Updated post on bottom-up community development

My blog has been going for over seven years so I’ve started updating some of my older posts. Today I’ve updated a post I originally wrote in 2014 about bottom-up community development. It starts with a quote I love from Melinda Jurd, one of my students in an online elective about community engagement:

You cannot waltz into a community and fix the world…. no matter how well you can dance

You can read the full post at https://sustainingcommunity.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/bottom-up/

Posted in Families & parenting | 2 Comments

Current projects (March 2018)

This year is shaping up to be an interesting year. The following are some of the major projects I’m involved in.

Best practice and trends in family counselling and mediation services in NSW:  A collaborative case study of Uniting

I’m the project manager (with Tamara Blakemore from Social Work as the Chief Investigator) on this major research project exploring three primary research questions:

  1. What does the existing evidence base identify as principles for best practice in terms of family counselling and mediation services?
  2. How do Uniting’s family counselling and mediation services achieve positive outcomes for their clients?
  3. How can family counselling and mediation services measure the impact/outcomes of their services?

The research focuses on Uniting family and counselling and mediation services in Central Sydney, Nowra, Wollongong, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Penrith, Parramatta, Gosford and Newcastle and includes a number of stages: Continue reading

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Strengths-based practice: more than being positive

(Photo: Pixabay)

In strengths-based and asset-based approaches to family and community work we focus on strengths, aspirations and potential rather than problems, needs and deficits by, amongst other things:

  • Consciously looking for the strengths and potential of the people, families and communities we work with
  • Adopting a positive, optimistic outlook (focusing on the “half-full part of the glass”)
  • Avoiding the role of the “expert”

This does NOT mean looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses and ignoring problems, needs and deficits.

In a recent Alternatives to Violence Project workshop, which had a large focus on parenting, at the end of the first (of two) days, one of the fathers said:

This workshop is making me realise I’m a better father than some people say I am!

At face value this seems to be a great outcome. But even though we want to increase parents’ confidence, there is a potential dark side to this statement. What if he was an abusive parent and there were significant grounds for being concerned about his parenting? What if it was allowing him to deny the need for change?  There are real risks involved in accepting this statement without question and not exploring it further. Continue reading

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Updated post on complex problems

I just completed a major update on my post “What are complex problems?” You can find it at https://sustainingcommunity.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/complex-problems

Posted in Families & parenting | 2 Comments

Reflections on community development vs community work

People in small groups having conversationsI’ve recently been thinking about the difference between community development and community work, and the importance of being clear about which is appropriate for a given context. These are fairly initial thoughts so I’d welcome any feedback or comments.

In thinking about family work, social work and other human service fields, it can be useful to think of a number of broad fields of practice including:

  1. Casework and case management
  2. Group work
  3. Community work
  4. Social policy and administration
  5. Research
  6. Social action

Each of these fields of practice have different approaches, emphasise different practice skills, and have different priorities. Each of them are important and have their role. Like the other fields of practice, community work covers a very broad area and can include community engagement, health promotion, community organising, community housing, community education, and community development—to name a few.

One of the defining characteristics of community work is that the focus is on the collective rather than the individual [1, 2]. The emphasis is on strategies that make a difference at a community level and that help build the capacity of communities to address specific issues or to build community capacity and wellbeing. Continue reading

Posted in Working with communities | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Hints for new course coordinators at Uni

Online teachingIt’s my first day back at Uni today and I’m speaking to some new course coordinators. There some notes about what I cover at https://sustainingcommunity.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/course-coordination/

It’s fairly specific to the University of Newcastle, but it might be helpful to others as well.

Posted in Being an academic | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Complete list of 2017 posts

(Created with Wordle)

This is a complete list of the posts I published in 2017 with the number of views they received in 2017. I thought I would share it as some of you might be interested in seeing the number of views I receive for individual posts. As you can see, there are quite a few posts that don’t receive many views—while it is nice that people read the blog, I don’t just blog to receive views.

I try not to concentrate on posts that will generate lots of views and I also don’t want to play the game of visiting other people’s blogs and commenting just to drive people to the blog. Continue reading

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Some blog stats for 2017 (Transparency report)

Total monthly blog views (2011-2017)

Last year I started regular transparency reports to share some stats on my blog in case anyone is interested. Even though I don’t generate any income from the blog, I think it is worth sharing how the blog is going and what types of posts are of most interest.

When I started blogging I had little idea how my blog compared to others and even now I don’t really know. While blogging isn’t all about how many views are received, it is still important.

I have a free WordPress blog (with the “no ads” upgrade) which works well for me, so the following are based on the stats available through WordPress. Continue reading

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Special days and dates for the environment – 2018

(Photo: Pixabay)

Here are some significant international and national days/weeks for 2018 that focus on environmental issues.  I’ve also created a list of days and dates focusing on families and communities. Please let me know if I have missed any important ones. (Days marked with * are mainly for Australia.)

Please note that some of the websites are not updated for 2018 yet.


World Wetlands Day – Friday, 2 February 2018

Business Clean Up Day – Tuesday, 27 February 2018 *

International Polar Bear Day – Tuesday, 27 February 2018 Continue reading

Posted in Environmental sustainability, Social change | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Special days and dates for families and communities – 2018

(Photo: Eddie O’Reilly)

There are many international and national days/weeks that focus on issues facing families and communities. The following are some of the more significant ones in 2018. Please let me know if I have missed any important ones. (While most of them are international, days marked with * are mainly for Australia.)

I have also created a list of days and dates for the environment.

Please note that some of the websites are not updated for 2018 yet.


International Holocaust Remembrance Day –  Saturday, 27 January 2018


World Day of Social Justice –  Tuesday, 20 February 2018

International Mother Language Day –  Wednesday, 21 February 2018 Continue reading

Posted in Families & parenting, Social change, Working with communities | Tagged , , | 2 Comments