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In a dynamic presentation at the Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) conference in Melbourne today, SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis highlighted the power of partnerships and the importance of trust and communication in achieving better outcomes for vulnerable communities.

Addressing over 600 delegates on the second day of the SCOA conference, Ms Roumeliotis discussed the benefits of collaborating with colleagues in the settlement sector, including shared resources, talent and knowledge, and more innovative solutions to support vulnerable communities in Australia.

Ms Roumeliotis said partnerships were a way to create new opportunities and she emphasised the importance of partners sharing similar values.

“Understanding each other’s values becomes a foundation upon which to build collaborative endeavours, even with unlikely allies,” she said, adding that trust was also crucial to successful partnerships.

“One of the most successful ways of building trust is through building relationships, listening to and learning about each other,” she said. “Clear lines of communication and accountability are also a vital element of success for partnerships.”

Ms Roumeliotis acknowledged that collaborative partnerships were “not without their challenges”, but used SSI’s partnership with the financial services company Allianz as a successful example of how unlikely allies could identify common goals and achieve mutual benefits.

“This is an innovative partnership for SSI and Allianz — unlikely partners combining to find solutions for what can be quite an intractable problem: finding meaningful long term employment for refugees,” she said. “I am happy to say that this partnership is now in action, with five new recruits starting on the job with Allianz in March.”

Ms Roumeliotis drew on the success of the Ignite Small Business Start-Ups initiative — developed in collaboration with the Sirolli Institute — and the NSW Settlement Partnership, a consortium of 22 organisations led by SSI, to illustrate the significance of trust and communication.

“Learning more about each other, and what each party can bring to the table can help us all build stronger relationships grounded in our desire to build the best programs and provide better services for our clients and, ultimately, change lives,” she said.

“By leveraging our joint resources and expertise, I believe that we can quickly and effectively come up with novel solutions for age-old problems.”

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