Putting the pieces in place: children, communities and social capital in Australia

Children Child welfare Youth Social issues Social capital Communities Australia

Provides insights into the aspects of Australian communities that support children and those that fail them. It examines the ways in which communities can be strengthened from the standpoint of children. The report documents how excessive use of alcohol, aggressive drivers and the threat of violence make children feel unsafe in their communities. It also highlights the importance of strong, caring relationships.

Executive summary
What do children in Australia value about their communities? How are communities supporting children? How are communities failing them – and why? Over the past fifteen years, governments at Commonwealth, state and local levels have been concerned with strengthening communities as part of a policy shift towards "local solutions to local problems" and to place-based initiatives. This policy shift was heavily influenced by ideas of social capital. Children are often assumed to benefit from "strong communities", yet we know very little about children‟s views on what makes a strong, supportive community. Indeed, we know very little about children‟s places and roles within Australian communities. If policies and initiatives are to be inclusive of children – as this report argues they should – it is crucial that we understand children‟s views and experiences of their communities.

The research project explores in depth what children in middle childhood think about their communities, how children experience "community‟ on a daily basis, and what vision they have for their communities. This report presents the findings of participatory, rights-based research with 108 children aged between eight and twelve years across six sites in eastern Australia. The findings provide important insights into communities from a child's standpoint. This research also demonstrates children‟s capacity to engage in detailed discussion and deliberation about "what works" - and "what is broken" – within their community. Additionally, it demonstrates the important insights children can provide into how to fix that which is broken.

Publication Details