Intersectionality in Action: Two Fundamentals of an Intersectional Approach In Service Delivery

You’ve identified a need within a group and established what your organisation can offer to address that need, so what next? Narelle Sullivan and Manasi Wagh, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Bread + Roses lay out the steps to ensuring your organisation’s program delivery is intersectional and culturally specific. 


Step 1: Organisational Capability Check 

The first step to ensuring your organisation can deliver your new program in a truly intersectional way, is to look internally and check that your organisation has the right skills, workforce and resources to really meet the community’s need. 


Does your organisation have the right workforce to deliver this program? The heart of a truly intersectional approach is a diverse workforce that reflects the community you’re working with. A diverse workforce brings the lived experience, cultural expertise, languages, and community connections that are needed to really ensure your program or service is penetrating at the grassroots level of the community you’re working with. If you feel that your organisation doesn’t have the workforce diversity to meet the community’s need, it may be time to look externally and think about bringing on new staff that will meet that need. 


You don’t have to offer the world to offer a great program or service. Think about what your organisation is currently best at. What resources do you currently have at your disposal, and how they can be offered to a different community? 

Perhaps this is simply a matter of ensuring your current resources are translated into different languages. Perhaps you already have some great resources already translated, but they’re not being distributed in the right places. Focus on what expertise you can currently provide and make some adjustments to ensure diverse people can access them. 

Step 2: Needs Analysis 

This is the second fundamental to taking an intersectional approach to delivering a program or service. This is really all about digging as deep as you possibly can into understanding the needs of the people you’re trying to work with. The most important mantra that you need to repeat to yourself over and over again during this step is ‘Don’t assume – just ask!’

Asking the right questions

It’s not just enough to ask questions of the community you’re working with, you need to ask the right questions, in the right language, of the right people. It may be necessary for you to call on interpreters if you don’t have a workforce that can speak directly to the people you want to work with in their language. It also may be inappropriate to approach the people who will participate in your program directly, in which case, community or faith leaders can be an excellent pathway into the community. Finally, you have to be specific in your language, and ensure that you’re not using phrases that are difficult to translate.

For example, asking ‘how are your money management skills?’ will not translate in many languages. It would require an entire paragraph to explain in Hindi! Instead of a broad question, you should ask specifics like ‘do you need to know anything about the Australian banking system’, or ‘do you need information on how to budget or save money’. 

Thinking about how the program should be delivered

This is simply an extension on the mantra of ‘Don’t assume – just ask!’ 

The community you’re working with will be able to tell you how to remove as many barriers as possible to them accessing your service or program. Some examples of questions you might want to ask when designing program delivery are ‘where should we deliver this program, is there a specific location that you’re already using as a gathering space?’ Also, ‘what covid precautions should we take, should this be delivered online?’, and finally, asking what childcare needs should be addressed to make sure that as many people can access this program as possible. 


This article was extracted from the Intersectional Financial Wellness video series which was produced as part of the Women’s Financial Capabilities Project led by WIRE in partnership with Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand, First Nations Foundation, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Women with Disabilities Victoria and Financial Counselling Australia. The Project is supported by the Victorian Government

Bread + Roses are a program incubator and consultancy service, dedicated to economic empowerment of women. They work with organisations and government bodies, corporates and not-for-profits to develop impactful and innovative ways to ensure that the financial resilience and economic equality of women is met.


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