Emerging Minds, Australia, 2018
Throughout this toolkit the importance of valuing the input of children and families has been highlighted. It is important that the benefits of partnerships are reciprocal, and that children and families are not exploited.
Organisations can seek to offer people opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills throughout their involvement. Consider some ways your organisation may be able to make such opportunities available to children and families.
- How could you give people opportunities to extend in other areas, expand their skills and develop confidence? This is a useful way of acknowledging what children and families bring to the organisation.
- Consider offering monetary grants to develop skills (for example, to attend a workshop or conference, develop writing skills, develop employment skills or attend a governance course).
- Consider offering monetary grants and practical support to write an article or narrative for publication (this may be co-authoring or support to independently author and seek publication).
- Consider offering monetary grants and practical support to prepare and present at relevant conferences (this may be co-presenting, or presenting independently or as part of a symposium).
- Organise workshops, such as media training or public speaking.
- If your staff are receiving training in a particular area, would it be appropriate to invite any of your child and family partnership participants along too? This would not only facilitate skill development but also help to equalise relationships between staff and participants.
- For those who are interested, consider offering participants the opportunity of being supported to formulate their own personal narrative – a coherent, authentic text of their own lived experience that they could share with their colleagues and beyond.
- Cofacilitation – when your organisation is providing training to staff, how can you provide training and support to family members so they can be effective and valuable cofacilitators of your training?
- Family-led projects – can you have some projects that are truly led by children and families, with your organisation’s staff playing a coordinating role only? Consider what boundaries you may need to place around this; for example, how much funding do you have to pay remuneration? Is your organisation government funded and therefore unable to undertake formal advocacy? Be open and transparent in your partnerships.
- If you do not have much funding, what can you provide to people at low cost? For example, can you support people to develop and tell their personal stories? (Speaking our Minds is a useful tool.) Or can you enable people to set up their own groups to achieve goals that may not fit within your organisation (Our Consumer Place is a useful resource).
- Partnerships need to evolve to meet the needs of people at different times of their lives and stages of involvement. Developing skills (capacity building) may be critical to enable this to occur.
- Remember that some people may need to step back from sharing or reflecting on their personal experiences as part of their involvement with your organisation. This is another reason why it is vital to have good relationships – so you can have these conversations and work out how to involve these people in the organisation in other ways (which may require skill development first), or for participants ready to move on, help signpost them to other opportunities and projects.
- Remember to include children and young people in your capacity building approaches.
- Review your progress in this area yearly.