Table of contents
Different Theories of community work
Philosophies underpinning the community work
The role of collaborators in facilitating change for the community
The outcome of community work
Community work is described as any activity which is focused on serving the society or its pupil by engaging in various community-building activities such as providing solutions for social, political, health, or structural challenges that exist within a community. It is often loosely replaced with the term social work. Even though they appear to be inter-related, the main difference between the two is that the former is primarily concerned with the community of a large no. of people, such as an aboriginal community, urban community or a rural community, whereas, on the other hand, the latter address the needs of the pupil, within the community at their levels. This report will entail a discussion on various aspects of community work, with an example of working with aboriginal and Torres strait islanders of Australia. The report will also look into various philosophies of community work, the role of stakeholders in facilitating change and development of the community, its outcomes, and reflection.
The aboriginal population of Australia is supported by CEDPs (Community development employment programs) and they are especially important for the development of the aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. The main role of this program is to seek opportunities for generating employment for the people of indigenous background. The effectiveness of the program is highly doubted due to a lack of administrative rigor. Although, the statistical data provided by the National Survey of indigenous people depicts an opposite notion (CAEPR, 2008). Furthermore, the report presented by CAEPR reveals that the program has enhanced the employment dynamics in rural and remote areas, creating a positive impact on the indigenous environment. It is a means of raising the socio-economic status of the indigenous people.
The 2006 census revealed that the average household income of the indigenous population was $460 per week which was equivalent to 62 percent of the average household income of the non-indigenous population. The reason for the disparity was related to the fact that the indigenous population usually inhabited the remote areas where there is less scope of generating employment. The aboriginal community has forever been known to grow their food for survival. This acts as another important factor that most of the individuals from the community do not wish to look for employment or leave their roots. As for employment, they usually had to move towards the cities, leaving their lands and giving up their way of life. The workforce contribution from the aboriginal community was individuals between the age group of 15-64 years which accounts for 57 percent of the participation rate in cities and 46 percent in remote areas (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d). The above limitations suggest the passive attitude of the aboriginal population in the labor market. Other limitations also include- lack of education, age, responsibility as a carer, and physical or mental disabilities.
There are many theories that are described as macro theories of the society and further classified as structural functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. The first is related to approaching the challenges of the society for promoting solidarity and promoting the development of social structures such as educational and mental health institutions. The second theory, conflict theory, according to which, “that conflict is an integral part of social life. There are conflicts between economic classes, ethnic groups, young and old, male and female, or among races” (Flower, 2018). Conflict theory can be used to help people resolve their differences". The last theory emphasizes on placing value on events and places. It explores the relationship of the meaning of things and their influences on the community.
There is limited research on the context of aboriginal people in the community development framework. However, there are five main ethical principles on which the work of community development is based on (Quayle, 2017). The community development workers carry the attitude of leadership in their hearts and minds. The goals of community development work can not be met without a genuine need and desire of the workers to help and lead the people on the path of improving their lives. As a leader, they strive to understand the problems or the issues faced by the community and addresses each of their concerns. Therefore, it is imperative that community developers have a positive, problem-solving attitude. As the leader for the aboriginal community, they stand up for the support of the aboriginal people and act as mediators who bridge the gap between the livelihood opportunities between indigenous and non-indigenous population. Second most important principle of community workers is development of partnerships. The need for developing kinship is to enhance a two-way communication, and to instil the desire for change within the community dwellers.
As per the research conducted by Kickett-Tucker et al., 2016, “A genuine partnership creates equity and encourages mutual decision making”. This results in better outcomes as compared to a half-way communication with one-sided approach of decision making which exhibits patriarchal system. The third dimension of working as a community developer is sustainable development. They focus on attaining sustainable growth. For instance, they persuade the policy makers to make reformation or amendments in the policies which are aligned with the sustainable goals of the community. Various researchers support the fact that policy are procedures are the tools to measure the progress of the communities (Taylor, 2019). Therefore, it is necessary to revise, reform the policies with the changing in development of the country. This practice enables the aboriginal community to be an active participant of the change and also contribute in directing the change as well.
The fourth ethical pillar of community developer is the reciprocity. Reciprocity is defined as an act of exchanging knowledge between two communities/individuals or parties (Quayle, 2017). The focus or the intention of the community worker is to reduce the inequality or state of disparity between the aboriginal community and the non-aboriginal communities so that they may benefit from the equal opportunities as well as broaden the scope of their growth and development in the future. The fifth main ethical consideration which the community developers live by is cultural competency. The community developers acknowledge and respect the value or belief systems of the aboriginal population. For instance, they are full-aware of that the aboriginal men and women do not wish to be in the same room together or work together. Therefore, they ensure that they are employed in different departments and places.
