A community is a group of individuals who share a common location. These individuals have a lot of aspects in common for instance their needs, values, beliefs, preferences as well as aspirations.
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Community development on the other hand entails the process and practices that are undertaken by various responsible individuals and groups for example political leaders, nongovernmental organizations and activists among others, in an effort to uplift the lives of communities through improving various aspects that surround them.
Community development is a broad concept which focuses on building communities especially on a local basis by ensuring that the status of the overall economy of a nation is enhanced, the social ties among people are strengthened and that the needs of all individuals in a community are met.
There are various approaches and strategies that could be adopted to allow for community development, each with its benefits as well as limitations depending on a given situation.
This piece of work gives a comprehensive discussion on the concept of community development with much emphasis being given to the Homeless Youths in Australia (the community chosen as the case study). The paper will discuss the problems faced by the youths in the country and how community development strategies could be used in eliminating this ordeal.
Background information of the community (the youths)
Youths are usually a very significant constituent of the overall population in any given nation. This is because they possess a lot of value and energy that could change most of the activities undertaken in a nation in the current period as well as in future. The youths are young people who have not yet attained adulthood age.
This is a community that is very vulnerable to a lot of social as well as economic related problems as a result of their age and the fact that parents expect them to be a bit independent as opposed to when they were considered as children and hence totally dependent on help from parents and other people.
The situation is even worse in Australia since we have a very disturbing problem of the homeless youths. This group of youths is at a greater risk as compared to the ordinary youths who have no problem with housing or those who have comfortable homes.
According to the Australian government national enquiry into homeless children and youths report of 1989, the homeless youth population in Australia was estimated to a range of 20,000 to 25,000 a figure that is way too high1.
According to a study carried out by Johnson (2008), the condition of youth homelessness in Australia is worsening day by day. A national study of homelessness in Australia as per the year 2008 indicated that more that 100,000 individuals were homeless with the young people between the ages of 12 and 24 years old totaling to about 36,000.
This is an alarming figure and calls for strategic plans and actions to alleviate these issues and make the lives of the youths comfortable and brighter. In Brisbane for example, which is a city with a population of approximately 1.2 million people, the number of the homeless youths is estimated to total to 3000002.
The nature of the issues and aspirations of the youths
To come up with a clear description of the nature of the issues and aspirations of the homeless youths in Australia, an appreciative inquiry process was used. Some written documentation was also useful in giving relevant information about the same. The homeless youths in Australia face a lot of problems.
The issues include, lack of personal security and privacy, lack of basic commodities like food, bedding and clothing, hygiene and sanitation, reduced access to health care facilities, limited access to quality education, discrimination from the society which creates problems with normal relationships enjoyed by other ordinary people in the society, increased unemployment rates, limited access to essential services like banking and communication technology and violence and abuse among others.
These problems put the homeless youths at a risk and they end up engaging in criminal activities as a way of hiding their disappointments in life. They could for example be involved in substance abuse, drug trafficking, gang operations among other criminal related activities.
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This does not solve their problems but rather worsen their condition and hence some community development strategies to solve this could be essential. Despite the problems they face, the youths aspire to be successful in future and would wish to acquire quality education which will enable them to be independent for example through securing good employment opportunities3.
There are various types of development focuses that could be taken in different situations in regard to the needs and aspirations of a particular community or group of individuals in question. The focuses of community development include some form of economic development, political development, social development as well as foreign relations development.
Economic development entails the improvement in the standard of living of the individuals in a given nation through enhancement of the economic status especially in terms of the income levels. Economic development is deemed to be connected to the overall development of the people and a nation at large as it leads to the general well being of those governed by the economic development policies.
Social development on the other hand is a process that is aimed at changing social- related structures and operations so as to enhance the capacity of the community enabling it to achieve its aspirations. Political development entails the enhancement of various aspects that form the political power system of a society for instance the attitudes, beliefs, values as well as the institutions.
Political development is very essential as it promotes a nation’s capacity to not only mobilize but also allocate resources to various sectors of the economy. Development of foreign relations entails promoting good relations between a given nation and other nations in the world.
This is very essential as it allows for effective collaboration of nations in various aspects. It is however possible only when a nation has achieved internal development. The issue of homeless youths in Australia could be solved through the application of all these developments focuses since it touches on all of them especially the social, economic and political development.
The problems faced by the youths are economical, political and social in nature and hence necessitates taking of various actions and establishment of various policies to reduce them or rather eliminate them.
Community development approaches to be applied
From the above named development approaches, I consider economic, social and political development (in this order) to be very crucial when it comes to the issue of the homeless youths in Australia. Economic development would ensure that the living standards of the population including the youths are improved to a great extent through empowering them.
The homeless youths could for instance get access to housing facilities hence reducing their problems. Social development on the other hand would ensure that people have got access to essential social facilities and that the relationship ties are well established avoiding aspects like discrimination and risks of violence.
Political development will be helpful in ensuring that appropriate policies are put in place to ensure fair allocation of resources hence quality life of all individuals including the homeless youths.
