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Community Development Assignment: Capacity Building Approach for Indigenous Communities


Task: For this community development assignment, you are required to discuss capacity building approaches for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the areas of:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Employment

And how these approached are applied within a Community
Development Framework with at least 1 example of a program in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community/area.


For the present community development assignment, a Capacity-building approach has been taken into consideration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the areas of health, education, and employment. Hence, the mentioned areas of communities will be focused on applying the Capacity building approaches within a Community Development Framework, and in each approach, an example of a program in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community has been discussed. Moreover, it can be said that the overall study will focus on addressing the Indigenous communities and their living facilities that the Australian government has had provided to them within a framework of Community Development.

Capacity Building
Capacity building is the procedure of developing and reinforcing the abilities, skills, resources, instincts, and processes that communities and organizations need to live, adapt, and thrive in a progressing world. Hence, an important factor in capacity building is a revolution that is provided and maintained over a certain period of time within; the revolution of this form goes over-functioning tasks to changing behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets(Evans et al., 2014). There are four approaches that have been identified, and these approaches have been discussed accordingly in the following sections:

Top-down Approach- This approach generally focuses on public health wherein it deals with programs that are administered by the overall governments, which promote in combating internationally with the issues that are related to health. However, the Australian government has sanctioned a number of health benefits policies for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with the framework of community development. Hence, the Top-down approach leads to strong management on health as it will make proper decisions and impose them at the maximum ranks for the communities. For example, the Indigenous Australian Health Programme (IAHP) is one of the top-down approaches that help the indigenous communities to support and provide them proper healthcare facilities(Bailey et al., 2018). Hence, the IAHP framework of Community Development by the Australian government focuses on high-quality healthcare services for the Indigenous people. It helps the Indigenous people through culturally relevant contributions to increase access to healthcare and recover the health of these people. The funds of IAHP function under four themes that focus on; primary healthcare services, delivering more access to primary health care, targeted health actions, and works of the capital as well. All these themes intend to better access health services towards the community in the local, urban and remote areas.

Partnership Approach- This capacity-building approach involves working in collaboration to achieve a shared commitment and vision of developing a community. Through this approach, the health and education of the Aboriginals and Islanders so that their community can experience progressive growth. In this approach, the Australian government collaborates with NGOs and other institutions to provide healthcare and education facilities to the Aboriginal and Islander communities (Cheesman, 2016). These facilities have been designed and introduced so that this community can be treated equally in society and have equal development opportunities. The primary aim of this approach is to make children and young people of the Aboriginal and Islander communities accepted by the other Australians and are treated equally in society. Since there is widespread discrimination towards these people, such an approach is necessary to be introduced and implemented so that their community can be safeguarded from going extinct.

The primary assumption of this approach is that community can be built only through collaborative work, and development needs a considerable amount of contribution. Comprehensive programs such as the Indigenous PHC Program have been developed by the Australian government to provide proper healthcare facilities to the people of Aboriginal and Islander communities and have better health standards (Harfield et al., 2018). Another example can be given of Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, which is a program designed to develop the educational condition of this community. This program has been focused on providing educational facilities to the people belonging to the Aboriginal and Islander communities and provides the opportunity of pursuing higher education. This has been done with the perception that through education, people of these communities can get access to quality education and improve their standard of living because, through education, they can get proper jobs. Bottom-up approach- One of the essential factors within the organization or within the community is the development of the technical expertise, ensuring them plan, evaluate, and implement the appropriate health education and employment program and measures for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Within this approach, there is a premise for the development of core well-trained individuals, which will reduce the reliance on the external consultants while enhancing the locals' capacity to sustain the effort while funding the cases. They need to apply expertise in both the direct provider of the service and health, education, and health bureaucrats. The bottom-up approach primarily focuses on providing training to the community members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, aiming to provide the knowledge and skills, which will be beneficial both for the individuals and the community. It is basically to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community development, where they can be provided with many opportunities and trained to utilize the given opportunity with the newly gained knowledge and skills. For instance, Australia's Aboriginal Pathway Program aims to provide employment solutions to the people belonging to the community.

Community approach- The community approach is one of the most ambitious approaches in terms of capacity building. It includes working with the community, more specifically with the disenfranchised members within the community, to solve their issues related to health education and employment. It aims towards the transformation of the individuals from the service of passive recipients into active participants within the process of the change in the community. Under the premise of this approach, the notion is to conduct efficient and effective programs under the initiatives taken as well as run by the local community members. Furthermore, this approach of the capacity building is said to be more effectual the community which have accessible resource. The formation of the new community can be a straightforward process, but if the newly formed community is not able to hive the opportunities for the people to gain knowledge and skills in terms of leadership skills, resolution of conflicts, and decision making, then it would probably be unrealistic. Community approaches emphasize to work of the welfare of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the community people while addressing the issues of the community. For instance, the Mura Award initiative program is conducted in order to recognize the achievements of the students of the community while providing opportunities for the schools for the acknowledgment of the effort of the student belonging to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The report shows how capacity-building approaches can be implemented for the community development of Aboriginal and Islander communities. There were a total of four approaches that were used by the government of Australia for capacity building in the area of health, education, and employment. It has been evident that capacity building is an essential aspect for the aboriginal community because of widespread discrimination towards them. Through capacity-building approaches, the government can make initiatives to reduce the level of discrimination that is faced by these communities in their regular life. The report has also discussed the programs introduced by the Australian government to develop the health, education, and employment of the community.


Bailey, R., Hardie-Boyes, R. B. A. + C. N., Bailie, J., & Carr, J. (2018). (PDF) Evaluation of the Australian Government’s Investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme Monitoring and Evaluation Design Report: Appendices.


Cheesman, E. (2016). Developing Capacity Through Partnerships A promising model for capacity building partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and non-Indigenous services.

Evans, S. D., Raymond, C., & Perkins, D. D. (2014). (PDF) Organizational and community capacity building.ResearchGate.

Evans, S., Raymond, C., & Perkins, D. D. (2014).(PDF) Organizational and community capacity building.ResearchGate.

Harfield, S. G., Davy, C., McArthur, A., Munn, Z., Brown, A., & Brown, N. (2018). Characteristics of Indigenous primary health care service delivery models: a systematic scoping review. Globalization and Health, 14(1).

Heyden, M. L. M., Fourné, S. P. L., Koene, B. A. S., Werkman, R., & Ansari, S. (Shaz). (2016). (PDF) Rethinking “Top-Down” and “Bottom-Up” Roles of Top and Middle Managers in Organizational Change: Implications for Employee Support.ResearchGate.

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