Transcript - CSI Swinburne 2019 Commencement Lecture - 'Making a difference - designing for change'
CSI Swinburne 2019 Commencement Lecture - 'Making a difference - designing for change'
Colleagues, students, alumni, friends, and research partners at the Centre of Social Impact at Swinburne University, welcome to this evening's commencement lecture. I acknowledge that we meet on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. I pay my respects to the elders past and present. I acknowledge the relationship between people and country. And I acknowledge country itself.
For those of you who I don't know, my name's Jo Barraket. I'm proudly the director of the Centre of Social Impact here at Swinburne University. I'm also the National Research Director for the CSI Network, which is a partnership between the University of New South Wales, the University of Western Australia, and Swinburne.
And the commencement lecture, for those of you who know, who are part of our ongoing community and have been here before, is a tradition that was established by our now adjunct associate professor, Michael Liffman, who's sitting up there. And he dutifully turns up every year. It's a pleasure to see you, Michael. And it is an acknowledgment and opening of the academic year.
So it's an opportunity for members of our community, new and established, to get together to hear from someone interesting who's got some ideas to spark and provoke us and to enjoy an opportunity to eat some marvelous catering from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and have a drink. So thanks very much for taking the opportunity come and be with us tonight.
I'm not going to do too much. My job's primarily housekeeping. And also I will facilitate Q&A at the end of Erin's talk. But I did want to acknowledge that tonight's also a particularly special commencement lecture, because we do have our Uniting Kildonan Chair in community services innovation, Professor Erin Wilson, presenting tonight's commencement lecture. And that, in a way, formally launches the ongoing research partnership between Uniting Victoria Tasmania and Swinburne, which is a multi-year initiative designed to do the work that, I think, both organizations feel very committed to around very applied real world research that helps us to unpack some of the operational and strategic challenges that community service organizations are facing and the types of solutions that they are devising, and also doing both research and practice differently in terms of making sure that the people we seek to serve are active agents in the process of the work that we do. I won't speak about that in any more detail because you're going to hear from my boss, Professor Michael Gilding, and from the CEO of Uniting saying a few words about the partnership.
So just a couple of housekeeping things. For those of you who desperately need to go the bathroom at any point in the proceedings, just go out the door and turn to the left. And you'll see where the signage is. For those of you who like to tweet while doing these sorts of activities, please feel free. We would just like to acknowledge that not everyone in the room's consented to having images used tonight. So if you are tweeting, if you wouldn't mind focusing on the screen, if you want to take snaps of images, rather than on the people, that would be terrific.
With no further ado, I would like to hand over to Professor Michael Gilding, who is the faculty Pro Vice Chancellor of the faculty of Business and Law here at Swinburne. He's going to make a few opening comments from Swinburne's perspective about the partnership that we're launching this evening. After we hear from Michael, we'll hear from Paul. And then I'll come back to introduce Erin. And then we'll actually hear from Erin.
Thanks, Jo. CSI has been around for over a decade now. And Michael, where are you? Yeah. So the commencement lecture, was it established in the first year or the second year or--
So right at the beginning. So it's wonderful after such-- you know, it's not a long time. But we have our traditions in CSI. And it's great that we honor that tradition every year. So this is the commencement lecture. And it celebrates the beginning of the academic year. And it's a chance for all of us to come together-- people who teach in the faculty, people who study in the faculty, our alumni, our friends-- to come together and learn something together and to catch up and then meet and talk with each other.
And this year, it's particularly special because we have Professor Erin Wilson, the newly appointed Uniting Kildonan Chair in Community Services Innovation. And I can't stress how significant an appointment this is. It's only the second appointment at this kind in the university, where we have a partnership, which is a full partnership for a professorship. And it really kind of provides an opportunity to think about the issues that we're looking at in a truly collaborative way. So a lot of university research tends to be a bit driven by university agenda. You know, we consult, and we do our best to connect. But when we have a true partnership, which is co-funded by the partner organizations, it means that the agendas of both partners fully enter into the whole project.
And so Swinburne's partnership with Uniting is a multi-year program of work to improve the design, implementation, and impacts of community services. And of course, the community sector service is going through a period of really significant change. And of course, we have a whole variety of social changes and uncertainties at the moment that affect the communities the sector seeks to serve. So what a great time for Uniting and Swinburne to be engaging in this work together.
