Training builds relationship skills

Sydney Alliance training helps build co-operation and relationships between organisations for a fairer Sydney and stronger civil society.

NSWNA officials and members recently attended two-day Alliance Building Institutes held by the Sydney Alliance in Bankstown and Parramatta.

The Alliance Building Institutes are designed to train participants in relational meetings to build relationships between community organisations so they can achieve common goals of rebuilding civil society and creating a safer, more equitable Sydney for all.

The Sydney Alliance is a new kind of citizens’ coalition whose mission is to provide communities with a voice to ex-press our common values and achieve our aspirations for a fair and just Sydney. The Alliance brings together diverse organisations including faith groups, community organisations and unions to build relation-ships for co-operation to achieve social change. It’s approach respects the different cultures, values and missions of its member organisations.

At the time of printing, the Sydney Alliance comprised 22 partner organisations including the NSWNA, NSW Teachers’ Federation, Unions NSW, the Uniting Church, Arab Council Australia, and Jewish Board of Deputies.

NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda said the market-dominated values pervading government decision-making, the media, and the corporate sector have diminished civil society. ‘Our communities are more fearful, public services have been cut back and are under pressure, there is less investment in social infrastructure. We need to turn things around where ensuring a healthy civil society is paramount, and the dignity and well-being of individuals is a priority.

‘We need to move away from market-dominated values to a stronger, more equitable, civil society,’ said Judith.

‘We can’t do it on our own but together we can achieve change and our common goals.’

The two-day Alliance Building Institute trained participants in organising and con–duc-ting relational meetings. Relational meet-ings are one-to-one meetings designed so participants develop understanding of each other – who they are, what motivates them, what their goals are. The purpose of relational meetings is to build trust, develop understanding, identify shared interests and visions.

‘It’s a supportive and co-operative framework. The training helps participants learn effective, respectful approaches to community organising,’ said Judith.

The Sydney Alliance wants to involve people who care about their local community – whether that’s through their local faith group, school, union or other community organisation. Many of its members are not traditional activists.

In the first instance, the Alliance will concentrate on involving people who live or work within the Sydney Basin. This is as far North as Hornsby, as far South as Southerland, and as far west as Penrith. It hopes to eventually develop groups outside the Sydney Basin.

‘I encourage members to think about getting involved,’ said Judith. ‘You don’t have to be active in the Union, you just need to care about your community.’