Mel Gray, Penny Crofts


This paper explores the growing importance of partnership development within the social services sector in Australia. It proposes that the social, political and economic factors giving rise to shifting priorities in this newly named "third" sector are encapsulated in the notion of social entrepreneurship being given impetus by the Federal Government’s policy of mutual obligation, the findings of the Welfare Reform Group and the consequent Australians Working Together programme. It argues that community development is the ideal strategy for partnership development that fits well with the strengths perspective, where the emphasis is on mutual engagement in an equal relationship such that the collective assets and resources of the collaborating partners can be harnessed for the good of the community. The parallels between partnerships and human relationships are outlined and the role of the key sectors of community, business, government and non-government in the provision of social services are discussed. The paper ends with a discussion of community-business partnership development. Partnerships are seen to offer social workers with opportunities and challenges in the development of creative and innovative programmes aimed at social improvement.

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