Aboriginal engagement resource

Creating Partnerships

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In collaboration with Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC), the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) have developed a resource to be used by Community Drug Action Teams (CDATs) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to build connections, work together and support each other to prevent and minimize harm associated with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use in their local communities.

Collaboration can increase the value of community action on a shared goal. Effective collaboration comes from understanding the role each group plays within the community and by learning about the skills and experience each brings to the task. The shared goal is creating better outcomes for communities.

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There are 73 CDATs across NSW and ACT in urban, rural and regional locations. Of these, 30 already work in partnership with, or are led by, Aboriginal communities and organisations. Take a look at this video to see how the Coffs Harbour CDAT works closely with Aboriginal young people and works to re-engage them with their culture.

The key to improving outcomes and creating change in any community is to work with, and be guided by, that individual community. Each community has specific needs and the ADF recognises that locally-led responses are vital when it comes to preventing and minimising harms caused by AOD.

Careful, sensitive planning and consultation is needed so that both parties can work together to put in place strategies specific to the needs of the local community.

The resource covers four stages of beginning a collaboration:

  1. Start the Conversation
  2. Discuss- Listen and Learn
  3. Build Strong Relationships
  4. Respect the Advice of Elders and Community Leaders
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The Garlambirla Youth Community Drug Action Team is made up of both ACCHOs and non-Aboriginal organisations. In this case study, the CDAT gives an example of how these organisations work together.

Check out the Case Study here

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The basis for effective and meaningful collaboration and engagement is respect. Building up trust between partners through understanding and valuing the context of each other’s position is a vital element in the process. Understanding the holistic view of health and wellbeing and the importance of the values, beliefs and cultural needs of all community members is essential in ensuring useful engagement and in building effective collaborations at formal and informal levels.

Opportunities for collaborative activities, such as forums, decision-making groups, projects and initiatives can be used to develop trust, advocate, influence and strengthen networks for change.

Importantly, successful partnerships should be recognised, shared and celebrated as models of best practice in collaborative community empowerment. There are many forums in which these success stories can be told — from conference presentations and evaluation reports to email discussion groups, local networks and meetings between organisations.

CDAT resources:

AHMRC members map

Right Click on the map above and 'Open in a new tab' to see a larger version.

For the last two decades, CDATs have led thousands of activities across NSW to engage youth and educate parents and the wider community. The CDATs’ focus is prevention of AOD harm. With many ACCHOs and local Aboriginal organisations sharing this goal, collaborations can be greatly successful.

CDATs are made up of passionate and involved individuals who hold different voices across the community and who have access to various resources and skillsets. The CEAP program invites ACCHOs to join the conversation and help to create solutions within communities.

As local groups initiate local responses, the scale tends to be smaller so ideas to address issues specific to the area can be accommodated and prototyped. Examples include; action on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), education around secondary supply of alcohol to underage teens, giving residents of local public housing developments a voice, etc. Connect with a CDAT in your area and identify these shared local goal/s. This is an ideal starting place for a successful partnership.

ACCHOs wishing to join a CDAT can visit the map to identify CDATs in their local area.

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