How policies can help you collaborate

Whakawhanaungatanga – relationships and connection – is what it’s all about.

In the social and health sectors, relationships and collaboration with other services, is key to addressing the range of issues clients OR whānau are dealing with and to making a sustainable difference to people’s lives.

But it’s not always easy to collaborate.  Even with the best will in the world, collaboration can still be a struggle.

It can be hard getting everyone on the same waka, steering in the same direction. People come and go in the collaboration; enormous amounts of time can be wasted repeating decisions and plans without anything much being achieved. Not to mention the disruption caused by external events like a global pandemic!

If you’re dealing with these issues in your collaboration, it’s worth considering how policies and procedures can help.  Yes, getting them sorted may mean time away from the “real” mahi of the collaboration, but in the longer-term policies and procedures can pay off.

Done well, they can avoid wasted time for your group and contribute to a better quality service or product from your collaboration.

Here’re some policy areas that we think can benefit most collaborations:




Governance and management

  • Set out how decisions should be made and finalised

  • Roles and responsibilities in the collaboration

  • Financial management (eg fund holding arrangement)

  • Recordkeeping (eg minutes)

  • Protocols (hui including use of zoom; karakia etc).


  • Vision and purpose of the Collaboration

  • Values

  • What’s in/outside scope

  • Other relevant considerations (eg structure; protocols for hui/meetings).

Information management

  • What data should be collected by the collaboration, why and how.

  • Communication (internally and external) including reporting on progress if required.

  • What should be treated as “confidential” within the Collaboration.

  • How you’re going to share and obtain information from others.

  • Sharing and debriefing after an adverse event.

Quality assurance and improvement

 Agree how you will assess and review your progress:

  • agreed quantitative or qualitative measures

  • feedback from those the collaboration is there to serve

  • monitoring and review of complaints/ dispute outcomes

  • users of the collaboration

  • learning from adverse events.

Complaint & dispute resolution

A healthy Collaboration should involve robust discussion and expect disagreements. It should be supported by an agreed dispute resolution process that can be easily accessed and used.

If the Collaboration provides a service, it should include a process for service users to give feedback and make a complaint.


The Collaboration membership:

  • members’ roles within their respective agencies

  • expected contributions to the Collaboration

  • attendance/participation requirements.

Responsibilities of members to their agencies, such as links back to your governance and management.

How the group will address barriers to participation for members, for example:

  • arrangements for interpreters

  • the language/reo to be used, and

  • redress the potential impacts of larger versus smaller agency participation.


To participate well in a Collaboration you need to have your own backyard sorted – your organisation’s policies and procedures.

At the Policy Place we do that for you – so you can participate in the Collaboration knowing that you, your staff and organisation are supported by good policies and up-to-date with regulatory expectations.

Phone or email us for find out more.


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