Help us sharing our research, consultation and experiences

Donate Now

The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Colluding to connive: collaboration gone astray

This paper illustrates a case study of a client/consultant relationship that struggled find a collaborative space, and explores the risks associated with collaboration. The client organisation is a government department that, at the time of the consultation, was undergoing internal restructure. The consulting organisation was contracted to work with them to undertake a feasibility study and develop a business implementation plan for a resource to support increased Indigenous participation in the private sector labour market. Using the consultants experience as a starting point, this paper looks at the nature of the interactions, the attempts to create a collaborative space, the lack of trust and what risks each party may have been facing during the process at an group, organisational and societal level. This paper looks at Indigenous/non-Indigenous history, past and present, and the impact of this on Indigenous employment, and what changes may be required. It explores the risk for government and Indigenous people in changing entrenched ways of thinking/behaving. For governments, there is a risk in being seen to not know the answer. As one client representative stated people dont tell the government, the government tells the people. And on the flip side, Indigenous people risk trusting the government to do the right thing. The lack of trust and collaboration between government and Indigenous people was mirrored in the client/consultant relationship and led to a collusion, initially, to put something together that met the project criteria but is not expected to deliver any lasting benefit to the community. This paper aims to explore with participants the risk in stepping outside the known paradigm and ways of operating to create something new.