What is community?
Our community : changing attitudes, empowering communities
Peter Stuart Anderson
http://www.psawa.com
19/02/2011
Part 1 looks at communities and how they fulfil
particular needs in society.
•What is society?
•What is community?
•Characteristics of a community.
•Communities have rights and responsibilities.
•Characteristics of dysfunctional communities.
•Part 2 looks at the roles of the human services in
supporting disadvantaged people in society.
•Damage control
•Crisis point
•The primary (valued) roles of a service
•Types of services
•The community of the service provider
•Building better communities
Peter Stuart Anderson
Part 1
Communities and how they
fulfil particular needs in society.
•What is society?
•What is community?
•Characteristics of a community.
•Communities have rights and responsibilities.
•Characteristics of dysfunctional communities.
What is society?
“A society or a human society is (1) a group of people related to each other
through persistent relations. (2) A large social grouping that shares the same
geographical territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant
cultural expectations.
The term society came from the Latin word societas, which in turn was derived
from the noun socius ("comrade, friend, ally"; adjectival form socialis) thus used
to describe a bond or interaction among parties that are friendly, or at least civil.
Human societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations)
between individuals sharing a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society
may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent
members. Without an article, the term refers either to the entirety of humanity or
a contextually specific subset of people. In social sciences, a society invariably
entails social stratification and/or dominance hierarchy.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society )
The expressions "society", "social" and "community" have often been used
to mean the same things. A social group describes the common
characteristics of a group, but not the personal relationships within the
group. A community group is the shared interests, networks and
relationships we have with each other within society. While a person can
move from one community to another easily according to his/her needs at a
particular time, it is more difficult to move from one society to another. As a
result we see lots of communities that are a part of the same social group.
If someone wants to build a nuclear reactor in a suburb, I would be more
inclined to protest if it was planned to be built in my suburb. If the nuclear
reactor became a social issue, there would be a great deal of discussion
about the project.
Societies are more than a bunch of people stuck together in the same space
and time. They are organised into groups that have various functions within
society. These functions are organised into various roles that fit together like
a clock or a play.
These groups can be described in any number of ways according to the
relationship of a group with other groups in society. They provide a way to
understand our relationships with each other and the others around us:
... Society: probably the most inclusive or generalised
... Community: defines our relationships within society
... Clubs: defines our relationships within the community
... Teams: defines our relationships within clubs
... Groups: defines our relationships within teams
(These groups can be reorganised any way according to the perspective of
the user)
What is community?
A Community is a place where people come together to share
common interests and resources.
The origin of “community” is from the Latin word …
"The word "community" is derived from the Old French communité
which is derived from the Latin communitas (cum, "with/together" +
munus, "gift"), a broad term for fellowship or organized society."
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community)
"Community: The origin of the word "community" comes from the Latin
munus, which means the gift, and cum, which means together, among
each other. So community literally means to give among each other."
(http://www.seek2know.net/word.html)
Simply put, society could be best described as the way we do things,
and, community is who we do those things with.
A community is not “My Community”.
It is “Our Community”.
Communities are as varied and individual as its members.
Often people belong to two or more communities.
Family, education, business, work, sport, religion, culture all involve
communities that we take for granted as a normal part of our lives.
They seem to be a part of the background. It’s only when things are
not going the way that we want, that we take any notice of them.
Most people think of communities as a place or setting,
or a suburb or city that they live in. Communities are
much more that that. They are the very essence of
how we live and socialise with others. We have our
own personal communities, the communities that we
are a part of and the communities that we associate
with.
Communities are the building blocks that allow us to
make sense of the world in which we live, participate
and share experiences. They provide a sense of
identity and purpose, a sense of being a part of and
belonging.
Communities are about caring and sharing.
The idea of "community" probably came about where people
gathered around a common area for their mutual benefit. Sharing a
language, customs, ideas, skills, goods and services, or protection
from enemies would be some of the advantages in being a part of a
group.