So with investments by both Uniting and Swinburne, the partnership includes Erin's professorial position, as well as postdoctoral research, and several PhD scholarship. So it's comprehensive. You know, this is a serious partnership. The partnership is centrally aligned with the university's vision, which places social impact at the heart of everything we do.
And I should add that the faculty of Business and Law, of which CSI is a part, has social impact as a central part of its mission. The whole faculty is committed to this vision. And epitomizes CSI Swinburne's approach to much of its research and graduate teaching programs with a focus on practical learning, genuine partnership, and communicating knowledge as widely as possible so that it can make a positive difference to the world.
So we're not simply about creating abstract knowledge which is not applied. We're interested in applying in a practical way in partnership. So we've already found a clear values alignment with Uniting on these issues. And I look forward to tonight's address from Erin to signpost some of what is to come.
So partnership is a co-production. So without further ado, I'd like to welcome Mr. Paul Linossier, CEO of Uniting Victoria Tasmania, to make some comments on the partnership and what Uniting hopes that it will achieve. So thank you, Paul.
Thank you, Michael. And thank you, Jo. Do I have to hold this up? I will. Can I also acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that we gather upon, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and pay our respects to elders past, present, and emerging.
Some 50,000 years after our first peoples claimed their first in this land, two women-- Selina Sutherland and Maria Armour-- saw a need in terms of children who are at risk in their community, and this was 1881, and sought to do something about it. They formed an organization called Scott's Church Neglected Children's Aid Society.
They were 30 years late to the work, if you compare them to the history of the Catholic church establishing similar works in Victoria. The Catholics had established their first equivalent home in 1854. And although ultimately these responses were quite institutional in their form, they were the early signs of a colonial society starting to identify those who are vulnerable and provide a concrete response.
If we wind the clock forward to 1977, we find the emergence of the Uniting Church, and that earlier Presbyterian initiative had been matched by great Methodist enthusiasm. And the new church in Australia found itself responsible for more than 100 programs-- some based in agencies, and some based in congregations. That period was one of hope of a Whitlamesque reform in social policy and social services and a renewed cry across our community for social justice.
If we wind the clock further forward to today, we find the context much more complex and much more fraught. Maybe if we lived in those earlier periods we would have described it as complex and fraught. But we look at it through sanitized history today. So the time we live in is the most complex.
The shadow side of the hero stories of these early agencies and institutions has been laid plain through parliamentary inquiries, through royal commissions, and through the courts. What is true is that we've been complicit in the near destruction of our first peoples-- their strong sense of community and connection to this land-- and we have not acted often enough. And I'm talking about Uniting and our founding agencies. But maybe I'm talking more broadly as a community. We have not acted often enough nor strongly enough when children in our care have been abused by their supposed carers.
Today's new complexities overlay contemporary social service reform. Societal inequity and polarization are assumed. Clients are now customers. Market models drive service reform. For-profit providers are central to our health, aged care, and correctional service systems. And not-for-profits are looking to non-traditional partners, such as banks and utility companies, to intervene earlier and arrest spiraling disadvantage.
So why do I start with the history lesson? So it goes to the rationale of this professorial chair and Uniting's hopes for it. And he discreetly turns the page at this point.
Uniting was established in 2017, when 24 organizations in the life of the Uniting Church came together under one governance board. The change gives us one of those rare opportunities, perhaps a once in a generation opportunity, to look at ourselves for a moment in a more detached or objective way. In our recent strategic plan that we released at the end of last year, the process that generated that reflected that.
So our history tells us that good people are found to have been doing, or associated with, harm when that was the antithesis of their intent. The question for us as we wrestled with our strategic directions was what initiatives will help us as a new organization ensure that what we do going forward does not cause harm but rather offers hope, affords people their rights, and enables fuller participation in community and resilience?
So ultimately this is the rationale for the Uniting Kildonan Chair. We want to learn. We want to innovate-- through research, evidence, and reflection-- how to measure what we do in terms of outcomes and not outputs. We want to understand and privilege the lived experience of those who use our services. We want to enable and foster community. And we want to challenge in an informed way poor public policy.
We're excited about the opportunity we now have to work with Swinburne, with your partner universities, and the opportunity to share knowledge and expertise about what works to deliver positive social impact. The organization that Selina and Maria founded was known for the larger part of its existence as Kildonan.
