two administrative staff volunteers (as well as TNF General Manager) meet regularly on the ASK! Management Committee to coordinate the service, develop and conduct staff training, promote the program by visiting schools and liaise with community legal organisations, local courts, and arrange promotion of the service.
What have been Promoting the service to the wider community. Even though the service is free, it has been very difficult in spreading the word. In the last six months, though, there has been a significant improvement in the number of calls to ASK! There has also been has made a number of new links to other free services, most notable being the Law Access.
Consistency with the intake. Although the intake and referrals do not take up a great deal of the time it is a vital part of the service. Finding the most appropriate person to do intake has been a real challenge, trial and error. The intake officer is the first port of call for a young person needing help with a legal problem. Therefore a person who is empathetic, without getting over involved, is required to establish a link and trust of the young person in order for the service to not only grow and survive, but also for it to be a meaningful service which addresses real issues.
the challenges? The key challenge in making this community partnership a success was ensuring clear communication of the aspirations of each partner leading to a solid understanding of the common goals for the partnerships and the role of each partner. One of the main challenges in setting up ASK! was working through issues relating to IT and file management. ASK! is held off-site at the premises of TNF and The Smith Family, as such Mallesons’ staff working at ASK! were initially unable to access the firm’s IT services. This adversely affected how effectively files were managed. This problem, however, was overcome by establishing an on- line electronic file management system.
Another challenge for Mallesons was training staff about youth problems and the law. This challenge has been overcome through the implementation of on-going training programs run by both TNF and external sources, such as barristers who train Mallesons staff in criminal law and youth issues.
What have bee Finding appropriate premises that are accessible by public transport. Making appointment times ‘youth friendly’, i.e. not too late
n the lessons? The main lesson learnt from establishing a
relationship with TNF is the amount of time it takes to implement projects and develop
in the evening.
relationships. It took one year, for example, from the inception of the ASK! program to its
Establishing a web presence for ASK! sooner. TNF have received emails form all over the world. Even though we are not able to help young people outside NSW and the ACT (TNF clients) at present, it is pleasing to know that the word is spreading.
launch. During these initial stages it is also important to gain a deep understanding of each organisation’s aims and abilities.
What advice could you offer to others thinking of forming a partnership?
Investigate working with businesses that align themselves with similar community objectives, with staff that actively support their communitie
It is important that there is a good understanding of each organisation’s aims and that both parties have a common strategy for achieving these
What plans do you have for future partnerships – with either your current partner or with other organisations ?