Over the years the idea of community has changed to accommodate
different things. While different definitions mean different things, the
idea is the same; that a group comes together or lives together to
share something that is of value to the members of that community.
Today, the word "community" has taken on whole new meanings.
New technology in communication and transportation mean that a
community is no longer where we live.
While we may live in a suburb, town, city or some geographical
location, they no longer define the communities that we are a part of.
Communities have also become so specialised these days that we
no longer look for one community to fulfil our needs.
Different communities fulfil different needs:
•
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•
•
•
•
•
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The spiritual community
The family community
The living community
The recreational community
The learning community
The employment community
The health community
The internet community
It could be argued that the more communities that a person participates in,
the richer and more diverse the persons life will be.
•Each community has a particular role that fulfils a
particular need.
•Valued community roles provide a common cause
or focus for the community, as well as other
communities that are a part of it.
•Valued communities provide valued roles for their
members.
Characteristics of a community
1 Communities have various roles / goals
Each community has a particular role that fulfils a particular need.
The role of the community provides the members with a sense of belonging
and purpose. Community roles can be active in providing a service,
supportive, where the members support the activities of another
community, or a mixture where the members share experiences,
resources, skills and knowledge with each other. Communities can be
recreational, and provide a social role in enabling its members to
participate in various activities, or provide an educational role in
providing its members with knowledge, skills and resources, or fulfil any
other role that is valued in society as well as other communities that it is
a part of.
Valued community roles provide a common cause or focus for the
community. The members develop a sense of pride and purpose in being
a part of the community that bond and strengthen the community. The
role is valued in a sense that it brings something to the wider community
that it is a part of, as well as the members of the community. Valued roles
are also about community leadership that is in touch with the community
and can create a feeling of importance within the members.
2 Institutions …
Define the way we interact with each other within the community.
They are determined by the formal and informal cultures and values
of the society in which the community participates, and provide order
and stability within the community..
Social role valorisation provides valued roles for ALL members of the
community.
In doing this, a positive environment is created where all members
have valued roles in supporting each other as a group.
Characteristics of an institution
1) Culture:
"The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution,
organization or group"
The culture of the institution is the way the institution is organised. This is generally
determined by its role in society. For example, while the institutions of a hospital, nursing
home or prison are simular, the culture of each is quite different.
2) Values:
Institutional values (or social values) are different to our personal values in that they allow
the members to function within the institution.
3) Hierarchy:
Institutions are all about a means of coordination and cooperation. The hierarchy defines
the agenda and purpose, and the way things get done.
4) Roles:
Leadership is probably the most important role, and provides the identity and purpose
within the institution. Other roles are determined by the hierarchy and the members in
fulfilling the agenda and purpose of the institution.
5) Expectations:
The members are expected to fulfil their assigned role within the institution.
6) Behaviours:
The way the members treat each other or interact with each other is determined by the
culture, values, hierarchy, roles and expectations of the members within the institution.
3 Boundaries ...
All communities need a way to determine what the community does and how it
does it. Boundaries can be physical, virtual or psychological. They define the
identity of the community. Without boundaries, the roles of the community
become meaningless. Does a sporting community focus on transportation or
scientific research? While transportation or scientific research may be a part of
the community, they are not a part of the role of the community in society.
Without boundaries the community may ...
... become unfocused,
... become too diversified and uncoordinated,
... not adequately provide for its own needs, or the needs of its members,
... create tensions within communities that it is a part of, or a part of it,
... create layers of bureaucracy that become communities in their own right,
Boundaries are often defined by the ...
... the institutions of the community
... the members of the community
... the settings (physical, virtual or psychological)
... government (local state and federal) policy and practice
... other communities that it is are a part of, or are a part of it
4 Members ...
Communities are about caring and sharing. All members share a common cause and
have a sense of identity. A sense of belonging is created where the members are
connected to, and interact with each other.
Just as the members of the community have ownership of their lives and property, the
community has ownership of its members and property through the various mechanisms
put in place by the community.
