Place-based approaches

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Place-based approaches2020-06-03T08:58:20+10:00
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Using a place-based approach is about bringing together citizens in a place to address the complex needs of communities by harnessing the vision, resources and opportunities in each community.

Place-based approaches are long term, collaborative efforts which give power to the community in guiding systemic change, and contribute to a cycle of learning about investment and impact.

QCOSS has a focus on place-based work because globally, place-based approaches are being recognised as critical to responding effectively to certain community challenges and building strong, cohesive communities. There is significant evidence and a multitude of impressive stories demonstrating real change that supports this.

As the state’s peak body for the community sector QCOSS is uniquely positioned to support and enable place-based approaches across Queensland. We recognise that we can’t do this alone – we are committed to partnering and our partners are many.

Our place-based work so far has taught us a lot!

We are now able to build on that to present our plan of action for place-based approaches in Queensland moving forward. We have organised our actions into four key areas doinglearningleading, and changing.

Join our place based mailing list. Receive an e-newsletter every quarter with the latest in the place-based world

Our action plan

Diagram showing the four elements of our place-based action plan - 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. Leading - Bringing together key influencers to plan, collaborate and enable place-based approaches across Queensland. Changing - Facilitating systems development and changes which better support place-based approaches across Queensland.


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Working directly with communities to support place-based approaches and civic leadership.


Build capacity of communities to implement place-based approaches through practice, local sector development, integration, and citizen leadership.

Build QCOSS’ on-the-ground understanding of place-based approaches to inform work.


Townsville, Capricornia and Fraser Coast
Keep working alongside these three communities to further develop leadership and drive change.

Changing Lives, Changing Communities
Facilitate conversations of change across the state to ask What will it take to create communities where everyone contributes, matters and belongs?


Champions of change
Train and develop a network of Change Champions to host community conversations to promote civic participation in local action and decision-making.

Neighbourhood centres
Build on the strengths of neighbourhood centres as critical local place-based infrastructure and engagement.

Changing Lives, Changing Communities

Find out more about Changing Lives, Changing Communities events here. Or check out our reports from the Changing Lives, Changing Communities events on the Fraser Coast, and Capricornia.

Further reading: A case study – How Butchulla people are re-envisioning an ancient rite of passage, and a case study – a relationships with traditional custodians in place highlighting benefits to the community of Darumbal.


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Building Queensland’s collective knowledge base relating to place-based approaches.


Enhance the shared understanding, innovation and commitment to place-based approaches across the community sector and with citizens, philanthropic agencies, business and government.


Community of Practice
Establish a Queensland Place-Based Community of Practice to build knowledge and skills, as well as connect, people delivering or supporting place-based initiatives.

More about that here.

Learning programs
Deliver learning programs across Queensland on core elements of place-based approaches including leadership, systems design and data use.

Place-based resources
Share resources, research and models to support a broader and deeper understanding of place-based approaches across Queensland.

Access the Place-based guide and toolkit.

Place-Based conference
Support Logan Together, Collaboration for Impact and Griffith University in Changefest in Logan City – November 2018.


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Facilitating systems development and changes which better support place-based approaches across Queensland.


Develop and enhance systems which support place-based approaches to take root, grow and flourish across Queensland.


Systems analysis
Use action on the ground to understand and respond to systemic barriers.

Social investment
Help develop social investment approaches which support community identified goals and integration of the service system.


Contractual arrangements
Establish new ways of working, including contracting, to better support community organisations to work form a place-based perspective.

Enable greater accessibility, understanding and use of data in local decision making.


Bringing together key influencers to plan, collaborate and enable place-based approaches across Queensland.


Enhance state-wide coordination and collaboration between key agencies focussed on making positive social change in Queensland through place-based approaches.

Make place-based approaches a priority across government, with investment to match.


Queensland Place-Based Leadership Group
Establish a strategic state-wide leadership group to influence and drive initiatives which build the systems, capacity and culture necessary to enable and strengthen local place-based approaches across Queensland.

Find out more about our Creating Thriving Communities in Queensland roundtables, held in 2018 in Brisbane and Townsville.


Advocating for place-based investment
Government funding to establish a long-term strategy to support 10 place-based approaches across Queensland communities.

An innovation fund to support place-based prototype projects which address community identified needs/opportunities.

Why do it?

During the recent past, the wellbeing of many people and communities has been improving. However this has not been the case for all. Some communities, some people, some families have struggled to get by and succeed. Some communities experience entrenched poverty and disadvantage. In some communities there are intractable problems that persist despite generally successful conditions. In some communities, opportunities are beckoning, but it is difficult to see how to maximise the benefits for all.

In many instances, despite the best intentions of governments, the community sector and a range of stakeholders, progress on these issues has not been made. Improvements in social and economic outcomes have not been made, the intractable problems persist and opportunities pass by.

Change is needed!

Why is QCOSS so committed to place-based approaches?

QCOSS has worked in many parts of Queensland to tackle some of these entrenched issues using a place-based approach to build local partnerships and develop joined up, place-focussed and community driven responses.

The process of using a place based approach, with a focus on engaging all elements of a community, can in itself contribute to addressing issues such as social isolation and social division as well as enhance the suitability of the work to the local area by ensuring local input into local solutions.

Our experience shows us that with effective engagement, local input not only ensures participation of local groups and individuals, but an ability to develop, implement and adjust the program to meet the needs and characteristics of the local community and its environment. The diversity of local responses that emerge from this work tells us that place-based approaches are effective in generating innovative solutions to address the local experience.

QCOSS is committed to supporting the development of place based approaches through:

  • developing the collective knowledge of place based across Queensland
  • sharing and developing resources
  • advocating for government policy to support place based
  • building partnerships across the community, community sector, business and government to tackle Queensland’s biggest challenges.

Place-based approaches for community change: QCOSS’ guide and toolkit

For several years now we have been working on some place-based approaches and have been able to use that experience to pull together this very valuable resource. In developing this guide and toolkit we drew on our own learnings, and tested ideas with our partners and colleagues, including in the Queensland Place-Based Community of Practice.

It brings together a wealth of information and tools to help and assist anyone interested in place-based approaches and explores in some detail the many and varied parts of approaching social change in this way. They are certainly not the only way to make social change but have been successful in working on addressing systemic barriers in many areas.

Find out more about the place-based guide and toolkit.
Go straight to the toolkit.

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