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Community Development and Empowerement in Australia

Community development: What do they say it is?

This is the planned development of all aspects that affect the well-being of people. These aspects comprise of cultural, political, social, economic and environment. The scope of development depends on various sizes of the group (Tesoriero & Frank 2010, p. 23). Effective community development practice should be a long-term endeavour that is well planned. The program was started by the community members with a goal of helping the whole society. It is recommended that the program should have a holistic and integrated bigger picture. The management of the community development programs should have experience in handling the affairs of such organizations, thus leading to best practices.

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An example of a community development plan is the Peace Corps Volunteers which traces its roots and mission to 1960. The inspiration arose from then-Senator John F. Kennedy as he challenged students at the University of Michigan to work and serve their country in developing countries. The mission of the group was clear that the group developed into the federal government agency that aimed at promoting peace and harmony.

Lessons that we learn from the Peace Corps is unlimited. The group has to have a clear mission, proper leadership, and a guiding policy. However, another community group-The Enterprise Baltimore Education Initiative- suggest more facts on the performance of pupils in a school (Palmer et al. 2008, p. 45). The enterprise aims at creating opportunities for a Sandtownn-Winchester community in Baltimore West. The group has found out that the students perform better in school if they have dedicated director and teachers.

This is apart from high academic expectations, the support and involvement of parents, standard modules and programming and strong ties to the surrounding community. Most importantly, community development helps to build community capacity to address issues and maximize on the available opportunities. It is worth noting that evolution does not just happen. It takes rigorous and conscious effort to meet the objectives.

History of Community Development in Australia

Changes in community Development since the 1970s

Many community development projects grew into largely institutional and legal groups during the 1970s. The groups concentrated their efforts on writing submissions to attract funding from the governments, trusts and corporations and various foundations to help the community-based initiatives (Walsh et al. 2002, p. 76). Due to high needs to address the individual community problems like provision of basic amenities, education, health, among other requirements, the organizations in charge received or attracted more funding.

The development of the community-based programs was enhanced by different factors among the government’s inability to reach the remote areas in Australia, inadequate resources to fund the community projects and the need to customize the services to individual communities. The management of the organizations changed to the better in the 1980s as they shifted their focus on the outputs instead of inputs. In their submissions for funding, the communities were required to highlight the new or improved programs or services that required minimum input with maximum output. The idea behind this model was based on sustainable funding programs in Australia (Muecke, 1993, p. 13).

Further changes occurred in the 1990s when the government- supplier relationship was re-invented. This was done at the national, local and international level of government. At this time, the focus shifted from outputs to the outcome before reaching the measurable outcomes. Community development has moved from rationalization of inputs in the 21st Century, through designing and sustaining outputs and finally providing accountability for achieving measurable outcomes (Hooks 1990, p. 91).

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Currently, community-based organizations in Australia are the leading providers of contracted services other than groups of individuals whose agenda is to provide assistance to the needy or persons with interest or aspirations towards them. Legal frameworks have grown into a highly sophisticated technology that has led to an increased demand for quality improvement through independent audits.

Nidja Noongar Noonook Nyininy: A case study in community-driven education

The Catholic Education Office, in Western Australia, contracted a team of researchers comprising of comprised of Terry Church and Beth Powell, to establish a primary school classroom program that would increase the understanding of Nyungar Aboriginal culture. The instruments developed include Language, Mathematics, Arts and Society and environmental contents.

Proposals were invited by the Department of Education and Youth Affairs. They disseminated simple and precise instruction to parents that allowed them to understand the importance of their children gaining numeracy development (Kenny & Susan 2010, p. 67). They were also made to recognize the importance of encouraging children to gain courage and confidence through those practical ways. The project was expected to create and improve promotional tools for parents and guardians in the area of numeracy.

There are various advantages of involving the community in developing educational material for the children. Some of the advantages include the development of an understanding of ownership among the beneficiaries (Kendall & Wickham 1999, p. 32). The parents do not think the program has been imposing on their children as they know its origin and content. Secondly, it is easier to modify the contents to suit the changing needs of their community (Collard et al. 2001, p. 45).

The provision of this information is intended to allow the guardians and parents to appreciate the importance of learning numeracy. Much emphasis is put on the parents who have their children disadvantaged in terms of numeracy outcomes (Watts 1999, p. 82). It also encourages students to appreciate and access numeracy lessons every day. This is apart from providing parents with practical skills that they use in their daily activities.

Empowering Individuals: Classic Liberalism and Community Development

Guarantee of equal, ethical liberties for all is the beginning of a normal explanation of cultural rights in any community. It takes the form of personal rights that lead to a wide range of options, guided by the decisions based preferences. Classical liberalism employs mechanisms and concepts of the common law to control political power. It also tends to serve the community by protecting pre-political freedom of every member of society. Individual liberties are guaranteed by the existence of a considerable constitution.

