A small number of communities experience persistent and entrenched disadvantage. We believe this must be turned around. It is not the responsibility of individuals alone to solve but for governments to work with the community to provide real opportunities for economic and social participation, and a cohesive community life.

A new approach is needed so we don’t continue to fail the 3% of communities that bear the greatest burden of disadvantage. A sustained long term commitment across the government, community and business sector to resolving this complex problem is desperately needed.

We call on government, business and the community to urgently give priority to changing this unacceptable situation and provide for a better future for these communities through

  • Sustained and long term commitment to change
    • minimum of 20 years
    • multiparty agreement across electoral cycles
    • at all levels – national, state and local
  • Addressing economic and social disadvantage at the
    • individual
    • community and
    • macro level
  • Developing local solutions that are targeted, tailored and agile
    • bringing together community, business and government
    • harnessing resources, innovative ideas and strengths
    • agreeing feasible local action plans -setting priorities, targets and allocating adequate resources
    • establishing local governance mechanisms tailored to the circumstances of the communities
    • providing expert assistance and guidance as required
  • Integrating government services to support local solutions and effectively drive change
    • establishing a lead agency with authority nationally and in each state and territory to integrate and coordinate activity
    • establishing performance targets for departments setting priority actions and resource allocation
    • allocating adequate funds over the required period to deliver change
    • monitoring and evaluating effectiveness and developing the knowledge base of what is successful

 Call to government and the community

Experiences of disadvantage in Australia are not evenly distributed across the community: they are geographically concentrated, complex and persistent. A new approach is needed, particularly in the 3% of communities that bear the greatest burden of disadvantage within each state and territory.

The DOTE2015 report calls for a Centre for Community Strengthening and Program Evaluation within the Commonwealth Government, and matched state and territory units, to coordinate and evaluate community strengthening strategies.

Governments must also immediately commence a conversation with the community about how to turn this around and take concerted action to provide equal and fair opportunities in life for residents of these communities.

In order to do this, Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia calls on national and state governments in partnership with the community to act immediately and put in place appropriate structures, plans and resources targeted to the communities and finally begin to break the web of disadvantage.
Dropping off the Edge 2015 | | #DOTE2015
Without such action there is a significant risk that some of the country’s most severely disadvantaged communities will continue to ‘drop off the edge’.

How can we best respond?

The major challenge we face is how to respond effectively to this “wicked” entrenched problem. In our view we need:

Sustained and long term commitment to change
Commitment from all political parties to working on shared solutions that are implemented across electoral cycles over the long term (up to 20 years).

We call for a multi-party agreement committing the major political parties at National, State and Territory levels to the proposed approach.

Working for change at an individual, community and national level
Research into the outcomes people experience in life demonstrates that individuals are affected by their own capabilities and opportunities, their family circumstances, their community, and the broader social and economic environment.

Any effective change in the outcomes for individuals must therefore include action across these three domains of life: individual, community and macro environment. The diagram below provides a depiction of the intertwined nature of these domains.

Download the full advocacy document