Brighton sits at global table for Community Development
by Brighton Council
In June Brighton Council’s newly appointed Manager, Community Development & Engagement, Angela Turvey and Community Development Officer, Brittany Szlezak attended the 2023 World Community Development Conference “From the Edge” on Larrakia country in Darwin. More than 300 delegates from all over the world reflected on the impact of colonisation on communities and the vital role we all play (not just community development practitioners) in leaning into the ancient wisdom of indigenous/First Nations peoples and using traditional or more authentic approaches to healing people and communities.
A key theme was recognising that culture is a powerful foundation for community development, shaping identities, values and social norms. It was about embracing cultural diversity and honouring traditional knowledge to drive positive change and transformation in communities.
Brittany presented her paper The Edge of One’s Tolerance celebrating and sharing her story of place-based community development in our Brighton local government area. It was a story that showed that with the right people, local government is about building relationships, trust and giving people a voice.
Here is some of what they heard in Darwin:
- The need to decolonise community development practices and make it about community first, true self-determination – “Nothing about us, without us”, which means bottom-up solutions not cookie-cutter approaches, theories and frameworks.
- Using human rights law to advocate for better standards of housing, access to food and healthcare. It is outrageous that a country like Australia needs food banks and has the current levels of homelessness. These are basic human rights.
- Local government should always be supporting what community wants and needs, not coming up with what we think is best for the community or has a public relations angle to it.
- Form enduring relationships, not fleeting relationships just to serve a purpose. Humanise local government by building these relationships. Listening and doing with, not doing to.
- Community development has the latest challenge of needing to include nature and environment as vital elements to community wellbeing.
Angela is new to community development at Brighton, but has 10 years experience working in local government and small regional communities plus an educational background in sociology, social research and human services. The conference was a great start to inspiring new ideas and approaches as Angela and the new Community Development Officer, Kylie, endeavour to continue Brittany’s legacy.