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How do we work together for a better world?

This is the question asked by Culture Well’s Radical Guide to Collaboration, a new and creative joint venture between Asthma Australia, World Wellness Group and One Health Organisation.

The initiative combines the stories and expertise of six individuals across three very different Australian organisations who worked together to find systems-level solutions to public health challenges experienced by refugee and migrant communities.

“We believe that unless we learn to work together across different sectors and cultures, both transparently and effectively, we will not be able to turn the rising tide of inequality, environmental devastation, and deteriorating mental and physical health that is threatening to overwhelm us.” (page 3)

The Radical Guide to Collaboration instills critical insights and useful tools to help improve collaboration within and across diverse workspaces – including through easy to access diagrams, pictures and illustrations. They will be useful for any organisation, project, or leader looking to improve their teamwork.

Using a systems thinking approach, the guide provides a framework to help establish more powerful and collaborative relationships, both internally and across sectors. It covers a variety of collaboration styles and interactive exercises to help organisations determine what type and tactics will help them achieve their purpose.

A few top level takeaways include:

  • Collaboration happens between people, not organisations – and people work best together when they trust and care for each other. This means that investing time and resources in building connections is vital.
  • Honesty and transparency are crucial – which means accepting a level of vulnerability and encouraging open discussions.
  • Focus on the process – incorporate inclusive and participatory practices that break down power structures, foster a culture of co-creation, and strengthen community networks.
  • Create strong alignment – ensure that all team members have a voice in determining the project’s vision, and arrive at consensus on key goals, values, ways of working, roles and responsibilities. Make sure new team members are inducted in the vision and process.
  • Embrace conflict and challenge – working in complexity requires being conscious of uncertainty, and adopting an evaluation, learning and evolution framework.
  • Share power – establishing a work culture that is agile, adaptive, equitable and enables team members to feel empowered requires open conversations about power, privilege and clear ground rules for decision-making.
  • Create a practice, not a program – acquiring and applying skills so that they become habits takes time, practice, patience and dedication.

Culture Well’s guide is full of practical activities and tools that you can use to strengthen your collaborative activities. You can find them on the Asthma Australia website here.


Have you read the guide? Have you tried the activities? Have you been reflecting on what makes collaboration work? Get in touch and share where you’re at.

At its heart, Strengthening Australian Civil Society is an ongoing conversation, a meeting place for people and organisations to share ideas, find common purpose and generate new relationships for change.

If reading this short piece has provoked thoughts and ideas on leadership or another aspect of civil society, please get in touch and share where you’re at.

Mark Riboldi

Mark Riboldi

Mark is a researcher at the Sydney Policy Lab, with a focus on collaborative policy development and the intersections between communities, governments and civil society.