With the completion of the 2000-2004 Strategy, Stronger Families Learning Exchange's (SFLEX) work has also come to an end. From July 2005 this site will no longer be updated but preserved as an archived part of the AIFS website which may not meet the latest accessibility standards. If you are unable to access content in this archive please contact us and we will endeavour to provide it in a format that you can use. Current information relating to working with families and disadvantaged communities can be found on the Child Family Community Australia information exchange.

Doing participatory action research in community projects


Case studies

Stronger Families Fund projects

Meet the Stronger Families Fund projects.
Stronger Families Learning Exchange Bulletin no.1 Autumn 2002: 10-15, and Online

In this article, a sample of projects which have been approved for funding from the Stronger Families Fund and are up and running provide answers to the following four questions about their project: The project setting; Why is the project needed? What are you trying to do in this project? and, How are you going about it? The projects are: Ashmont Community Resource Centre, Wagga Wagga; Enfield Child Development and Family Centre; Goodwood Connect; Creating Capable Communities; Building Strong and Healthy Families in Derby Jalaris Aboriginal Corporation; Families NOW - Beenleigh Families Information Centre; Strengthening Families in the Eastern Goldfields - Goldfields Men's Health.

Stronger Families Fund projects re-visited.
Stronger Families Learning Exchange Bulletin no.2 Spring - Summer 2002: 18-24, illus., and Online
http://www.aifs.g ov.au/sf/pubs/bull2/revisit.html

In the last edition of the Bulletin, a number of Stronger Families Fund projects spoke about their work. This article provides information on what they have been doing since then. All the projects were asked to respond to the following questions about their project: What has the project been doing since the report in the last Bulletin? Who is working on the project? What are your roles? What has been learned in the last six months that may be of interest and value to other developing projects? How has the community responded to the project so far? The projects are: Families NOW, Beenleigh by Marita Holt; Ashmont Community Resource Centre, Wagga Wagga by Rob Donald; Enfield Child Development and Family Centre by Leah de Zen; Goldfields Men's Health Project by Clair Read; and Goodwood Connect by Dennis Crispin.

Introducing new Stronger Families Fund projects.
Stronger Families Learning Exchange Bulletin no.2 Spring - Summer 2002: 14-17, map, illus., and Online
http://www.aifs.gov .au/sf/pubs/bull2/intro.html

In this section, readers are introduced to the following Stronger Families Fund projects which have recently commenced running: Strengthening Families in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands project by Doug Josif; Connecting Families Project by Leah Anderson; Illawarra Child and Family Community Development by Vivienne Cunningham-Smith; and Redland Community Centre Strengthening Families Project by Jill Tilson. All of the projects were asked the following questions, and this article provides their responses: Project setting. Why is it needed? What are you trying to do in this project? How are you going about it?

Introducing new Stronger Families Fund projects.
Stronger Families Learning Exchange Bulletin no.3 Winter 2003: 18-22, illus., and Online
http://www.ai fs.gov.au/sf/pubs/bull3/newprojects.html

This section of the Bulletin introduces readers to Stronger Families Fund projects, which have recently commenced. All projects were asked the same questions: The project setting; Why is the project needed? What are you trying to do in this project? How are you going about it? Who is working on it? How has the community responded to the project so far? What has been learned in the last six months that may be of interest and value to other developing projects. Responses are provided for: West Belconnen Good Beginnings Program, Canberra ACT; Young Families Support Service, Townsville, Qld; Community Connections: Chances for children, Waverley, Launceston, Tas; and FACET Family Outreach Project, Inala, Qld.

Stronger Families Fund projects update.
Stronger Families Learning Exchange Bulletin no.3 Winter 2003: 24-28, figure, illus., and Online
http://www.aifs.go v.au/sf/pubs/bull3/update.html

The previous issue of the Bulletin (Spring/ Summer 2002) introduced new projects to readers. This article updates their progress, and asks the following questions of them: What has the project been doing since the report in the last Bulletin? Who is working on the project? What are their roles? What has been learned in the last six months that may be of interest and value to other developing projects? How has the community responded so far? The projects covered are: Building Strong and Healthy Families in Derby, WA, by Jalaris Aboriginal Corporation; Connecting Families Project, Wagga Wagga, NSW, by Leah Anderson; and Redland Community Centre Inc, Qld, Strengthening Families Project, by Jill Tilson.

