Below is a list of tools referred to in places throughout this toolkit. Please select a dropdown to continue.

You and your organisation

  • If your organisation has existing programs and services in region, what programs and services do you provide?
  • Have you or other people in your organisation done work in place-building or community development before? What existing work have you done in this place?
  • What existing relationships and influence do you have in the region? What existing relationships and influence do you have with people who make decisions that affect the region?
  • What assets do you and your organisation bring to a place-based approach? What support might you need from other people, organisations or resources in order to succeed?

Previous mapping and planning work

  • Are there existing community maps? Are there previous or existing community plans in place? What consultative processes have previously occurred in the community?

Geography, infrastructure and environment

  • Where are the regional boundaries at a local, state and federal level? What are the boundaries for statistical areas (such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics)?
  • What are the key geographical forms and landmarks that make up the place (for example, mountains, rivers, major public buildings)?
  • What infrastructure and facilities are in the area – green spaces, council parks, national parks, major venues, sporting facilities, major highways, housing, and shopping centres?

Are there key animals or places that are important to people in the area? (for example, the cassowary, the beach). Are there particular environmental issues, hazards or regular disasters?


  • Maps on Australian Bureau of Statistics

Research and history

Many communities have documented historical accounts and documents.

  • What are the historical accounts of indigenous history, and key sacred sites and sites of mourning for local indigenous people?
  • Are there published academic, particularly grounded or action research projects, relating to the place?
  • Are there non-fiction histories or even historical fiction relating to the place?

Cultural resources and key events

  • Are there customs and activities that conserve traditions?
  • Are there markets or regular public events?
  • What are the key events for the community? Are there major dates coming up?

Key stakeholders

Political representation and activity

  • Who are the political representatives at a local, state and federal level? What party do they belong to? What are their key interests and what assets do they bring?
  • Is there an active political opposition? What are their key interests and what assets do they bring?
  • Is there current citizen campaigning around a particular issue? What are these groups called and where do they meet? What issues are in the forefront in this place? Are there issue-specific campaigns occurring or activists’ group meetings? Has there been recent public outcry?

Who are the formal leaders and informal leaders here who might support the initiative? What assets do they bring?


  • Social media, in particular Facebook, can be a great resource for searching for organisations, informal leaders and issue-specific campaigns relating to an area. Try searching Pages or Groups using the place name.

Traditional Custodians, Elders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Who are the Traditional Custodians of the land?
  • Who are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders living and working in the region? Who are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander formal and informal leaders? Note: They may come from Indigenous nations outside the region
  • What the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in the region?
  • What are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses in the region?



  • What key educational institutions are there in the area– universities, schools, libraries?
  • What key administrative and justice institutions are there in the area – town halls, courts, prisons?
  • What key health institutions are there in the area – hospitals, Primary Health Networks (PHNs), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs), GP clinics, medical and radiology centres?
  • What key religious institutions are in the area – churches, temples and mosques?
  • What key essential services are provided in the area – energy, water?
  • What key media outlets are in the area? Who owns them?
  • Who are the formal leaders of these institutions, and other people who might support the initiative? What assets do they bring? For example, academics working on related projects, church leaders running awareness campaigns, or newspaper editors vocal on a particular issue?

Programs and services

  • What government services and departments are in the region and who are the main contacts for them? You might look up particular departments if you are interested in a particular issue (for example, Housing, Police, Child Safety).
  • What community services are available in the region? What neighbourhood centres are in the region? Who are the major community organisations supporting the area and what services are they providing? These might include services for homelessness and housing, employment support, aged care, disability, counselling and mental health, family supports, support for asylum seekers, immigrants and culturally and linguistically diverse people, and specialist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services.
  • Who are the formal leaders and informal leaders here who might support the initiative? What assets do they bring?

Networks and relationships

  • Are there existing networks, regular meetings or communities of practice in the region?
  • Are there representatives or local peak/advocacy organisations?
  • Are there existing partnerships between particular organisations or people?

Community and cultural groups

  • What music, drama, literature and art activities are happening in the community?
  • What community groups and social clubs exist, such as parent groups, sporting clubs and other interest groups, business networks, online communities, peer support groups, and other community groups?
  • Who are the formal leaders and informal leaders here who might support the initiative? What assets do they bring?

Business and industry

  • What are the major industries in the region, and who are the major employers? For example, agriculture, tourism or mining.
  • What local businesses are there, and are any currently involved in community projects? For example, the local real estate and property developers, retail stores, hair, beauty and other personal services.
  • Who are the formal leaders and informal leaders here who might support the initiative? What assets do they bring?

Informal leaders

  • Are there other informal leaders? Who are the most influential people in the community? What assets do they bring?

It can be useful to map formal and informal leaders, and their relationships and networks.

Consider each person you would like to map:

  • Name, job title and organisation?
  • Possible interest in the place-based approach? Are they supportive of the initiative?
  • Possible influence on the place-based approach?
  • What and who influences them? What is their authorising environment?

Start with a large piece of paper, several pieces of paper on a floor or wall, or a whiteboard. Start writing out the names of relevant people. You can also keep it at an organisational level if you prefer.

You can draw the map radiating out from a key person or use multiple ‘central hubs’ to show groups of people. You can group them together based on closeness of their relationship. You might colour-code the people in your map. For example, you might use a similar colour or draw a similar colour box around people who are in the same organisation or network.

