Achieving Structural Change: a guide for community workers in building cohesive communities

Babacan, Hurriyet, Gopalkrishnan, Narayan, and Trad-Padhee, Jamila (2007) Achieving Structural Change: a guide for community workers in building cohesive communities. Report. University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, QLD, Australia.

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Queensland society, like many others across the world, is experiencing immense social change. These changes are at many levels including political, social, cultural and economic change and society is increasingly more diverse and complex. We are more enmeshed in global networks through trade, migration, diplomacy and travel. Societal institutions are challenged by these quick changes, and the challenge is for societies to adapt quickly and effectively to them.

While these social processes have created opportunities for some, it has caused disadvantage for others. The four key areas where disadvantage is experienced are:

• Lack of power over resources. • Lack of power over decision-making. • Lack of power over relationships. • Lack of lack of power over information.

There are many factors that cause disadvantage. One that is often overlooked is social exclusion, which may be a result of barriers of culture, ethnicity, race, language and religion.

Queensland is a diverse state with, at the time of the 2006 Census, 17.9% of Queenslanders being born overseas. (ABS 2006). Furthermore, one in three people had at least one parent born overseas. The key languages spoken at home were Mandarin, Italian, Cantonese, Vietnamese and German.

While not all ethnic communities face the same levels of disadvantage or difficulties in settlement, there is a strong evidence base to indicate that some people from culturally diverse backgrounds, particularly refugees, face great disadvantage. Some of the areas in which culturally diverse communities have faced disadvantage include finding jobs (in the labour market), in housing, in communication, education and training, and in accessing services and experiences of racism (DIMIA 2003, Beer and Foley 2003, Jupp et al. 1991, Babacan and Gopalkrishnan 2005).

Overcoming disadvantage requires a sound understanding of conceptual and practical issues. It involves developing strategies that work. Workers and community leaders are often faced with very complex social problems, sometimes without much support or resources. They engage with their communities in different ways to bring about social change.

This guide is intended as a short road map about key concepts in addressing social disadvantage, and practice strategies that may be used to organize communities, advocate on social issues and to bring about institutional change (policy, program change and service delivery).

Section 1 of the guide (chapters 1- 11) covers the key conceptual issues, frameworks and ethical issues of human service work. Section 2 of the guide (chapters 12-18) focuses on methods of achieving structural change. Section 3 of the guide (chapters 19-29) focuses on practice issues.

We hope you will find the book helpful in your work.

Item ID: 17935
Item Type: Report (Report)
ISBN: 978-0-975191-32-3
Keywords: social change; community workers
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2013 06:39
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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