The community has ownership of its members through:
... May involve some formal / informal induction or rite of passage
... Commitment: Members have a sense of obligation towards the community.
... Loyalty: Members give up a certain amount personal autonomy for the greater
good.
... Respect: Members have respect for each other.
... Responsibility: Members take on responsibilities (and feel responsible for others)
within the community.
... Safety and security: Members feel that they can call on other members in times of
need or when threatened.
... Resources: Community resources are owned by the community on behalf of its
members. Personal resources are sometimes shared between the members.
... All members have the opportunity to participate in the activities of the community.
Social role valorisation provides valued roles for ALL members of the community.
5 Communication ...
The community needs to be able to communicate with its members in order
to achieve its goals.
The members communicate with each other to share thoughts, feelings,
experiences, skills and knowledge. Clear thinking and expression of
thoughts is essential to effective communication.
The community also needs to communicate with others outside the
community. To function effectively as a community, the community needs to
be able to respond to events that are outside the community and have an
impact on the community.
“Communication is the process of exchanging information, beliefs and
feelings among people; it may be oral, written, or nonverbal. Information
may travel up, down, or horizontally.”
(Wynn, R., and Guditus, C.W. (1984, p.72) Team Management: Leadership by Consensus.)
6 The skills and resources of the
community provide for the needs of its
members …
A community needs a set of skills and resources in order to achieve it's goals.
They provide an available source of wealth that can be drawn upon when needed.
If the community does not have the skills and resources to look after the needs of
its members, those skills and resources need to come from somewhere else.
Shows the relationship between the skills and resources of the community, and
the amount of support that can be provided within the community.
7 Needs …
Balance the needs of the community with the needs of its members.
Community Leadership …
... Understanding the changing internal and external environments and
how they relate to the community
... Involving all members
... Effective communication between all members
... Understanding what members need
... Aware of relevant research and the evidence base for practice
... Data gathering, analysis and reporting mechanisms
... Informed decision making processes
... Coordinating internal and external services
8 Teams groups …
Teams and groups are an important part of any community in
providing for the needs of its members.
Communities have rights and
responsibilities
Rights:
... the right to its own identity
... the right to set its own agenda, constitution and institutions
... the right to participate within the wider community
... the right to access skills and resources within the wider community
... the right to support its members within the wider community
... the right to protect its members from influences that disadvantage its
members
... the right to refuse entry to members that do not fit into the community
... the right to evict members that do not accept the agenda, constitution
and institutions of the community
... the right to refuse skills and resources to the wider community, where
its members are disadvantaged
... the right to determine its own destiny
Responsibilities:
... to ensure the agenda, constitution and institutions of the community, protect
and support its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to provide a safe, secure environment for its members, as well as other
communities and their members
... to facilitate the development of valued roles and relationships for the
community, its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to ensure that the community communicates with its members as well as
other communities and their members
... to ensure the community does not disadvantage other communities or their
members
... to responsibility use, and share, skills and resources to the advantage of its
members, as well as other communities and their members
... to respect, protect and promote the rights, cultures and institutions of other
communities and their members
... to engage with other communities in an interdependent relationship
Characteristics of
dysfunctional communities
… do not have clearly defined roles/goals
… do not have shared beliefs, values, cultures (institutions)
… do not have clearly defined boundaries
… do not have ownership of their members
… do not provide valued roles for their members
… do not communicate effectively with their members
… do not have skills/resources that they can depend on
… do not balance their own needs
… do not share and draw on skills / resources where needed
… do not have clearly defined roles/goals
Are the roles/goals of the community clearly defined?
Are the roles/goals of the community appropriate to the
community?
Are there conflicting roles/goals between the members?
Are the roles/goals of the community shared between all
members?
What mechanisms are in place to affirm those roles/goals?
How do the roles/goals impact on other communities that are a
part of it, or it is a part of?
… do not have shared beliefs, values, cultures (institutions)
Are the beliefs, values, cultures clearly defined?
