Empowering residents and helping them build community connections is a major part of what Communities@Work’s Community Development team does. Of course, this has been more challenging than usual as we battle through a global pandemic!
We are proud of our Community Development team for managing to deliver through all the twists and turns that 2020 brought with it. Let’s look at some of the team’s key achievements in the last few months, particularly with the Denman Prospect project.
The Denman Prospect Community Development Program
As a new and emerging community, Denman Prospect is a significant project for the Communities@Work’s Community Development team.
The primary objective of the program is “activating” the Denman Prospect community by enabling residents to develop and implement community-building activities, events and workshops, based on the ideas that they envision and develop.
With a community-first focus, our community development team provides opportunities for residents to come together, offers them mentoring and support, collects feedback and supports the community in taking action, while developing local networks and identifying active members of the community who can act as “community champions.”
The team has been working hard throughout the year to achieve these objectives, and help build ownership and pride among the Denman community.
A vital mission of the team is to bring focus on assets and skills that already exist within the community. The team works to encourage residents to focus on their strengths as a community (as opposed to problems), in line with the Asset-Based Community Development approach.
In the last few months alone, our Community Development team have taken several steps forward that have enabled the Denman Prospect residents to flourish as a community.
Community Action Group (Residents Advisory Group)
The Denman Prospect Community Action Group is a group of proactive residents eager to help make Denman Prospect “the best it can be”, formed with the support and facilitation of Communities@Work’s Community Development team. The Group was created as a Residents Advisory Group in July 2020 and has continued steadily since, with the core group of consistent members meeting monthly.
The Group has worked on many key initiatives, making significant contributions to building the Denman community and bringing community members together, coming into their own as community champions who lead community activities.
For instance, in early February this year, the Group organised a Q&A with ACT Policing for the Denman Prospect community. Residents spoke with Ross Williams from Woden Police Station regarding issues relating to security and safety in the community.
The Group also organised a Clean Up Australia Day event in the Denman Community with support from Communities@Work, engaging a pool of residents (beyond the Residents Advisory Group) to come together and clean up the suburb they call home.
Denman Prospect Playgroup
Michael Malone, the Community Development Officer for Denman Prospect from Communities@Work, has also worked closely with residents to establish the Denman Prospect playgroup.
In fact, the playgroup has successfully transitioned to an independent, resident-driven model. This has built their capacity as community members, as residents have taken ownership of almost all of the regular operations of the playgroup.
The playgroup sees about six families each session. The Denman Prospect Playgroup Facebook group, established as the Group’s own communication & organisation channel, continues to grow and be utilised by residents to organise the playgroup and other such initiatives.
Beginner Mountain Biking
Another exciting outcome for our Community Development team has been the Beginner Mountain Biking group. The team provided guidance to a local ‘community champion’ in establishing a group for beginner mountain bike riders, not just in Denman but across Canberra.
With 200 people joining with the first 4 days of establishment, the Group now has 410 members! Members share their love of mountain biking, help with each other’s questions online, and have organised numerous offline meetups.
This is an excellent example of Asset-Based Community Development, a key focus of our community development team. Our team identified and encouraged a community champion to form a group around their passion, which has led to a thriving community that continues independently. We couldn’t be prouder!
Last but not least, our Community Development team’s focus was, and continues to be, fostering community connections between members of the community.
For instance, as part of the support offered to budding local conservation volunteer group Friends of Molonglo Reserve, the team contacted all residents who indicated an interest in such activities in the past, letting them know about the new group and encouraging them to join.
Furthermore, the team has continued collecting feedback and implementing simple yet effective initiatives while involving community members through a “community ideas submission box” and surveys.
Response to past surveys had indicated an interest in outdoor activities. So the community development team organised a Table Tennis event. The event activates the Trinca St space among the community. It encourages them to make the most of this shared asset to come together and make connections. It also helped introduce residents to both the facilities and other interested residents and support them in envisioning their own ideas for such activities & gatherings.
The first events proved successful and will occur again in Spring to welcome new residents nearby as they move in. Similar connections are now being established for residents interested in disc golf and soccer!
Feedback on the results of our Community Development efforts in Denman Prospect has included:
“I love the discussions being generated by the more experienced riders in this Group. They are really helpful, as I’m sure many of the other beginners agree, entering the sport of mountain biking can be quite overwhelming at first… So thanks.” – A resident on the Beginner Mountain Biking Group.
“It is great to see that such community-building activities are happening in Denman.” – A resident of Denman Prospect on the Table Tennis event.
We’re excited to continue working with Denman Prospect moving forward and enabling the residents to thrive as an empowered community.
Find out more about Communities@Work’s Community Development team and their New and Emerging Communities program here.
Are you a current or prospective resident of Denman Prospect in Canberra? Join the conversation on the Denman Prospect Facebook Group.
You can also check out the Denman Prospect Facebook Page and Communities@Work Facebook Page for more information.
About our Community Development team
Our Community Development program practices an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach to highlight and work with strengths in communities such as gifts, skills, knowledge, abilities, interests and passions. We walk beside communities to develop positive community-building activities and projects with meaningful and lasting outcomes.
The focus of Communities@Work’s Community Development team is to strengthen communities by connecting people, groups, agencies and organisations. Through these partnerships, we strive to uncover inclusive, collaborative and ongoing opportunities.
We have also worked and continue to work with the ACT Government, property developers and other stakeholders on various community initiatives that have enabled residents to connect with each other and build networks and resilience as foundations of growth.