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Policy Essay

4318 words - 18 pages

Policy Brief
Families are often faced with a range of different, complex health and psychosocial problems. Place-based approaches aim to address these complex problems by focusing on the social and physical environment of a community and on better integrated and more accessible service systems, rather than focusing principally on the problems faced by individuals. A place-based approach targets an entire community and aims to address issues that exist at the neighbourhood level, such as poor housing, social isolation, poor or fragmented service provision that leads to gaps or duplication of effort, and limited economic opportunities. By using a community engagement approach to address ...view middle of the document...

Governments also seek to integrate services so as to improve access and thereby improve outcomes. However, while integrating services is important, it is also important to build more supportive communities. This will ensure that parents of young children have stronger social support and the interface between communities and services is improved so that service systems can be more responsive to community needs18. Both integrating services and building more supportive communities are best done through a place-based approach.

Why is this issue important?
Over the past few decades, the world has witnessed significant and rapid change. These changes have been so fast and so far-reaching, they have had a dramatic impact on the physical wellbeing of the planet in the form of climate change1,2,3,4 as well as on the physical and psychological wellbeing of societies in the form of social climate change5. We can see the evidence of social climate change in the rapid changes that have occurred for communities, families and children. These include: • people’s sense of community has become less tied to locality, as seen in the emergence of online communities • our social relationships have taken on new forms • the structure of the family has changed (e.g. smaller families) • Australia has greater cultural and ethnic diversity • the circumstances in which families are raising young children have changed, for example, more parents work longer hours6,7,8,9,10,11.

Policy Brief 23 > 2011: Place-based approaches

What does the research tell us?
Rationale for place-based approaches
The rationale for adopting place-based approaches is based on various factors: Place shapes people’s wellbeing. Both social and physical environments influence health and wellbeing. Children’s daily experience of living and learning in the environment around them is a significant factor in their overall wellbeing6-8,19-23. Feeling connected and having social networks matters for people’s wellbeing. Children’s welfare and family functioning are crucially dependent upon the social support available within local communities24, and social isolation is a risk factor for both child development and family functioning24-27. Some communities are trapped by locational disadvantage28-32. Despite Australia’s recent strong economic growth, some communities remain caught in a spiral of disadvantage such as low school attainment, high unemployment, poor health, high imprisonment rates and child abuse31. When social disadvantage becomes entrenched in a particular locality, a disabling social environment can develop, leading to intergenerational disadvantage. The economic collapse of certain localities30,33,34. Neighbourhoods that were reliant on the old economy have been devastated by globalisation, economic rationalism, restructuring and closure of manufacturing industries. Some of these neighbourhoods have become almost entirely dependent on welfare...

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