Case Study - Community Profiling
|Project Date||July – December 2003|
|No. of people to manage/deliver project||1 profiler, 3 support team, +5 mentors/ advisors|
|No. of people involved||45-50|
|Who was involved||20 local community members and 20 agency staff were involved in the profile development as well as members of the project steering committee (5-10)|
|Type(s) of engagement||Inform, Consult, Involve|
|Cost||1 FTE for 2 months|
|Time||1 FTE (full time equivalents) for 2 months|
|Tools used||Research – snowball sampling, story telling and collection, socio-demographic data collection, visioning workshops|
- Objective of the project
- The Community
- Guiding principles
- Tools and methods
- Lessons learned
The project team was keen to establish a relationship with citizens, explore the level of diversity in the Brucknell Creek community and to use this knowledge to develop more inclusive engagement processes. It was necessary to engage the citizens and stakeholders in the development of the profile because this kind of information had not been recorded for this area before (e.g. local history, lists of groups and networks and descriptions of their interactions with each other, identification of community leaders).
Guiding principles of the project:
Relationships are critical for success
A particular highlight of developing the community profile was the relationships that developed between myself (the profiler) and the community members. I found that giving people the opportunity to talk about their own community was an excellent starting point from which to build a relationship. An unforeseen benefit was that the relationships built from the profile became the foundations of the community visioning exercise. Most of the people who attended the visioning workshop had been involved in the profile.
Passion drives action
I discovered how passionate people are about their community and how much diversity there was within the one area. Often our discussions would lead to reflections on how things have changed in the community which was an excellent starting point for the community visioning exercise that took place a few months later.
Tools and methods used
The research component of the profile involved conversations with community members using a snowball sampling technique. The community members on the steering committee were the starting point from which a list of active community members, community groups and stories was collected. A map of the groups was developed.
This information was supported by statistical socio-demographic data from the ABS 2001 Census of Population and Housing and a list of all of the agency engagement activities in the catchment. In retrospect, the approach was ‘consultative’ (as people were asked questions), but were not involved in the development process.
The following flowchart illustrates the steps involved in this profiling process for a specific community.
|Stage 1: Reserach and Scoping|
What is the purpose of the Brucknell Creek community profile?|
What information needs to be in the community profile?
What resources/ constraints will influence the development of the profile?
How will the profile information be used?
|Stage 2: Develop proposal and endorsement of steering committee|
|Stage 3: Research activity|
Identifying groups/networks/ |
Method: snowball sampling beginning with steering committee (phone calls), visiting local store owners, local directories/notice boards.
Resources: 1.5 weeks FTE
(20+ community members contacted)
Agency activity/ projects in catchment area
Method: snowball sampling technique/ phone calls.
Survey to obtain more information on extent and purpose of engagement.
Also enquired about prior social research in area.
Resources: 1.5 weeks FTE
|Stage 4: Presentation of profile in progress to steering committee|
Identified next steps in profile development after presentation|
Resources: 1 week FTE
|Stage 5: Ongoing development of profile|
Further research activity as project progresses/ more relationships with people in the community (Landcare group meeting, community visioning BBQ coordination)|
Resources: < 1 week FTE
|Stage 6: Production of living profile document|
Information can be added to overtime/ edited.|
Endorsement of community members (i.e. town descriptions)
A key learning for the team was that community profiling can be a significant way to develop relationships in a community, and it offers much potential as a starting point for building community capacity to create more enduring, long-term beneficial outcomes.
In the future, our approach will be to inform groups within the Brucknell area more widely of the intention to develop a community profile through:
- invitation of groups/community members to either take on the profile project, or to be involved in decision-making around how the profile would be developed
- involve/empower community members to undertake the research themselves or be involved in ways that suited their preference.
"Originally the community profile was thought to be the information from which the community engagement plan would be based. However, it was soon discovered that profiling is an engagement activity itself as people from the community are involved in the research."
"… community profiling can be a significant way to develop relationships in a community, and it offers much potential as a starting point for building community capacity to create more enduring, long-term beneficial outcomes".
Lyneve Whiting, Community Engagement Network, DSE Warrnambool, 03 5561 9988