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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

What Ignites Communities to Drive their own Future?

Name of Leader:

Emily Jenke

Names of Participants:

Peter Tonello, Jeremy Lemon, Stephanie Andreata, Shannon Williams, Seline Handley, Karen George, Shaz Daye, Darren Moor, Megan Connelly, Ingrid Christiansen, Sarah Hood, Eric Anderson, Ray Murphy, Glen Millar, Vanessa Hood, Mike Young, Nicole McLennan, Greg Mills

Main points of discussion

We asked the question: What ignites communities to drive their own future? To this we just brainstormed ideas and came up with the following:

  • A crisis or a chaos can force a community to act to change – although they may initially be reactive, they can also be proactive in deciding that they will no longer ‘put’ up with being forced into change
  • Funding is a great motivator and will usually be a good catalyst for change and for looking towards the future
  • We looked at what motivators were to getting people involved – some of these were their passion, and having a common focus
  • Seeing a need to do something to build their capacity can motivate people to get involved (i.e. seeing high unemployment or seeing young people moving away…
  • Managing relationships was seen as key in making sure that their experience in dreaming about their future is enjoyable and also meaningful
  • By looking at other communities (outside their own) and seeing what they have done and what the possibilities are, people can become drivers and motivators in their own community to take control. It’s important to have someone whose role it is to create awareness for these opportunities.
  • Sharing experiences between different industries, businesses, families, sporting groups etc can help a community come closer to having a shared vision
  • Having someone (a local person/a member of the community) to champion the cause will motivate others to become involved. They might be natural leaders, children or even groups of young people – as long as they can champion their community, they will impact on others!
  • Building skills is very important in igniting rural community motivation – undertaking skills audits and offering skills development can grow a communities’ confidence overnight
  • Volunteers are crucial to communities and have the capacity to bring new and ‘invisible’ people into designing their own communities’ future
  • Cultural differences and issues will always impact on people’s desire to be involved and will often make the final decision for them. Awareness is the key here! We must try to understand the cultures of our client group/community
  • Focussing on industry specific groups will help people get involved initially, and can help them see their place in the broader scheme!
  • As a facilitator, offer no advice – you may well fail! Get the community to tell you what they want/need and then help them move towards that goal. You will have failures. You will have successes. The successes will be what makes the community a community
  • Empowering people will motivate them
  • When trying to ignite drive and motivation, we must be comfortable in acknowledging hidden agendas – why we’re here, what our role is, why others are here and what their agenda’s are
  • Ask: “Why do you live where you live?” Get their passions out for their community and what makes them stay here. Then ask perhaps: “What would your community need to look like to make you stay living here”
  • Success feeds motivation! Easy and fast wins will always ignite motivation and drive
  • Embrace and recognise skills and commitment of your community
  • Strive for confidence building for individuals and for the community as a whole
  • Triggers might be discontent – we can ‘force’ that discontent or we may only need to tap into it. Ask: “Is there a better way?” By threatening the community’s comfort zone, we can spark them to act and get involved! Cheeky and fraught with danger but powerful nonetheless.

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

A difficult topic and I think we all agreed that there are no hard and fast recipes, however there are some thing that need to change for us to be successful in our contact with rural communities:

  • Research – learning from others and looking for new ways – always challenging our own way of doing and being!
  • Changing our mindset – being aware of our world view and of others world views – we need to be an open sluice gate – letting it wash over us and being ready for anything to come along!
  • By focussing on small achievements and successes and celebrating them with vigour we will help create more ignition and motivation to continue working together

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