Anderson, L; Stern, G; Turner, C
The Stronger Families Fund: from vision to methodology to practice.
Stronger Families Learning Exchange Bulletin no.3 Winter 2003: 12-13, and Online
http://www.aifs.gov.au /sf/pubs/bull3/la.html

The Stronger Families Fund, which is one of the initiatives of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, provides the means for around 40 communities across Australia to improve the way they deliver services for families in their area. Support is provided through the Stronger Families Learning Exchange, which aims to help projects build structures that encourage good practice at the local level, and to collect and analyse information about early intervention and family and community strengthening. This paper was developed from a symposium presented at the 8th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference in February 2003, and in particular provides information on the Connecting Families project, one of the projects from the Stronger Families Fund.

Turner, C; Holt, M; Reid, T; de Zen, L
Stronger Families Fund longest running projects reflect on their progress.
Stronger Families Learning Exchange Bulletin no.3 Winter 2003: 29-30, and Online
http://www.ai fs.gov.au/sf/pubs/bull3/reflections.html

Families NOW, Ashmont Community Resource Centre and Enfield Early Learning Centre have each featured in the previous two issues of this publication. In this article, which is an edited version of the projects' reports, the role that action research has played is discussed, and the following questions are asked of each of the projects: What have the projects been doing since the report in the last Bulletin? How has the project incorporated action research into its work, and how is the project generally recording its processes and learnings? What has been learned in the last six months that may be of interest and value to other projects? The complete reports for the projects are available at: http://www.aifs.gov.au/sf/pubs/bull3/beenleigh.pdf (Families NOW); http://www.aifs.gov.au/sf/pubs/bull3/enfield.pdf (Einfeld Early Learning Service).

Other community projects

Abraham, S
Exploratory action research for manager development.
Toowong, Qld: Action Learning, Action Research and Process Management Association (ALARPM) Inc and Gibaran Action Research Management Institute, 1997, 172p

The purpose of the study described in this book was to: investigate the use of an action research method in the design and implementation of a management training and development program that addressed the needs of Indigenous community leaders; make a contribution to the action research literature in the area of designing and implementing management training and development programs for Indigenous community leaders; and generate hypotheses and suggestions for further studies relating to the use of an action research method in the design and implementation of management training and development programs for Indigenous community leaders. The trainees in this study were Aboriginal Board members of an Aboriginal community organisation (Port Lincoln Kuju CDEP Inc.), in Port Lincoln, South Australia.

Abraham, S
Board management training for Indigenous community leaders using action research: the Kuju CDEP experience.
Port Lincoln, SA: Port Lincoln Kuju CDEP Inc, 1994, 145p

This book contains a case study which describes in detail the processes that took place whilst a management training and development program was designed and implemented for Indigenous community leaders. It includes a description of the need for management training and development for Aboriginal people in Australia as a whole, and for Port Lincoln Kuju CDEP Inc. in Port Lincoln, South Australia. The book describes the detailed processes of the writer's observations during the action research cycles of planning, action, observation, reflection and evaluation. It also describes the evaluation of the Board members as a group after the management training and development program, and a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the evaluation data.

Beilharz, L
Building community: the shared action experience.
Bendigo, Vic: St Luke's Innovative Resources, 108p, CD, tables

Community capacity building is seen as a new way of enhancing communities to find their own solutions to the perceived difficulties they face in maintaining a healthy social environment. In this book that author documents 'Shared Action', a three year community development project, that aimed to promote the safety and well being of children in Long Gully, an inner suburb of the regional Victorian town, Bendigo. Shared Action worked with adults and groups in the community to mobilise resources and undertake community building activities. The process of capacity building is described and an approach that builds on the strengths inherent in a community to define their own goals is documented.

Brown, S; Johnson, K; Wyn, J
Minimising the health impacts of gambling: Horn of Africa community.
Australian Journal of Primary Health v.7 no.1 2001: 124-127, tables

This paper describes a project with women from the Horn of Africa who were concerned about the impacts of gambling on their community's health. It draws on a two-year action research study, which examined the health implications of gambling for women living in Melbourne's Western Metropolitan Region. Members of the Horn of Africa community designed ways of consulting with their communities and were trained and employed as co-researcbers and cultural consultants to the project. They then conducted focus groups, assisted in the data analysis and used the findings to develop and implement strategies, which were aimed at reducing the negative effects of gambling. Women were then trained and employed as peer educators. The project involved collaboration between women, community elders and mainstream support services. The community undertook management of the project and the women evaluated the project themselves. (Journal abstract)

Goo, E C
Self-development in order to improve community development: an evaluation of a personal empowerment pilot initiative in Far North Queensland Indigenous communities.
Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal v.27 no.3 May - Jun 2003: 11-16

Personal autonomy is potentially the most crucial measurement of empowerment for Indigenous people, the author says. In this context, she asks how participation, control and self care can be achieved. She discusses participatory action research, a method of transference of skills, knowledge and processes that was used in a family wellbeing empowerment program. The program was developed in 1993 and was piloted in Far North Queensland from 2001. Details about the program are presented, and outcomes are discussed.

