About the Conference


A growing number of complex social problems are tugging at the fabric of Australian society. The health system. The economy. Housing. Employment. Entrenched and multigenerational disadvantage.

Despite Australia’s high ranking internationally on wealth and standard of living indices, we have social problems that have become intractable or are worsening.

Facts by numbers:

  • The benefits of a decade of economic growth have not flowed on to a consistent portion of the Australian community (5-8%) who are excluded, under-serviced and unrecognised.
  • The proportion of children living in jobless households in Australia is higher than all but four of the 27 EU states.
  • The number of Australian aged over 65 is projected to more than double by 2055, with 1 in 1,000 people projected to be aged over 100.
  • Ten years of policy focus and investment has barely started to ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Homelessness has risen 8% over the past five years despite a national strategy, agreed targets, an increase in Federal and State spending and the ‘significant effort of many social sector organisations’.
  • Traditionally the social system has responded to these and other complex social problems from a paradigm of isolated impact – siloed organisations, programs and projects working towards different outcomes. The nature of complex social problems means that no single program, organisation, policy or government can singlehandedly create lasting large-scale change.

The recent interest in Collective Impact among policy-makers, funders and service providers is a sign that the way we think about and practice collaboration is insufficient. There is a general agreement and understanding that the Collective Impact model offers “a more powerful and realistic paradigm for social progress than the prevailing model of isolated impact in which countless non-profit, business, and government organisations each work to address social problems independently.”

What is needed are collaborative, community-driven, data-based approaches to address these issues.

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