Conference paper
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Abstract: Government and other community-oriented public and private organisations are increasingly pursuing more integrated ways of working to create innovative solutions to complex and concurrent urban challenges. Challenges in areas such as crime prevention, housing and community services require multiple and comprehensive approaches for the implementation of initiatives. As a result, the development of partnerships to improve service delivery is an increasingly common approach in a multitude of organisations. This paper explains some of the activities and processes related to the Community and Environment Project (CEP), a partnership between Housing NSW’s Building Stronger Communities Program at Mt Druitt, the Designing Out Crime (DOC) Research Centre at UTS, and the School of Social Work at UWS. The main aim of the partnership is to develop design explorations and community development initiatives that address crime issues. One of the ways this is being achieved is through the Winter School, a UTS course where final year design students undertake design explorations that address crime issues, particularly antisocial behaviours, in the social housing estates of Mt Druitt. The themes for these design explorations emerge from the analysis of crime statistics, and the day-to-day engagement and communication between the housing authority employees, social housing tenants and community groups. Students undertake their design explorations from a perspective that acknowledges the positive role of community identity, sense of belonging and placemaking in encouraging good uses in public spaces and reducing antisocial behaviour. This paper shows that apart from the expected outcomes of the partnership (e.g. design concepts), the CEP brings a novel way of thinking, understanding and working on crime prevention issues drawn from the design disciplines. Particularly, the partnership component of the CEP adds design thinking as well as methods and tools from design processes to crime prevention initiatives that traditionally have been addressed from disciplinary perspectives such as criminology and social sciences. The benefit of bringing a design perspective to crime prevention is that it generates an environment that fosters lateral thinking among stakeholders, exploration of diverse scenarios and new adaptations of traditional crime prevention frameworks. This paper illustrates the advantages of this approach through examples of projects that have been developed during the Winter School. I argue in this paper that using design processes and pedagogies to support community renewal is an innovative way to bridge the gap between academia and organisations working on community programs. This paper presents the above argument through the description and analysis of the Winter School component of the CEP. The structure of the paper is as follows: first, I present a background of DOC, the Winter School and the CEP. Second, I present a general background of the Mt Druitt area and its urban design. Third, I provide a brief survey of the conceptual frameworks that play a role in the CEP in the areas of social housing, partnerships, crime prevention and design processes. Fourth, I present the methodology used to develop this paper. Fifth, I analyse projects developed during past Winter School sessions. I also outline the contribution and limitations associated with these projects. Finally, I conclude with ideas on how the CEP can improve its outreach and effectiveness in the three years of the partnership and beyond.

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