Community capacity building and development

Di Gursansky and participants in the 'Elder-friendly communities' projectThis strand of the SPRG's research program focuses on both urban and rural communities in Australia, India and Vietnam. It explores the structures through which community capacity can be enhanced, and the nature of the partnerships involved between local government and communities, and within Indigenous communities.


Exploring new opportunities for local government to facilitate innovative partnership options that link social, economic and employment development

ARC Linkage Project 2006–2008
E Carson & L Kerr
Partner organisation: City of Salisbury

This project seeks to formulate an expanded role for Australian local government in light of OECD debates on localism in the formation of partnerships for economic, employment and social development. It will redress the under-utilisation of local government's specific knowledge and resources that could facilitate economic, employment and social development, particularly in disadvantaged communities. In addition to the theoretical and practical knowledge gained regarding localism and partnerships, which has immediate community benefit, it is expected that the project's outcomes will have the potential to be transferable to other local government jurisdictions in Australia and hence be of national benefit.

Indigenous mental health in remote communities: applying a contextual model of community research and intervention

ARC Discovery project 2008–2010
D Tedmanson (with Guerin, Guerin and Clark)

This project will make an international advance in understanding Indigenous mental health that will be of interest to many groups around the world. The main national benefit will flow from contextual knowledge on how to improve mental health for remote Indigenous communities that also allows strengthening of communities and their economic and social enterprises. We will also build capacity in the communities for research skills, documentation skills, and writing skills. The types of contextual information collected will provide recommendations to mental health service providers about how to incorporate local forms of knowledge when dealing with issues of well-being.

Social and cultural factors in Indigenous enterprise management and governance

ARC Linkage 2007–2008
D Tedmanson (with Banerjee & Muirhead)
Collaborating/partner organisations: UnitingCare Wesley Adelaide, Pukatja Community Council, Turkey Bore and Tjutjunpiri Community, Anilalya Homelands Council

Elder-friendly communities

D Gursansky
An ongoing collaborative partnership (since 2003) between the University of South Australia, SA Dept of Family and Community Services, Council on the Ageing, Aged Care and Housing Group, Department of Veteran Affairs, City of West Torrens and Metropolitan Domiciliary Care.

The primary aim of this project is to assess the needs of older citizens and their family caregivers in four communities in western metropolitan Adelaide, and work with them in developing strategies for increasing community capacity. The secondary aim is to promote and market this model and process of community capacity building across local government in South Australia.

Facilitating development of the Aboriginal family care advisory model in the Families SA Southern Country Region

D Tedmanson with Hans Pieters (Flinders University)
Funded by Families SA, 2007–08.

CRC: Desert knowledge: demand-responsive services

D Tedmanson

Evaulative review of the substance misuse and community resilience project

D Tedmanson with Dr Pauline Guerin (Flinders University) and Syd Sparrow (David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research)
Grannies Group, Kera Yerlo, 2008.

Completed projects

Communities, trust, governance and partnerships: the role of local government in community management and development in areas of social disadvantage

ARC Linkage 2004–2007
H Cameron & L Kerr

In the current social policy environment, partnerships between institutions, government and community are increasingly being encouraged as one way of addressing social problems. If public consultation continues to mean that government sets agendas, asks for the public's opinion and then, after acknowledging these insubstantially, proceeds to make final decisions, public participation will be only a dream. Many people are excluded from even this limited existing opportunity for engagement which further limits whose voice is heard on community issues. Consequently resources and services do not always benefit everyone, meet the needs of the people they are planned for, nor have an impact on the issues they aim to address. This study raises questions about the effectiveness of existing consultation methods and describes ways to create two-way dialogue with local government and the community to address the unmet needs of citizens. It also explores some alternative ways to identify those who do not use existing services and how this may address social problems such as unemployment, poverty and social exclusion.

Alternate care/fostering/adoption for Indigenous communities

Category 2
D Tedmanson

Managing Well

Managing Well was established in 2000 as a partnership between the University of South Australia and the Department of Human Services to provide professional development for managers and directors of Indigenous organisations in South Australia.
Managers and directors of Indigenous organisations face complex issues necessitating high-level leadership, management and organisational development skills. These issues pose significant challenges for managers wishing to access relevant professional development, skills training and vocational or higher education learning – whilst coping with demanding professional, community and personal pressures. In response to these issues, extensive consultation was undertaken with leaders of Indigenous community-based organisations funded by the Department of Human Services. The consultations revealed the following training and development needs: cultural planning, organisational development, management skills enhancement and career development. As a result, Managing Well developed a range of services to meet the stated training needs of Indigenous and non-Indigenous managers.


Gursansky D & Feist H (2005) West Adelaide: a place to call home. Final report of the West Adelaide elder friendly communities project, School of Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia. (PDF 1.22 MB)

Kerr L, Savelsberg H, Sparrow S & Tedmanson D (2001) Experiences and perceptions of volunteering in Indigenous and non-English-speaking background communities, Social Policy Research Group, University of South Australia, Magill. (PDF 452 kb)


Goddard J (2006) 'Third sector in partnership arrangements: navigating new waters or treading water?' ANZ Third Sector Review Conference, Adelaide, 26-28 November.

Cameron H & Clark A (2006) 'Local government, partnerships and public participation – uncharted territory?' Governments & Communities in Partnership: From Theory to Practice, Centre for Public Policy, University of Melbourne, 25–27 September.

Carson E & Kerr L (2006) 'Evaluating government–third sector partnerships in Australia' in M Considine (ed), Governments and communities in partnership, Conference Proceedings, University of Melbourne, 25–27 September.

Carson E & Kerr L (2006) 'The looming workforce crisis in the community services sector' in M Hannan (ed), The constraints to full employment, Conference Proceedings, Centre of Full Employment and Equity, University of Newcastle.

Areas of study and research

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