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Collective Impact

Collective Impact is an innovative approach to addressing complex social issues in a particular community. It focuses on developing a shared agenda to address locally identified issues and encourages cross-sector collaborative action to maximise impact. It is United Way’s ‘deepest dive’ into a particular community, requiring significant long-term investment to create long term community and systems change.

Building on the success and learnings from initiatives including 90 Homes for 90 Lives, United Way Australia is increasingly recognised for our work as a ‘backbone’ organisation in Collective Impact initiatives.

The Hive

Supporting the development of a thriving generation of children with diverse life opportunities in Mt Druitt.

United Way is the backbone organisation for The Hive, a Collective Impact initiative involving local community, philanthropy, government and service providers in the Mt Druitt NSW area.
Founded in 2014 by United Way Australia, the Ten20 Foundation and NSW Family and Community Services, The Hive’s current focus is developing new approaches to the challenges faced by 0-8 year old children in Mt Druitt, because despite a long history of quality local service delivery,
many issues have not improved at a community-wide level:

The Hive Communitythree in 10 children are ‘developmentally vulnerable’ in their first year of school
• the number of children at Risk of Significant Harm is significantly higher than the NSW average
• school performance is significantly below the NSW average
• unemployment is double the NSW average, and up to 4.5 times higher in some suburbs.

The Hive has been co-designed as a:
place to host collaborative work at 24 Anderson Ave, Blackett
process for working together
team to project manage the work
network of individuals and organisations committed to achieving change.

Visit The Hive’s website or view the Five Year Strategy Summary.

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CEO Blog Profit to Purpose

From For-Profit to For-Purpose: A CEO’s Reflections

posted by Leigh Stewart, 22 Sep 2017

It’s a question I find myself answering on regular basis – after so many years in the corporate world, why move to the third sector? It’s a question I asked myself just six months ago. There were two things that struck me: 1. “Charity” as I knew it had well and truly moved on. The …read more


Social Innovation: how ‘WE’ is key for solving complex social issues

posted by Janita Suter, 20 Jul 2017

Are we in agreement that when we innovate alone, we draw on a limited pool of ideas, clouded by our own biases and assumptions? When it comes to addressing social issues, there’s a strong relationship between innovation and collaboration. Innovating with others generates more ideas, and enables us to build on and improve others’ ideas. …read more


Australia’s ‘slow burn disasters’: why we need to share learning to respond better, together

posted by Janita Suter, 07 Jul 2017

Are we all in agreement that Australia’s most complex social issues require systematic change to ensure no one slips through the cracks, today or in the future? As single organisations, our programs and services affect individual lives, but the systemic change that’s desperately needed can only be achieved by sharing learning and tracking change together. …read more

Collaboration Needs graphic2

Collaboration for Community Change: how to make it happen

posted by Janita Suter, 12 Jun 2017

It’s now broadly accepted across the NGO, government, philanthropy and business sectors, that complex social issues can’t be tackled effectively by single organisations or individuals. Experience has shown we need to work together, across sectors and with communities, to create broad and lasting social change. The good news is that more and more of us …read more


Why Neutrality Matters for Collective Impact Backbones

posted by Janita Suter, 10 May 2017

As using a Collective Impact approach to address complex social issues gains momentum in Australia, and around the globe, there’s been much discussion over the role of the ‘backbone’ and whether neutrality should be a prerequisite. In essence, the role of a backbone organisation is to facilitate collaboration among diverse stakeholders, rather than deliver traditional …read more


A community-centred approach is not business as usual – are we ready?

posted by Leigh Stewart, 20 Apr 2017

Deeply listening and understanding. Doing with, not for. Enabling communities to create their own change. That’s what ‘good’ community development is meant to be about. Yet when it does happen, there’s no linkage to inform social policy, planning and service delivery – the very systems that can scale social change in Australia are often deeply …read more


Why impact-led thinking should be part of every NFP’s DNA

posted by Leigh Stewart, 23 Mar 2017

A successful business requires a solid business plan, a watchful eye on the bottom line and radar for opportunities. In the non-profit sector, social change is our currency – but how do we measure up when it comes to tracking performance? To date, many social purpose organisations have measured success on meeting specific project goals …read more


How to know if Collective Impact is the right approach for you in 2017

posted by Janita Suter, 05 Feb 2017

Complexity. It underlies many social issues in Australia. It’s why community dynamics sometimes suddenly shift, funding opportunities open or close, government policy changes, and community leaders emerge. It’s behind the many twists and turns that minimise the effectiveness of traditional programs and services dealing with complex social issues. And it’s why there’s growing momentum in …read more


Community Conversations: WHAT’S ALL THE TALK ABOUT?

posted by Leigh Stewart, 17 Jan 2017

It’s increasingly clear that ending the cycle of disadvantage in Australia needs genuine engagement from communities. But there’s no doubt really listening to aspirations and challenges through the community’s eyes, and building and maintaining the momentum to leverage community skills and solutions can be deeply challenging in postcodes with complex social needs. Here we share …read more

The Hive

Collective Impact: Insights from The Hive Mt Druitt

posted by Leigh Stewart, 01 Dec 2016

In August 2014 United Way Australia’s David Lilley began scoping a Collective Impact initiative in Mt Druitt, Western Sydney. Within the Mt Druitt postcode (2770), around one in three children still start school ‘developmentally vulnerable’, despite decades of investment and hundreds of services operating within the region. The Hive is the resulting Collective Impact initiative, …read more


Philanthropy is Not Future Ready, But These 4 Steps will Help Turn the Corner

posted by Janita Suter, 27 Sep 2016

Despite decades of investment, good will and effort by Australia’s philanthropic sector, it surprised few attendees of the Philanthropy Australia conference last week that philanthropy is not future ready. To really move beyond ‘tinkering around the edges’ of complex social issues in Australia, the sector must embrace the reality that we – philanthropy, communities, business, government …read more


Ending ‘developmental vulnerability’ for children is everyone’s business, but how do we build effective collaboration to tackle this?

posted by Janita Suter, 10 Mar 2016

Last week the government released its latest Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) results, a mixed bag underneath the same headline statistic as the previous census 3 years ago – 22% of Australian children still start school ‘developmentally vulnerable’.  While there were very slight improvements in language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge, …read more


From Struggle Street to Shining Light – does Mt Druitt have the answers?

posted by Janita Suter, 27 Jan 2016

For those who watched SBS’ controversial documentary series ‘Struggle Street’ last year, it would come as little surprise that one in three Mt Druitt children will start school this week ‘developmentally vulnerable’. Or that these same families experience twice the national unemployment rates, and are up to four times more likely to experience domestic violence …read more


Towards Collective Impact

posted by United Way, 20 Feb 2014

Reflections on ‘Towards Collective Impact’ by Jenny Riley, our Community Impact Manager. Shared measurement requires us to each understand each other, after two days at the Progressing Social Outcomes Measurement I am hopeful because the discourse is getting stronger and we are getting better at asking better questions i.e.  is what we are doing making …read more


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