The Advantage of Social Indicators in Strengthening Rural Communities: Lessons from Mildura, Victoria
This chapter explores how Mildura Rural City Council has used its rural advantage to build community capacity, through the development of an innovative, evidence-based social planning framework that addresses the by-products of Mildura’s social, economic and environmental realities. In Mildura, the advantage of being an aspirational and self-determining rural community has enabled the development of the Community Engagement Framework (CEF), which is now recognised as an important determinant of community wellbeing. It provides ‘food for thought’ when a rural community commits itself to becoming ‘the most liveable, people-friendly community in Australia’; and then remains steadfast in that resolve in the face of livelihood-threatening water shortages, drought and floods. In this context, it is important that the main theme of this chapter – the development of a planning tool based in social indicators – is considered amongst several other influences. This chapter thus summarises the background of some important historical/cultural, individual and organisational agents, and even fortuitous drivers of efforts to strengthen rural community life. The key message is that to address social disadvantage, the community must work consistently at all levels on the underlying root causes of regional problems. Furthermore, to increase a community’s sphere of influence, it must be able to convince government and funding bodies to address key priorities within the community, rather than responding to broad, generic government objectives and approaches. Mildura’s innovative approach to rural advantage enables a focus, a determination and a will to ensure that the regional will continually strive together to achieve improved outcomes, for Mildura as well as for the nation.
KeywordsSocial Capital Operational Group Chief Executive Officer Social Indicator Crime Prevention
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