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Report cover

Community strengthening evidence review

For the NSW Department of Communities and Justice
Other authors
Yi Sing Yao
Vulnerable people Social wellbeing Youth Vulnerable children Community development Marginalised families Australia
Attachment Size
Community strengthening evidence review 1.36 MB

The Department of Communities and Justice (NSW) recently commissioned the Centre for Social Impact to conduct an evidence review on the impact of community engagement and development initiatives on community wellbeing for vulnerable populations.

The concepts of 'community wellbeing', 'community development' and 'community engagement' are variously defined and measured in the literature. This review uses definitions that closely align with these concepts in the context of children, young people and families.

With a growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of community-led and engagement initiatives, this review takes a closer look at what makes these approaches successful. Five critical elements were identified as important for services and initiatives aimed at strengthening community wellbeing:

  1. Inclusive and genuine co-design and partnership: Building authentic partnerships with community that work towards community ownership while also ensuring that the diverse voices of that community are represented.
  2. Leveraging strengths and building capacity: Initiatives that are both strengths-based and actively building community capacity.
  3. Creating safe and effective spaces: Spaces that are safe and accessible to everyone to allow for the effective engagement of diverse community members.
  4. Intersectional and safe approaches: Incorporating an understanding of how the different aspects of a person's identity (e.g. gender, ethnicity, disability) can expose them to overlapping and intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalisation to allow for the delivery of a more integrated, safe and holistic suite of services.
  5. A whole system approach: Interventions that are part of a whole system approach that inter-connects multiple community cohorts and agencies.

The evidence review draws on the best available research evidence that was available within these parameters as a starting point. However, as noted in the conclusion to the report, additional work is needed to expand on this, including further evaluating the quality of the evidence and identifying what further evaluations need to take place.

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