Place-based approaches provide community members and stakeholders (citizens, industry, diverse non-government organisations and all levels of government) with a framework for identifying and responding to local needs and improving social, economic and physical wellbeing in a particular location.
Under the Stronger Places Stronger People initiative, we’ve partnered with the Australian Government to deliver this long-term collective impact movement in Queensland, which is community led.
The decision to apply a place-based approach should be based on sound evidence and engagement with the community.
What is a place-based approach?
Place-based approaches are collaborative, long-term approaches to build thriving communities delivered in a defined geographic location. This approach is ideally characterised by partnering and shared agenda, shared design, shared stewardship, and shared accountability for outcomes and impacts. Place-based approaches are often used to respond to complex, interrelated or challenging issues—such as to address social issues impacting those experiencing, or at risk of, disadvantage, or for natural disasters.
Common elements of place-based approaches
Place-based approaches are designed to meet the unique requirements of the local community. A place-based approach may include:
- meaningful engagement with community stakeholders and a focus on building on a community’s strengths
- linking program responses across social service systems for better access and outcomes for local people
- reviewing, shifting, strengthening and designing systems within a local context
- local decision-making and flexibility
- use of local quality data and information to guide decisions
- appropriate governance arrangements to support local action
- monitoring and measuring impacts
- long-term focus
- responding to complex, interrelated or challenging issues, including social issues impacting those experiencing, or at risk of, disadvantage, or natural disasters
- identifying and working on community priorities, valuing local knowledge, and building on and from social and cultural relationships
- having a commitment to strategic learning
- ongoing capacity and capability building amongst all stakeholders involved in the work
- focusing on collective and collaborative action, active engagement and partnership with communities so that all stakeholders see themselves as active participants
- having an underpinning value of creating greater equity.
Place-based approaches are highly collaborative and involve a range of partners working together on complex problems. They have a strong focus on people and place. Examples of place-based approaches include Logan Together (collective impact), Gladstone Region engaging in action Together, Cairns South.
Collective impact is a more complex type of place-based approach, used to respond to complex communities facing multiple challenges. It is a progressive, staged approach to problem solving that requires multiple organisations from different sectors to align with a shared agenda, power sharing and mutually reinforcing activities to achieve significant and lasting social change.
A backbone organisation (also known as a facilitating partner) with dedicated staff will help participating organisations shift from acting alone to working together and with community (source: Australian Institute of Family Studies).
Collective impact is not business as usual, and it can take many years to secure long-term, sustainable change. There is no agreed or consistent timeframe that defines collective impact progress.
Other approaches that focus on place
Other approaches, while not strictly place-based approaches, can also have a strong place focus and often display some of the common characteristics of place-based approaches.
Place-specific approaches generally involve more than one Queensland Government agency and consider the circumstances of people in place. These approaches can demonstrate many of the elements of place-based approaches. Example of place-specific approaches include Community Hubs and Partnerships (CHaPs), Cairns Safer Streets (PDF), Disaster Management and Recovery and Philip Street Communities and Families Precinct in Gladstone.
Place-sensitive approaches generally involve one Queensland Government agency planning and delivering initiatives and services in ways that pay attention to the circumstances of people in place. These approaches can demonstrate some of the elements of place-based approaches.