Organisational Policy

This is a framework for organisational policy for small to medium sized human services organisations. It is essentially the table of contents of a policy manual which could also be a staff handbook.

The left hand below column describes the policy framework.

The right hand column below lists examples of things that would be included in a policy manual to reflect good practice in working with Indigenous Australians. There are many more examples than the ones shown. Sample policies will be added to this site.

The policy manual framework has three parts:

Part 1: The organisation and its values
Part 2: The work with clients and communities
Part 3: Enabling the work: Governance and management

Parts 1 and 2 are often unique to organisations. Part 3 is often common to many human service organisations.

The framework here is not exhaustive. It is a starting point for developing a table of contents for an organisation’s policy manual and identifying policies to be included to ensure good practice in working with Indigenous people.

 

 

Part 1: The organisation and its values
Part 2: The work with clients and communities
Part 3: Enabling the work: Governance and management

Parts 1 and 2 are often unique to organisations. Part 3 is often common to many human service organisations.

The framework here is not exhaustive. It is a starting point for developing a table of contents for an organisation’s policy manual and identifying policies to be included to ensure good practice in working with ATSI people.

Policy manual framework

Good practice inclusions - examples  

Part 1: The organisation and its values

 

A. The organisation: history, context and purpose
This section is attempting to answer questions such as:
Where has this organisation come from?
What is it trying to achieve?
How is it going to do that?
Why?

Topics could include:
History
Purpose
The wider context (funding etc)
Aims and objectives
Strategies
 

  • Acknowledge the original owners of the land
  • Culturally appropriate organisational goals and strategies in the organizations Strategic Plan

B. Values and philosophy
Organisations often have distinct values and philosophy, ie, the values of an organisation differ from those of another similar kind of organisation. For example two child care centres can provide a similar service, ie child care, but have very different values and philosophy. The section of the policy manual makes explicit the organisation’s philosophy and values.

Some possible headings are:
Philosophy
Service principles
      Client rights and responsibilities
Management principles
      Staff rights and responsibilities (alternatively a staff code of conduct)
      Board rights and responsibilities (alternatively a Board code of conduct)
Service standards (key principles)

  • Commitment to culturally appropriate services for Indigenous Australians
  • Service philosophy that reflects social justice principles
  • Clients rights statement  reflect culture as an important component of their service delivery
  • Sensitivity around conflict of interest in delivery of services to family members for workers and board members
  • Statement of Reconciliation

 
Part 2: The work with clients and communities

 
Part 2 describes the essence of the work with clients and communities. 
 

 

A. Service processes
This section includes policies on the service delivery process for each service provided. In an organisation that has several services, eg, a Neighbourhood Centre, there could be sections A1, A2, A3 for difference services, eg,
      A1. Occasional Care
      A2. Counselling
      A3. Community development

This section must be client focussed.
A generic example of a service process is:
      Referral
      Assessment
      Service delivery
      Completion
 

  • Service delivery process to be culturally appropriate
  • When working with Indigenous families the focus may need to include the collective family not just the individual referred to services; be mindful of extended family dependants
  • Inclusion of Indigenous Workers in assessment procedures and designation of a specific worker if possible within the organization
  • Ensuring that Indigenous clients feel safe within environments that services are being delivered e.g. office space is culturally appropriate in a physically sense
  • Ensure that service delivery is flexible to Indigenous clients with the aim that services are available when the time is right for them

B. Working with other organisations to provide services
This section includes policies on the relationships the organisation requires with other service providers and organisations in order to provide services.
Topics could include:
      Referral networks
      Partnerships and partnership agreements
      Case meetings / case conferences
      Interagencies
 

  • Be aware of all the relevant Indigenous organisations in the local community so as appropriate referrals are made
  • When working with Indigenous families it is important to included community development practices such as attending special events such as flag raisings, linking in with Elders or recognized Elders, gaining an understanding of your local Aboriginal history etc
  • Decision making may require numerous levels of communication with the Indigenous community always be mindful of the respect for Elders and recognised Elders

C. Client focussed service protocols
This section includes policies that impact directly on clients that are not included in the service process description in Section A above.
Topics could include:
      Duty of care
      Confidentiality of client records
      Transporting clients
      Emergency procedures if client has an accident
      Client complaints
 

