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Place-based approaches are a form of collaborative, community-led work in a defined place. They bring together local stakeholders, community members, government, funders and service providers to address complex local issues and work towards systemic change. They prioritise community leadership and decision-making to build just, inclusive, and resilient communities.

Place-based approaches focus on a broad range of issues. Common focus areas of place-based approaches in Australia are health and wellbeing, education and training, and children and early years development.

Place-based approaches recognise that each community is unique, and bring together people who know the community well to address complex issues together.

Important features of place-based approaches

  • Commitment to long-term and sustainable timeframes 
  • Engagement with local strengths and capacities; strength-based approaches that challenge problem-to-fix narratives of place 
  • Commitment to identify and work towards addressing structural causes of inequity 
  • Measures that ensure power and decision-making authority is meaningfully shared across stakeholders  
  • A practice of working in partnership with traditional owners and First Nations communities, and supporting principals of self-determination in all stages of place-based work 
  • Recognition of the unique nature of each community and rejection of one-size-fits-all approaches

Key enablers of successful and sustainable place-based work

  • Trusted, robust, and effective relationships within communities, and between government/funders and communities  
  • Ongoing flexible and appropriate resourcing 
  • Cross-sectoral government support 
  • Funding not contingent on pre-defined outcomes 
  • Willingness from government to work in tailored and flexible ways  
  • Resourcing and planning for place appropriate monitoring, evaluation, learning, and accountability practices (MELA)