What do you do when your organisation is at threat of losing funding and the service you provide is at the frontline of tackling domestic violence? The answer is you innovate, take risks and engage with the community in a way that not only responds to their needs, but also makes the community a part of the solution.
Before someone can be a part of the solution, they need to be educated about the problem and that is what our organisation focused on.
We developed a legal education website that provides free legal information to community support organisations across Queensland. Our organisation had no previous experience in website development or the technology that was required to broadcast webinars. Developing the website was not easy, so we engaged experts in web development and IT. The project took months to develop, but now the Ask Nola network has over 200 members from across Queensland which include social workers, psychologists, administration support, law students, solicitors, volunteers of community support organisations and government organisations to name a few.
The Ask Nola website provides factsheets, publications and monthly webinars about legal issues for people who are experiencing relationship breakdown. The information and resources are all free of charge. The website also provides referral information about local community organisations in north, far north and western Queensland.
The biggest aspect of the project was developing relationships with these different community organisations to ensure that the website provided the service that the organisations and clients needed. The relationships built in these communities increased the profile of our organisation and has meant our organisation can provide greater services to women in rural, regional and remote Queensland. Women who were unable to gain access to free legal information are now able to obtain it when they need it most.
The major focus of any project that wants to engage the community is building relationships with key stakeholders. The success of the project will be a direct reflection on the relationships that you have built.
Sharell O’Brien will be speaking on ‘Taking a community wide approach to supporting women’s rights’ at the QLD Public Sector Women in Leadership conference this May. Book soon to secure early bird rates!