Why and how do we focus on partnerships - Mary MacKillop Today

Why and how do we focus on partnerships

Tessa Henwood-Mitchell, our International Programs Group Leader at Mary MacKillop Today, works closely with our local in-country program partners. Tessa shared why and how we focus on partnerships for the success of our vital work with communities.

I believe the most effective development responses are those that emerge from within communities. Partners who are embedded in communities provide huge value and often bring expertise to our projects that may not exist within Mary MacKillop Today. What I appreciate about Mary MacKillop Today is that we work together with our partners to foster genuine and respectful relationships, supporting each other towards achieving a shared goal of creating positive and sustainable change.

Tessa with two previous participants of the Women’s Leadership Project in Fiji (Project Talitha)

All our partners are incredible organisations with such strong ties to their local communities. It was truly remarkable to see this in person during some of my recent visits to meet our partners and project teams. I was fortunate to travel to Fiji with CEO Jane Woolford and Amita, our Programs Coordinator for Fiji and PNG. We visited one of the villages where our partner Ola Fou Fiji delivers Project Talitha, a women’s leadership training project for young women living in remote communities. It was incredible to see how strong, confident, and vocal these women were within this community, and how it has become also a partnership between Ola Fou Fiji, the young women and the entire community. The Community leaders welcomed us and expressed their gratitude for the investment Mary MacKillop Today and Ola Fou Fiji are making in their young women.

When I travelled to Peru with Yesenia, our Programs Coordinator for Peru, it was a great chance to see our projects in action. We were able to gather feedback from our partners and identify together any needs for further support from us. I was blown away by how well known and respected our partners are within their communities. On our last day with CCAIJO, one of our partners in the region of Cusco, we met with the Mayor, Libio Roque Ruiz, who expressed how important the work of CCAIJO is in their region for the local people, and the amazing impact their work has had.

I’m so grateful for the generosity of our supporters because I have seen what an incredible impact you are making through our partners around the world. Thank you for helping so many communities to flourish!

Our principles-based approach to partnerships:

  • Transparency and accountability – We are committed to operating in a transparent and accountable way, and to encouraging and supporting our partners to improve their accountability.
  • Respect and equity – We acknowledge that there are innate power imbalances that can exist within a partnership, particularly where one party is responsible for providing funding, so we are committed to ensuring we build our partnerships on mutual respect and equitable decision-making, working alongside our partners in a way that is respectful of the cultural context.
  • Mutual Benefit – We seek to ensure our partnerships bring mutual benefit to all parties, clearly defining the ‘value add’ of MMT and our partners.
  • Shared learning – We are committed to the constant improvement of our development approach, whilst ensuring our partnerships strengthen and grow, defining and supporting key strengths and learning priorities of partners.
  • Fiscal responsibility – We are committed to demonstrating best practice approaches to financial management, and we work to build the capacity of our partners to adopt these approaches.


Project Talitha (Women’s Leadership in Rural Fiji) Project receives support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).