Centre for Community Strengthening

The report authors advocate establishing a Centre for Community Strengthening and Program Evaluation within the Commonwealth Government to identify and assist Australian communities with high social needs and concentrated disadvantage.

This centre should:

  • facilitate coordination of community service initiatives by government and non-government organisations
  • undertake rigorous collaborative evaluations of community strengthening projects
  • gather full statistical information on local populations while adhering to existing data confidentiality guidelines (in the manner illustrated by DOTE)
  • develop and refine the data gathering and dissemination of community wellbeing information pioneered by a number of non-government agencies over recent decades

The report also calls for matched creation of counterpart state and territory units performing linked coordinating, educational and evaluation functions.

There are several core operational principles the authors advocate adhering to when forming policy to address disadvantage:

1. Perseverance
The longevity of disadvantage clearly shows that long-term programs and long-term vision is vital to addressing disadvantage. Short-term solutions will not address the full scope of disadvantage.

2. Knowledge
The choice of objectives, sequencing, must be informed by decades of community development practice and research.

3. Extra-communal resources
More effective use of existing resources but that is not always possible: constructive strategies sometimes come at additional cost. The scale of this additional cost needs to be weighed against the institutional, service and social value costs of tolerating the continuation of concentrated and entrenched disadvantage.

4. Community-level changes
Community strengthening projects need to maintain a steady focus upon core problem-solving and effort-sustaining capacities of the community by the community.

Download the full Conclusions and Recommendations