The collaborators are the stakeholders who play a vital role in promoting the community development. The are policy makers, educators which also include the language and cultural teachers, regional director of the aboriginal land, counselling staff, managers from distinguished departments such as health care professionals, professionals from human resources, legal and housing experts, the members of the community. The involvement of all the stakeholders can prove to be a length task, but their engagement is necessary for empowerment of the community. However, the main stakeholder remains the community itself. The main factor which drives the change in the community is when the community dwellers take the ownership of their lives. They must be open to learning and participate the development work. Without the efforts of the community members the planning of the sustainable community development project cannot achieve its goals (Kral, 2018). They should be prepared to take decision making roles to facilitate the process of change or reformation.
The outcome of team effort results in positive outcomes, however it is hard to measure its specificity. For the community worker, however it is crucial that at the initial stage of work the outcome is determines in order to effectively obtain it (Kickett-Tucker et al., 2016). The outcomes of community developers may not always align with those of the government because as community developer the ground reality is different depending upon the funding decision and decision based on stereotypes by the government (Wingerden, Goto, & Burstein, 2017). The flexibility of the aboriginal community in reception of change also impact the outcomes. However, research reveals that due to increase in educational opportunities, and attainment of higher education by the indigenous pupil, there have been surge in employments avenues and higher income, as also supported by the census of 2006. “The NATSIHS 2004-5 results also demonstrate that higher levels of schooling were also linked with improved health outcomes (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.)” Also as per the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016, the average household income was known to increase up to $1,203 per week in 2016 as compared to $460 per week in 2006 which supports the fact that with increase in employment and education opportunities, there will be significant upsurge in the socio-economic status of the indigenous population.
From the report analysis of community work project of CEDP amid aboriginal population of NT region I learnt about the factors which influence the employment matrix within the community. The cultural limitations as well as other lack of adequate resources which has increase the gap between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal population. The main aspect of community development work is to attain the positive attitude and develop cultural competency to encourage healthy kinships with the indigenous people, to develop leadership skill, patience and problem-solving ability. Although, the process of change is long forbearing but effective outcomes can be achieved while continuing to work based on these principles. I believe that engaging the stakeholders at different levels of management is fruitful to empower the community. However, the focus must be on the main stakeholder which is each member of the community. They are the main drivers of change and the work of community developer must ensure that they work in equitable partnership model with them for fruitful outcomes.
Based on the repot analysis of community work in action, it can be deduced that with increase in employment and education opportunities, there will be significant upsurge in the socio-economic status of the indigenous population, increasing the average household income to $1,203 per week in 2016 as compared to $460 per week in 2006. It has helped to reduce the equity gap among the indigenous and non-indigenous population, reduced share or contribution of health care burden from their community and over-all improvement in quality of life.
ABS, (2016). Census: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/MediaRealesesByCatalogue/02D50FAA9987D6B7CA25814800087E03
Australian Human Rights Commission, (n.d.). A statistical overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia: Social Justice Report 2008. Retrieved from https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/statistical-overview-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples-australia-social
Australian National University, (n.d.). Working for CDEP': A case study of the Community Development Employment Projects scheme in Port Lincoln, South Australia. Retrieved from https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/145506
CAEPR, (2008). Re-vitalising the Community Development Employment Program in the Northern Territory. Retrieved from https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/148964/1/Altman_Sanders_CDEP_0.pdf
Flower, L. (2018). Negotiating Identity: Symbolic Interactionist Approaches to Social Identity.
Kral, M. (2018). Community participation as an ethical principle for research. International Review of Qualitative Research, 11(2), 148-157.
Kickett-Tucker, C., Bessarab, D., Coffin, J., & Wright, M. (Eds.). (2016). Mia Mia Aboriginal Community Development. Cambridge University Press.
Turner, N. N., Taylor, J., Larkins, S., Carlisle, K., Thompson, S., Carter, M., ... & Bailie, R. (2019). Conceptualizing the Association Between Community Participation and CQI in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PHC Services. Qualitative health research, 29(13), 1904-1915.
Quayle, A. (2017). Narrating oppression, psychosocial suffering and survival through the Bush Babies Project (Doctoral dissertation, Victoria University).
Van Wingerden, C., Goto, S., & Burstein, M. (2017). Creating sustainable communities: Adult and leadership theories and principles in practice. In Encyclopedia of strategic leadership and management (pp. 94-110). IGI Global.
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