Social Policy & Management Consultants
We provide provide support, skills and strategy for organisations and agencies that want to to make a positive difference in the lives of Australians experiencing disadvantage, and to build resilient, inclusive and engaged communities.
The Miller Group is a ‘boutique’ social policy, management and research consultancy that for over 20 years has worked across the human services – primarily with the non-government/not-for-profit (NFP) sector, with social enterprises, governments, and with small to medium businesses . Our work has always been driven by our VALUES which are derived from our desire to make a positive difference in the lives of disadvantaged Australians and to transfer our knowledge and our skills to those we work with – our clients – so that they can empower their clients to fulfill their potential and make choices that will improve their lives.
We work primarily with community-based organisations and/or at the intersection between government, business and community organisations. We are aware that the environment in which community organisations in particular are operating is changing rapidly. New paradigms of outcome-driven service delivery (such as consumer directed care, integrated service delivery, collective impact ) requiring high levels of transparency, accountability and a focus on client choice and need, are presenting both new challenges and opportunities. Different funding models such social impact investment and philanthropic and corporate funding require organisations to focus even more strongly on their capacity to deliver, and to measure the outcomes and the longer term impacts the users of their services are achieving. To do more than survive in this changing environment all organisations – small and large – need a sound , ‘fit for purpose’ business model, underpinned by a strong, learning-focused organisational culture. They will need to be strategic and innovative so they can take advantage of a changing external environment.
We provide a suite of high quality services which equip organisations to do more than simply adapt to these changes. Our services constitute the building blocks all organisations agencies and enterprises require to build the capacity – not simply to SURVIVE change, but rather to THRIVE – by capitalising on the opportunities that a changing environment presents. We work closely with our clients to assist them to achieve high levels of performance, to deliver high quality measurable outcomes that achieve their purpose and goals.
All of the services we provide are underpinned by the following Values and Principles:
In order for any positive change or improvement to take place – and to take hold – it is critical that all key stakeholders have the opportunity to participate and to have their voices heard. Not only does this mean that ideas or strategies that might not otherwise have been considered can be captured, but that the changes necessary to improve performance – even when they present challenges – are more likely to be ‘owned’ and supported by those upon whom they will impact, as well as by those introducing and implementing the changes.
We value and respect the knowledge and experience of our clients. It is important to us that we build strong, longstanding relationships with our clients – relationships built on two way communication. A good client relationship, based on trust and confidence in our work, with the most junior staff member, or the ‘clients of our client’, is as important to us as the relationship we build with the CEO or with senior management.
Wherever it is appropriate and relevant, we build the skills and the knowledge of the clients/organisations with whom we work. Transferring knowledge to our clients builds independence, sustainability and expertise within the organisation. It also strengthens the capacity of staff to at all levels to understand and analyse a problem, and to make more effective decisions regarding the best strategy for addressing that problem – either internally or by engaging external assistance.
In all of our work we are accountable to our clients as well as to our own professional and ethical standards. We are also aware that Governments and non- Government funding bodies are increasingly requiring accountability regarding the results achieved through the resources they provide. We work closely with our clients to assist them to deliver measurable results that demonstrate their ability to perform at a high level, and to make the changes that achieve their objectives, and those of the funding body as set out in service agreements.
‘Capacity building’ means different things to different people. It is an overused and poorly understood term- yet yest sufficient and effective capacity is what all entities, large or small, require for success – especially in times of change.
We regard capacity building as the understanding of, and engagement in those ideas and activities that strengthen an organisation so that it can fulfill its purpose. Capacity building can occur in any part of an organisation, governance, management, operations, delivery and impact of services, financial management, human resources etc. The focus of capacity building efforts will change over time as an organisation’s internal and external environments change. Intense periods of change, such as that currently being experienced in the social sector by both governments and non government organisations intensify the need for strategic and future-focused capacity building such as mergers and amalgamations, collaborations and other forms of partnership; culture change; organisational restructures, workforce re-skilling, new forms of service delivery and, the achievement of measurable outcomes and longer term impacts, to name just a few.
In successful organisations capacity building – as a key tool of performance improvement – is just part of the way they do business. Capacity building is also a core part of our business. All of our services are designed to maximise our client’s capacity to perform at the highest possible level across all areas of the organisation.
Our services constitute the building blocks all organisations require to build the capacity – not simply to SURVIVE, but rather to THRIVE – and to capitalise on the opportunities that a changing environment presents.
While not always the case, cultural change processes are often initiated by, and follow structural reviews. When this is the case, there are often sensitivities as proposed changes are implemented. We are experienced change managers
With skills and qualifications in organisational assessment we offer a range of services to support our clients align their Strategic and Operational Planning and Monitoring with the service standards of relevant industry or sectoral quality assurance (QA) frameworks. Regulatory bodies and funders often require alignment with quality standards and we are able to support clients understand their existing capacity within a quality paradigm.
