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Practice insights: 2022 wrap up and our plans for the year to come

What’s the best advice you’ve heard in relation to partnership this year?

I hear and tune into so much wisdom about how we build relationships that matter, it’s tough to choose just one example! But I guess I’ll go with something I’ve been reckoning with very recently. The team at Health Justice Australia has been exploring the tools of Adaptive Leadership in how we show up for and play a role in addressing complex challenges. Last week we explored how values, loyalties and losses show up in the work partnership often looks to address, and how overlooking the importance of these factors can hamper collective work. The advice that’s been sticking with me came from Eric Martin, so I’ll hand over to him to say more:

Thinking about HJPs – what’s the biggest highlight you’ve experienced this year?

This year Health Justice Australia launched our Partnership Foundations Program, which works with participants to build and apply evidence-based approaches to successful partnership. The program not only has enabled us to work in a deeper way with a much broader group of practitioners, but it’s also contributed to the connection and peer learning that’s so critical to maintaining the work of partnership. One highlight that was enabled by this work has been the ability to spend quality time with a diverse mix of dedicated folk working to improve health and justice outcomes through partnership. Walking alongside participants as they experience those partnership ‘a-ha!’ moments has been a real joy. We’re working on how to open the program to an even broader mix of people in 2023. Keep an eye on your inboxes in the New Year for more on that!

You chat to a lot to practitioners from all walks of partnership – whether they have formal HJP arrangements or more informal collaborations – what are the most common challenges you’ve recognised being shared throughout the year?

The impact of the pandemic continues to reverberate across the health justice landscape, for those building new HJPs and those trying to maintain existing ones. We regularly hear about challenges like changes to and loss of relationships through staff turnover and offsite working; an increasing complexity of the challenges faced by HJP clients; uncertainty and inadequacy of funding; and, of course, the ongoing risk and experience of burnout. These are all challenges the team at Health Justice Australia will continue to explore and work with the network on in 2023.

Can you say more about how Health Justice Australia be responding to these challenges in 2023?

We’ll be digging into many of these challenges and more across our strategy in 2023, including through the programming of another national conference! One of the drivers behind programming a conference in 2023 is our desire to support and enhance connection as a key determinant of resilience. We’ll have lots more to report on the conference in the New Year – stay tuned!

And, of course, we’ll continue to offer our regular program of HJP tutorials and other events to support practitioner connection, learning and development; a monthly email newsletter to share all the latest on collaboration at the intersection of health and justice; and we’ll be working on a couple of practical new resources to support HJP people and your work for impact.

If you could ask partners to sit down and ask each other three questions before they walk together into 2023, what would they be?

Those who’ve heard me speak before won’t be surprised that my advice in the broad is to stay open and curious. This doesn’t mean letting go of your own interests and ideas, but it does mean making sure you’re carving out space for those of your partners – doing so is a key strategy to building and maintaining buy-in.

Given the challenges we’ve seen as a result of COVID, I think I’d be focussing my questions on how the partners are adapting to and experiencing change. Assuming each partner has an opportunity to respond, I’d be looking to ask:

  1. What’s been important to you in our working relationship during 2022? [The response will reflect some of the things that influence how your partner ‘shows up’ in your partnership]
  2. Can you say more about why these things are important to you? [Asking for more here provides space for you to uncover some of your partner’s stealth interests – again, helpful to know when building and maintaining buy-in]
  3. [Reflect back what you’re hearing to ensure shared understanding before asking] How can we bring these insights into our work together in 2023?

With that, and on behalf of the entire team at Health Justice Australia, I wish you all a safe and restful holiday season and look forward to continuing our work together in 2023.

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