The Association of Community-based Offices of South Africa
The CAO sector will undeniably strengthen and be enriched as the creation of ACAOSA, the Association of Community-based Advice Offices of South Africa, kicks off this year.
ACAOSA will differ from its predecessors, as the organisation will directly support the provincial structures as they continue its work on the ground. ACAOSA will unify the sector through national leadership and committees, working effortlessly to act as the national voice for community-based paralegals, representing the current 320+ advice offices in all 9 provinces.
2013 has proven to be a significant year for ACAOSA. The start of the year was launched with provincial meetings that included all forums in their respective provinces. On 27-30 of May, ACAOSA held its first official leadership retreat in Johannesburg. During this 3-day workshop, members of provincial forums, from individual CAOs and of the Executive Committees joined to discuss issues and phases concerning the launch, establishment and sustainability of ACAOSA. In August 2013, the Interim Committee will participate in a 2-week National road show as they discuss the progress in the development of ACAOSA.
From the initial meetings, the following preparatory groundwork was identified:
- Registering ACAOSA as a legal entity;
- Fundraising for the establishment of ACAOSA;
- Drafting the Constitution, standard of operation, code of conduct and MOUs;
- Working towards an interim board of directors and executive members;
- Working on the marketing, branding and profiling ACAOSA; and
- Ensuring proper communication with relevant parties.
ACAOSA will substantially benefit the sector, enhancing aspects such as:
- Streamlined communication from the national level to the individual CAOs;
- Unified campaigns and strategic opportunities;
- Strengthened interaction and networks;
- Regulating the quality and standard of training;
- Increased participation;
- Fundraising support; and
- Involvement in leadership processes.
The role of Nadcao:
Nadcao will support ACAOSA by conducting engagements and consultative meetings with the entire structure. Under a Secretariat role, Nadcao has helped to facilitate the election of 4 individuals to form the Executive Committee and Nadcao will work with these Committees to develop, among others, a communications strategy that will ensure that CAOs are at the forefront of their own development, growth and sustainability.
‘There is immense value in Community Advice Offices; their role is profound. They help to advance democracy and are places where people are known and trusted. They have networks, contacts and are best suited to facilitate community consultation, discuss issues of development and encourage public participation.’
Janet Love, South African Human Rights Commission.
The launch of ACAOSA will take place on 28 November 2013.