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The Power of Collaboration in Community-led Practice

One of the key practices that have contributed to the Tunnel Project's success is the spirit of collaboration that permeates every aspect of the work along the way. Today, we want to emphasise the significance of working with collaborators to enhance project impact and how receiving their support and expertise has been essential in bringing our vision to life.

Our project's focus revolved around connecting community leaders to neighbourhood houses and empowering staff at these centres to be more open to working with community leaders and ultimately understanding the true value of these relationships in their local communities.

Throughout this journey, we've had the privilege of working with incredible facilitators, among them the remarkable Dee Brooks and Michelle Dunscombe from the Jeder Institute. Their expertise and experience in working alongside communities on community initiatives have been nothing short of transformative. We brought Michelle and Dee in to work with community leaders AND neighbourhood house staff and committees AND Council staff to support an asset-based community development approach (ABCD).

One of the powerful strategies they introduced us to is the "Know Learn Teach" approach, where participants offer what they know, what they are willing to teach, what they are keen to learn. This process creates ripple effects of shared wisdom throughout the community.

Another technique that we shared was the Five H's: Head, Hand, Heart, Heel and Human connection. These are the gifts and talents that each of us can bring to our community life. One of our community development mantras is: “start with what is strong, not what is wrong” (thanks Cormac Russell! )

We are thrilled to already be witnessing firsthand the integration of these invaluable approaches in neighbourhood houses. One outstanding example is the Louis Joel Arts and Community Centre, where the ‘Know Learn Teach’ strategy has been posted on an easel in the front foyer. A seemingly small action that undoubtedly has bigger consequences - as anyone can connect with the idea that they themselves have some wisdom that they can readily contribute to their community. Thanks to Karen Ingram for implementing this at the centre!

As we reflect on the journey so far, we are humbled by the power of collaboration and the incredible impact it has had on our Westgate Neighbourhood Fund Project in Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay. Together with our collaborators, community leaders, neighbourhood houses, local government we are sowing the seeds of positive change, creating a legacy that will continue to blossom for years to come. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Dee Brooks, Michelle Dunscombe, and all our collaborators, Pirooz Jafari, Terori Hareko-Avaivilla, and the Project team - Sandy Joffe, Maggie Mildenhall, for their support and dedication to the Lead the Way Project. It is through this collective effort that we pave the way for a brighter, more connected future.

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