Calls for New Way for NFP Sector to Work Together
12 June 2014 at 9:24 am
An Indigenous leader has called on the community sector to reconfigure the way it works together, in the opening keynote address at this year's ACOSS National Conference in Brisbane.
June Oscar, CEO of Marniniwarntikura Women's Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation based in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, was last year named as a Australian Financial Review and Westpac Women of Influence for Social Enterprise and Not-for-Profit, for her work towards improving the lives of children living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
She told delegates that now was the time for the whole sector to collaborate on leadership.
"I stand here today at this ACOSS gathering, the peak body of this nation's community sector and propose a reconfiguration of the way we work together," Oscar said.
"We are dealing with the same issues of social justice. When it comes to negotiating public policy in this climate it's fundamentally important that indigenous voices are not just included but given and elevated status in the nation's mainstream discussion when thinking in this way.
"We can develop more effective strategies by creating cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary dialogue.
"Whether we are a community-based organisation or a governance body, we are all stakeholders in the future of our society.
"When we acknowledge our common purpose, we can integrate our expertise within a technological framework of western analysis and evaluation and future protection; we can develop robust indicators and measures, which are not only responsive to our needs in the immediate, short and long term but will deliver the social incomes we all desire for unity of indigenous and non indigenous, and governments alike.
"When we act together as a collective we are an undefeatable force of leadership."
Oscar spoke of her own experiences in collaborative leadership with the Maininwarntikura Women's Resource Centre in Fitzroy Crossing, which advocates for the rights of Indigenous women and their families, and the big numbers of children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
"Our community is facing a young generation growing up with unique and complex needs, which are not being adequately addressed by education, health, vital human services," she said.
"In response to this complex and entrenched social issue we had to take a coordinated and collaborative approach.
"We entered into a cross-organisational and multi-disciplinary partnership with community and research institutes – primarily to asssess the prevalence of FASD.
"Over the past year the process has grown to a tangible unit comprising research, prevention strategies, support services and diagnosis and treatment.
"The body of empirical data we have accumulated is now a foundation of strength. We are now using data to inform community strategies, which allows us to speak on our futures."
Oscar said that leadership models did not need to collide and when acknowledging adversity, the possibility to unite becomes a reality.
"Within situations of uncertainty comes the opportunity for change," she said.
According to ACOSS, the annual conference brings together civil society groups to discuss the importance of community advocacy in setting future policy directions.
As part of the conference Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Australian Greens Leader Chistine Milne will also present their parties vision for a fair and equitable Australia, including the direction of welfare reform.