There is a paucity of research into the development of intersectoral collaborations designed to support
early childhood development in rural communities. Drawing on findings from a qualitative study conducted in three
small rural communities in Tasmania, this paper will examine community-based intersectoral collaborations involving
government and non-government organisations from the health and allied health, education and community service
sectors. The paper analyses the process of developing intersectoral collaborations from the perspective of early
childhood health and wellbeing. The specific focus is on collaborations that build family and community capacity.
Findings indicate that three groups of factors operate interdependently to influence collaborations: social capital,
leadership and environmental factors. Each community has different leadership sources, structures and processes,
shaped by levels of community social capital, and by environmental factors such as policy and resources. Effective
models of early childhood development require strong local and external leadership. Ruralcommunities that are able to
identify and harness the skills, knowledge and resources of internal and external leaders are well positioned to take
greater ownership of their own health and wellbeing. The paper provides guidelines for developing and enhancing the
capacity of rural communities at different stages of collaborative readiness.