We facilitate small or large groups to reach mutually agreed outcomes linked to purpose. All team members have excellent ‘people management’ and interpersonal skills, and extensive facilitation experience. In addition to specific facilitation commissions, the majority of the consultancy projects we undertake involve some form of facilitation with either;
We design fit for purpose workshops as a component of projects in order to meet the goals and objectives required. We also focus on building capacity and on ‘knowledge transfer’ – one of our core values.
Much, but not all, of our work with our government clients involves commissions to work with government funded organisations and programs, to build capacity and meet the performance standards required by the funder. Other work includes social research, policy development and review, stakeholder engagement and stakeholder management. Again the majority of our government work involves repeat business.
We have been engaged by:
Our non – government services are focussed on capacity building and accountability, with a view to supporting the sector to stay ‘on mission’ and achieve its identified outcomes through the delivery of high quality client focussed services.
Our services include:
Without sound and strategic leadership from its governance body, an organisation’s capacity for innovation, success and sustainability in an environment of change is considerably diminished.
Work with the Board to:
Identifying the ‘right’ partners, engaging and maintaining strategic partnerships that will maximise the capacity to deliver desired outcomes are crucial but often underrated components of a successful organisation.
We have extensive experience working with organisations that are implementing new service models either because they wish achieve better outcomes – and have made this decision independent of any other party such as a funding body – or because government/the funding body has introduced reform processes which require that funded services implement new models of service delivery.
While a successful transition to a new service model requires strategic expertise, changing the culture, reducing fear of change, and building commitment to and engagement with the new model across all parts of the organisation is often undervalued and receives little attention, yet it can often be the critical success factor.
Every organisation is different in some way however the principles involved in successfully implementing new service models are not. We work closely with and support the Board and management to:
While strategic and operational skills are fundamental for those assisting with mergers and amalgamations, successful outcomes often fall short because of poor change management processes and the inability to ‘bring’ all of the boards, management, and staff along together – and positively – on the ‘journey’ to the new entity.
We work with Boards and with management to identify and communicate the strategic opportunities that becoming one entity will entail for all employees. We:
The Miller Group team members facilitate small or large groups to reach mutually agreed outcomes linked to purpose. All team members have excellent ‘people management’ and interpersonal skills, and extensive facilitation experience. Our workshops reflect the strengths of interactive learning with high levels of engagement from all participants. In addition to specific facilitation commissions, the majority of the consultancy projects we undertake involve some form of facilitation with either;
We design fit–for–purpose workshops as a component of projects in order to meet the goals and objectives required. We also focus on building capacity and on ‘knowledge transfer’ – one of our core values.
With skills and qualifications in organisational assessment we offer a range of services to support our clients to align their strategic and operational planning and monitoring with the service standards of relevant industry or sectoral quality assurance (QA) frameworks. Regulatory bodies and funders often require alignment with quality standards and we are able to support clients in strengthening their existing capacity within a quality paradigm.
Not for Profit/Government funded bodies
Because we have a high percentage of return business, we have worked with many of these clients on several projects.
We deliver one and two day workshops for Councillors and Senior Management teams covering the following three topics, individually or combined within a one or two day workshop.
Assist councils to determine the extent to which programs achieve desired results.
Quantitative and qualitative research to identify and analyse impacts of community trends and social issues and plan future directions
Facilitate, design, review and improve government service delivery partnerships and government grant programs.
Prepare clearly written, well documented reports and submissions on key issues of concern.
Funding bodies are faced with complex challenges in ensuring the best possible return on grant allocations. The situation is compounded when organisations are delivering social or ‘soft’ outcomes. To optimise returns funders need the capacity to identify and manage the risk in projects, documentation to clearly specify expected results from projects, and independent data measuring these results.
The Miller Group has developed this suite of services to assist Philanthropic bodies to feel confident that their support is well directed and will deliver the agreed returns. Funding bodies may choose secure these services individually, or in totality, depending on their requirements.
Due Diligence Report – assesses a funding candidate’s capacity to deliver on agreed outcomes
Project Specifications – this documents agreed outcomes and the way they will be measured
Progress Report – provides an independent appraisal and early advice if remedial action is needed and:
Project Evaluation – provides an independent evaluation of the project to facilitate ongoing funding decisions and provide tangible measures of the project’s impact
Libby has over 20 years working successfully as the Director of The Miller Group – Social Policy and Management Consultants. She works at a high level across the government, corporate and community sectors. Libby has an academic background in the social sciences. Before establishing The Miller group Libby lectured in sociology and social research at universities in Australia and Canada and was a Deputy CEO of a Commonwealth Authority. She has extensive Board experience.
