Long term systemic collective community change. There’s a lot to unpack in those six words. For the past seven years I’ve been working with Mission Australia Northern Qld on the structural underpins of the Cairns South Coalition (CSC). The CSC is a Collective Impact (CI) community coalition which has a vision of embedding systemic change, to improve the lives of vulnerable young people and their families who live and work in Cairns South. Over seven years, as a consultant to Mission Australia, I’ve worked collaboratively with the community, service providers, government and partnered with Griffith University (Prof Ross Homel), Dr Brian Bumbarger (a prevention science expert based in Colarado), Prof Frank Oberklaid (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) and James Cook University’s Cairns Institute to form a strong research base and understanding of enacting effective community and systemic change. I seconded Dr Scott Davis to work with me on the baseline Cairns South State of the Children Report in 2016 and Scott carried out the update of that important report in 2019.
In 2020 I’ve worked as the Collective Impact, Governance and Community Change Advisor on behalf of Mission Australia (Communities for Children) and in May the years of preliminary work culminated in the formation of the Cairns South Coalition Steering Committee. In designing the governance model, I based the committee roles on the Social Determinants of Health, to ensure the committee included leaders from all aspects which impact the lives of community members. Strong governance plays a key role in success of CI models. The CSC is lead by Hon Curtis Pitt MP, Speaker of the Qld Parliament, with Deputy Chair Cr Cathy Zeiger Cairns Regional Council who both have a keen understanding of and passion for their Cairns South community. We also have community members who are, in their own right leaders, and who are the conduit between the committee and the community.
In mid-November the Coalition will widen with the inaugural meeting of the CSC Collaborative Working Clusters (CWCs). The CWCs are the heart of the Coalition and will do the important work of using data, shared measurement and a Common Agenda, to identify new strategies or activities and to address service gaps or duplication across Cairns South. The CWCs will co-design and engage widely with community and stakeholders. “Nothing About Us, Without Us.”
Mission Australia is the “backbone” of the CSC and very excitingly recently made a national commitment to Cairns South by announcing it as the first Mission Australia Community of Focus. This means a long term commitment (3-10 years) of resources towards the journey of long term systemic collective community change. It’s been an exciting, tiring, interesting and challenging journey and one which has still some way to go. Cairns South Coalition. This is Different. Join Us Today.