A number of enablers critical to client partnership have been identified in the development of this strategy. Initiatives in the strategy partially contribute to these enablers, however these require attention beyond The Orange Door project to strengthen client partnership capability across The Orange Door partners and create a solid foundation for implementation. Work towards these enablers will ultimately be of benefit to other work areas across The Orange Door partners (including FSV and DHHS), and it’s acknowledged that partners may already have these elements in place.

Supportive leadership and culture

Leadership and culture that are supportive of client partnership across FSV and The Orange Door are critical to the success of the strategy. While the proposed initiatives go some way to establishing this environment, FSV and The Orange Door partner organisations should focus on a supportive leadership and culture for their work beyond The Orange Door. In promoting Aboriginal self-determination, The Orange Door partners should be respectful of Aboriginal leadership and culture and acknowledge and learn from Aboriginal expertise in working with families and communities. Central to a supportive leadership and culture is the ability of staff across all organisations to critically reflect on power, privilege and unconscious bias they may bring to engagement with clients and community members at all levels. These efforts can be supported by the Community services quality and safety governance framework and the upcoming Quality and safety guide for The Orange Door.

Policies and processes to support client partners and promote safety

The Orange Door partners should establish clear policies and procedures to support, recognise the effort and ensure the safety of clients partnering with and contributing to The Orange Door. This should include consideration of ethical and trauma-informed ways to engage with clients. Existing processes and procedures can often be based on the assumption of once-off consultation (such as interviews or focus groups), rather than more intensive, ongoing or team-based work that is required for partnership approaches.

Clients should be provided with the information, training and supports they need to partner with services, in ways that are accessible and culturally appropriate. This could include: clearly communicating the purpose, scope and likely impact of any engagement; training in communication, advocacy and project processes; clear support arrangements with any CSOs engaged with a particular client; debriefing and counselling for clients and staff; coaching; and support workers for engagements that may be particularly challenging.

The effort of all client partners should be recognised in some form. This includes remuneration, including through direct employment and other contractual arrangements but may also take other forms, such as providing clients with documents acknowledging their contribution which could be used to support applications for study or employment, or direct contribution to a qualification. Ways to reduce other barriers to participation (e.g. subsidised travel and childcare) should also be explored.

The Orange Door partners should work together to ensure the safety of all participating clients. This could include considerations with respect to:

  • potential re-traumatisation
  • an individual client’s readiness to take part in a particular engagement, paying attention to the stage they are at in their recovery journey
  • setting clear expectations about what is involved in a particular engagement and what supports are available (so that clients don’t find themselves ‘out of their depth’)
  • the level of risk the client is exposed to, and any potential increase in risk (to themselves or someone else) as a result of participation
  • the safest channels (e.g. telephone, online and in-person) to use to engage with a particular client
  • confidentiality and protection of personal information (both of the client participating and other clients)
  • risks and issues arising from contact between participating clients, and between participating clients and staff members (e.g. in a workshop setting)

The outputs of the DHHS Voice of the child project will include a number of products which could be of use to support these efforts, including guidance on ethical practice, recruitment and incentives in working with children and young people. FSV are contributing to the development of these products and considering their applicability to other client cohorts.

Monitoring and continuous improvement

The Orange Door partners should establish:

  • time-limited mechanisms to monitor the implementation progress of the proposed initiatives
  • ongoing mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of client partnership processes across The Orange Door
  • mechanisms to monitor activity of The Orange Door partners in support of Aboriginal self-determination

Insights gathered through monitoring activities should inform continuous improvement of client partnership processes, as part of broader continuous improvement effort. Clients should be included in these monitoring and improvement activities through various means which could include: defining the measures of success for client partnership; contributing to the design and implementation of improvements; and membership in governance groups tasked to oversee client partnership in The Orange Door. The results of continuous improvement activities should be communicated broadly. Data and insights related to client partnership, including findings from the client voice survey, may:

  • be embedded in ongoing monitoring such as service delivery reporting and performance frameworks
  • be more fully analysed in upcoming evaluations of The Orange Door
  • contribute to work on the Family Violence Outcomes Framework

It should be noted that the DHHS Community services quality governance framework already guides The Orange Door partners to monitor the effectiveness of client participation across all community services (in The Orange Door and beyond) funded, delivered or regulated by DHHS.

Inclusive service with an intersectional approach

There are individuals in the community who are systemically marginalised and often experience barriers to accessing services or participating in processes to improve the service system. Intersectionality is a framework for understanding how systems and structures intersect and interact on multiple levels to compound these barriers through oppression and creating overlapping forms of discrimination, stigma and power imbalances based on particular social characteristics. Barriers to access and participation typically include:

  • fear of and past experience of discrimination
  • lack of inclusive response by the service system
  • fear of reprisal for accessing services
  • limited visibility of their needs and experience
  • failure to recognise the authenticity of their experience

To overcome these barriers, The Orange Door partners should:

  • take an intersectional approach to service provision and client partnership at all levels
  • support staff at all levels to critically reflect on their own power, privilege and unconscious bias they may bring to their engagement with clients
  • identify which individuals and communities are being excluded from services and processes
  • proactively find ways to break down barriers to access and partnership with these individuals and communities

This work can be supported by Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement, and the following upcoming pieces of work: The Orange Door Inclusion Action Plan, The Orange Door Aboriginal Inclusion and Engagement Action Plan and the FSV Intersectionality Capacity Building Project.