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Building strong local communities

Strong local communities depend on infrastructure and services such as adequate roads, telephone, health services and transport. They also need enthusiastic and motivated people, community organisations that work well, a long term ‘vision’ for the community and a strong focus on practical action to achieve the vision.

Commonly accepted keys to success are:

  • Having local people who are willing to ‘drive’ action
  • Developing ‘allies’ — people or organisations that can help
  • Using the existing assets of the community
  • Having a small visible success within six months
  • Having access to some resources
  • Celebrating successes.


An example of a community that is working together to build its strengths

— Mitchell

The Booringa Shire Council and local community groups worked together to develop and conduct a series of activities to revitalise the town, including:

  • a ‘Futuresearch’ workshop
  • the establishment of the Booringa Action Group
  • the employment of a community developer by the Council.

Mitchell has actively marketed itself as the ‘Gateway to the Outback’. The Shire Hall was redeveloped as the Great Artesian Spa — a major tourist facility. This went hand in hand with the expansion of the caravan park.

Workshops were held to generate ideas about activities that would attract businesses to Mitchell, as well as stimulating the development of innovative products such as bottled artesian water. Artwork was incorporated into the town’s streetscape, supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund.

These activities have not only improved the infrastructure and economy of the town, but the local effort has also built the networks, leadership and organisation of the community.

Extra resources

  • The Global Development Research Center has gathered a range of definitions and descriptions of building strong communities.
  • Research has suggested that communities that are successful in supporting healthy, sustainable community and economic development pay attention to seven types of capital: natural, cultural, human, social, political, financial and built. More details of the ‘Community Capitals Framework’ can be found at this site.
  • Michael Woolcock writes about ‘The Place of Social Capital in Understanding Social and Economic Outcomes (PDF 96.1KB)
  • The report Innovation in rural Queensland: Why some towns prosper while others languish identifies some characteristics that tend to differentiate more innovative towns from less innovative towns, and provides some key recommendations
  • Marvel at Mitchell’ is a travel article promoting Mitchell’s Great Artesian Spa.


Last reviewed
07 June 2011
Last updated
21 June 2011