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Next Step: An Online Community for Delivering Human Services

  • Cécile ParisEmail author
  • Surya Nepal
Chapter

Abstract

With the expansion of the Internet, the number of online support groups has grown rapidly, and they have become a serious alternative to face-to-face meetings. Online support groups or communities allow their members to connect and share with others and get the support they need. In our work, in collaboration with a Government Department, we wanted to investigate whether these benefits could also occur in the public administration domain, in particular to support people in receipt of welfare payments. We designed and deployed an online community to support a specific group of welfare recipients. Our intent was to provide them with both informational and emotional support. In this paper, we present the design of the community, with a specific focus on the support it provided its members, together with a qualitative analysis of what happened during our trial. We observed that people found the targeted information and the emotional support they received in the online community useful and that they welcomed it. We also found that the community provided a way for participants to feel heard by the government.

Keywords

Social networks Online community Human services Gamification Content analysis 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research has been partially funded under the Human Services Delivery Research Alliance (HSDRA) between the CSIRO and the Australian Government Department of Human Services. We would like to thank P. Aghaei Pour, B. Yan, S. Bista, and N. Colineau for their work on the project, all the staff at the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services for their support in this work, and all our Next Step community members for their invaluable participation and engagement.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO Data61SydneyAustralia

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