Australia’s Data Catalyst Network sees more than 45 organisations collaborating on data capabilities
The DCN kicked off with more than 45 organisations across the country participating, all working towards breaking cycles of disadvantage through the effective use of data.
Australia's first Data Catalyst Network, focused on breaking cycles of disadvantage, kicked off in May this year and is now well underway. More than 45 organisations are participating across the country in the Infoxchange-led network in partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation, all of whom align with the mission to improve our industry-wide data capabilities and better break cycles of disadvantage.
Network participants include not-for-profit community organisations, government bodies, academics and data experts, featuring leaders from Mission Australia, The Smith Family, the University of Melbourne, the South Australian Government and more.
So far, we've established our first tranche of network participants and our expert-led steering committee. Diversity in the network has been an important consideration in its design. As such, we're grateful for our participants who have thoughtfully shared their own lived experiences of disadvantage, as well as the organisations, small and large, public and private, who have come together to use data better for social change.
The discussions so far have been incredibly valuable as we look to share new ideas on better using data to tackle disadvantage.
Common issues across the sector in data capability
Conversations have initially focused on the high-level data capability of the sector. Through discussions in our workshops and webinars, the network has observed some common themes and experiences from participants and some great ideas on where we must better collaborate.
Some of the shared key challenges include:
- How we can best share insights on vulnerability and how these insights and indicators relate to each other
- How we can improve the timeliness and relevance of the data
- How we can improve the quality of the datasets
- How do we aggregate data while protecting the integrity and privacy of the individual but access data points that are granular enough to make the right data-driven decisions
- How do we upskill people and lift data-usage capabilities for frontline and service workers, community members and those who may lack formal training in data interpretation, validity, reliability and more
In our most recent webinar hosted by data consultancy Societel, we discussed how the not-for-profit community sector could gain advances in data analysis. Barry Sandison, Data Catalyst Network Steering Committee member, highlighted how encouraging collaboration is critical for data capability-building and cannot be done in silos.
"There are so many activities in these areas that are similar but not the same – we need to encourage people to have a broader view … in order to get (data) on a smaller level of geography. We need to look at this mapping and atlas work and how non-profits are a part of the service delivery system," Barry said. He recommended participants join the national conversation around government data and digital strategy initiatives, sharing thoughts on the need to share expertise and collaborate in more extensive networks of players like the Data Catalyst Network.
"There are so many activities in these areas that are similar but not the same – we need to encourage people to have a broader view … in order to get (data) on a smaller level of geography. We need to look at this mapping and atlas work and how non-profits are a part of the service delivery system."
- Barry Sandison, Data Catalyst Network Steering Committee and Paul Ramsay Foundation Fellow
What's coming up for the network
Over the next few weeks, the data network will dive deeper into disadvantaged areas. We'll see Adelaide and Melbourne groups meet for second and third-round workshops on how we break cycles of disadvantage for early school leavers and early school attendees. We can share more findings following the completion of these sessions. We are excited about the first Brisbane workshop addressing data in place-based initiatives in August.
For the next webinars, Mission Australia and Swinburne University leaders will be covering sessions on failings and findings of deep dive data projects and how we strengthen and develop NFP data capabilities.
The Data Catalyst Network in the news
Last week, David Spriggs dove into the importance of data and cross-sector collaboration, particularly post-pandemic, in his featured opinion editorial in Third Sector. You can read this highly recommended piece here and keep up to date with the Data Catalyst Network here.
If your organisation is working to break cycles of disadvantage and is keen to make better use of data, please email Kristen Moeller-Saxone to get involved.