Over recent months, Dominic Grenot helped finalise the Waterloo Impact Report. It was produced to find ways to best address residents’ concerns over the redevelopment plans. So, what does it say?
The Impact Report is all about people and a place — Waterloo; it’s about gathering information and ideas on the local service system — needs, referrals, coordination, interactions, and support. The report aims to shine a spotlight on what gaps exist and what can be done better. From interviews and focus groups primarily, the key areas that emerged were:
Access — challenges in relation to information, follow up, rights and responsibilities. Services and complaints were found to be needing some reconstructing to assist transparency and timeliness for issues and for driving empowerment — as well as individual and collective wellbeing.
Culture — many respondents identified that far too many mechanisms and approaches from both government and some non-government systems and services were problematic, lacked skill and leadership, and proved to be slow and unhelpful.
Structural barriers — the report identifies significant challenges surrounding information, integration, responsiveness, and timeliness that co-design could assist in exploring.
Digital inclusion — an area of no surprise for anyone working on the ground and one that has been highlighted strongly during these COVID-19 times. A core aim that clearly needs to be built into any human services framework moving forward is to not leave anyone behind.
Service delivery, and then integration — a critical area documented in the report outlines the need to firstly acknowledge and understand complexity and it’s many nuances and then to build systems and skills that are flexible, integrated and adaptive to the many shifting, interconnected and demanding needs. Co-designed policies that are real and implementable with skilled staff must run parallel with pathways and options for community members in providing for a diversity of needs and challenges.
Impact that is beneficial is of course the desired outcome in all these critical areas. But where does it begin? And how do we keep working at it? Collaboration is key. Also a willingness to learn, adapt and go again. As intention must be the starting point and the engine of any down-the-line impact, invention needs to follow closely in the next carriage. It’s important to not do the same thing over and over when it doesn’t work, nor addressing the core issues that too often seem to provide limited outcome.
Whilst much policy is good, maybe it is also time for the “policy determines reality” mantra to be derailed. Perhaps it is time to explore new ways of looking at and understanding needs and policy with and between all stakeholders — especially community members.
This would perhaps begin to see pragmatic, empowering, collaborative and longer-term interventions coming into play, interventions that better support residents around many of the issues raised in the Waterloo Impact Report.