This chair that Erin embodies and will speak to tonight was the vision of the outgoing Board of Kildonan and their CEO Stella Avramopolous. I promised I wouldn't stumble on that. And I want to acknowledge their vision and foresight that this possibility might be realized and of such importance to the future of our new organization.
So this is an exciting chapter for Uniting. It has started well. And I'm very glad to be entering it with Swinburne, with Erin, and with the rest of the team that will stand with you in this enterprise. Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words.
Such erudite and well-chosen words-- thanks, Paul. I'm not going to say too much more other than to introduce Erin. She'll be known to some of you. And hopefully you've had a chance to read her biography, because I really hate doing the thing of reading out all the details of a biography.
What I would say is that Erin is a leading researcher and thinker in the field of participatory social change. She has a track record in both scholarship and practice, having worked in both the community sector and the university sector over many years. And she has particular a track record in the areas of disability and inclusion and, prior to this, in indigenous community management and development. Recent or research activities that Erin has been involved with include the experience of choice among people with psychosocial disability accessing the NDIS, identifying priorities for building the capacity of mainstream and community services to include people with disabilities, and human rights priorities of children with disabilities.
What Erin's written biography doesn't say is much about the essence of her. And what I would say, as part of the recruitment panel that went through a fairly rigorous process to appoint Erin, was that we were struck in equal measure by her intellectual capabilities, her research track record, and her fundamental humanness and genuine commitment to socially just social inclusion. We were also very impressed by the fact that she could remember the name of every single person she met during the recruitment process, which was somewhat amazing.
So with no further ado, I'd like to invite you to welcome Erin to the stage to speak to us about making a difference, designing for change.
Thanks, everyone. Just let me get organized here. And I need to retake the control panel. Thank you. Gee, gosh, no pressure, huh? Thanks for those kind words. It's a terrific introduction to the role and to today. And I think it probably speaks to the reason that I was so interested in the role as well. It is a bit of a match made in heaven. I'm very committed to social change, as those who know me know, and very committed to the bottom-up voice of those experiencing disadvantage, shaping and leading the way in this work, as we'll find out as we proceed. So thank you for that.
It's fantastic to be standing in a room essentially full of social change agents. This room is almost packed to the rafters of people who are working in this area of social change. And that, if you think about it, is quite an opportunity that we hold here together. And we're only part of the group of people interested in this.
So clearly, this notion of social change is a complex one. It's one that we can come at from a range of angles. It's one that has many definitions and is attended by many strategies. But tonight, I just wanted to kick off using the lens of social innovation, particularly because this notion of innovation sits inside the title of the chair that I'm very honored to hold. So I thought it would be fitting to launch into thinking about the work that we might do and our explicit design of this work from a social innovation lens.
So I'm drawing initially here on a recent literature review of 30 years of social innovation literature conducted by [INAUDIBLE] and [INAUDIBLE] in 2016. And essentially what they did was search the literature over that 30-year span to identify the discourses and the strategies of change. And we can see here that there's a range of dimensions to that change. So they talk about discourses and strategies of change relating to social relationships and collaborations and new combinations of and new social practices. And they also talk about a set of literature and strategy that focuses around service design and service delivery, as we would expect, particularly thinking about new models of service, new design and implementation processes, as well as thinking about new ways to disseminate and to expand our targets and processes.
And at the level of systems, of course, where we would also expect to see social innovation, these researchers found that there's been an emphasis on changing policy structures and institutional frameworks, as we would expect, but also new interactions between economy and society and new ways of organizing the politics of power, if you like, a change in relations between civil society and governing bodies.
This kind of analysis, which steps us across this sense of service and outer system, is quite similar to an ecological model. And here I've summarized, I guess, the ecological model stemming from Bronfenbrenner's work in 1977, who proposed that there were a range of spheres of influence of human development and human experience. And I've represented three of those only here.
So ranging from the closest sphere of influence in our lives, which is those at the level of individual and family and friends, out to a meso level of influence, which is thinking about the way community groups, services, organizations interact in our lives to structure our human experience and human development, and further beyond that, out to the macro level of systems, structures, and attitudes.
I was surprised recently-- I don't know why I was surprised, but I was surprised-- as I was engaging with this broad sector that is, in fact, Uniting, because it's a cross-sector organization. So I was reading some material in the area of child and youth well-being. And I came across, as you can see, an almost identical diagram based on Bronfenbrenner's ecological model of human development. And this diagram is being used in the Tasmanian child and youth well-being framework to describe the sorts of outcomes that we should be aspiring to in relation to children, their families, their communities, and the broader enabling society and environment.
