Making Links was a partnership between the AOD, Mental Health and Homelessness Sectors in Melbourne’s north and west, operating from 2016 to 2019.

In 2015 strategic and catchment plans from the Homelessness, Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) and Mental Health sectors all identified cross sector development as a key priority. In response, the three Sectors established a joint project to improve cross sector coordination Melbourne’s north and west.

Input about the needs of shared clients and the effectiveness of cross sector work to date was gathered from more than 200 individuals through practitioner surveys, consultation forums, and representative advisory committees. A data snapshot was undertaken, reporting on the needs of over 2,000 clients. This snapshot revealed a significant proportion of clients who do access, or would benefit from accessing, services across the three Sectors.

Following this consultation, the Making Links partnership was established with the following key objectives:

  • To better understand our shared clients and how they are accessing services
  • To provide an orientation to each other’s service system
  • To create an opportunity for collaborative problem solving
  • To enable cross-sector networking
  • To explore improvements to service coordination for shared clients, and
  • To improve understanding of ongoing / future changes to each other’s sectors.

The powerpoint below provides an overview of the Making Links project, including data findings and partnership activities.

Outcomes of the project:

  • A cross sector Orientation Kit to assist new workers to navigate the three services systems in Melbourne's north and west 

  • Two cross sector forums 

  • A cross sector orientation and consultation

  • A series of 'think tanks' resulting in the development of a cross sector model for assisting frequent service users

  • Development of a draft collaborative practice approach (below).

Below is a powerpoint summarising the learnings and activities of the Making Links project.

Collaborative practice framework

The Making Links project designed a framework for collaborative practice across the AOD, mental health and homelessness sectors.  The approach was trialled but not implemented. The reasons for this are outlined in the attached review.