29 Oct 2020News
Building relationships saw SSI’s big dream become reality
Partnership and collaboration have been in SSI’s DNA since its formation
CEO Violet Roumeliotis puts SSI’s growth, evolution and diversification down to collaboration, a culturally-diverse and passionate team, putting people first, and a strong focus on values over financial outcomes.
SSI started small but had a big dream. That dream involved collaboration and partnerships with local neighbourhood centres, its members in metropolitan and regional NSW, ethno-specific and mainstream organisations, charities and corporates. Its service delivery model and approach to project initiatives was about building capacity, letting local services do what they do best and harnessing the expertise of the NFP sector.
The big dream has become a reality because SSI focused on building relationships, acknowledging other strengths and skills and recognising the impact of concentrating on what was held in common rather than the differences.
Most importantly, SSI respected that diversity of thought and contribution builds power with and not power over.
One of SSI’s strongest assets is its partners – a network based on a genuine commitment of trust and shared values.
SSI, with its member organisations, approached challenges collaboratively with different levels of government, across sectors, with civil society organisations and, most importantly, with people at the grassroots whose lives SSI sought to support.
“I am a firm believer that deep and meaningful relationships bring wonderful collaborations, help grow broad resourceful networks and deliver better outcomes for organisations and for our community.”
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis
SSI’s successful growth required strategic foresight, fuelled by bringing diverse minds to the table, including expert practitioners, community leaders and strategists, partners and collaborators — to assess policy trends and government priorities.
By being in trusting relationships that fostered collaboration, SSI was able to offer ground-breaking, innovative social models of service delivery, very often in partnership with member organisations, sector partners and other civil society organisations.
Four examples of SSI’s collaborative relationships
1. The NSW Settlement Partnership (NSP) is an innovator in the settlement sector.
Established in 2015, the NSP is a consortium of migrant resource centres, multicultural services and locally based generalist and ethno-specific organisations, led by SSI, delivering settlement services in Sydney and key regional locations in NSW under the Department of Home Affairs’ Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) program.
It has provided the opportunity for partners to learn from each other, to more effectively work together and, most importantly, learn more about providing strong settlement services for clients.
A 2017 study found that the lateral accountability mechanisms within the NSP were effective with partners possessing a strong sense of accountability towards each other. A key reason for this was that the delivery model took a strength-based approach and recognised the different capacities and needs of each partner.
Partners come together to develop and share learnings and resources, to reinforce best practice against agreed service standards and principles.
There is a strong sense of shared values and goals among NSP partners, particularly in providing the best possible quality of services to clients.
2. Through the Connective Collective initiative, an Australian first, White Pages innovatively used its expertise in connecting people and businesses to link new migrants and refugees with the wider community. Over 200 families in Liverpool received the Connective Collective welcome pack, which included flashcards and a business directory featuring stories about local business owners in English and Arabic. The initiative connected migrants and refugees who were adapting to life in Australia with local businesses and services tailored to meet their needs and enhance their settlement journey.
The Connective Collective was the result of genuine community collaboration between White Pages, SSI as the refugee settlement provider, Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre and Liverpool Council. The collaboration built on strong location-based networks, demonstrated rapport and relationships within communities and with their leaders. All stakeholders played an important role in designing and implementing the roll-out, drawing on each other’s area of expertise.
3. In the past two years SSI has partnered with Australian Women in Music Awards (AWMA) to turn the spotlight on culturally diverse female artists and music practitioners through the SSI Diversity in Music Award.
4. A partnership between Allianz Australia and SSI has delivered new career opportunities and support for refugees and migrants who have settled in Australia. It has improved employment and educational opportunities for SSI clients as well as enhancing workforce diversity at Allianz.
Thanks to the partnership, successful participants in the Allianz Ladder — teaching young refugees basic business skills and helping them find a job — progressed to Allianz’s Sustainable Employment Program, which provided refugees with tailored development, career management plans and permanent employment.
Another component of the partnership is Allianz’s provision of educational scholarships that minimise the impact of structural disadvantage that refugees often experience during the early settlement phase by increasing access to education.
Thank you to all of our corporate partners for their support.