Are the beliefs, values, cultures appropriate to the community?
Are there conflicting beliefs, values, cultures between the
members?
Are the beliefs, values, cultures of the community shared
between all members?
What mechanisms are in place to affirm those beliefs, values,
cultures?
How do others outside the community value the shared beliefs,
values, cultures etc of the community?
… do not have clearly defined boundaries
Are the boundaries clearly defined?
Are the boundaries appropriate to the community?
Are the boundaries of the community shared between all
members?
What mechanisms are in place to affirm those boundaries?
How do the boundaries impact on other communities that are a
part of it, or it is a part of?
… do not have ownership of their members
Do all members of the community feel a part of the community?
Do all members have the opportunity to participate?
How do the members interact with each other?
What, if any, sub groups are in the community, and how do these
sub groups interact with each other?
What key characteristics bond the members within the
community?
How do others outside the community, perceive the community?
… do not provide valued roles for their members
What are the roles of the members?
Are these roles clearly defined?
What mechanisms are in place to affirm those roles?
Are these roles adequate, appropriate and realistic?
How do the members perceive and fulfil these roles?
Are these roles valued by all members?
How does the community, as a community, value these roles?
What are the expectations of the community, in the members in
fulfilling these roles?
How do others outside the community perceive these roles?
How do others outside the community value these roles?
What are the expectations of others outside the community, in
the community fulfilling these roles?
… do not communicate effectively with their members
How does the community communicate with its members?
How is this communication responded to by its members?
What mechanisms are in place, so that all members are
communicated to?
Is there an effective formal / informal structure of accountability?
Are these mechanisms effectively communicating to all
members?
How does the community communicate with others outside the
community?
… do not have skills/resources that they can depend on
What skills/resources does the community have?
Are these skills/resources adequate for the community?
How does the community use the skills/resources?
Is the community using its own skills/resources effectively?
How do others outside the community see the skills/resources
being used within the community?
… do not balance their own needs
How does the community identify its own needs?
How does the community identify the needs of its members?
Are the needs adequate, appropriate and realistic?
What mechanisms are in place to fulfil those needs?
Are these mechanisms adequate, appropriate and realistic in
fulfilling those needs?
Are these needs being met within the expectations of its
members?
How does the community identify and respond to events that are
outside the scope of the community, and impact on the ability of
the community to balance its own deeds?
Are the needs of the community being met within the
expectations of others outside of the community?
… do not share and draw on skills / resources where needed
How does the community identify skills / resources that are
unique to the community?
How does the community identify skills / resources that are not
within the scope of the community?
What mechanisms are in place to share skills / resources with
other communities?
Part 2
The roles of the human services
in supporting disadvantaged
people in society
•Damage control
•Crisis point
•The primary (valued) roles of a service
•Types of services
•The community of the service provider
•Building better communities
Damage control:
Generally, the human services are lurching from one crisis to the next.
•Disability services
•Health care
•Justice system
•Education
•Aged care
•Indigenous services
•Rehabilitation services
•Refuge services (homeless, poor, destitute, refugees etc)
•Etc
All suffer from the same problem …
•the growing economy
•growing population
•the existing resources are being stretched to the max
•a smaller work force to draw on
•higher cost for goods and services
•increasing population pressures on existing services
"The Western Australian population will increase by about 22 per cent to more
than 2.55 million people between 2008 and 2023 with most increase in the over 65
age group.
The total number of person's who identify themselves as having a disability will
increase by about 38 per cent to around 632,600 by 2023.“
(DSC : Disability Future Directions, 03/2010 : P.37)
“Most Australians living in poverty are in jobless households. NATSEM research
has found that 4 out of 5 of Australian households in the lowest 20% of earnings
were jobless. 860 000 Australian children are growing up in jobless families. A
Senate Committee also found that 1 million Australians live in ‘working poor’
households.”
