Place-based approaches are important. They provide communities with the flexibility to make decisions that are in the very best interests of the people living there.
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.
We support place-based approaches because they provide an opportunity to generate new ways of working: cross-community, cross-sector and cross-government; they promote devolved decision making and public service innovation; and they empower people in communities to be involved in their future and their communities.
Place-based approaches are an emerging method for social change. We hope this guide and toolkit will provide a framework to start a conversation around the practice of place-based approaches, and build shared understandings.
We hope that this toolkit will serve as a guide to anyone who wishes to initiate and work on a place-based approach. Place-based approaches are a team effort, and you do not need to have all the answers or be an expert facilitator, evaluator, or project manager to build a place-based movement for change in your region (although those skills can help!).
This guide and toolkit will benefit a range of people including: community members; leaders; all levels of government; non-government organisations (NGOs); community service organisations; philanthropic organisations; and businesses.
The guide is for anyone looking to work in a way that:
- focusses on the local level
- creates a shared, long-term vision and commitment to outcomes
- involves working differently together across the community
- creates governance at a local level
- embeds broad engagement with the community
- gives an opportunity to experiment, prototype, and learn through doing.
This guide and toolkit is designed to support people working on or wanting to initiate a place-based approach. It provides some helpful tools and resources; shares how QCOSS has supported place-based approaches around Queensland; and offers some of our learnings from these experiences.
While this guide does include practical examples of how QCOSS has applied theory, and tools or samples of completed work, they are informed by our own experience, and are not intended as a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to facilitating a place-based approach. The process outlined may not necessarily fit with the specific context of the community you are involved in, the context of your workplace, or your level of resourcing. Every place-based approach and every community is different. No one tool or framework will suit all communities.
This guide and toolkit has also been informed by a growing evidence base of others’ work and theories. Place-based approaches are an emerging practice, and the body of knowledge is rapidly evolving. This guide and toolkit is not intended to be a literature review. Rather, our aim is to provide a practical guide with, wherever possible, publicly accessible references and links.
The importance of place-based approaches being guided by sound principles cannot be over-emphasised. These same tools can be applied in harmful or helpful ways depending on the depth of the process, the level of relationship, and the level of respect and genuine intention to engage. For this reason, the principles underpinning place-based approaches have been explored in detail.