Collaborative Change and the role of the Backbone

Change makers across Australia are faced with increasingly complex social issues. We also know that traditional responses to these issues do not address the underlying social, economic, administrative and political conditions which created the challenges in the first place.

Being a backbone leader and team is a challenging and unique role that has the potential to create significant change in your community.

By participating in this offering you will explore the core concepts of collective impact and collaborative change, as well as the unique history and context that shapes collaborative initiatives in Australia. You will learn alongside those who are working with communities from all over Australia. You will get to apply this learning to your own context and receive feedback and guidance on how to support and develop your collaborative change initiatives. You will come away knowing what is realistic to expect and to achieve in building collaborative initiatives.

This course is for: 

This course is for Backbone leaders and teams who are in the early phases of the work as well as those who have been leading collaborative change for some time and looking to extend their practice.

Participants will leave the course understanding:

  • How to lead collaborative change initiatives including in the early stages
  • How to strengthen the foundations required for collective impact and collaborative change
  • How to keep momentum and make progress
  • The mindsets and ways of working that will enable engagement in your collaborative initiative

Participants will leave the course having more confidence in:

  • Understanding and strengthening the level of readiness in their community for collaborative action
  • The role they need to play to drive and enable progress
  • What practical set of actions to focus on – including governance, processes and early wins

By the close of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the conditions needed for collaborative change, and be able to build structure, strategy and process to achieve this.

Participants will walk away with tools, templates and resources to put their learning into action.


This online short course will comprise 4 x half-day sessions & 2 hours of guided online learning per session.

10:00 am to 1:30 pm AEDT

1. Thursday 4 May 2023
2. Thursday 11 May 2023
3. Thursday 18 May 2023
4. Thursday 25 May 2023  

Participants will be required to set aside time between sessions for personal reflection and pre-reading.

Accessibility and technology

Participants will be required to download Zoom and Chrome in order to be able to participate. Internet access is required to participate.

We recommend participants use a desktop whilst participating (rather than a mobile phone). We also encourage all participants to use their video throughout the course.

Participants will also be given access to CFIs Learning Management Systems where workshop materials and resources will be made available.


Price per person (+ GST):

Standard $ 1090
Not-for-profit $ 990
Group discount (bookings of 3+) $ 890

A 10% discount is available when you purchase 3 or more events (as one purchase) in CFI’s Systems Change Learning Program 2022-23. Please read the Learning Program: Terms and Conditions before purchase.

Get in touch for package offers, large group discounts and tailored sessions for your organisation.

For queries, contact

Kate Williams – Collaborative Change Practitioner, Collaboration for Impact

Kate’s experience spans diverse populations and geographies, centring on social and community-led change.

Skilled in facilitation, design and stakeholder engagement, Kate has led complex multinational projects through to nuanced, place-based initiatives. Most recently Kate has been living in the West Kimberley Region of Australia convening First Nations Australians around community aspirations and community-led change, with a particular focus on community wealth building and women’s cultural leadership.

Kate’s approach to place-based social change is participatory, strength-based, adaptive, and highly relational. She is committed to walking alongside initiatives, ensuring that they are shaped by diverse perspectives and are community-driven and owned.

Alison Harwood - Collaborative Change Lead

Alison has worked in the social and community change field over an extensive period. Starting out in social impact and policy work and transitioning into community development, Alison’s practice centres the importance of listening deeply to communities and reflecting critically on the forces that get in the way of thriving.

Alison focusses on whole of community approaches and building collaborative responses. She has worked on initiatives that embrace economic participation, resource sovereignty, lifelong learning, community safety, youth and citizen activation, health, and community revitalisation, to name a few. Alison brings a deep insight to and understanding of the evidence around working with children and families, strengthened during her time as manager of a child and family service, as well as six years leading the Communities for Children Facilitating Partner initiative in the Hunter Region of NSW.

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Our calendar for the 2023 Learning Program is evolving so keep checking for more details.