Place Based Community Development
Due to their unique Community Development approach, many Neighbourhood Centres have been involved in activities consistent with place-based initiatives since their inception. Neighbourhood and Community Centres are in an ideal position to offer place based programs consistent with those outlined in Queensland and Federal Government strategies. Neighbourhood and Community Centres funded by the Queensland Government are an essential piece of the machinery of Place Based work and provide the additional value of an existing model that can be amplified and highlighted as “place in action”.
“Our true destiny...is a world built from the bottom up by competent citizens living in solid communities, engaged in and by their places “.
- Professor David W Orr
In reference to Wilks, Lahausse & Edwards’ (2015) research into Place Based initiatives the below is highlighted in relation to Queensland Neighbourhood Centres:
Spatial Targeting: Neighbourhood Centres operate in geographical localities. Their funding is for specific catchment areas and because many have been operating for several decades within spatial areas, they have gained specialised local knowledge of the communities in which they operate. Centres are also involved with “communities of interest” in geographical spaces, working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and Migrant Communities. Due to their good relationships with community members and trusted status, many centres are used as a base for other service providers including government to work with people experiencing hardship. Neighbourhood centres are the access point for direct community engagement.
Social Targeting: Because Neighbourhood Centres have offered local responses to local needs for long periods of time, they have an intimate knowledge of local community issues. Many are involved in collecting demographic data and are involved in ongoing discussions with community stakeholders on social issues of concern. They are also aware of community assets, being well informed of referral pathways and utilising professional community volunteers.
Flexible Delivery: Neighbourhood Centres realise the importance of offering targeted services that directly address local community need. Service Delivery funding to large not-for-profit organisations often uses a “one size fits all” approach that lacks local knowledge, however Neighbourhood Centres source funding for services that are needed for unique and specific community issues. Some larger not for profits sub contract to neighbourhood centres and/or use their premises and brokered relationships to deliver services.
Local Autonomy: Community Development and Strength Based principles play a significant role in Neighbourhood Centres, emphasising the need for self-determination for individuals and communities. They have a demonstrated ability to involve local people in developing local solutions. Neighbourhood Centres are typically managed by volunteer management committees, are community owned and operated, and provide a community governance model in localities.
“Joined Up” Working: A wide variety of community groups and services use spaces at Neighbourhood Centres for activities or to deliver services. Neighbourhood Centres often establish local networks between services to target community needs as they are identified or bring services together as hubs to offer wrap around services. Additionally, their relationships are not limited to the human services sector and have relationships with local business, government, politicians, schools, community groups, academics and faith-based organisations. Neighbourhood Centres are collaborative by nature and are often the “poly filla” that connects services or fills gaps between them. They bring communities together to respond to community challenges and are the backbone or hub of Place Based initiatives.
Governance: Local Neighbourhood Centres are typically owned and operated by local communities through local associations or non-for-profit companies limited by guarantee. The centres have spent several decades developing structures to engage with local communities, leading communities through processes of change and incorporating community decision making at all levels of social change. These community governance structures contain a wide range of participants, especially vulnerable community members and specialised communities of interest such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and Multicultural groups.
Capacity Development: Neighbourhood Centres are active in building community capacity, through volunteer development, education programs or by sourcing extra services required for local areas.
Long term Focus: Many Neighbourhood Centres have been operating in local communities for several decades, implementing Community Development principles to address local needs on a long term basis.