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Community development is necessary in every community. It is the process through which change is achieved. Old and obsolete activities and practices are abandoned and other upgraded and better practices are adopted. It is because of community development that communities improve and grow in various sectors.
Community development entails the joining of various forces to help in promoting the well-being of a community. It should be effectively planned out to avoid failure and wastage of resources. This paper will give a practical view of community development with regard to helping the youths in Clunes with the intention of attaining community development.
The word community may have different definitions but, the definition that a community is a group of two or more people with a common goal/interest befits the definition of Clune’s community. Clune’s community is situated in Clune’s village and is within the local government area of Lismore.
Clunes is named after an early engineer in the dairying industry going by the name Robert Mortimer Clunes. The median age of Clune’s community is 36 with aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander as the people believed to reside in this village.
The highest population comprises of those aged between 40-59 years and they account for 28.8% of the total population, those aged between 0-14 years are 24.8% of the total population, those between 15 and 24 years make up of 10.7%, those aged 25-39 years make up 21.8% of the entire population while those with more than 60 years are 13.85% of the total population (Shantz, 2004).
Clune is situated on a hilly but attractive countryside where macadamia and coffee are widely grown due to the enabling factor of volcanic soils found in the nearby Mount Warning. The figure below shows a view of Clunes during the mid afternoon and it is no doubt that the region is indeed attractive (Your information guide to Clunes, 2008).
The various fine but ancient Australian churches in Clunes have led to the nicknaming of the village as the “Holy City”. There are a wide variety of ideal local services within the region that include a petrol station, general store and an antiques shop. The area witnesses a large population due to its numerous and attractive North Coast federation houses (Shantz, 2004).
Lismore is the regional centre of Northern Rivers in New South Wales and has got a population of around 43,386 people. People in surrounding areas come into Lismore to utilize the wide range of services and facilities in the area.
Lismore has however managed to experience steady and balanced population growth over the years regardless of the variation during the 1996-2001 census years. The census results showed a reduction in population growth and this was attributed to escalated growth of coastal shires within its vicinity (Shantz, 2004).
The 2001 increase in cost of housing in the coastal shires was associated with an increase in population growth rate and since then, the population growth rate in Lismore has continued to be high (Shantz, 2004).
According to the ABS 2001 census, the regional population of Lismore was approximately 262,216 and has progressively increased over the years since according to ABS 2006 census; the population had increased by 6.6% (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007a).
Lismore population is predominantly a young population with average of 35.9 years as indicated by Shantz, 2004. Lismore has continued to experience high unemployment rates coupled with low-income levels as the main socio-economic pressures for this locality (Shantz, 2004).
The Northern Rivers are associated with unemployment rates that are above the state’s recommended rates where Lismore has the highest unemployment rates of 12.9% compared with other regions in the Northern Rivers.
There are various communities within Lismore and the Clunes community is one of them. Clunes is a village located along the Lismore to Bangalow road, and is approximately 20km northeast of Lismore. Youth activities and centres are of very great need to the villagers because 15-18 year aged young people are evidently seen idling about around the shopping centres.
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This idling is not healthy because it predisposes this young generation to fighting, graffiti and substance abuse, which are a deemed as a great menace to the peace, tranquillity and development of the community (Shantz, 2004).
The youths are an integral part of any general population and therefore, they should be adequately assisted to keep them away and safe from unacceptable behaviour such as engagement in theft/robbery, murder and such related heinous activities that disrupt the peace and tranquillity in any community.
In Clunes community, it is perceived that they require a strategy that will help to confine the youths within the area and subsequently help them to be economically independent individuals. In addition, a correct approach is required to ensure that the youths are busy and away from idle mind, which as is commonly believed to be the devil’s workshop.
Therefore, there is the need to ensure that the youth in Clunes community are assisted so that they engage in constructive activities that would support the economic development in the region and strengthen the peace and relations between the people.
It is important that I carry out a needs assessment from the Clunes community to confirm the existence of the problem perceived to prevail in the region hence, avoid wastage of resources. This also helps to address the relevant problems with regard to community needs but in order to achieve this; a bottom-up approach where the community is actively involved should be adopted.
The needs assessment will entail the use of questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions. Key informants will be selected to provide the required relevant information. The community members, represented by the key informants, will be the channel through which the problem will be identified.
In assessing the problem, I will look at the causes, magnitude and population affected by the problem. This assessment will also help to come up with the most applicable strategies that can be used to address the problem.
The youth, referring to those aged between the ages 15 and 18 years old, in Clunes needs to be indulged in economic generating activities so that they get busy and become economically independent to avoid harmful behaviours such as theft. The fact that graffiti is evident among the youths is an indicator that they are talented in far as art and painting is concerned thus can be helped to nurture this kind of talent.
This way, they will enjoy doing what they love best and it will not be perceived as though one is imposing an activity on them. In addition, it will be important to include a counsellor or a person to guide so that they can embrace the correct morals and avoid harmful demeanour such as substance abuse.
