5.2.1 Size of organisation

Co-location can involve only three or four small agencies or very large numbers of agencies, as in the Ross House example, which involves about 86 small organisations. Small to medium sized NGOs were invited to be part of the MTSC Pilots Project. However, there was considerable variation in the level of funding provided by government for the delivery of services by the various organisations in each of the pilot sites.

The number of staff in the pilot site organisations ranged from a maximum of 21 in TASC, the lead agency in Toowoomba, to a low of a sole worker employed by Pregnancy Help in Mackay. Some organisations were run by paid staff and volunteers while others were run only by volunteers. In some cases, only part of the organisation planned to re-locate to the MTSC. For example, Homelife in Caboolture, which had 15 full-time equivalent staff in 2007, only planned to re-locate two full-time equivalent staff to the new centre.

Table 2 provides details of the number and size of the agencies that are co-locating in each pilot site. In both Caboolture and Toowoomba, one additional agency was originally included in the consortium which eventually dropped out.

Pilot site
Number of
agencies
co-locating
Details of the size of the partner agencies
Caboolture 4
Two agencies are larger than the others in terms of the number of full-time equivalent staff. However, fairly similar numbers of paid staff and volunteers in each agency will be working in the MTSC.
Toowoomba
 3 The lead agency is much larger than the other two agencies, which are both run by volunteers.
Mackay
 3 One agency is much larger than the other two agencies, which are aiming to amalgamate.

Table 2: Number and size of agencies co-locating in each pilot site

The following summarises the feedback given by participants in the group discussions and interviews on the questions:

  • What size of organisation do you think the multi-tenant service centre concept is most efficient and effective for?
  • What factors need to be considered in terms of the size of the organisations involved?

Participants in each pilot site thought the number of organisations co-locating or amalgamating was ‘manageable’, ‘comfortable’ or ‘good’, or they saw the number as a ‘workable model’. A key issue for each site was the size of the building, since this dictated the amount of space available and the number of agencies that could be co-located. Some participants said that flexibility was needed in relation to the space and that the building needed to allow for future expansion.

The principle of ‘equitable sharing of resources’ was important to the Caboolture group. As the case studies showed, the difference in size between the partner agencies was an issue in Mackay but not in the other two pilot sites. Some of the factors in Mackay were
‘fear of takeover’ and ‘fear of loss of identity’ in the two smaller organisations, and a loss of trust between the agencies at one point. Staff of the larger agency also had fears and concerns about the changes that would result due to unclear information about the
amalgamation process and a lack of opportunity to ‘safely express their fears and concerns’.

One Caboolture interviewee thought that, with the cooperative model, it was ‘good for the organisations to be an equal size’ because ‘larger organisations would have more power than smaller organisations’.

5.2.2 Type of organisation

NCOSS (2007, p.14) states that:

"a co-location model is most likely to work for organisations that have a similar philosophy and whose vision and approach to service delivery are compatible. It is probably also a better option for organisations whose services are not in direct competition."

The evaluation of the MTSC Pilots Project made similar findings.

The following summarises responses by participants in the group discussions and interviews to the questions:

  • What type of organisation do you think the multi-tenant service centre concept is most efficient and effective for?
  • What factors need to be considered in terms of the type of organisations or services involved?

Participants suggested that, to be most effective and efficient, organisations that are colocating or amalgamating need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be ‘complementary’ and have ‘synergy between the organisations’.
  • Have ‘a similar client base and demographics’.
  • ‘Not be competing with each other’.
  • Have a similar philosophy and a common vision, goals and focus that brings them together. For example, they would need a focus on common themes or target groups such as women, youth or elders.
  • Have a ‘community development focus’. One interview said ‘It’s critical to have a community development focus, to focus on building community and meeting community needs’.
  • One group thought that a ‘community service focus’ was also needed as a ‘good safe guard’ while another group thought a ‘client-focussed model’ of service delivery was required.
  • One participant suggested that the centre would need to engage in ‘peaceable activities’ (for example, activities associated with youth justice may not work well)
  • Another group thought they needed ‘the ability to self-evaluate’, to ‘shift to a model of sharing information and reflecting on process etc.’

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