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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

Getting Extension/ APEN out of the Agricultural Rut.

Name of Leader:

John James

Names of Participants:

Craig Middleton, Tony Koch, Cynthia Carson, Joy Deguara, Roger Johnson, Rosemarie Currie, Chris Anderson, Viv McWaters, Emily Tee, Rachele Morton, Abigail Jenkins, Nigel Gallas, Peter Holden, Rebecca Scott, Julie Ferguson, Rob Nielsen, Megan McNicholl, Rachael Webster, Sue Sorenson, Jessica Kenway, Evonne Lovric, Sam Simpson, Melva Hobson, Amanda Miller, Karen Fox, Pete Metcalfe, Wendy McLeish, Tonia Grundy, Warwick Easdown, Graham Harris, Darren Schmidt, Greg Leach, Greg Mills, Kym McKauge, Dan Galligan, Mary Johnson, Laurie Lumsden, Dean Holland, and Terry Reid.

Main points of discussion

Situation analysis

Our group formed a line to represent the continuum from totally agreeing to totally disagreeing with the need to get out of the rut. About two-thirds agreed. Various people shared their reasons for standing where they did.

We need communication from all sectors. Statement correct but we are moving in right direction. Could lose focus if we embrace all sectors. Many agencies around to support families and communities to change. Need to know what other agencies are doing to avoid duplication.


  • Need to involve/ engage “end users” (ie rural communities). We are all potentially end users (communities, other extension people).
  • What are we selling? What’s the product?
  • Don’t confuse the role of APEN as a network and individuals working for change in their own communities. Is the product “change management”? It is really like content versus process.
  • Definition of what an extension officer does (their role in the community). Extension is about facilitating change. We are all trying to facilitate change. Wealth and well being is a huge factor.. Making communities viable and sustainable – it doesn’t matter what hat you wear. Values based principles is an excellent starting point. Community development evolved with nothing to sell, so it would be an excellent “glue” for bringing it all together.

Our group formed a line to represent the continuum from totally agreeing to totally disagreeing with the statement “that extension just being community development”. There was a good spread of responses. Various people shared their reasons for standing where they did.

We discussed what community development really is. It was noted that communities are made up of individuals. We need to be careful to not decide what needs to be done by the communities. We are supporters of community development, not doers. We provide resources to enable communities to direct their own change.

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

Take individual responsibility in the communities we work in. Who else is out there doing the things we are?

Suggestions included:

  • health promotion officers
  • catchment coordinators (community/ NRM)
  • industry development officers (Horticulture Australia)
  • community engagement officers (Premiers Dept)
  • facilitators
  • economic development officers, community development officers (local govt)
  • social planners, resource officers (Dept of Families)
  • organisational psychologists
  • rural counsellors.

We recognised that these people are also found in local P&Cs, Rotary clubs etc.

We noted that the health model is a good one.

Formal networks

Established networks include Building rural leaders program of DPI, Regional managers forums (across agencies), community clusters, state development groups.

  • Identify other networks that are operating in our area.
  • Value of networks need to be highlighted to management.
  • Come to general agreement about what we’re called and what we do!
  • Define the “market”.

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