A replicable model of Collaborative philanthropy for systemic change

By: Deb Tsorbaris   |   CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare   |   https://www.cfecfw.asn.au/

We need systemic change to address intractable social problems, and systemic change is hard to achieve. It requires innovation and collaboration to meet the complex challenge. Collaborative philanthropy is a powerful tool for achieving systemic change and offers an opportunity for philanthropic organisations along with stakeholder organisations to combine and coordinate their expertise and resources to provide large-scale responses to complex social issues.

The Out-of-Home Care Philanthropic Funders Network

At the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (the Centre), we facilitate the Out-of-Home Care Philanthropic Funders Network (the OoHC Network), a group of philanthropic organisations with an interest in contributing to the safe and supportive care of children and young people. The OoHC Network is funded through Equity Trustees’ Mars-Stride Trust, David Taylor Galt Charitable Trust, R.M. Ansett Trust and The James Raymond Hartley Charitable Trust, with the Centre playing a key role in coordinating the group, its activities and connections with the child and family services sector.

For children and young people who cannot live safely at home - whether temporarily or permanently - out-of-home care is intended to keep them safe and support them to heal and thrive. Unfortunately, children and young people in out-of-home care do not always receive the care and supports they need, and the complexity and challenges of the system illustrate a pressing need for wide-scale and systemic solutions to elicit meaningful change. The OoHC Network has made a strong impact on the out-of-home care sector in Victoria to support system-wide change that improves the experiences and outcomes of children and young people who have an out-of-home care experience. 

When establishing the partnership in 2017, the OoHC Network identified a shared aim of improving the experiences and outcomes of children and young people who have an experience of or are at risk of entering, out-of-home care. With 45,000 Australian children and young people in the system the OoHC Network saw the pressing need for wide-scale and systemic solutions for children in care, and worked to develop its knowledge of the sector in order to inform its first initiatives for funding. Funding an initial project, the Home Stretch campaign, the OoHC Network contributed to policy change by seeking the extension of the leaving care age from 18 to 21.

A more focused approach was then taken to introduce innovation grant rounds, enabling the OoHC Network to identify innovative initiatives and more targeted projects.

To date, two innovation grants totalling more than $1 million have been awarded, and we are also really pleased to have opened the third innovation grant round with Expressions of Interest currently underway. The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) was awarded a grant for its Growing Up Aboriginal Babies at Home project, which is currently underway. The project will work with young Aboriginal women (and their partners) who are at risk of having their baby being placed in out-of-home care or, if removal has already occurred, to seek reunification with their baby. VACCA will support the women to meet the needs of their infants and will use Aboriginal defined measure of success.

The Brighter Futures program, a collaboration across multiple organisations lead by Anchor Inc. was awarded the first innovation grant to connect young people with an out-of-home care experience with community members who could support their education, employment, health and wellbeing and housing goals. Brighter Futures illustrated both the need for and the challenge of systemic change, and how philanthropy can play a role in highlighting these issues.

The OoHC Network as a replicable model of collaboration

The key features of the OoHC Network’s collaborative philanthropy model have been critical determinants in its impact and offer an opportunity for additional scale and reach. The model can be replicated across other jurisdictions. or to other key issue areas seeking systemic change, and has been documented in the Out of home Care Philanthropic Funders Network Case Study.

The OoHC Network continues to evolve and build on the success of its collaborative philanthropy model. In addition to continuing to build its evidence base and fund further innovative practices, the group has identified a need to grow and diversify its members to make continued improvements in the lives of children and young people.

Collaborative philanthropy is an exciting way for philanthropists and organisations alike to combine forces to shape society for the better. It is a true example of the power of collective action and a model for how societal challenges will increasingly be tackled.

For organisations wishing to know more about this replicable model of collaboration you can join the Webinar and read the Case Study here.


Deb Tsorbaris is the CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, the peak body for child and family services in Victoria representing over 100 community service organisations, students and individuals.

The Centre advocates for the rights of children and young people to be heard, to be safe, to access education and to remain connected to family, community and culture. Our vision is to see a community that is fair, equitable and creates opportunities for children and their families live happy and healthy lives.

May. 20, 2021

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