Engaging community with social research: using social research to develop and evaluate local government community engagement initiatives

Hickey, Andrew and Reynolds, Paul and McDonald, Lisa (2015) Engaging community with social research: using social research to develop and evaluate local government community engagement initiatives. Project Report. Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government , Sydney, NSW. [Report]

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Abstract

In 2011, a partnership between the Community Development and Facilities Branch of the Toowoomba Regional Council and Dr Andrew Hickey from the University of Southern Queensland commenced exploring the uses of social research in local government community development practice. The branch had identified a need for developing richer accounts of communities located within the Toowoomba region local government area, and although significant economic and demographic datasets were available via in-house and external providers, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing (2011, 2006) and Council’s own ‘Community Profile’ (2011) and ‘Community Atlas’ (2011) socio-demographic maps, the analyses of community drawn from these accounts could not provide Branch staff with a complete picture of the communities they were working with. Branch staff sought a sense of the qualitative aspects of living within community and set about attempting to identify the relational and affective nature of their communities. Through the gathering of accounts of the experience of community, Branch staff sought to refine and target program delivery in their community engagement initiatives. To this end, a partnership with Dr Andrew Hickey, a social researcher based at the University of Southern Queensland commenced, and set about identifying a skill set that community development practitioners in local government might draw on to effectively account for and record the relational and experiential aspects of community (Pretty 2002; Hickey 2012).

An outcome of this early partnership included the development of a set of practitioner focused research training resources initially trialled with Community Development and Facilities Branch staff of Toowoomba Regional Council through 2012. Further funding to develop these resources was needed however, and following the securing of an ACELG Partnership Grant, the project extended to commence development of a web-based professional development training package, The Social Research Toolkit, underpinned by a research agenda that sought to understand how local government practitioners (especially those in community engagement and development) might go about using social research within their day-to-day practice. With a project team including Dr Andrew Hickey (University of Southern Queensland), Mr Paul Reynolds (Toowoomba Regional Council) and Dr Lisa McDonald (University of Southern Queensland), the development of The Social Research Toolkit commenced and a field-based research project exploring the uses of qualitative social research in local government settings undertaken in sites across Australia.

This report details the key findings drawn from the Partnership Grant that supported this project and provides insight into the ways social research might come to be used in local government community engagement.


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Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-‐Non-­Commercial 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-­‐nc/4.0/.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2016 04:35
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2018 12:49
Fields of Research : 16 Studies in Human Society > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160509 Public Administration
12 Built Environment and Design > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120501 Community Planning
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200105 Organisational, Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200102 Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200299 Cultural Studies not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: B Economic Development > 91 Economic Framework > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910406 Technological and Organisational Innovation
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
B Economic Development > 91 Economic Framework > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910402 Management
C Society > 94 Law, Politics and Community Services > 9402 Government and Politics > 940201 Civics and Citizenship
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/28366

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