There are various strategies that could be utilized under these development programs to ensure that the problems faced by the homeless youths in Australia are solved and that their aspirations are fulfilled in one way or the other.
Some of the strategies are individual-based while others entail collaboration of various persons and responsible authorities for instance the government, youth foundations, non governmental institutions among others. Each strategy is suitable for utilization in particular situations and could be associated with some benefits and limitations in terms of the results achieved after they are used.
Some of the strategies that would be utilized by the different authorities in an effort to curb the problem of homelessness among children and youths in Australia include; different campaign strategies aimed at educating all the responsible individuals and groups on the issues of youth homelessness and all the aspects that surround it so that appropriate actions could be taken.
This is because some things usually happen as a result of ignorance or lack of understanding of the seriousness of matters or else how they can be solved. Positive campaigning could involve the homeless youths where they could be educated on the various ways that in which their lives would be made better.
This will help in removing them from their hopelessness and disappointment status giving them hope of a better life. The youths could then be involved in the search of different paths that could be followed in order to satisfy their needs or else solve their problems. Campaigning aims at bringing about some positive change especially through mobilizing the external factors.
Direct action campaign for instance, is aimed at achieving specific goals and could be used to sensitize the responsible bodies to help solve the problems faced by the homeless youths in Australia. Another very significant strategy that could help in dealing with the issues faced by the homeless youths is community capacity building.
This entails a process through which the homeless youth are empowered through various means for instance equipping them with relevant skills and knowledge. Through community building, I would advocate for establishment of an institution that will take care of the needs of the homeless youths and empower them fully.
Community development principles and their importance
There are various community development principles that could be used in the various strategies or approaches adopted in the development focuses. Some of the common community development principles include empowerment, participation, lobbying, social policy development and advocating for various elements like social justice among others.
For the sake of this assignment I chose direct campaigning and community capacity building as the appropriate strategies to be used mainly due to the status of the community chosen for study, the homeless youths in Australia.
The community development principles like participation and empowerment would ensure that the strategies put in place are appropriately implemented and hence allow for achievement of the set goals and objectives in regard to solving the problem of homelessness among youths in Australia.
Participation entails involvement of people in activities that are aimed at benefiting them. In regard to the problem at hand I would propose for strategies that actively involve the youths.
This will ensure that the strategies are successful because they are as a result of the victims initiatives. The youths will for example be involved in the suggestion of the various skills and knowledge to be impacted in the established institution4.
Empowerment is the other community development principle that could be very useful in solving the issues faced by the homeless youths in Australia. It entails increasing the strength of the youths where they see themselves to be capable of contributing positively to the society.
In regard to this issue, the youths would be empowered (in the established institution) through provision of education services and other training aimed at making them independent. This will allow them to secure good job opportunities that will in turn allow them to sustain themselves and those around them hence eliminating the problem of homelessness and all the issues associate with it.
Limitations/ barriers that could be faced in community development processes and practices and How to overcome the limitations
The process of community development is not a smooth one but is faced with various challenges. In my process of engaging the homeless youths improve their status through participation and community building, I would be faced with some barriers.
This would include resistance in taking part in some of the advocated activities for various reasons for example the fear that they may not be successful and hence they may end up wasting time and remain in the same situation.This could be solved through encouragement and educational campaigns aimed at putting sense into them.
Another barrier could be lack of resources for example finances to facilitate the activities such as establishment and maintenance of the institution to house the homeless youth and provide them with necessary facilities and services.
This could be solved through asking for financial and other related support from various sources for instance the government and non governmental organizations.
Community development is a very significant aspect that should never be underemphasized under any circumstance. This is because the various strategies adopted for the purpose of community development have been very successful in solving community-based problems as well as helping individuals to attain their dreams or aspirations.
The youths in Australia are faced with a variety of issues and utilization of the various community development approaches and strategies could help them come out of the situations and live a better life which would lead to their well being, in terms of empowerment and prosperity, as well as the well being of the entire society and the nation at large.
The homeless youths in particular face a lot of psychological distress and could suffer from various psychiatric disorders if effective measures are not put in place. This could however be eliminated through community development.
Coyne, B. V. Homelessness: A bibliography. New York, Nova Publishers, 2007.
Eade, D & Oxfam UK & Ireland. Capacity-Building: An Approach to People-Centered Development. UK, Oxfam, 1997.
Johnson, C. “Worsening Youth Homelessness In Australia” 2008. Retrieved from, <https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2008/08/home-a12.html>
Van der Ploeg, J.D, E. Scholte &E.M. Scholte. Homeless Youth, London, SAGE, 1997.
1. J.D Van der Ploeg, S. Evert & S.M. Evert. Homeless youth, London, Sage, 1997. pp 20
2. C. Johnson. “Worsening youth homelessness in Australia” 2008.
3. B. V, Coyne, Homelessness: A bibliography. New York, Nova Publishers, 2007 pp 107
4. D, Eade & Oxfam UK & Ireland. Capacity-Building: An Approach to People-Centered Development. UK, Oxfam, 1997 UK pp 23