Draw different lines between people or organisations to indicate their relationship. For example, you might use different coloured lines or different kinds of lines (dotted, bold, or double lines) to show different kinds of relationships. Do certain people work together? Do some influence or have power over others? Do some have disagreements?

A fictitious example of a tree of possible relationships possible between stakeholders, joined with lines indicating the nature of the relationship. Cooperating, coordinating, collaborating, integrating.

An example of how organisations can interact.

It can also be useful to map power and influence. For example, you might group people according to whether they are likely to support your project, and whether they have any influence over it. For an example, see the Change Agency’s Power Mapping Template.


Some of these questions have emerged from User Centred Design and understanding ‘pain points’ in system change.

Introducing yourself

  • Name…
  • Your country
  • Where you live and work
  • We are looking at opportunities to improve … create change around … build … in the region
  • We were hoping to talk to you about

Building relationship

  • Did you grow up here? Where is your family from?
  • What is your favourite part of this region?
  • What kinds of ways does your work contribute to the community?

Emerging themes

  • What are the key issues affecting this community?
  • What would help you most in your work?
  • If you could change one thing about how the system works, what would it be?
  • Complete this sentence, “If only I could just …”

Broadening contacts

  • Who else do you think might be in interested in this work? Who else should I speak to?
  • Is there anyone who has good connections with particularly hard-to-reach people?

Who represents culturally and linguistically diverse people?

Checking in and checking out are processes used to open and close a meeting. The purpose of checking in is to ensure everyone in the group is seen, heard and acknowledged. It also helps people leave their busyness behind and be fully present at the meeting they have come to. Simply put, check-in helps to focus everyone and lets every voice be heard from the start.

Each person gets to have their say, usually by moving clockwise around the group. Questions or prompts used for check-in could include things like, “What brought you to this meeting today?” or “One thing I’d like to get out of our conversation today is…”. Think about who is coming to the meeting and what the purpose of the meeting is – this will guide you in how serious or playful your check-in should be. Remember not everyone will know each other, so the check-in should involve each person introducing themselves.

Similarly, check-out is a way to close a meeting that ensures everyone leaves being heard. It gives an official close to the meeting while providing a touching point for how people are thinking or feeling at the end of the conversation. Again, think about the purpose of the meeting and who is there, as this will determine how casual or formal your check-out can be. The check-out might ask for one word to describe how people are feeling at the end of the meeting, or might ask something like, “what did you get out of our conversation today?” or “what’s your next step once you leave this meeting?”

Check-in and check-out processes are not the time for discussion. At the very least, check-in and check-out times provide a safe platform for the most vulnerable group members to have their voice heard without being talked over, disagreed with or railroaded. It is important that the facilitator of the conversation models this. Some groups use a talking-piece (a small, tangible item) to assist them to keep to this principle during check-in and check-out. This can be a nice way to acknowledge place, too! Using a rock, feather, branch from the place you are meeting might serve this purpose.

A great way to keep people connected, alert and engaged at your workshop or meeting is to use a variety of ice-breakers and energisers. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance writes that, “Facilitators use games for a variety of different reasons, including helping people to get to know each other, increasing energy or enthusiasm levels, encouraging team building or making people think about a specific issue. Games that help people to get to know each other and to relax are called icebreakers. When people look sleepy or tired, energisers can be used to get people moving and to give them more enthusiasm. Other games can be used to help people think through issues and can help to address problems that people may encounter when they are working together. Games can also help people to think creatively and laterally.”

Download their free book, “100 ways to energise groups: Games to us in workshops, meetings and the community”, here.

Here is one energiser that we find is a fun way to move into spaces of possibility and silliness when people are feeling stuck:

Energiser: Yes, and…!

  • Ask people to stand up and get into pairs. Some teams can be threesomes if there is an odd number
  • Start the pairs with a prompt e.g. Let’s plan a community event! OR Let’s move to Mexico!
  • One person starts by making a declarative statement about the prompt, such as, “We will have hot dogs at the event!”
  • Their partner says, “Yes, and . . . ?” and then adds something to the idea. In this example it might be, “Yes, and we could make pavlova for dessert.” From that point on, the partners exchange ideas, always starting with the phrase, “Yes, and . . .”
  • It is important for this to go on long enough, 2–5 minutes, so that the participants run out of obvious statements and the ideas have to get a little goofy or crazy.

As part of the Strengthening our place initiative several proceses were developed, as well as Terms of Reference, Program Logics and a wrap up of what we learned. You can download copies below:

Sample group processes

Terms of Reference

A Terms of Reference is documentation of how a group agrees to work together. It describes clearly what the purpose of the group is, who is part of the group (and criteria for membership), and what the commitment or responsibilities of the group members is. Download our sample here.

Program logics

A program logic documents how you intend to contribute to outcomes. It will display in a simple format what the activities and intended outputs will be, and how they will lead to meeting your goals and achieving proposed outcomes. Download our sample here.

What we learned

Strengthening our place was a partnership between the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) and Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS). The partnership supported the child and family support sector to engage in collaborative, community-led place-based responses in Central Queensland while documenting and promoting the value of place-based approaches across Queensland in improving outcomes for children and families. A reflection on our place-based partnership was written in November 2018 at the end of Phase Three of Strengthening our place with some key learnings and project outcomes identified. Download our reflection here.