In 2012, the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) engaged Sustineo to manage and deliver the Governance element of their Budget Based Funding (BBF) project. The objective was to build the governance and administrative capacity of BBF services to meet the requirements of the National Quality Standard for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Aged Care, particularly relating to leadership and service management skills. Many of the services involved in the project were located in remote indigenous communities, and faced significant organisational challenges.
In Phase I of the project Sustineo undertook extensive research into current theory and practice to develop a model of governance that was suited to the cultural and socio-economic setting within which the services operate. Importantly this included research to understand the context in which our BBF clients and partners work. Sustineo developed tailored approaches, resources, and tools to improve governance and administrative capacity by working with 17 services across Australia.
Using strengths-based, participatory approaches, the Sustineo team worked collaboratively with Boards and Service Directors to do capacity assessments where the Services identified their priority areas for capacity development and support. This informed the development of guides, manuals and other resources tailored for the sector and cultural context. These resources represented a range of modalities, from one-on-one intensive support to written resource guides (on Financial Management, Human Resource Management and Board Member Induction) and a DVD.
In Phase II Sustineo’s contract was extended to provide ongoing intensive support by visiting and working with a further 7 Services across Australia. This focused on refining capacity development approaches, using the governance toolkits and guides developed in the initial stage, and making recommendations for future strategic support mechanisms.
Sustineo’s impact on the Services became evident very quickly – Service Directors were engaging and communicating constructively and more effectively with their Boards after Sustineo brokered improved relationships; Directors noted increased confidence to implement essential governance elements for the first time (for example HR policies and effective financial reporting) and undertake leadership initiatives with Service staff; and communication, both internally and with key stakeholders was improved.