Strategic Response Strategy
You can see that the examples provided in the flow chart are about building capacity; a new service, or a pilot or research project. At this stage, we are asking questions such as:
• What is the appropriate service to meet the needs of the community and achieve the desired outcome?
• Is our theory of change for the current model of services working? Is it effective?
The Strategic response strategy part of the Delivering Community Services in Partnership policy is the critical stage of collaborative service design. This stage requires funding agencies to bring together the public and community sector stakeholders to agree on a strategic approach before services move to the funding and contracting stage. As you can see in the diagram, Strategic Response strategy falls under the Nature of the Relationship changes, just before the decision is made on a funding or contracting arrangement.
Once the community outcome has been collaboratively decided on between government agencies and the community sector, and an effective needs analysis has been undertaken, the question becomes what is the best way to deliver this service?
Both organisations and government agencies need to participate in this process with open minds and a commitment to focus on that outcome. If a current service design is not meeting the community outcome that it is meant to, we need to step up and say it’s not working, even if this might not be a popular course of action.
If the current service delivery model is not the best or most effective way to reach our community outcome, is there a different proven theory of change? If there is another proven way to effect change for that community outcome, then within this strategy we should be making a decision to use those mechanisms or to at least trial them. This is why a thorough needs analysis and that collaborative approach to service design is so important. Only through engaging a variety of stakeholders and organisations will we be able to ascertain if there are more appropriate service models out there.
But what if there are no proven models?
The question then becomes whether we need to undertake a trial or some research in order to find a better service delivery model that will meet the outcomes required for our community. If yes, then who is best placed to undertake this research? Once a cohesive idea of an appropriate service design or delivery model has been thoroughly discussed, the discussion can turn to what sort of funding or contracting arrangement is appropriate for the service designs that have been discussed and recommended.
The critical thing to remember here is that you as a community service organisation have the right to be included in this discussion. Whilst you may not have the final say on the type of service delivery model that is used to meet the community outcome, you should absolutely be informing that process, and making recommendations. This reflects the entire intent of the policy, to ensure that community service organisations, who have the most to offer in these service delivery decisions, are included in the decision making process.
If you are not involved as an individual organisation, you should at least be talking to your peak body, or to WACOSS, to ensure that your ideas are captured.
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