Hecker, R
Participatory action research as a strategy for empowering Aboriginal health workers.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health v.21 no.7 Dec 1997: 784-788, tables

A participatory action research project was undertaken with Aboriginal health workers on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands in South Australia. The study examined the factors that affect the empowerment of Aboriginal health workers within the context of an Aboriginal-controlled primary health care service. This project was different from previous research conducted with Aboriginal health workers in remote areas for two reasons. First, it enabled them to participate actively as co-researchers in the study, and second, it brought about action and change during the research process. The three main factors preventing Aboriginal health workers from attaining a key role within the health service are the standard of training they receive, their low literacy and numeracy levels, and their lack of participation in decision making within the health service. Each of these factors is interrelated and all affect the Aboriginal health workers' ability to have more control and responsibility within the health service. (Journal abstract)

Kralik, D; Koch, T
Understanding the experience of living with chronic illness through a community based collaborative research program.
In: Aged and Community Services Australia National Conference 2002 (Speakers papers). South Melbourne, Vic: Aged and Community Services Australia, 2002, 8p, Online only (MS Word 42K)

Lennie, J; Hatcher, C; Morgan, W
Feminist discourses of (dis)empowerment in an action research project involving rural women and communication technologies.
Action Research v.1 no.1 Jul 2003: 57-80

This article uses feminist poststructuralist forms of discourse analysis and deconstruction to critically analyse the assumptions that were made about processes that would be empowering for rural women in the action research project Enhancing Rural Women's Access to Interactive Communication Technologies. The project aimed to explore the current and potential impacts of ICTs for women in rural Queensland in terms of personal, business and community development. It is argued that the analysis suggests that discourses of empowerment and disempowerment intersect and interpenetrate one another, and highlights some of the dangers and contradictions associated with feminist participatory action research.

Papadopoulos, C
The right research in the right way: is it possible? Lessons learned from undertaking sensitive research in a multicultural environment.
In: Expanding Our Horizons: Understanding the Complexities of Violence Against Women - International Conference, February 2002, University of Sydney - Conference papers. Kensington, NSW: Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, University of New South Wales, 2002, 14p, Online only (PDF 151K)

In this paper, the author uses a research project that was intended to gather perceptions of domestic / family violence in ethnic migrant communities living in metropolitan Victoria, as a vehicle for informing theory. She explains that this well-devised, ethics approved, social action research project did not succeed in getting implemented. The unresolved debate underpinning the decision to terminate the research poses questions to action research principles and methods, particularly in dealing with sensitive research such as domestic or family violence in the cross-cultural or migrant community context. The failures of the research project are explored, and lessons learned are detailed.

Tsey, K; Patterson, D; Whiteside, M; Baird, L; Baird, B
Indigenous men taking their rightful place in society: a preliminary analysis of a participatory action research process with Yarrabah men's health group.
Australian Journal of Rural Health v.10 no.6 Dec 2002: 278-284

Men's groups are increasingly being accepted as an important strategy in improving health and wellbeing, especially in Indigenous communities. However, it is hard to find systematic documentation and evaluation of such initiatives in the literature. This paper analyses the formative stages of a participatory action research (PAR) process which aims to engage and support the members of the Yarrabah Men's Health Group plan, implement and evaluate their activities. Data for the paper are based on a combination of a review of relevant literature, analysis of project documentation, participant observation and discussion and reflection with the participants of the men's group. The paper highlights the importance of (a) using a reflective approach, such as PAR, to engage men's support groups to clearly define the principles and values which both define them and to which they aspire and (b) personal development, education and employment, as a prerequisite for Indigenous men taking greater control and responsibility for their lives. These types of micro-level studies have important implications for the way community development is perceived and approached in Indigenous settings. There are also implications for the roles that academic researchers can play in supporting and adding value to community-driven initiatives to the mutual benefit of both parties. (Journal abstract)

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