The role of community sector development

We interview ECCQ Community Sector Development Officer, Claudia Diaz, on how she develops the capabilities of multicultural community associations and why this type of support is imperative to the health of our sector. Read the interview here.

What is Sector Development work?

It’s nurturing the sector, helping it to grow and expand organically into strong associations that make amazing programs and activities to support their communities.

What do you do in your role as Sector Development Officer?

I support community groups to formalize their associations, shape their projects, organise and develop their governance processes, etc. Every association is on a different stage in their journey and sometimes need a helping hand or guidance. I regularly organise educational workshops, clinics and forums to discuss and learn about a topic the sector is interested in. Last year we discussed governance, project planning, strategic planning, business development, partnerships and stakeholder management among other topics of interest. Depending on the topic we develop resources and sometimes bring consultants and presenters specialised in the field.

Why is ECCQ interested on supporting the multicultural sector?

ECCQ represents, advocates for and supports community associations. Through our more than 40 years’ experience in the sector we know community associations need support in organisational development to grow. We want to enable associations to do well and create great results for their communities.

What is the impact of your work?

By supporting associations I am enabling them to become sustainable and develop amazing programs and projects for their communities. What is clear is that a strong association bring strong results to their communities. I support the association to be efficient in their processes so they can invest more energy and time delivering programs and activities for the people they support.

What type of associations do you support?

We support all associations big and small. From a small group that informally meets and wants to learn what is the next step to become a formal association to an association that is established and running for years but wants us to support their induction process for their new management committee. Associations come to us to support them to get an ABN or to assist with the incorporation process or to help them on their project planning stage to access grants and government funds.

What are some common issues?

Community associations in Queensland face a number of challenges similar to mainstream associations but with additional barriers of having to comply with norms and regulations that volunteers may not be familiar with and having to navigate formalities and paperwork in a language that is their second or third.

Management committee members are very committed volunteers, however, if there’s no clarity and mutual understanding about the level of commitment and work required for associations and what is expected from each member of the committee it all ends up in one persons’ hands and that’s not only unfair for that person but also damaging for the association itself and its longevity. Being part of a management committee brings great satisfaction but it is challenging because it’s a volunteer position that requires the use of your spare time and also expects you to be continuously learning for the association to run smoothly. Thus, supporting management committee members is a priority to ECCQ in order to develop a strong sector.