown equal respect.

Use community-led and local-led approaches.

This supports self-determination and acknowledges the importance of country to Aboriginal people.

Use and build on the well-developed partnership structures that are already in place.

This includes the Dhelk Dja action groups and the area-based Aboriginal Advisory Groups for The Orange Door.

Make sure that any partnership or engagement is culturally safe for clients and professionals.

This includes:

  • understanding how Aboriginal people represent their community – some may need to clarify that they are empowered by their community to participate or talk about a particular issue
  • being transparent
  • acknowledging the history of dispossession and intergenerational trauma experienced by Aboriginal people
  • being sensitive to the different experiences of each Aboriginal person
  • not placing unrealistic expectations on an individual or group to represent the whole Aboriginal community
  • ensuring that staff have the capability to support culturally safe engagement
  • being aware of local protocols, connection to country and the cultural significance of particular places

Children and young people

Victorian organisations providing services for children, including The Orange Door, must comply with the Child Safe Standards. Standard seven requires that in-scope organisations have strategies in place to promote the participation and empowerment of children.

Partnership with children and young people at the client level is supported by the Best Interests Case Practice Model. The model acknowledges that partnership with children, their families and communities produces the best outcomes for children. In implementing this strategy, ways to build on the partnership approach in the model should be considered.

Young people have long expressed a wish to have more influence at the operational and system levels. This has resulted in some youth-focused services establishing practices for including young people in service design, planning and decision-making. Examples include young people being equal members of governance groups and organisational boards, and teams of young ‘consultants’ trained in advocacy and available for engagement across the service system. The Orange Door partners should learn from these examples, and explore opportunities to partner with these organisations and programs.

The level of ethical oversight required and associated constraints often lead to children not being given an opportunity to contribute to service improvement and systems change. This is a widely acknowledged issue across government and the community services sector, and there are two pieces of work underway which aim to make it easier to safely include children in participation and partnership at the operational- and system-levels:

  • the DHHS Voice of the child project
  • the Framework for Ethical Practice in Human-Centred Design, currently being developed in a partnership between FSV, DHHS, DPC and a number of community service organisations

The DHHS Voice of the Child Project is a major piece of work underway specifically aimed at enabling the voice of children to influence the service system. The project has identified organisational and process barriers that often prevent policymakers and service designers from directly engaging with children and young people, and a need to further explore mechanisms for giving a voice to children and young people when designing policies and services that affect them. The outputs of the project will include:

  • a DHHS Child and Youth Participation Model
  • practical supports (including online tools) for engaging children and young people
  • guidance on ethical practices, recruitment and incentives for participation
  • proposals for other ways to strengthen the voice of children and young people in service design and improvement, including through greater use of two-way online communication

This work has the potential to inform and support partnership with all clients of The Orange Door.

People who use or have used violence

The contribution of people who use or have historically used violence is critical to influence the service system to more effectively reduce and prevent family violence. To keep victim survivors safe The Orange Door needs to be effective in engaging people who use violence and connecting them to services to hold them accountable for their behaviour. To date, people who use violence have had limited input into the way The Orange Door works. Their involvement should be carefully considered for each of the proposed initiatives, while being mindful of the associated risks and challenges, which include:

  • avoiding collusion
  • managing associated risks to victim survivors
  • determining if the individual has changed their behaviour enough to meaningfully and safely contribute to service design and improvement

Victim survivors consulted while developing this strategy were positive about the prospect of the proposed initiatives being offered to people who have used violence. For example, with respect to the inclusion of people who have used violence on governance and advisory groups, one victim survivor commented that “it’s really important to bring their perspective to the table as well”, while another shared that “I may be a little nervous, but that wouldn’t stop me” so long as appropriate supports were in place.