(WACOSS - General Facts About Poverty in WA, Anti Poverty Week 2008)
Crisis point …
We talk about the new generation and what they may do with their
inheritance.
... What will families be like in the future?
... How will they look after the needs of you and me in 30 or 40 years time?
... Will communities have the knowledge, skills and resources to look after
our needs?
... What will be the role of a community in supporting people with high
support needs?
... What will be the role of Gov. policy and practice in supporting people with
high support needs?
... What will the current service organisations (ACTIV, TCCP etc.) be like in
30 or 40 years time?
... Will we depend on these organisations in the future?
Is this the future of services that support
disadvantaged people in the community?
A person or group may be disadvantaged in that there is no service (skills or resources)
that supports their needs.
In remote areas where there are no services,
or where they do not fit the criteria of a service,
or where a service does not have the skills and resources,
they have to rely on their own networks and support mechanisms or others in the
community for support.
If the person or group does not have any support:
•may become isolated
•may become a burden on their own community
•may be placed in other services that are not appropriate to their needs
•may be grouped together
•may be labelled with the same characteristics
•may have their rights taken away from them
•may be seen as a minority group and therefore may be treated as a minority group
•may be denied the good things in life that are available to others in the community
A lack of skills and resources in the community also means that the person may be seen
as:
•a sick person : the person is treated differently to others
•a nuisance : takes up resources that are needed elsewhere
•a troublemaker : is always trying to stand up for their basic rights
•an object of pity : the person can not look after themselves
•subhuman or retarded : is not capable of making their own decisions
The primary (valued) roles of a service …
The human services have evolved according to a set of standards
and principles designed to support disadvantaged people in
society.
… to provide for its own needs in supporting a person or group of
people in society.
… to actively promote the needs of disadvantaged people through
the principles of normalisation, social integration, empowerment
and social role valorisation in society.
… to actively support, through direct intervention (accommodation,
recreation, education or employment), disadvantaged people in
society.
… to support other communities (family, living, employment,
recreation etc) in providing for the needs of their members.
The service provides valued roles for its members (SRV) …
•The clients
•The volunteers
•The staff
The higher the profile of the service, the higher the
expectations of the wider community in the service in fulfilling
its roles.
By fulfilling an active role, the service takes on a certain amount of
ownership (in providing for the needs of disadvantaged people), and
as a consequence, the community sees its role as a passive and
supportive.
The community has not had an opportunity to develop the necessary
skills and resources for an active role, and as a result a codependent relationship is unintentionally created between …
disadvantaged people <> service <> community
By providing a supportive role that supports the community, the
community has the opportunity to develop the necessary skills and
resources for an active role in providing for the needs of its
members…
disadvantaged people <> community <> service.
Types of services:
Four broad types of service models that support people with high support
needs could be described as:
... Full integration : The person is a part of and supported within each
community (active role). The service provider supports the community,
where the community has the skills and resources in providing direct
intervention (takes ownership).
... Partial integration : The person is supported by a service (active
role) in participating within each community (supportive role) that is most
suitable for his/her needs.
... Enclaves : The person is supported by a service community within
the wider community.
... Segregated (isolated) : People that may have a condition or
characteristic that needs full time intensive care, or may be a harm to
themselves or others in the wider community are generally isolated from
the rest of the community.
Where disadvantaged people (aged, severe
disability, intellectual or medical condition, poor
and homeless, offenders etc) can not be
supported within the community that they wish to
participate in, new communities are created that
can provide for their needs.
We see organisations and services creating
communities such as nursing homes, enclaves
and other communities that have the skills and
resources to look after their needs.
The community of the service provider
A service may have the same role in society as a tour operator that provides
holidays to other places.
You are dependent on your guide and the service provider for your needs.
