What is Burnie Works?



It’s noisy in the Burnie Child and Family Centre today. Children run around underfoot, shouting and playing, stealing the textas that were supposed to be used for note-taking.

The parents of the children are there, and they’re joined by family service providers – child health nurses, local librarians, Aboriginal workers and so many more.
They share lunch, but they also share ideas. Free events are organised – like one in a hidden park, featuring a snake catcher, a sausage sizzle and a meditation tent, designed to give both children and their overwhelmed parents a break over the summer school holidays.

Questions are asked, too – local parents need more safe places for their children to play outside, so why are the school gardens closed to the public over school breaks? Could they be opened at certain times if a group of local Dads organise a formal, supervised playgroup?
Nobody knows, and it will take community members working with Government partners to make policy changes at the systems level… but they’ll work together to see if it can be done. After all, that’s what they’re here to do. Make the small changes that can make a big difference for Burnie families.

And they’re linked to a network of groups, all with different areas of focus, but with a common approach – to turn genuine local knowledge and insight, local compassion and local support into real change for the Burnie community… through an approach called ‘Collective Impact’.



Collective Impact stems from an old idea – for a community to work well, locals need to be involved. It might seem obvious, but we’ve drifted away from this – looking to high-level Governments or sprawling NGOs to address local problems. But it’s not working. They don’t understand what locals need – and how could they, from such a distance? They don’t have the local knowledge or awareness or connections to solve all of the complex, little problems that need to be solved to create real, meaningful change.

Collective Impact is a movement to fix this, by giving communities the tools and the frameworks they need to take care of each other and address the big needs: increasing youth involvement in education. Improving employment prospects. Combating the impact of drug abuse on our most vulnerable. Revitalising the economy.

These are tough challenges, but tackling them is what humans do – after all, before humans were building buildings, we were building communities. Collective Impact is how we get back to that.



The ideas behind Collective Impact are as old as time, but this particular approach to applying them is relatively new. It’s not totally untested, though – it’s been used to address specific problems in Leeds (UK) and Cincinnati (USA). But nobody has tried to use this approach to tackle all of a community’s needs. We’re the first.

Burnie is the perfect place to do it, though – because ours is a community of hardworking, resilient people who don’t buckle under pressure. We’ve been forced to pivot new industries and opportunities in recent decades – but more than that, our land (called pataway by its traditional owners) has been home to supportive, sustainable communities for over 60,000 years.

In fact, the name of our Collective Impact organisation (‘Burnie Works’) has two meanings – it reminds us that Burnie can prosper when we work together… but also reminds us of our heritage as hard workers. We know what it means to roll up our sleeves and put in the work to life ourselves up, instead of waiting for help
from across the seas.