Critical success factors for intersectoral collaboration: Homelessness and COVID-19 – Case Studies and learnings from an Australian city


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionally impacted people experiencing homelessness, including people sleeping rough, people in temporary accommodation and those living in boarding houses. This paper reports on intersectoral responses across six health and social care agencies in Inner Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Prior to the pandemic the six agencies had established an Intersectoral Homelessness Health Strategy (IHHS), in recognition of the need for intersectoral collaboration to address the complex health needs of people experiencing homelessness.

Description: The governance structure of the IHHS provided a platform for several innovative intersectoral responses to the pandemic. A realist informed framework was used to select, describe, and analyse case studies of intersectoral collaboration.

Discussion: The resultant six critical success factors (trust, shared ways of working, agile collaboration, communication mechanisms, authorising environment, and sustained momentum), align with the existing literature that explores effective intersectoral collaboration in complex health or social care settings. This paper goes further by describing intersectoral collaboration ‘in action’, setting a strong foundation for future collaborative initiatives.

Conclusion: While there is no single right approach to undertaking intersectoral collaboration, which is highly context specific, the six critical success factors identified could be applied to other health issues where dynamic collaboration and integration of healthcare is needed.


intersectoral collaboration, COVID-19, homelessness health, health equity, governance, leadership

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