  • Indigenous client records as well as their confidentiality may be of concern due to the past injustices and mistrust of government and non government services

D. Worker focussed service protocols
This section includes policies that impact directly on staff during the service provision process that are not included in the service process description in Section A above.
Topics could include:
      Worker safety on home visits
      Minimisation of stress
      Dealing with clients anger

  • Visiting Indigenous Clients may take more than one visit due to the structure of many Aboriginal families ie it may be difficult to meet alone  
  • Take time to establish a relationship with Indigenous clients it is important to establish a rapport before the service delivery can happen
  • Awareness that Indigenousl workers have obligations to their community outside of core business hours and reflecting this in work practices
  • Professional supervision should include an aspect of how the Indigenous Worker is balancing ‘work’ and family/community obligations
 
Part 3: Enabling the Work: governance and management

 
 

A. Governance
This section includes policy about how the organisation is governed.

Board/Committee
Role
      The role of the Board
Processes eg
      Board meetings
      Board membership
      Committees
      AGM
      Conflict of interest
Executive officer
      Board/Executive officer boundaries
      Delegations
Work of the Board
      Vision and strategic planning
      Determining policy
      Determining annual budget
      Monitoring and review
      Services
      Finances
      Risk management oversight (including compliance oversight)
      Occupational health and safety oversight
      Reviewing the work of the Board
 

  • Commitment to consultation with the IndigenousI community in developing the strategic plan
  • Discuss with the IndigenousI community ways to make your service/centre welcoming to Indigenous people
  • Ensure that organizational policies are culturally appropriate
  • Actively recruit for Board Members within the Indigenous community and provide mentors if required
  • Inclusion of Acknowledgement of Country prior to meetings and events
  • Flying of the Aboriginal flag on significant days

B. Management
This section includes policy about how the organisation is managed.

Roles and structures
      Organisational structure
Delegations
Meetings
      Staff meetings
Communication
Planning
      Service planning
      Financial planning (incl sponsorships)
Monitoring and reporting
      Service results accountability and reporting
      Financial accountability and reporting
Evaluation
      Client services
      Organisation
      Service networks
Quality improvement
Learning organisation
Media, publications
Risk management
Compliance
Data and information systems

 

  • Ensure your data collection system includes ATSI status
  • Analyse local census data in comparison to service usage of Indigenous clients, develop strategies to engage continually with the IndigenousI community
  • Ensure that the organizations media policy reflects appropriate representation of Indigenous issues
  • Training Policy for staff, volunteers and Board Members to gain and an understanding of past and present injustices impacting on Indigenous people

C. Human resources
This section includes policy about human resources. Larger organisations are likely to have a separate human resources manual. Smaller organisations are likely to include this as part of their one and only organisational manual.
If the organisation has volunteers as well as paid staff then the sections could be duplicated for paid staff and volunteers or differences between paid staff and volunteers highlighted.

Processes
Recruitment and selection
Appointments and contracts
Orientation and training
Supervision
Health and safety
Critical incidents
Grievance procedures
Disputes and dismissals

Specific policies (for example)
Travel
Leave
Job descriptions

 

  • Be aware of special issues in relation to supervision of Indigenous staff, eg, family and kinship expectations of the worker
  • As a part of an Organizational Induction process staff, volunteers and Board Members undergo training to gain an understanding of past and present injustices impacting on Indigenous people
  • Awareness that Indigenous workers have obligations to their community outside of core business hours and reflecting this in work practices
  • Selection and recruitment panels have representation form the Indigenous community
  • Consideration in the leave policy for bereavement leave for extended  family members
  • Indigenous Workers to be provided with mentors particularly within non Aboriginal services to reduce the feelings of isolation
  • Be mindful that critical incidents may highlight other issues for the worker 

D. Administration
The section includes policy about the administrative processes required to keep the organisation working:

Money
Funding
Audits
Petty cash
Credit cards
Bank accounts

Assets
Assets register and depreciation
Building maintenance
Building security
Cleaning
Rubbish and recycling

Insurance

Buildings
Professional indemnity
Public liability

IT and other information systems
IT
Information systems

  • No specific polices reflecting service delivery to Indigenous clients required in this section

 
Appendices

 
Constitution
Other manuals
These appendices may be kept separately from the Organisational Manual but would be referred to in it.