Top tips for inclusive community development

Aricle Image for Top tips for inclusive community development

October 2018

By Ruby Leahy Gatfield and Jade Maloney

To support access and inclusion, Ability Links NSW works with people with disability, their families and carers, as well as with organisations and other community members, on local community development projects. To celebrate the success of these projects and share their learnings about what works and what doesn’t, we worked with Linkers to develop the Ability Links NSW Community Development Resource Package.

The Package recognises that some people with disability face additional barriers to inclusion—including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people from regional and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, young people, and people identifying as LGBTQIA+.

Barriers may be:

  • personal, including limited money, mobility, time or geography
  • informational, including limited knowledge about the subject or purpose of the engagement, and consultation fatigue
  • social and cultural
  • related to language and literacy.[1]

Top tips 

The Package provides guidance on how to take an inclusive approach to community development. It stresses that the involvement of people with lived experienced must be intrinsic to identifying, leading, designing, implementing, and evaluating projects. Projects should build on and value the strengths of those involved, and the cultures, skills and knowledge in local communities.

It also provides ‘top tips’ and best practice case studies for working with working effectively with people from specific population groups. While there are particular considerations for working with each group, some things are universally important.

  • Take the time to build trust and relationships.
  • Connect with local leaders and champions.
  • Understand the specific needs of the population group, but also recognise differences within communities.
  • Tailor communication channels and engagement methods.
  • Remember that not all people and communities will identify with the same experiences or have the same needs and interests.

For more guidance on how to start, manage and sustain a community development project to support inclusion of people with disability, including more detailed guidance on how to work effectively with specific population groups and organisations types and how to monitor and evaluate community development, download the Package here. You can also check out this video or read our last blog


[1] Capire Consulting Group. The Inclusive Community Engagement Toolkit. 2016. http://capire.com.au/#publications-section

Photo credit: NSW Department of Family and Community Services