Whether on a small or global scale, community engagement has proven to work to find solutions to the problems in communities says Alexandra Bull
Community engagement plays a vital role in today’s society, especially when challenging social norms and making changes to better the world we live in.
Throughout my virtual work placement at Restless Development, I began to understand how true this is because, without it, we wouldn’t have the insights to come up with solutions for today’s social issues or, at the very least, decrease their effects.
It amplifies the collective voice of low-income communities and helps educate and inform us about global issues. and be educated and informed about global issues.
My community engagement experience.
I never realised how active a participant I was in community engagement and development until I read more into it and began my work with RestlessDevelopment. I began reflecting on past activities that I led and the groups I formed. Between grades five and twelve, I had been part of charity groups that were run by the school I attended. I volunteered with charity groups like Caritas (an international aid charity run out of Australia) and St Vincent de Pauls or Vinnies Youth (a charity that aids homelessness and those at risk).
We came up with activities to raise money for the charities and helped spread awareness about them. Some of these activities included setting up a coin toss game during lunch to raise money for Caritas or having dinner with people that St Vincent de Pauls helps. I got a lot of joy from being involved in these groups and it inspired me to become a social worker.
As I continued to work with RestlessDevelopment on my project, I began to appreciate community engagement at a deeper level. The project I and my two fellow social work students chose was creating toolkits or session plans that would be used to educate communities on issues like child marriage, voice and girls’ Education.
As I continued to work, I began visualizing the change that I could create or the difference this would make to a small community. I wanted these toolkits to inspire change. That is why community engagement and development go hand in hand. It has the power to make a difference and inspire change within the community.
Community management is essential to development.
Whether on a small or global scale, building community engagement strategies have proven to work and has a high success rate. Max Hardy is one such example. During his 2017 TED Talk, Hardy shared how a small community in Australia was having issues with their water supply. Through community engagement, they managed to find out what the problem was and resolve it.
Not only that, but I’ve been lucky to listen to more success stories from Restless Development themselves. In particular, the success they have had in encouraging young girls to choose science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects and showing them how fun they can be. This goes to show that change is possible, and it begins with a community.
Alexandra Bull is a student studying Social Work at the University of Tasmania. She loves writing, playing video games, drawing as well as travelling. She loves spending time with her dogs and getting creative no matter the format.