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WHY ARE PARTNERSHIPS SO IMPORTANT?
You may have heard “two heads are better than one”, and nothing could be more accurate. Partnerships provide new opportunities for development by recognising the qualities and competencies of each sector and finding new ways of harnessing these for the common good¹.
Single sector approaches have been tried and have proved disappointing. By working separately sectors develop activities in isolation and sometimes compete with each other and/or duplicate efforts and therefore waste resources.
Successful partnerships can strengthen the capacity of projects and services to broaden reach, engage more stakeholders, and achieve shared objectives¹. A partnership is usually a voluntary agreement but it may also include formal written agreements and contracts between two or more partners².
WHAT DO PUBLIC HEALTH PARTNERSHIPS LOOK LIKE?
They can be partnerships between health service organisations (Government, non-government, not-for-profit), health professionals, researchers, patients, the general public, at-risk individuals, carers, consumers and more.
Examples of partnerships:
Viral Hepatitis Mapping Project. This project is a joint initiative of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis Epidemiology, The Doherty Institute, and ASHM. The project aims to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of chronic hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis C in Australia, assessing geographic variation in prevalence, management, and treatment. The data and analysis can be used to inform targeted awareness and intervention campaigns.
The Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia project Youth Educating Peers or "the YEP project" and the Sexual Health Quarters are an excellent example of a cross-organisational partnership. They regularly team up to deliver content and information to young people about sexual and reproductive health.
BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF PARTNERSHIPS
Partnerships achieve increased benefits because they share expertise, skills and resources. Such benefits can include²:
• More effective service delivery.
• More efficient resourcing.
• Policy Development at organisational or community levels.
• Systems development as a result of changed relations between organisations.
• Social and community development aimed at strengthening community action.
Like in any situation, sometimes challenges can arise. Some common challenges in developing partnerships can include³:
• Initiating partnerships.
• Maintaining partnerships.
• Power and status differences between partners.
• The same values and interests aren't always shared, which can make agreement or goals difficult.
• Some partnerships do not have the commitment that is needed to hold it together under strain.
• Budgets sometimes decrease when they are being shared.
The Partnership Practice Guides are a series of four guides on partnering. They are designed to provide information, tools and resources to staff in the health, housing and community services sector and government departments.
This resource is for organisations entering into or working in a partnership to assess, monitor and maximise its ongoing effectiveness. It is designed to help organisations: develop a clearer understanding of the range of purposes of collaborations, reflect on the partnerships they have established, and focus on ways to strengthen new and existing partnerships by engaging in discussion about issues and ways forward.
- Preparing to Partner
Guide 1: Preparing to Partner, provides a description of the critical factors to consider in the preparation for partnering. This focuses on defining partnerships, the importance of partnering, types of partnerships, the benefits and challenges of partnering, and steps for structuring the partnership.
- Commencing the Partnership
Guide 2: Commencing the partnerships, provides suggestions and tools in the early stages of the partnership, including setting up systems and workflow processes. Tools for partnering include; a partnership questionnaire, resources for defining roles, and resources for conducting working groups e.g. templates and case studies.
- Sustaining the Partnership
Guide 3: Sustaining the Partnership, provides hints on how to keep the partnership alive, troubleshooting strategies and evaluation techniques to measure success.
- Partnerships, Governance, Models and Leadership
Guide 4: Partnership Governance, Models and Leadership, showcases different partnering arrangements, rationale for choosing one model over another, successes and challenges a decade on, and the role of leadership in partnership.
The Partnerships Analysis Tool
This resource is for organisations entering into or working in a partnership to assess, monitor and maximise its ongoing effectiveness. It is designed to help you; develop clearer understanding of the range of purposes of collaborations; reflect on the partnerships they have established; and focus on ways to strengthen new and existing partnerships by engaging in discussion about issues and ways forward.
1. Ros Tennyson. (2011). The partnering tool book. The Partnering Initiative (IBLF). International Business Leaders Forum, 2009. From: http://thepartneringinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Partnering-Toolbook-en-20113.pdf
- Department of Health and Human Services, DHHS. (n.d). Partnerships. Retrieved from: https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/wihpw/principles/partnerships
- Flo Frank & Anne Smith. The partnership handbook. Mister of Public Works and Government Services Canada: 2000. Retrieved from: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/MP43-373-1-2000E.pdf