Despite the fact that graffiti is deemed as vandalism, it can be used to help these youths both socially and economically. It is a talent being used in the wrong way but if properly nurtured, can be of great benefit in the community and among the youth members with regard to community development.
A youth centre can be established and these idle youths brought together to work on their talents. Nurturing the graffiti talent however cannot be done without some form of planning on how to implement the planned intervention and bring about community development. Helping these youths nurture their talent will require the participation of various departments so as to ensure cost-effectiveness and efficiency of services offered.
Sensitizing the youth to realize that their idleness is a menace to the community is very important. This can be done by holding meetings with the selected youths or holding group sessions with them. Subsequently, it is important to come up with the right intervention strategies by seeking their opinions since they better understand how their needs.
Funds are a very integral component of the entire development process. It will be very essential for me to develop a proposal that will help to lobby for funds and related resources from donors and sponsors.
The causes related to idling of the youths are varied therefore, it is important to handle each individual in a special way. Some of the youths could be from very low-income families thus have stopped going to school and the shopping centre seems to be the only place where they can seek solace and vent out their problems.
Others might be in the streets due to other reasons but, all this boils down to treating this group in a special way if positive results are to be obtained. The funds and resources obtained would help to come up with a centre that would help the youths to nurture their talents.
They would work in close association with a counsellor or social worker who would help them to deal with personal problems in the most dignified manner. This would to enable the youths to develop and embrace amicable ways of dealing with problems rather than turn to alcohol and drugs as an alternative.
The development process would entail purchasing materials and equipment that would be used by the youth to nurture their talent within the centre. In the case of drawing and painting, an arts instructor would be hired and he/she would help these young people to develop their drawing and painting abilities.
The youth would then learn how to make good use of their talents to produce idyllic products. These products would then be used to bring about economic empowerment to the youth once they had been sold. The process would kick off as an informal gathering and later develop into a formal organization with a name like, ‘Clunes Youth Centre’ once the building had been set up.
The centre upon construction would consist of various divisions all aimed at ensuring optimal functioning of the centre. Divisions that would be included are such as the social worker division, counsellor section, customer relations coordinator division, administrative division, as well as the office of the director/manager.
The centre would provide the youth with something to do and help them to become productive people in the community. They would gain necessary skills to help them change lifestyle with regard to demeanour and attitude.
This transformation process in the name of community development might seem to be a simple task, but in reality the entire process is very difficult and challenging. This is because, Clunes is a unique community with its structures and systems in place hence, the idle young people have a certain perception with regard to their community and practice.
It would therefore be difficult for anyone to penetrate and change the demeanour and attitudes of these youths. I would have a hard time trying to get my way through and actually get to interview them, engage them in focus group discussions or make them to fill in questionnaires. Getting acceptance from these youths therefore would be a very difficult task.
The challenge of facing rejection can be counteracted by first getting in touch with the people who really matter in the community like the head of Clunes as an administrative unit, prominent people in the community and church leaders.
The use of highly held persons in the community would help me as the developer to gain the confidence of the youths hence, it would be easier to convince them to accept and take part in the project at hand. These key persons would help to organize for meetings and come up with a plan that would incorporate relevant and effective activities.
Bureaucracy and political interest are another factor that would impede development. Political figures in the community would seek to gain recognition in such a project yet they have not made any contribution in as far as the project is concerned.
It is necessary that all the stakeholders fully understand that the project in not meant to fulfil personal political interest or whatever interest of whatever nature that a person may be having. Therefore, as a way of counteracting this, I would ask the stakeholders to come up with rules against which projects events and behaviour would be evaluated.
Transition to change has never been easy and therefore, I would not expect this to be any easier. The youth might have gotten used to their behaviours in the streets such that change would be a very difficult process to them.
Out there in the streets, they are free to do whatever they feel like since no one is looking after them but in the centre, they have to follow laid down rules and regulations and this would be such a great challenge. The youth centre would be synonymous to be a rehabilitation centre for starters and it would not be a surprise if the youths kept on going back to the streets because they had gotten used to that environment.
This challenge can be addressed by adequate sensitization and creation of awareness among the youth (15-18 years). Change does not happen overnight. Instead, it is a gradual process that requires patience and step and step training and discipline.
That is why; these youths would be treated with patience to allow them time to realize that being in the streets was incomparable to being in the youth centre. In addition, there was need to handle them delicately because a slight maltreatment would mean going back to the streets.
Community development has always been the backbone of any development in a country. It can be a very successful process if carried out effectively and efficiently however, it can be a total failure if ineffectively and inefficiently carried out. As a community development officer, it is important to clearly understand a problem before embarking on any intervention strategy.
This helps to avoid addressing the wrong problem, and wastage of resources. In addition, the community should be fully involved with regard to community development because no other person is better informed about what the community than the community members themselves. It is very important therefore to ensure that the process of community development is carried out effectively and efficiently through effective planning.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007a. 2006 CensusQuickStats. Canberra: Australian Government.
Shantz, T., 2004. Community Profile: Lismore Local Government Area. Web.
Your Information Guide to Clunes, 2008. Available at http://www.nnsw.com.au/clunes/ .