So this ecological model is absolutely alive and well. It's a common model in disability and inclusion work from which I come and where I've been embedded for the last decade or so. In disability and inclusion work we have taken a focus at the micro level around person-centered practices to support people with disabilities and their supporters of family and friends to achieve the individual goals of people with disabilities. At the meso level, we have worked with disability service organizations and generic mainstream or universal-- that is, non-disability specific organizations, in terms of their capacity to include people with disability. And at the wider macro level, our focus has been around understandings of inclusion and attitude change, an area we really haven't succeeded particularly well at. And I'll return to that.
So in its broad landscape of change, if you like, this way of thinking opens up to us a way of strategizing around a whole landscape of change. And where community service organizations have traditionally landed, not surprisingly, is in the area of service provision. It's a critically important area, in that what we're trying to do here is respond to the essential human needs, the unmet needs of people experiencing disadvantage.
So whilst this is a critical area of work, of course, it's not an area of work that has always done very well in the area of social change. It hasn't been within its remit. And often, as we know, community services are very much constrained by limited frames of funding and the parameters of that funding that constrain the focus of their activities, and also on changing organizational and political commitment around particular service types and models.
So this leads us to thinking about, well, in this kind of context how can we think about embedding change for longer lasting effects if we want to really see some impact from our actions? So of course, there's many, many ways to do this. And I only want to present some examples of one of those ways. So I thought today I would focus on the notion of capacity across this ecosystem, or this landscape, of change.
So notions of capacity and capacity building have been around for a long time. And they're re-entering social policy recently, particularly in the area of the National Disability Insurance scheme, which very much draws on this notion of capacity and capacity building as we'll see shortly. However, these notions, as many of you will know, are widely critiqued in community development and international development literature. In particular, their critique centers around the problem of capacity really focusing on a deficit model rather than a strengths-based model and, alongside this, tending to focus on individuals, where we need to build their capacity to deal with a particular problem, and thereby ignoring the structural determinants of that problem and expecting that we can fix issues just by fixing the person, if you like, in inverted commas.
Susan Kenny suggests to us that we need to pay particular attention to who decides whose capacities should be built. And this particularly alludes to the prevalence of a top-down focus on capacity building, where people outside, or external, to the problem decide where the deficits lie and therefore what capacity should be built for whom.
Of course, there are many models of capacity building. So we don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And Susan Kenny, in her text on community development in Australia, talks about mutual capacity building as a process. And that's a process I'd like to talk further about today in relation to one of the examples of work that I want to present.
But before I do that, let's engage with this concept of capacity. It's very much homogenizing concept. Even when we hear it used inside the NDIA, the National Disability Insurance Agency, or National Disability Insurance Scheme, it's often used to wrap up a whole set of concepts and doesn't very clearly explicate what our targets are for this kind of change work.
So what do we mean by capacity? So a bit of a quick scan of the literature that I conducted as part of some work with Spinal Life Australia, people experiencing spinal cord injury and post polio recently, has uncovered a set of ideas associated with capacity in the broader literature. So probably the first things we think about when we think about capacity are those elements of knowledge and skills. So we quite often probably see the two as synonymous.
But alongside knowledge and skills, there's a focus also on attitudes as capacity, so attitudes as a target of change. And linked to that, people's behaviors and actions and their motivation and confidence as particular capacities that may need to be built in order to see people take those actions and implement those behaviors. More broadly, again, the literature also talks about capacity as culture and, of course, capacity in terms of expanded relationships or activated networks for change, in the same way as we might think about social capital and the advantages of bonding and bridging capital. So we might take a focus on building capacity in a relational sense. And finally, of course, physical capacity underlies much of our change work in terms of having the resources and infrastructure to do the work.
If we apply Susan Kenny's directive to think about whose capacities and what capacities, we then need to be getting quite specific in each of those areas, regardless of whether we're talking about knowledge or relationships. We need to think about what specific knowledge are we talking about as far as capacity goes. What specific attitudes are we trying to change?
And again, much of the work in the literature here speaks about these things in quite generic ways. Particularly, for instance, if we take attitude change and negative attitudes in Australia towards disability, we don't often get underneath this to exactly what attitudes are we talking about? Attitudes to whom? What kind of attitudes? And some work I was privileged to be part of at Deakin University, I did some work to unpack the sorts of attitudes that apply to different groups of people with disability. So rather than just talking about negative attitudes, really honing down into what do we mean.
