The Institute works to form long-term partnerships to combine resources and share ideas to improve research and practice in social change processes. We have a number of current partnerships where we have a long-term strategic relationship of mutual interest and benefit.

Developmental Leadership Program

The Institute is a member of the international Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) research initiative. The DLP is based at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and involves a global partnership with University College London and La Trobe University (through the Institute). The DLP is supported by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Institute's Director, Chris Roche, is senior research partner with the DLP.

The DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

Six organising propositions underpin the DLP's work:

  1. The forms and processes of leadership directly influence the nature and quality of institutions and the patterns of state-building.
  2. Developmental 'leadership' is a political process, involving the legitimacy, authority and capacity to mobilise people and resources, and to forge coalitions, in pursuit of developmental goals.
  3. Coalitions (formal and informal) are groups of leaders and organisations that come together to achieve objectives they could not achieve on their own.
  4. Coalitions are the key political mechanisms that can resolve collective action problems, and are often based on prior networks.
  5. Institutions matter, but more attention needs to be given to issues of politics, power and agency, and therefore to the role of leaders, organisations and coalitions in shaping effective institutions.
  6. Domestic leaders, elites and coalitions are the agents required to contest, negotiate and devise legitimate, effective and durable institutions.

The Institute works closely with the DLP on a wide range of research initiatives. We lead work within the DLP on Pacific research, and engagement with practitioners in the Pacific. The Institute's focus areas in the DLP's Pacific work are thinking and working politically, alliances and coalitions for change, and women's leadership.

Collaboration with Duncan Green

The DLP is collaborating with Duncan Green, at Oxfam Great Britain. Duncan Green is one of the world's leading development bloggers, and is collaborating with DLP on his new book, "How Change Happens." Duncan was hosted by the Institute and La Trobe in Melbourne at the end of 2014, and gave three workshops to students and development practitioners. He also visited PNG; see here, here and here. Duncan will be coming to La Trobe in December 2015 to get feedback on the draft of his book, and visit the Pacific again.

Our DLP research projects

Pacific Leadership Program

The Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) is a regional program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The PLP recognises the pivotal role leadership plays in establishing collective change for national development and supports collective action towards achieving legitimate policies and effective institutions. The PLP also invests in sharing lessons and building knowledge of Pacific developmental leadership. Since 2008, the PLP has supported developmental leadership efforts regionally, nationally and sub-nationally in Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

PLP and the Institute have a partnership based on a shared interest in understanding how effective coalitions, which provide developmental leadership, and work towards equitable social change, are formed and supported in the Pacific. The Institute provides a research brokering service to PLP. We work with the PLP team on the design of their reserach projects, we find appropriate researchers within the La Trobe academic community, or our wider network, to conduct the research, and we project manage the research process, and research outputs. Institute staff also provide specialised monitoring and evaluation and partnership brokering services and support to the PLP. PLP provides the Institute with the invaluable opportunity to work closely with, and learn from, a Pacific program focused on innovative social change. The PLP is one of our key forums for bringing together practice and research. PLP and the Institute are also working together to communicate the findings of the research to the wider development community.

The PLP is one of the programs in the Pacific which can demonstrate the benefits of applying the Thinking and Working Politically research. The Institute looks for linkages between research being undertaken through the PLP, and research being undertaken through the Developmental Leadership Program (a consortium of La Trobe, University of Birmingham, and University College London).

Our PLP research projects

Central Land Council

The Central Land Council (CLC), a statutory authority set up under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) 1976, is an Aboriginal organisation governed by a council of 90 elected Aboriginal members. The CLC has been operating for over 30 years, working with Aboriginal people to support them to achieve recognition of land and native title rights. The CLC also supports Aboriginal people to manage land and to negotiate agreements with others seeking to use their land, which includes payment of rent and royalties to traditional owners.

In 2005 the CLC created the Community Development Unit (CDU) to implement community development projects involving Aboriginal rent and royalties from land-use agreements and affected area payments. The CDU utilises the CLC Community Development Framework, which articulates community development goals, principles and processes for the CLC1

The overall intention of the CLC's community development approach is to partner with Aboriginal people in processes that enable them to set and achieve their dual objectives of maintaining Aboriginal identity, language, culture and connection to country, and strengthening their capacity to participate in mainstream Australia and in the modern economy, through improving health, education and employment outcomes.

IHSSC partners with CLC to support their ongoing assessment and research around Aboriginal empowerment and control over resources. The Institute manages a formal performance assessment process for the CDU on an annual basis. It also supports some of the governance work undertaken by CLC, including a remote governance project operating in the community of Lajamanu. It supports a staff development and reflection process to support staff make sue of research and other information in their daily practice.

In 2013 the institute undertook a major independent evaluation of the development and governance work of CLC. This evaluation supported CLC in ongoing improvement and accountability to Aboriginal people. It also supported several major submission to the federal government representing the impact and value of the CLC community development work.

Currently the institute is exploring with CLC and the Australian National University how to establish a long term research project to explore the impact of effective community development and empowerment processes on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal communities.


There are a range of organisations which approach the Institute for collaboration on research or other practice based work. In some cases, these collaborations lead to ongoing work and association. In others, they produce a single piece of research. Whether the collaborations are ongoing or a one-off, they are an important part of the Institute's engagement with the sector.

Australian Council for International Development

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) provides leadership to the not-for-profit aid and development sector in Australia to fairly represent and promote the collective views and interests of its membership. Founded in 1965, ACFID currently has over 100 members operating in more than 100 developing countries. ACFID's members range between large Australian multi-sectoral organisations that are linked to international federations of NGOs, to agencies with specialised thematic expertise, and smaller community based groups, with a mix of secular and faith based organisations. ACFID members work with refugee communities in approximately 15 countries around the world.

ACFID and the Institute share a strong interest in the future of the NGO sector within the international development effort. We are working together to conceptualise the future for NGOs, and the skills that staff working for them will need to be effective.

The Institute of Human Security and Social Change at La Trobe University and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) are also working together to deliver Making Change Happen – an innovative professional development program aimed at leaders and senior managers from development NGOs.

The Institute is an Associate Member of ACFID.

Our ACFID research projects

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The responsibility for the design, management and administration of Australia's foreign aid program lies with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The Institute seeks to engage with DFAT as broadly as possible on the quality of that aid program, and the basing of future aid programming decisions on applied research. The Institute is working closely with a number of DFAT programs which focus on social change, and innovative programming.

Our DFAT research projects