QCOSS is the Queensland state-wide peak body for individuals and organisations working in the social and community service sector and a voice for people experiencing poverty and disadvantage. By working with communities during the last 60 years, QCOSS has drawn upon a range of strategies and tools to empower communities, build better service systems, and promote social inclusion and citizen governance.

QCOSS supports locally led change in communities and supports place-based approaches through partnering with organisations in the region to form part of a ‘container for change’. Our approach is to build on existing strengths in a community and support the development of local leadership that can progress the work.

We are physically based in Brisbane and our approach is inherently shaped by our perspective as an organisation and as workers that are often external to the regions we work in. We acknowledge there are both benefits and disadvantages from being external to regions outside Brisbane.

Some of place-based approaches QCOSS has supported include:

  • 2016 – 2019 – Strengthening our place – Alongside the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) and in-community partners, QCOSS supported people in Capricornia and Fraser Coast to achieve their vision of ‘Working together so all children can reach their full potential.’ Over nearly four years, this initiative has supported community identification of priorities, assisted in establishing local devolved governance structures, and built local leadership capacity.
  • 2016 – 2018 – Bringing the NDIS to Life – Townsville In 2016, more than 100 Townsville community members created a shared vision at the Changing Lives, Changing Communities event around what it would take for the implementation of the NDIS to support Townsville to become a truly inclusive community. A Leadership Group was established to drive initiatives through a range of projects designed to “probe the system”, and additional large community meetings were held in 2017 and 2018 to review and renew progress, with many projects being implemented from the ideas generated.
  • 2014 – 2015 – Home for Good – QCOSS partnered with the Queensland Government and 17 communities across Queensland to conduct Registry Weeks to to understand the experience of homelessness, which included identifying each person and family experiencing homelessness in their community. The most vulnerable were then prioritised for urgent assistance in housing and ongoing support.  The coalition worked with the community to build relationships, used data to inform practice, and established new ways of working and systems which continue to develop. The collaborative impact approach used included a common assessment tool and was based on the successful 500 Lives 500 Homes project led by Micah Projects in Brisbane.
  • 2010 – 2014 – Homelessness Planning and Coordination InitiativeThis initiative was funded through the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness and delivered in partnership by the Queensland Government and QCOSS.  Fourteen locally-based coordinators (including seven QCOSS workers embedded in the community sector, and seven Queensland Government coordinators) worked in seven Queensland communities experiencing high rates of homelessness. They brought together local stakeholders to develop and implement Homeless Community Action Plans (HCAPs) centered on working collaboratively to drive change across the sector and government, and delivering positive outcomes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

QCOSS has also supported a number of initiatives building community readiness for place-based approaches, through undertaking collective visioning, building citizen-led and place-based leadership, and prototyping collaborative projects:

  • 2018 – 2019 Changing Lives, Changing Communities and the Community Champions – these initiatives in 14 communities across Queensland bring together people to create communities where “everyone contributes, matters and belongs”. The Changing Lives, Changing Communities and Local Champions project has supported communities to identify priorities, seeded a range of community projects, and is developing citizen leadership in communities.
  • 2017 – Live Well Hervey Bay – Ngala Gambay (Butchulla for We All Together) was initiated to build local capacity to support healthy ageing in Hervey Bay. Supported by the Queensland Mental Health Commission (QMHC), this project unearthed local challenges to mental health including loss of connection across generations and to culture.

In partnership with the Queensland Government, QCOSS is bringing together leaders and practitioners around Queensland to support and enable place-based approaches. Some of these initiatives include:

  • Thriving Communities Roundtables – 2018 – Together with Minister O’Rourke, Minister for Communities, Disability Services and Seniors, we brought people together from across Queensland to discuss the potential of place-based approaches to help build thriving communities throughout the state.
  • Movement for Change, 2018 QCOSS State Conference – focussed on changing the stories we tell about ourselves and our communities to change lives. Recognising that this is done best at a community level, QCOSS made a commitment to take the concepts of the conference to regional These conversations have continued throughout Queensland as part of the Changing Lives, Changing Communities events.
  • The Queensland Place-Based Community of Practice was launched in November 2018. It has been established to strengthen and consolidate Queensland’s place-based knowledge-base, to generate new ideas, promote learning and peer-support among practitioners working on or interested in place-based approaches, and build relationships and promote collaboration across Queensland.

Given our unique position in Queensland, QCOSS has articulated our role in place-based approaches through our Place-Based Action Plan.  The plan articulates four roles:

  • Doing – working directly with communities to support place-based approaches and civic leadership
  • Learning – building Queensland’s collective knowledge base relating to place-based approaches
  • Changing – facilitating systems development and changes which better support place-based approaches across Queensland
  • Leading – bringing together key influencers to plan, collaborate and enable place-based approaches across Queensland.

QCOSS joins our colleagues in the Council of Social Service (COSS) network in supporting place-based approaches, embedding greater citizen-led participatory processes, and advocating for local collaborative governance across Australia.


Emerging voices project by Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TASCOSS)

‘Unleashing the power of communities’ by the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS)

‘Engagement in place-based co-design’ by the West Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS)