Working in a multidisciplinary team: The collaborative approach?


  • Kathy Kerr Worked for the past 18 months as a member of the Auckland City Family Safety Team as a child advocate, seconded from Child Youth and Family. Began her social work career with the Social Welfare Department in 1976 before moving to England where she again worked in statutory social work whilst she gained her social work qualification. Since that time she has worked in a variety of non governmental social work and counselling settings before coming full circle and returning to Child Youth and Family employment.


multidisciplinary social work, inter-agency collaboration, collaborative relationships,


More than ever there is an expectation that Child Youth and Family (CYF) will work in partnership with other agencies since new agreements, particularly with the police, and the introduction of the Differential Response (D.R.) with its community partners, have been introduced. This means that CYF must learn to conduct business in a different way.

A partnership can be described as:

…a cross-sector collaboration in which organisations work together in a transparent, equitable and mutually beneficial way. The partners agree to commit resources, share the risks as well as the benefits to work together towards a sustainable development goal (ThePartneringInitiative.Jan2005).

It is my contention that the essential component of successful interagency collaboration is built upon the understanding, trust and rapport which must be developed amongst the agencies. This is further defined by the High Needs And Complex Needs Unit 2007 in their document Better at Working Together: Interagency Collaboration. A common focus or vision is well recognised in literature as a key success factor for collaboration. A study from the US reported that the best predictor of perceived effectiveness of collaborative relationships was found to be consensus, which was the extent to which coalition members agreed on needs, problems, solutions and methods. Other research suggests there should be agreement or clarity on aims, levels of involvement and commitment and strategy. A lead agency should also be identified, and roles and responsibilities should be determined.


Allan, et al. (2003). Challenging oppression: A critical social work approach. Canada: Oxford University Press.

Atkinson, M. (2007). Better at working together: Interagency collaboration. Part 1: Literature review. New Zealand: Ministry of Social Development. Child Youth and Family

Mullaly, R.P. (2002). Challenging oppression: A critical social work approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.The Partnering Initiative. Jan 2005.




How to Cite

Kerr, K. (2022). Working in a multidisciplinary team: The collaborative approach?. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 19(3), 66–71. Retrieved from