So taking these two sets of concepts and marrying them together, we then can think about an explicit design for work that might help us identify the building of capacity across the ecosystem-- from the micro to the meso to the macro levels of the ecosystem. The NDIS recently has taken this kind of approach actually inside their information linkages and capacity building program.
So for those of you who work in a disability and inclusion space you will know the NDIA are to be founded on three tiers. The top tier delivers individualized funding packages to individuals to purchase the services and supports they require. And at the second tier, we have a kind of social change here. So there is an investment opportunity here for the NDIA to invest in social change.
Over the past six or eight months, I've been working with the information linkages and capacity building-- that second tier-- around their investment design. And so one of the things that they've been thinking about is where to intervene in the social change problem-- that is, disability and inclusion. So recently they've announced a new strategy, a new ILC strategy, through to 2022 of about $130 million worth of granting investment per annum. And these are the four granting programs that I've listed on the screen.
So at the micro level, they have designed an individual capacity building program which they articulate to be to help people with disability and their families or carers to improve their knowledge, skills, and confidence to set and achieve their goals. Similarly, at the micro level, they have designed a national information program that's designed to deliver high quality consistent national information to individuals in order to enable them to link to services.
There's a little bit of unmet possibility here in this particular design, because such an information program could also build capacity at the meso level-- that is, of organizations and services. But this hasn't been clearly articulated inside the ILC.
At the meso level, though, they have targeted mainstream capacity building, focusing on what they're calling mainstream organizations, which largely means government services. And the focus here is on building capacity knowledge, skills, practices, and cultures of mainstream services so they have the skills to meet the needs of people with disability. And similarly, on the other side of the fence at the meso level, is a focus on economic and community participation, that is, connecting people with disability to employment and community supports and opportunities, helping communities and employers to be inclusive and responsive.
So you can see that they have targeted their granting program at different levels of this ecosystem. They haven't actually hit the macro level of the ecosystem. And I think this will be a significant problem for the NDIA in disability and inclusion work going forward. It's not necessarily their fault. Part of this is due to jurisdictional boundaries and the way the legislation has been written, which essentially writes the NDIA out of bailing out broader parts of the macro ecosystem. So there are some problems sitting at this space.
So I want to track with you now an example of explicitly designing to embed change using a mutual capacity building approach. Just to illustrate, I guess one way of thinking ahead of the program in terms of using an ecosystem approach to think about embedding change. So this is the Voices of Pacific Children with Disabilities Project led by my colleague, Dr. Elena Jenkin, who has recently just been confirmed her PhD, and by my colleagues Dr. Kevin Murfitt, with us here today, Professor Matthew Clarke, and Dr. Robert Campain.
So Deakin University, Save the Children, the child rights organization operating in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Australia for this project, and disabled people's organizations in both Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, came together in a mutual capacity building approach, in that we recognize that each party brought to the table different sets of capacities. Clearly, the academics brought a set of research expertise and understanding of disability and inclusion practice. The child rights agency brought a strong understanding of child practice and, in particular, a set of safeguarding practices for children that were essential for our work. And they also had a set of organizational capabilities in that space.
And disabled people's organizations, or DPOs, brought with them an understanding about what disability means in a localized context, what disability experiences, and disabling experiences, and along with that a set of excellent networks into communities.
So it was a two-year funded project, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for an Australian Development Research Award, an award unfortunately no longer available, which is a shame, given that we rarely get these opportunities to work across such scale over time.
The purpose of the project was to identify human rights priorities of children with disability in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. But to do this, we had to develop a method to support the communication of those children with very diverse disabilities, very few resources and assistive technologies. We needed a method to enable them to communicate their viewpoint about their human rights experiences and preferences.
So on this slide, what I've tried to do is marry up our sense of the ecological environment, moving through the micro, meso, and macro arenas to the sorts of problem analysis that we developed through this process of working together.
So the DPOs advised the team that, of course, there were negative attitudes to disability operating in both countries and that policy in those countries was largely irrelevant to people with disabilities. And in particular, children with disabilities were not evident. They were not visible inside those policies. Similarly, services including our partner, Save the Children were not really including children with disability, largely because they hadn't been designed to do. So children with disability were largely still invisible in many communities and hadn't surfaced into the service world.
