Not the best facial expressions, but a good expression of the relationship between Canada and Australia. Image Credit: Code for Romania

Stories of Collaboration: Code for Canada x Code for Australia

Collaboration is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the world of tech, design and impact. But what does it look like and how can it happen? This series seeks to show the many ways our members are working in collaboration, across the world.

Grace O'Hara
Aug 6 · 6 min read

As part of the Code for Australia Base Team, I’ve spent a lot of time swapping notes, ideas and resources with the Code for Canada team.

And it’s definitely been a two-way street, more than just logo inspiration — when Code for Canada was just beginning, we shared working documents and thoughts on how to set up Fellowship programs, and how to work with governments. As they’ve grown, the conversations we’ve held have matured into things like:

  • How can we bring more perspectives from indigenous communities into our work?
  • How can we better support our teams to resolve conflict?
  • How do we talk about and codify inclusive practices around gender identities and expressions?

Here’s an inside peek at how our relationship has developed over the past years, what’s enabled it to thrive and how it’s useful to both organisations.

Answers are from both myself with my Code for Australia hat on, and also the amazing Meha Shah from Code for Canada.

How do you keep in touch?

Meha (Code for Canada): Timezones aside, the modern tools we have, from Slack to Hangouts, make it pretty easy to stay in touch. I certainly feel like the Code for Australia team is a lot closer than geography would suggest :-)

While I’ve yet to attend a Code for All conference, I’ve heard the stories of the epic hangouts between Code for Canada and Code for Australia at the events. Having those opportunities to hang out in real life has really solidified the relationship between our organisations.

How do you support each other’s work?

To point to one specific example, Luke Simcoe (Code for Canada’s Communications Lead) and I have regular monthly calls called “Marketeers Unite”. It’s a chance for us to chat through what we’re thinking about, experimenting with and stuck on, with someone who’s in a very similar situation! Because we’re communication teams of one at our respective organisations, it’s so helpful having someone to chat things over with.

Meha (Code for Canada): Sharing resources, bouncing ideas off one another as Grace mentioned. We also asked Code for Australia to share information about our Fellowship panel (all volunteer panel of experienced designers, developers and product managers that supports with the technical aspects of assessment) amongst their network. As a result, we had a Code for Australia former fellow lead technical interviews for some UX design candidates. So that’s been great!

What has that meant for your work as an individual and an organisation?

Meha (Code for Canada): It’s great to hear the perspective of someone who understands the context of our work but is external to the organization and therefore not so much in the weeds of our work. This really helps push my thinking — it is also great to learn how programs evolve over time as we are a young organization.

Fellowship cohorts in Canada (left) and Australia (right) — one of the programs both organisations share.

What similarities or differences are there in your contexts?

Meha (Code for Canada): I’m still somewhat new to the C4C team, but I know that as an organization, especially early on, it’s been valuable for us to have an example to point to of a similar organization that’s operating in a country with a parliamentary system.

Governments are often reticent to compare themselves to jurisdictions with different political systems, so having a Commonwealth country to cite really helped us show our partners that the fellowship and the whole ‘Code for’ model really works.

What would you say to others wanting to work closely with other organisations?

On the trust front, both organisations being part of Code for All has been a big part of that initial trust building, but also the face-to-face time we’ve had over the years, through summit, has enabled us to build on that. Again, regular catch ups mean that it’s something that does fade or fall by the wayside.

Meha (Code for Canada): At our recent Code for Canada Showcase, one of our speakers noted how important it is to ‘find the others.’ We’re doing digital transformation and culture change work; it’s big, it’s hard, it’s complex and deeply human work. Having others who have been through similar things is an invaluable asset. They can help you shorten runways, unblock sticky problems and more.

So my advice is simply to do it. Find your others and ask for their advice, support, help, etc. Chances are they’re looking for the same things, and they’ll be glad you asked!

That’s all for this story, but keep your eyes out for more like this soon. A massive thank you to Meha Shah for sharing her time and thoughts, on behalf of Code for Canada.

If you have further questions on any of the projects highlighted, join us on the Code for All Slack to continue the conversation or check out the Code for Canada website or Code for Australia website.

Code for All

Code for All is the largest civic tech network in the world, amplifying the impact of good ideas through a global network of local organisations.

Thanks to Luke Simcoe

Grace O'Hara

Written by

Storyteller at Code for Australia & Small Fires. Trying to figure this world out in between, sometimes with words, mostly with action.

Code for All

Code for All is the largest civic tech network in the world, amplifying the impact of good ideas through a global network of local organisations.

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