Indigenous communities possess unique strengths but also face significant challenges. This research brief examines the effectiveness of place-based initiatives in reducing disadvantage in Indigenous communities.
The challenges faced by some communities, such as poverty, unemployment, poor health, social dysfunction and violence, have not been addressed through traditional models of government service provision, which have failed to draw on the strengths of communities. In the past decade, Australian governments have implemented a number of place-based initiatives in Indigenous communities with the overarching goal of addressing disadvantage. These initiatives attempt deep changes in the local operation of government agencies and their relationships with communities and each other.
Place-based initiatives do not usually have an explicit justice focus, but prioritise physical infrastructure, employment, education and community capacity building. However, it is clear that communities with inadequate infrastructure, high unemployment and low levels of education and community capacity almost invariably suffer from crime problems both against property and people.
In this research brief consideration is given to the effectiveness of place-based initiatives in reducing disadvantage in Indigenous communities. It is concluded that while the evidence is not, and may never be conclusive on this issue, evaluations and expert opinions suggest that these initiatives have real potential to facilitate change.