And at the micro level, children were experiencing abuse in some cases and exclusion in most cases in that they were excluded from important human rights activities, such as education. So sitting behind this in our problem tree was a lack of understanding around human rights, and particularly deficit models of disability, despite the fact that DPOs in both countries had been incredibly active in running workshops and training and in public discourse in relation to human rights and disability and inclusion.
There was also, at the service level, a lack of knowledge about disability, and particularly children with disability, and practices that one might use to include children with disability. And fundamental to all of that was a lack of children's viewpoint-- literally no voice at all appearing in any of the service design or conversation that was coming directly from children. We know from the literature that this really stems from a legacy of colonial and deficit models not only of disability but also of children and of developing countries, or the global south. And this leads to a sense of children really not having much value, as being underdeveloped and incompetent and deficient.
So taking a capacity approach across this ecosystem, we are interested in focusing on both capacities at the local level and at the global level, recognizing that there is always an interconnection between the two. So at the local level, we're interested in capacities for children, for children's families and communities, for community service practitioners and organizations, and for governments. And particularly at the global level, one of our key focuses was on the international development practitioner world and international researcher world.
And the capacities that we were targeting were particularly those around attitude change, which particularly had to do with understandings of children with disability having capability, having rights entitlements, and having normative aspirations. And at the practitioner level, the meso level, we were targeting the practitioner skills and knowledge around inclusive practice and policy, as well as organizational and recruitment structures.
So this slide has tried to marry on to the ecosystem, if you like-- the chain strategies and actions that we took. So at the micro level, in green on the slide, if you like, we had to develop its process for communicating with children and enabling children to communicate with us. This was really done through a set of tools and their involvement in films, which I'll tell you about in a minute.
At the meso level, we developed a set of practice guides and resources that were available on our website. We ran training across three countries. And at the macro level, the level of attitude change, we decided to do this through the development of three films which were widely disseminated through DVDs and website, which I'll also explain. We also provided policy briefs to governments and to donors.
And in particular, we took a strong focus on analyzing our data using a human rights framework. This is important because it then allows the data to be activated in terms of civil society reporting to the UN as well as to government reporting to the UN. So trying to utilize strategies and frameworks that are influential.
So just to give you a little bit more example of this work, at the children's level, our processes included utilizing quite creative strategies to allow children with diverse disabilities to self-report. So we used a photo library, which is a collection of photos taken locally by our researchers with disabilities, based on the CIPD, or the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, representing a range of life areas from which they could choose their priorities and communicate their viewpoint. This was similarly replicated in an oral way through a sound library and through a tactile way through a set of objects in a bag that similarly could be used as prompts for children where tactile communication was more important for them. We used a photo voice technique, where children could utilize a camera to take photos. They could also draw to communicate. They could guide researchers around communities. We utilized dolls in terms of role playing, and we also utilized a particular cultural form of storytelling called storying.
What happened as a result of these strategies was in some ways quite profound, particularly for families. So many families talked about the first time recognizing the capabilities of their children, to in fact engage in an activity like this, think through and communicate their priorities, learn new techniques such as using a camera or utilizing the sound library, for instance. And so for some parents, they reported that this would mean that they would now think about their child enrolling in school and started to see their child as having those normative aspirations of other children.
Parents through that process became advocates of children. But in particular, children reported to us what they experienced. And we asked all children as part of the project how they felt about this process.
So one child, for example, said to us, I'm so happy to be part of this big research project because there's never been a group of people coming around and talking to me and asking me about my problems. I really liked that you wanted to hear straight from me. And this is typical of children's response to us.
At the meso level, our strategies, as I said, involved developing a guide to inclusive practice, which we've made freely available on the website as well as having hard copies available in countries-- in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Australia-- and we ran a series of training workshops. What was interesting about that was that the website strategy was really effective. We didn't know how this would work.
But the methods that we encapsulated in the guide, including a set of principles and ethics and a range of tools to use, were picked up and used in a range of projects that we had no association with whatsoever other than hearing about that the tools were picked up. So in Ethiopia, the guide was used as fundamental to the method that was used by the Women's Refugee Commission working with children with and without disabilities around gender-based violence. And in Cambodia, UNICEF and [INAUDIBLE] utilized the method working with children in home and out-of-home care settings.
