Positive Pathways: Options for more effective partnerships with Indigenous Queensland communities

Why do some partnerships in Indigenous communities succeed where others fail? Why do we “reinvent wheels” rather than learn from others’ experiences? How can we operate differently in our partnerships so the outcomes of our investments are more effective, more sustainable, offer better returns?

In 2010, the Rio Tinto Aboriginal Fund together with The Christensen Fund and Greenstone Group published the research report, “A Worthwhile Exchange: a guide to Indigenous philanthropy”, which identified success stories and recommendations for improvement in philanthropy supporting Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. One of the key issues identified by “A Worthwhile Exchange” was the lack of coordination and collaboration between various grantmaking parties.

In 2012, Rio Tinto commissioned The Brisbane Institute to undertake further research and development of some of the issues identified in “A Worthwhile Exchange”, and particularly the issues associated with improving partnerships with Indigenous communities. “Positive Pathways: Options for more effective partnerships with Indigenous Queensland communities”, is the report that summarises the outcomes of The Brisbane Institute’s research.

The purpose of the Positive Pathways report is to explore the experiences of partners—government agencies, non-government organisations (NGOs), corporations and philanthropists —working with Indigenous communities in Queensland, to identify things that work, things that don’t (or don’t always) work, and things that could work differently.

The scope of the report is on partnerships in the areas of education, employment and leadership development in Queensland Indigenous communities, although many of the experiences and ideas could be transferred to other areas of focus. It does not make specific recommendations, but rather suggests alternative ways in which government agencies, NGOs, corporations and philanthropists could work with Indigenous Queensland communities to achieve more sustainable and effective outcomes.

The methods used to capture information and prepare this report included:

• a review of relevant literature;

• in-depth interviews with individuals actively engaged in partnerships with Indigenous communities;

• case studies of partnering organisations;

• three public forums with attendees from government agencies, NGOs, corporations, philanthropists, peak bodies and community organisations; and

• quantitative and qualitative surveys of forum participants.

The Positive Pathways report was presented to the Hon Glen Elmes, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Premier, on 5 December 2012. The report is available here.

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