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Council opts for goal-focussed community development

12 July 2007

Today’s adoption of the Strengthening Communities Strategy confirms the Christchurch City Council’s vision for future goal-focussed delivery of community development.

Through the Strengthening Communities Strategy, Council will look to identify areas of priority within the community and focus resources in these areas, says Community Services General Manager Stephen McArthur.

"This will ensure the work is outcome-oriented, and Council’s resources are targeted to deliver real benefits for the community."

The Strategy, known in its draft format as the Community Development Strategy, will seek to empower communities to build capacity through the provision of services, community development and community advocacy.

Mr McArthur says with the passing of the Local Government Act 2002, local authorities are expected to promote the social and cultural, as well as environmental and economic well-being of their communities.

Under the Strengthening Communities Strategy, he says a greater emphasis will be placed on promoting collaboration and working in partnership to address issues of importance to the community.

"Council will take a whole-of-organisation approach to the contribution it can make to community development, taking a lead collaboration role on some issues, at other times encouraging and assisting groups to collaborate at both a city-wide and local level.

"Ensuring fair and equitable access to services and resources will also be a priority."

Mr McArthur says Council will also put more effort into researching, monitoring, evaluating and reporting back to Council, community boards and the community.

"Through a more evidence-based approach to all aspects of its work, the Council will build a better shared understanding of community issues and commit to addressing these."

The Strategy recognises the key challenges in building stronger communities are the ageing population, increasing cultural and ethnic diversity, differing levels of disadvantage between population groups, the complexity of factors which contribute to social exclusion, such as poverty, poor health and lack of education, the capacity of voluntary and community groups, and decreasing civic engagement.

The eight key goals of the Strengthening Communities Strategy are:

* Understanding and documenting communities’ trends, issues and imperatives.

* Promoting collaboration among key stakeholders, including government agencies, community and voluntary organisations, iwi and Maori to identify and address key community issues.

* Enhancing engagement and participation in local decision-making.

* Helping build and sustain a sense of local community identity.

* Ensuring that communities have access to community facilities that meet their needs.

* Increasing participation in recreation and sports programmes and events.

* Enhancing the safety of the community and neighbourhoods.

* Improving basic life skills so that all residents can participate fully in society.

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