Further to that, the work was picked up and became a base of two further guides. So Women's Refugee Commission developed their own guide around doing work around gender-based violence. And Plan International incorporated the methods inside a guide around consulting with children with disabilities.
At the level of attitude change-- probably the hardest level to hit and hardest level two evidence-- we, as I said, had a range of films, two 14-minute films, one in each country and a short biography a 3-minute film of a child. The films essentially showed children as capable-- as capable of talking about what they wanted, capable of showing that they had normative aspirations just like other children to work and to support their communities and families.
We made sure the films were accessible as audio described and captioned films. And for some in communities, people had not had this opportunity to engage with a film because they hadn't been presented in an accessible way.
So even being part of events where films were screened and people with disabilities, adults and children, could come to these, this was quite unique.
The films had a global reach. To date, they've reached about 5,000 people through YouTube and Tedx. They've been screened in New York and at Canberra by UN and [INAUDIBLE]. And they've also been screened as part of film festivals. This was an explicit strategy of ours. So we entered the films widely in film festivals around the world. They didn't always get picked up. But they got picked up in some places. So they were part of the UN Enable film competition. And they toured PNG as part of the 6th Human Rights Film Festival, which meant that they were really widely engaged with as an attitude change activity.
So from all this, where does that land us? I think we can take from this work kind of free ideas, if you like. The first is that the change strategies and our explicit design absolutely has to start from the lived experience of those most affected. Paul mentioned this kind of value in his speech. It's obviously fundamental to Uniting's work. And it should be fundamental to the work of all change activities. And that lived experience of those most affected has to drive into our other strategies.
So the second strategy we can take is this notion of explicit design, not sort of falling into social change but trying to design ahead for social change. And that leads to our third strategy of using a landscape or ecology of change to consider where we might intervene and why we might intervene, using our theory of change to identify those sites where there are problems and interrelationships of those problems and to make visible the sorts of partnerships and alliances that we might also bring to the table.
What gets in the way of this? Of course all the things we know about because you engage with them every day in your practice. So silos and jurisdictional boundaries, limited funding, short time frames, so lack of scale and fragmentation of strategies-- we're all doing lots of bits and pieces of things. But in particular, I think, today a strong factor is competitive organizational cultures and drivers. And we certainly see this coming from individualized funding, particularly with the National Disability Insurance Scheme. And unfortunately, a consequence of that kind of funding is that services have started to rethink of themselves in terms of being part of a market. They commercialize their products and their activities. And this closes out collaborative activity.
There's also a lack of evidence about what change interventions actually work at this scale. And this was certainly a problem for the NDIA when I was working with them last year in designing their investment strategy at the ILC level. How do we know what will work if we invest in certain areas? We might know what the problems are. But where is the evidence to show that the investment will yield the return? So this is still something that we need to do more work on.
So clearly we need to focus on joined up actions and collaborations and alliances and, I think, some creativity, as the films show, thinking how can we hit those bigger targets of macro change? I was interested recently to come across this term, "social extrapreneurship," which also describes what I've just been talking about to some extent. And I was kind of thrilled to see, in fact, that in this set of literature, which is also social innovation literature, it talks about social extrapreneurship as being about cross organizational activity that facilitates alternative combinations of ideas, people, places, and resources. And it's about working in and between organizations and networks, not just in novel solutions, but to develop a range of support mechanisms for the ecosystems and platforms that shape social change. Hooray-- it's all that I've been talking about.
So just to finish-- what will I focus on in the short term? I've had a great time beginning my interaction with Uniting, meeting lots of people, hearing the research questions coming to the fore in that organization and making sense of those. For the moment, probably my future in the short term focuses on these kind of areas, continuing this focus on maximizing social change through cross-sector work, looking at the importance of consumer participation and the impact of when we engage consumers, or people most affected in the problem. What happens when we do that? Clearly, we have to focus on the outcomes that matter and how to measure these in ways that are influential.
I'm going to continue being interested in capacity building of mainstream and community organizations, so at that meso level. How do we do that? And how do we know when we've done it right? I will continue that project that Jo mentioned, working around people's experience of making choice inside individualized funding systems and the labor that comes with those choice making processes which reside back on individuals. And finally, I'm very interested in a much broader understanding of the economic participation of people with disability.
So I'd be thrilled if you have an interest in any of those areas and want to contact me and talk about any of that further. Please, please do so. And I think we have an opportunity now for questions.