AOD & community partnerships

Work with community partners to prevent and minimise AOD-related harms in your local community. Strong partnerships are critical to addressing the complex causes of AOD use.

Benefits of community partners

  • draw on other local networks and extend your reach into the community
  • harness a range of skills, knowledge and experience
  • draw on a range of different perspectives and rich insights
  • address the complex causes of alcohol and other drug harm, which often transcend the boundaries of individual groups or organisations
  • increase the likelihood of your activity being successful and creating long-term and sustainable change in the community.
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Identifying AOD community partners

It is important that your partners have a shared understanding of, and commitment to, community- led action. They may not have experience or understanding of alcohol and other drug issues but they can bring other skills and experience that help you deliver your activity in the local community.

Useful questions to consider when identifying partners

  • Who else might be interested in this activity?
  • Who has a good understanding and connection to your target audience?
  • What are you seeking to gain from partnerships?
  • Who might be able to help you?
  • What relationships are already in place? Can you build and strengthen existing partnerships, networks and alliances?
  • Are there any people who might make the activity difficult?
  • Are there particular agencies, government and non-government organisations, liquor accords, businesses, youth groups and community members who might like to get involved?

You must be willing to partner with other organisations to form a Local Drug Action Team. We recommend a maximum of 5–7 partners, including the organisations represented in your Local Drug Action Team. Having too many partners can make it difficult to align expectations and contributions.

A list of potential partners is included in Table 1. To identify partners for your project you may find it useful to use the list to brainstorm how your approach (e.g. issue, target audience, activity) might overlap with the interests or focus of others, and how you might harness those opportunities. You may think of other worthwhile contacts to add to this list.

CategoryRelevant partners
Young people• Local high school SRC representatives • TAFE• Universities• Youth workers• School principals• Student services consultants (counsellors)• Community sporting clubs • Youth employment organisations • Community arts organisations (e.g. music, dance, drama)
Health• Primary health networks • Community health, primary care partnership and community agencies• Hep C Council• Aids Council• Drug and alcohol services• Mental health services• Pharmacies• Needle syringe programs• Area Health Services
Groups that represent priority target groups• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and peak bodies • Cultural and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Gender Diverse and Intersex (LGBTI) representative groups • Disability support organisations • Organisations that support regional and remote communities
Older people• Senior Citizens groups • Men’s Shed • Salvation Army • Rotary Club• Lions Club • Neighbourhood Houses/Centres
Police• Police Citizens Youth Clubs (PCYC) • Youth Liaison Officer• Community Engagement Officer• Local area commander
Corrective Services• Parole officers • Juvenile Justice• Justice Department
Local government• Mayor • Youth Development Officers• Crime Prevention Officers• Safety Officers• Community Services Officers
Other• Local businesses • Chamber of Commerce• Local church groups• School Parent Associations • Neighbourhood Centres/Houses• Welfare groups
Volunteer organisations• Apex • Youth organisations• Community Housing associations• Salvation Army • Mission Australia
Government agencies• Department of Sport and Recreation • Department of Community Services• Department of Housing• Department of Education• Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR – Liquor Accords)• Centrelink and employment agencies
Development workshop
Identifying AOD community partners

Be creative with your partnership ideas

Organisations are encouraged to think creatively about partnerships, particularly organisations in regional, rural and remote communities that may have limited options:

  • Explore new opportunities beyond your traditional partners. Who could you partner with that you haven’t worked with before? For example, organisations with a focus on building resilience in young people or strengthening community connection.
  • Look beyond your local community. Are there opportunities to partner with state/territory or national organisations? For example, headspace, beyondblue, and the Justice Department.
  • Consider remote partnerships. Can you work remotely with organisations in other communities?
  • Consider partnering with a university or TAFE.

Health centres, schools, universities, and local councils are often obvious choices for Local Drug Action Team partnerships but looking beyond the traditional partners is beneficial and allows for a broader cross-section of the community to be represented. For example, the local Chamber of Commerce can provide great insight into employment opportunities in the region to support those at risk of alcohol and other drug-related harms. The Police and Citizen Associations are often well placed to support community minded prevention activities.

Establishing partnerships

The first step is to make contact with your proposed partners and understand if there are synergies between your objectives and the work of your partners. This should be a two-way process to establish that the partnership is mutually beneficial and feasible for both parties to enter into. You may decide through initial conversation that the partner isn’t the right one for your Local Drug Action Team. It’s good to identify several partnership options and explore which is best for you.

You can also consider if the partnership is for a defined part of your activity (such as access to your target audience) or for more ongoing aspects of your work. Try to be clear about your expectations so that the partner you approach can assess their capacity to be part of your activity.

Documenting the partnership agreement will formalise the partnership and help to create a positive environment for working together. Partnership agreements often specify the purpose, roles and responsibilities of the partnership, and ensure that everyone has a common understanding.

Partnership agreements can be formalised in different ways.

Example approaches for your Local Drug Action Team

  • Email confirmation
  • Letter of Agreement
  • Terms of Reference
  • Memorandum of Understanding
  • Contract.
Community Drug Action Team Program
Establishing AOD community partners

Taking action

Once you have identified your partners and established the partnership you are ready to plan and take action together.

Some partnerships may need structures put in place to support the partnership, such as:

  • Advisory Group
  • Working Group
  • Project team
  • Management team

Try to keep the administrative, communication and decision-making structure of the partnership as simple as possible.

Measuring the success of the partnership

Partnerships are dynamic and should be reviewed periodically to measure their success.

You can measure the success of your partnership in a number of ways, such as conducting a member survey or interviews.

When reflecting on the partnership, consider the outcomes of your collective work. Changes to partners’ confidence, and change within partner organisations, should be considered as a positive outcome.

Useful resources

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