When I started facilitating workshops on evidence-based programs and practice as part of the Children and Families Expert Panel, I wanted to ensure that my approach was consistent with my commitment to strengths-based approaches and bottom-up community development. In planning the work I wrote some principles which would underpin our (the Family Action Centre) approach. While specific to the Expert Panel work, they are useful summary of my approach.
We build on individual, organisational and community strengths
- Rather than coming in as external experts with all the answers, we will recognise, and build on, the skills and experience of services, staff, the people they work with, and other stakeholders.
- We will encourage service providers to identify the strengths and resources within the communities and families they work with.
- We will work in ways that do not stigmatise or label individuals or communities.
We are committed to community-driven and family-centred approaches
- We will support services to develop their ability to be community-driven and family-centred.
- We will be led by the services we work with and meaningfully engage with their staff in the process – we see our role as supporting them to reflect on their work, to articulate their strengths and areas for improvement, and to develop strategies for improving their service delivery.
- We will support services in listening and responding to the communities and families they work with.
- We pride ourselves on effective liaison with key stakeholders.
Our approach is relationship driven
- Experience has taught us that effective community development and working with families is based on relationships.
- We will build positive, supportive relationships with the organisations we work with.
We are flexible and adaptable
- We do not have a one-size-fits-all approach and are happy to adapt in order to ensure the needs of services are met.
- We are open to changing aspects of our proposed activities as circumstances change.
We integrate community service, teaching, professional development and research
- The Family Action Centre is a University centre with a national and international reputation for promoting strengths-based practice with families and communities.
- We can draw on the experience of Family Action Centre staff in a variety of settings including working directly with communities (e.g., community development with marginalised communities, family work, parenting programs), teaching postgraduate courses directly relevant to the tender (e.g., Master of Family Studies courses in family centred practice, child centred practice, father inclusive practice; families and cultural diversity, capacity building, community engagement), facilitating workshops on a range of topics (e.g., asset-based community-driven development, father inclusive practice), organisational development (e.g., at a local and national level) and research (e.g., father inclusive practice, strong families-capable communities).
- This expertise ensures that the FAC’s approach is evidence-based, relevant and practical.
We are committed to social justice
- While being committed to strengths-based approaches, we recognise the importance of a demonstrated commitment to social justice.
- We have a particular focus on marginalised communities and families.
- A commitment to social justice means we need to acknowledge power imbalances inherent in many social relationships, address structural disadvantage and promote equality and self- determination. We are guided by the notion of power-with rather than power-over.
Our focus is on capacity building
- Our aim will be to support the services so that they are able to continue their reflection and learning without us.
- Where possible we will establish a community of practice where practitioners can reflect on the relationship between research, evidence and practice.
These principles helped guide our work and influenced our approach to evidence-based practice.
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