Frankie represents an example of what an individual can do if given the opportunity.

“Sometimes we don’t recognize that they can do it,” Krishnani says, “and sometimes we don’t give them the opportunity to do it, and sometimes we don’t have the patience, because it’s just easier to take care of it than to let a child with a disability try to do it, because it takes so much more time. Frankie represents an example of what an individual can do if given the opportunity.”

“Most people saw limits for Frankie Antonelli. Parents Frank and Debbie saw potential.”

A really good read – its amazing to look around at Kate and her friends who have been given opportunities, by some wonderful parents, to thrive – and thrive they will. Doesn’t mean there aren’t set backs, health issues, frustrations – but if we just keep giving our young adults the opportunities to grow, grow they will!

The Secret Sauce of Making Collaboration Work

The Secret Sauce of Making Collaboration Work

Back in October I wrote briefly about a trip I did to Burnie in Tasmania as part of the The Search initiative in Turning the Curve Thinking. The Search was an initiative of Kerry Graham and Collaboration for Impact to select the most promising, early stage collective impact initiative in Australia.

As stated in the brief “This community will act as a ‘lighthouse’ example for future Collective Impact initiatives, and transform the way that Australian communities work together to solve our toughest social issues.”

As I headed back to Burnie in mid November, as part of the Executive Visit of the Catalysing Group, I wondered how the work being done by the Burnie Works initiative would live up to this brief. As we arrived to spend two days learning together about the work being done it was evident from the packed agenda there was a lot going on – but would it be transformational?

We first took a tour of the town and heard the back story of the rapid growth and then demise of major industries/employers in the town which left Burnie with the underlying challenges around employment and keeping children at school and/or in a learning environment.

We broke into groups to visit and learn about different parts of the initiative:

  • Dream Big – a program that encourages Grade 5 students to Dream Big and look beyond perceived barriers when considering their future beyond High School.
  • BIG – an industry and education group formed by representatives in the community focused on valuing education and guiding children onto a positive career and life pathway.
  • Hilltop Garden Market – A community food hub to support the development of skills and knowledge around healthy lifestyles and food production.
  • Communities for Children – provides funding and coordination for services and activities that ensure children have the best start in life by encouraging a positive approach.
  • 10 Families – is using collective impact and a whole family approach focused on school attendance to assist families to ensure that their children remain connected to education.
  • Employment Partnership Group – is made up of representatives for Jobactive Providers, Registered Training Organisations and Disability Employment Services in Burnie.

After day 1 it was evident that there was certainly a level of passion, a sense of community and a common agenda. Each program in it’s own right was doing good work but was it enough to be transformational? At dinner we met with the Local Enabling Group and came away thinking that along with the passion, sense of community and common agenda there were some visionary and emotionally intelligent people leading this initiative.

On day 2 our group visited the 10 families initiative and this was the moment for me that it all came together. We met a the Family and Community Centre/Hub and witnessed the depth of the collaboration. This was not just a number of parts operating independently to a common good but a interconnected body of work that was operating to turn the curve. At the core of this, and this is the kicker, was a focus on outcomes for the families. The initiatives and all the good work was contributing at multiple levels to effect a change in outcomes for families. From parents having the opportunity to attend tertiary eduction (which they had not believed possible), to grade 5 children having the ability to experience and dream big their future, to employers retraining and re-skilling, displaced workers – and thats just a small slice of the action!

And there we were sitting around a table hearing from those involved in 10 Families how they had put the families at the centre enabling them to rise above the limitations of how agencies are funded and to provide wrap around services drawing on the collective resources available. This was transformational.

My trip to Burnie has left me with a belief that this community has found the secret sauce to making collaboration work. Theme’s emerged – being humble, about the group and what we are doing not individuals, innovation, willing to work with us, prepared to experiment and take risks, come from a client perspective not a service provider perspective.

There is much work to be done to sustain the initiative to make an impact over time. To do this requires multi-level change:

  • Change Outcomes at Employment & Education level
  • Change Behaviours at Families level
  • Change Practice at Organisation & Institutional level
  • Change System at the Funder level.

The quote on the Burnie Works new website says it best:

“Many small people who in many small places do many small things that can alter the face of the world”

Anonymous – Berlin Wall

This is the essence of the initiative – it has only come about through good people who had a collective vision and the commitment and purpose to bring people along on the journey (They are featured in the video!). I feel privileged to have spent time with those people and can’t wait to take the next step of the journey with them.

Is there a growing positivity for people living with Down Syndrome?

Is there a growing positivity for people living with Down Syndrome?

There should be and it’s coming from people living with Down Syndrome and their buddies sharing their experiences, emotions, battles and accomplishments.

Just like Jason in this video he is his own advocate.

Just like Nathan we are all looking for the ability to live our lives, face our challenges, have our heroes, enjoy simple acts of friendship.

There is so much we can learn from each other – no matter what our background.

Take less for granted – congratulations Jason & Nathan.

PS Be yourself!

People with disabilities are significantly underrepresented in the Australia’s workforce

People with disabilities are significantly underrepresented in the Australia’s workforce

Just over a year ago my daughter Kate gained open employment with Valmont an event that has truly changed Kate’s life. Kate loves her job and has grown so much as a result.

This opportunity came as a result of an advert in the Down Syndrome NSW eNewsletter and after contacting Valmont we connected them with JobSupport who then worked with Valmont to develop a work plan and assess if Kate had the appropriate skills to meet the needs of Valmont.

We still remember getting the call that Kate “got the job”. Kate has never looked back.

I’m running in the City2Surf to raise awareness and to support Down Syndrome NSW in continuing to create opportunities like they did for Kate.

The facts are that people with disabilities are significantly underrepresented in Australia’s workforce and the gap in employment outcomes for people with and without disabilities has widened. A Deloitte Access Economics report stated “The economic modelling presented in this report suggests that closing the gap between labour market participation rates and unemployment rates for people with and without disabilities by one-third would result in a cumulative $43 billion increase in Australia’s GDP over the next decade in real dollar terms.” The full report with all the facts is here  Whilst this report is from 2011 evidence indicates little progress has been made since.

Disruptive Technologies Create the Perfect Storm in the For Purpose Sector

Disruptive Technologies Create the Perfect Storm in the For Purpose Sector

I was reading the McKinsey Report – McKinsey: The $33 Trillion Technology Payoff “A gallery of disruptive technologies” – and thinking these disruptive technologies can create a perfect storm in the For Purpose (= NFP) sector.

Mobile Internet

Smartphone penetration in Australia will reach 84% by the end of 2013.

  • It’s amazing when using public transport – everyone is on a mobile device!
  • How common is it that people are surfing and scanning their mobile devices whilst watching TV, sport etc.
  • This is not just the domain of the younger generation – think of the liberation for us 50+ and increasingly and importantly those with a disability and the disadvantaged who can have their world opened up.

Then further the latest research says that 64% of smartphone owners are now using their mobile devices to shop online, a number that has quadrupled since June 2010.

Putting this all together there is a tremendous opportunity that For Purpose organisations have to ride this wave – to utilise existing, simple to use, fit for purpose supporter engagement/donor management systems to drive.

Automation of Knowledge Work

Social Impact, Measuring Impact, Collective Impact are the buzz words that are accompanying the NDIS.

Another great opportunity in the For Purpose sector is to utilise technology to not only simplying and streamline the capture of information or “touch-points” but to turn this into impact based reporting for funders. The Mobile Internet again plays an important enabling role in reducing the cost and complexity of traditional applications in this space.

Over the coming weeks I will share some stories, case studies and potential risks based on what’s possible in the here and now.