Liberalism manifests itself through the interrelation of two normative institutions that are influential in nature. Moral standards of egalitarian universalism are satisfied by the equal, individual liberties for all (Meekosha & Mowbray 1990, p. 29). The principle behind this universalism is the unbiased respect for and respect for everyone.

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The Lost Generation Project in Western Australia, 2008

The terms lost generation is used to denote the forgotten, unnoticed, neglected and excluded generation in Australia. The group plan was set up to remember, notice and account for the members of the population who had mental disabilities and had been treated as an outcast.

The history of the intellectual disability dates back to the colonial period in Australia. The beginning is traced back to the period when the colonialists, in eighteenth and nineteenth-century recognized some communities in Australia to be idiots or imbeciles. They began to develop classical, Victorian institutions that were used as quarantine centres. They acted as a hospital for the mentally challenged as well as penitentiary prisons (Rose & Nikolas 1996, p. 26).

People who had an intellectual disability were continuously sent to such hospitals where they were forced to mix promiscuously with the mentally challenged. It might have been that the family members suffered from economic pressures and, therefore, could not take care of the members with a disability; hence the best option was to send them into these institutions due to lack of or limited services for them. These people with intellectual disability were incorporated into Lunacy laws and assumed to be part of the insane group. The medical staff diagnosed the children with intellectual disability and advised their parents to take them to such institutions and ignore them. They believed the problem had no cure, and the only option was the lunacy institution.

In Australia, the government built Pentridge to accommodate its prisoners and Kew Hospital for the insane and intellectually challenged. Risdon and Tasmania prisons were later built at the same time as overcrowding, lack of financial support and the lack of medication and training made the situation uglier.

Yiriman caring for the country: A case study in community involvement, in natural resource management

Yiriman is a project that works with families in the Aboriginal community, in Western and Southern Australia. Its aim is to prevent instances of suicide among the community members by supporting social, positive changes. They aim at creating relationships among generations, based on solid cultural leadership and governance process. The main tools used are the elders who direct young people through comprehensive programs. This helps young people to develop their knowledge of history and beliefs. The most striking feature of this group is its mission to help the Aboriginal residents to navigate through their diverse cultural sensibilities with current employment and social pathways (Waats 1999, p. 78).

Women and Violence

The consequences of the experiences of child mothers are particularly dangerous. They carry physical and emotional scars both from the violence that was committed against them, and the injustice of the treatment meted out to them on their return. These emotional scars affect their relationships with partners and potential partners, since the experience of rape and forced sexual relationships over an extended period make it difficult for the girls to maintain warm relationships with other men (Hooks & Bell 1990, p. 5). This also affects their relationships with other girls of the same age, since the experience of being sexually active and having children sets them apart from other girls their age.

The community views them as having already become women in the social sense, even though they are physically still children. Moreover, child mothers tend to suffer from low self-esteem and these results in social exclusion and isolation. Girls carry the heavy burden of looking after children prematurely. For most child mothers, meeting their immediate needs for food, shelter and health care is a struggle, even for those fortunate enough to be living with their parents or husbands (Kendal & Wickham 1999, p. 16). However, some are entirely on their own, and with no other means of supporting themselves, many are forced to turn to sex work, making them psychologically, socially and economically even more vulnerable and even more stigmatized and isolated.


Collard, Len and Palmer, David 2001, Kura, yeye, boorda, Nyungar boodier nidja boodjar: community development and indigenous communities, Keynote address at the National Community Development Conference, Sheraton Hotel, Perth.

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Hooks, Bell 1990, Critical Interrogation: Talking Race, Resisting Racism. Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics, pp. 51-55. Boston: South End.

Kendall, G. & Wickham, G. 1999. Using Foucault’s Methods, London: Sage.

Kenny, Susan 2010, Developing Communities for the Future: Community Development in Australia, Melbourne: Nelson ITP.

Meekosha, H. and Mowbray, M. 1990, Reconstruction to deconstruction: the transformation of community work in Australia, Community Development Journal, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 337-344. UK: Oxford University.

Muecke, Stephen 1993, Dialogue with a post-graduate student, In Textual Spaces: Aboriginality and Cultural Studies, pp. 197-206. Sydney: New South Wales University.

Palmer, Dave and Buchanan, Jennifer 2008, Community development stories in WA. Web.

Rose, Nikolas 1996, Community, Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. pp. 167-196, London: Cambridge.

Tesoriero, Frank 2010, Community Development: Community-Based Alternatives in an Age of Globalization, French’s Forest, N.S.W., Pearson Education.

Walsh, Fiona and Mitchell, Paul 2002, (Eds) Planning for country, Alice Springs, N.T.: Jukurrpa.

Watts, R. 1999, Australia’s welfare policy and Latham’s Third Way: a critical commentary, Just Policy, No. 17, pp. 21-31.

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