You are given an itinerary of the places you are going to visit, a list of the
places you are going to stay and the times you are expected to be at each
place. Your guide makes sure you are where you are supposed to be, and is
responsible for your welfare. Your every move is recorded, you are restricted
in what you can and can't do. You are dependent on the service provider for
your accommodation, meals, recreation, transport etc. You are living with,
and sharing the same experiences with the same people. Your individual
needs are less important than the needs of the group. You stay at the best
hotels, eat the best food, travel in the best style and participate in local
activities that are co-ordinated by the service provider. You may meet some
of the locals who treat you with dignity and respect. You may develop some
valued networks and relationships, however the fact remains that your life is
supervised and you have little choice in what you can and can't do. You are
still a part of the community of the service provider.
Shows the relationship between the skills and resources of the community,
and the amount of support that can be provided within the community.
Institutional (Social) care …
Care that is provided to all members of society by a service, organisation or
institution that is not available within a community. A service, organisation or
institution may also be a community in its own right.
Community care …
Care that is provided within a community (spiritual, family, living, recreational,
educational, employment etc) that has the skills and resources to look after
the needs of its members.
Building better communities
Rather than building new communities around
disadvantaged people, we should be building existing
communities that have the skills, resources and valued
roles, where disadvantaged people are a part of their
community.
The human services need to build better communities that
actively support disadvantaged people.
Communities that …
… have clearly defined roles / goals
… have shared beliefs, values, cultures (institutions)
… have clearly defined boundaries
… have ownership of their members
… provide valued roles for their members
… communicate effectively with their members
… depend on their own skills/resources
… balance their own needs
… share and draw on skills/resources where needed
A community that supports itself is an empowered community.
An empowered community has the ability to effectively respond
to the needs of its members.
This is NOT ...
... a sense of independence or dependence on other communities that it
is a part of, or are a part of it - communities complement each other and
need to work together in fulfilling the needs of their members.
... dictating to community members what they should or should not be
doing - there needs to be a sense of shared ownership and
responsibility within the community.
... dictating to other communities what they should or should not be
doing - there needs to be a sense of shared ownership and
responsibility within society.
... using skills and resources to the detriment of other communities skills and resources don't get used responsibly or effectively.
... growing or expanding - is not an end, but a means to an end.
When providing the most appropriate care for people with high support needs ...
1) The community is not where the person is living, but where the person
participates, shares experiences and has valued relationships with others.
2) People with high support needs (severe disability, aged etc.) will always need
support structures as a part of their lives.
3) The amount of participation in a community (living, education, employment or
recreation) is directly related to the skills and resources of the person, and, the skills
and resources of the community that the person wishes to participate in.
4) Institutions are going to be around in one form or another whether we like it or not,
It is the way that they are used that is the problem.
5) The institutions of a society towards a particular group determine the way the
group participates in society.
6) The institutions of a particular government department, organisation, profession or
service define the way the person is supported within that society.
7) Facilities that support people with high support needs do not need to be the
nursing homes or prisons in the sense that they are today, but can become warm
inviting community places that offer a range of services to the community, as well as
be a part of the wider community within that society.
8) People with high support needs are a minority group in our society, and will have
the same problems as other minority groups in being a part of society.
Building better communities is more about building better
members that are responsive to the needs of the community.
Communities that:
•Are motivated.
•Have a clear, positive outcome: outcomes that are clear, attainable,
and worthwhile to all members.
•Have committed members: all members feel a part of the process.
•Have effective communication: all members communicate to, and
respect each other.
•Have coordination of activity: all members have clear valued roles.
are more likely to succeed.
Don't underestimate what the community is capable of doing,
if it wants to.
Communities that have valued roles in society …
•The spiritual community
•The family community
•The living community
•The recreational community
•The learning community
•The employment community
•The health community
•The internet community
•The blind community
•The disability community
•etc
The values of community start in the home where children have
valued roles in supporting others at school, sport or any other
community that they participate in.
Communities that have de-valued roles in society …
•The AIDS community
•The drugs / rave communities
•The criminal community
•The gay / lesbian communities
•The Muslim community
•The bikie community
•The street community
•The unemployment / homeless communities
•The aged community
•The single parent community
•etc
Thank you