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Outcomes are what our communities want

photo of Peter GlensorPeter Glensor, General Manager
Hui E! Community Aotearoa

As a sector the challenge for us is to reclaim a sense of who we are, and the values that drive us. During this coming year there will be a whole host of ways in which we can do this work. One of the things that’s on the agenda at the moment is outcomes based contracting.

For years, we as a sector have been involved in a whole range of health, social service, justice, housing, community development initiatives. The main funding source for this has often been contracts with government departments or District Health Boards. We have always been clear that what we want to see is an outcome of an improved life for the individuals, the whanau and the communities where we are working.

The definition of improved outcomes must be from the perspective of the community and the family. It is they who know whether or not their lives are being improved by what is happening around them. In many places, outcomes based contracting is now seen as a good way to go, but all too often it is officials who are defining those outcomes. From all the work that has been done in New Zealand and internationally about Collective Impact, we know that it is the community and the clients who are in the best position to define the outcome that will make a difference.

It’s vital that we develop our understanding of how an outcomes based contract is developed – and work to make sure that the communities we serve are part of working out the outcomes. In Gisborne, for example, one of the outcomes of good local neighbourhood development was that people in each street knew who their neighbours were. I haven’t seen an outcome worded like that in any formal outcomes contract – but it is an excellent example of an outcome that can be achieved only by a whole programme of work. People know one another by name only when they meet and talk together – and when they do that, a whole lot of other dynamics kick in – people keep an eye on the local children, people notice when there is stress and strain in a household, people share more, people begin to work together on common issues, and so on.
Wouldn’t it be exciting if an agency was working to a contract with an outcome like that? Hui E! is working with MBIE as they develop some standardised contracts, including outcomes-based contracts. If you are part of those, be clear that the population outcomes you agree to need to be worked through with your clients and community, and must reflect their reality – I bet you will get a good response from the agency you are contracting with – they too want what’s best for our community, but we all need to learn how to define that better.

Take the chance! Start with what’s important for your community and your agency – and then see how that meshes (or not!) with your funder. And keep on! Kia kaha!

This blog has been contributed by a member of ComVoices

We actively promote the value that community sector organisations and their people, both paid and unpaid, add to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing through information, and political advocacy and dialogue.

Click here for our website:  http://comvoices.org.nz/