The key purpose of community development work is collectively to bring about social change and justice, by working with communities to:
identify their needs, opportunities, rights and responsibilities
plan, organise and take action
evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the action
‘Communities’ can be defined geographically and/or by interest.
Community development starts from the premise that within any community there is a wealth of knowledge and experience and this can be channelled into collective action to achieve the communities’ desired goals.
Community development work seeks to engage communities actively in making sense of the issues which affect their lives, setting goals for improvement and taking action through participative processes. A good deal of the work is project-based, which means that community development workers usually have a specific geographical community or social issue they focus on.
Tasks typically involve:
identifying community issues, needs and assets;
developing community-based program and providing leadership and coordination;
advocating or enlisting the cooperation of government bodies, and community organisations;
helping to raise public awareness on issues relevant to the community;
acting as facilitator to promote self-help in the community;
networking to build contacts;
liaising with interested groups and individuals to set up new services;
planning, attending and coordinating meetings and events;
encouraging participation in activities;
collecting, coordinating and disseminating information