Libby has led social research projects for national, state and local governments, for small and large not-for-profits for philanthropic bodies, social enterprises and small to medium businesses. She is well recognised for her capacity building skills , especially in ‘change environments’ where amalgamations and mergers, strategic partnerships and collaborations, new models of service delivery, restructures, culture change and greater levels of transparency and accountability – including evaluation and impact measurement – are very often required in order to achieve necessary performance levels and sufficient scale .
Regularly sought out for her facilitation and strategic skills, Libby undertakes high-level specialised governance and strategic planning work with boards. She has high level strategic and interpersonal skills and has a reputation for being able to deliver mutually agreed outcomes in environments – such as stakeholder workshops – that are often changing and challenging, and where there are diverse and often opposing views held by stakeholders.
Libby chaired the Premier’s Council for Women, the Premier’s Council for Active Living for 6 years, and was an initial member of the Board of the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport, the Population Health Priority Task Force (NSW) . She has also chaired several Ministerial Advisory Committees
Libby’s professional qualifications include:
Robin Miles is a highly experienced social researcher specialising in social sustainability and program/process improvement. She has a strong history in the provision of programs and services, research and evaluation to support improved outcomes for clients (organisations or programs). In the past year Robin has taken a lead role in many SHS capacity building projects and similar work in other parts of the NGO sector. She has taken the lead on numerous GHSH reform projects with which the Miller Group has been involved – including a merger of two SHS Services. She also supported multiple services with prequalification and tendering support.
Robin is an excellent communicator and facilitator who has worked successfully with government, private and non-government sectors clients. She has extensive experience in communicating with communities, Boards and program managers.
Robin’s professional qualifications include:
Rebecca has significant experience at board, ministerial and senior executive levels across the financial sector working with corporations, providing strategic and policy advice. She was engaged by Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Financial Ombudsman Service, Financial Services Compensation Scheme Pty. Ltd to develop policy proposals to be presented to the Federal Government on a compensation mechanism for financial services sector consumers.
Rebecca has a strong commitment to the improvement of financial skills, strategies and sustainability across the social sector and is using her expertise and experience in finance to provide strategic support for large and small not for profits who wish to explore and secure alternative financial opportunities such as social bonds and social impact investment.
In addition to her financial expertise Rebecca is an experienced policy analyst and adviser with widely acknowledged strengths in policy development and stakeholder consultation. Her primary social policy interests are in women and children especially with respect to access to justice and to a reduction in homelessness.
Rebecca’s professional qualifications include:
Leigh is a highly experienced consultant with over 20 years’ experience of working in culturally appropriate ways to achieve positive organisational change through capacity building, training and mentoring in NGOs and government agencies in Australia and the Pacific to deliver services to their respective communities. Her work as a consultant has included: reviews of organisational structure with recommendations for change and implementation support; development of client feedback mechanisms; strategic plan development based on staff, customer and committee input; and policy development and review to meet changing organisational needs.
Leigh is experienced in assisting organisations to implement strategic plans through workforce management leadership and capacity building: Leigh worked with numerous NGOs – including many Aboriginal Services – to achieve success in taking their strategic plans to individual work plans with tasks and timelines and expectations for accountability to management. An integral aspect of this work was mentoring managers and Board members to lead and performance manage their staff.
Leigh is well recognised for her capacity building work with Aboriginal organisations and is the recipient of the Inaugural Aboriginal Health Award 2004 – For Outstanding Non-Aboriginal Person Contributing to Health Services
Leigh’s professional qualifications include:
Sue is a highly experienced consultant with a background in management, public finance, procurement, quality assurance, policy reform, stakeholder engagement, monitoring and evaluation and strategic planning.
As a senior consultant at the Miller Group Sue has led a range of capacity building projects with NGOs across the Human Services. These have involved assisting NGOs to develop better industry practices including governance, case management, budgeting and financial, partnership development and maintenance, and improved and new service design.
Sue has worked as a senior government officer in the Commonwealth Department of Finance and Administration where she provided advice to Minister of State on interpretations of the Australian Government’s Parliamentary Entitlements framework as well as ongoing policy development and the development of government submissions to the Remuneration Tribunal.
Sue’s international government experience includes leading teams to redesign an Australian Government Health Program in PNG, examining the strategic and operational elements of donor Trust Accounts in line with the Government of PNG priorities for future health financing strategies. She has also been contracted to provide expertise in public financial management. This role involved overall responsibility for quality assurance, strategic health financing, public financial management systems and development of a transition strategy for reduced donor reliance.
Sue’s professional qualifications include:
For further information about our services please contact us at.
PO Box 236
Elizabeth (Libby) Darlison, Director
phone: 02 96988834
mobile: 0404 487 694
postal: As above
The Miller Group – Social Policy and Management Consultants Pty Ltd.
Australian Business No. 47 078 567 638
Australian Company No. 078 567 638