Partnership Functioning: A case in point between Government, Nongovernment, and a University in Australia
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Background: Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Queensland, Australia, do not access health services, contributing to poor health outcomes. To improve health in CALD communities, a partnership was formed between the state government, two nongovernment CALD-specific organizations (NGOs), and a university to develop a service that could facilitate health service use. This qualitative research explored the partners' perspectives on how the partnership functioned and its outcomes. Objectives: We sought to (1) explore how participants engaged with the principles of partnership, the processes they used, and their beliefs about the facilitators and barriers to intersectoral collaboration and (2) gain insights into how the partners perceived the development and functioning of the partnership. Methods: Qualitative, semistructured interviews were conducted with each of the key stakeholders in the partnership (n = 4). A focus group was also conducted with those working within the two NGO partners in the delivery of the service (n = 8). Open-ended questions drawn from the literature on partnership principles were used to guide the interviews and focus group data collection. The data were transcribed and analyzed using thematic principles. Results: The four themes identified were: (1) Perceived benefits of the partnership outweighed organizational differences; (2) respectful relationships sustained the partnership; (3) mitigating conflict enabled the purpose of the partnership to be fulfilled; and (4) a neutral interpersonal space enabled the partnership to be enacted. Conclusions: Our study showed how contextual pressures created within the system can damage tenuous connections that have been developed between otherwise competitive organizations, leading to dissolution of partnerships. However, the study has also shown that partnerships may be purpose and time bound, not necessarily with respect to longevity. Through strategic negotiations, partnerships can be sustained until the goal of the partnership is attained, which in this instance was the development of a new service delivery model.
Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education and Action
Copyright 2013 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2013, pp. 385-393. Reprinted with permission by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
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