Join our community of practice in systems work

6 October 2017

The Prevention Centre has launched a virtual community of practice – a network of practitioners who are learning from each other to build their capacity in using systems approaches for prevention.

The virtual meetings look a little like this.

Led by Dr Seanna Davidson, the Prevention Centre’s Manager of Systems Thinking and Capacity Building, 90 practitioners have joined the group, with 30 participating in the first session.

The community of practice offers an opportunity to have informal conversation and connection with like-minded practitioners and researchers across Australia about the experiences, challenges and benefits of systems work.

Dr Davidson said the one-hour virtual meetings, held the first week of every month, are primarily a peer learning exchange that recognise the experience and insight of everyone participating.

“Working in systems is like building a muscle – you need to use it consistently. We are always on a journey with it and always trying to learn. This gathering is a way to regularly connect with systems work and deepen our learning, beyond formal training events,” she said.

“The community of practice gives us the opportunity find out who’s out there, what they are doing, and who to connect with if we have a certain challenge. It means we can each learn from each other, but as a collective we are building our capacity for this work in Australia.”

Participants in the first two meetings were largely based in Melbourne, but several came from regional Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and a few from WA, SA and Canada. Most work in state government, some in local health services, not for profits and academia, and a few work in consulting. Participant experience with systems ranged from expert to newbie, but most had some familiarity.

Virtual meetings

The virtual meetings take place on the Zoom platform, which allows all participants to see each other at the same time, creating a sense of community. The platform also enables the group to split into separate chat rooms for small group discussions, and can provide real-time polling.

“The technology now is incredible. It’s showed how online engagement can be more than sitting and listening to people,” Dr Davidson said.

“My intention here is for the gathering to be co-created with those who participate, so that we ensure we are meeting their needs. The format is evolving each time as we learn about what works and how people want to connect.”

The first sessions included small group discussion on individuals’ experiences working with systems and how they came to the practice. In the second half of the session, the group reflected on a quote or question to help build their personal systems practice regarding their mental models, beliefs and values that inform and influence how they engage with systems work.

Dr Davidson said feedback from participants had been positive. They enjoyed the chance to talk with like-minded people and hear how others were applying systems in other contexts. “They liked that they didn’t have to explain systems but could just ‘get into it’,” she said.

About the community of practice

Who: The gathering is open to anyone interested in learning more about systems approaches. Participants with a range of experience are welcome to join

When: Meets for an hour online, the first week of every month. Typically scheduled for 11am AEDT

How: Meetings are held via Zoom. Participants need video and audio on their computer, tablet or phone

Purpose: An informal conversation among systems practitioners to connect, share and build capacity

Image sourced from Zoom meetings website.