Woodside’s Collective Impact in Action
11 February 2015 at 8:19 am
Twelve months on from announcing its $20 million Development Fund, oil and gas giant Woodside has used the innovative Collective Impact model to set about creating permanent and systemic change in early childhood in Australia.
The fund is aiming for a major reduction in the developmental vulnerability of children aged 0 to 8 by 2025 across all aspects of a child’s life including education, health and wellbeing.
During extensive planning for the fund in 2014 Woodside developed a bold goal which sums up the fund’s mission: ‘Zero to Eight, Life’s Great. Every child thrives in their development, learning and life’.
The development fund is a departure from traditional corporate community programs in which isolated funds go to individual programs. Instead, Woodside’s new Collective Impact inspired model brings together government, community organisations, academics, service providers and community members to change the early childhood system for the better.
“We know that by working collaboratively with Governments, communities, the Not for Profit sector and other funders, we will make a significant improvement to the future of young people in our communities,” says Mia d’Adhemar, community relations adviser, corporate relations.
“Increasingly we are seeing that the key to significant population-level change is a transformation of the way the system works collectively, rather than funding individual programs or streams of work.”
The Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Social Impact were both key partners in the fund’s lengthy design phase in 2014 which conducted stakeholder consultation, identified the key issues in early childhood development, established the fund’s ‘bold goal’ and set up an expert advisory panel.
With the design phase complete the fund has consulted with more than 20 government, community and academic organisations and over 100 stakeholders, put a call out for programs, selected successful applicants and allocated its first funding.
Now in its second year the Development Fund is involved in at least three projects, all in Perth metropolitan and regional WA.
Woodside is co-convening on ten20 Foundation’s Opportunity Child program, which aims to reduce vulnerability in 20 Australian communities with $10 million, and is working with the WA Council of Social Service and the Western Australian Partnership Forum to develop a collaborative approach to early childhood development in Perth’s Cockburn and Kwinana areas.
The fund is also looking at the potential to work with Save the Children to implement family and child learning programs with various communities on the Dampier Peninsular in WA’s Kimberley region.
“If we are serious about making a positive impact in the capability and capacity of our communities, no matter where they are, then early childhood development is the key,” d’Adhemar says.
The Woodside Development Fund is one of Australia’s preeminent examples of Collective Impact in action, the innovative systems-focused model created by US-based Mark Kramer, which aims to shift the way funding bodies, community organisations and governments work together to fix complex social issues.
“Collective Impact is about imagining a different approach. An approach where many different organisations together create a system, begin to work as a system, where we actually get alignment across sectors, and where organisations actually coordinate and share and learn, and where they are actually working towards the same goal and measuring things the same way,” Kramer said at a Woodside-sponsored business lunch last May.
“We keep looking for the solution to a social problem. Where’s the program, the social entrepreneur, the intervention, that hero who is going to fix our education system, problems with poverty, the environment.
“That is the wrong way to think about this. All of these issues are a result of the interdependence and interplay of many different actors. It is only when we can create a system that is truly functional with these different actors working together with a common base of knowledge that we can really achieve significant change.”
In it’s Designing a Collaborative Program for Impact report, Woodside said it adopted a collaborative approach with the fund not only because it recognised that it is not an expert in the field and will rely on the advice of others, but that to achieve large-scale social change we need coordinated action.
“Woodside seeks to work collaboratively with industry, governments, researchers, community organisations and practitioners so that the views and resources of many are shared in a collective approach to tackling the complex challenges in early childhood development,” the report said.
* Emily Morgan is a freelance journalist based in Western Australia.