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Our work

The Centre for Just Places’ major projects and research fall under four areas of work:


Browse our research publications or advocacy and news.

Research and action on place-based disadvantage

Economic challenges, poor mental and physical health, social division, disconnection, loneliness — as well as ongoing disruption caused by environmental destruction and climate change — are affecting communities across Australia. For more than 20 years, Jesuit Social Services has collaborated with researchers to examine complex and entrenched disadvantage in communities across the country.

Dropping off the Edge research

The research

Jesuit Social Services’ Dropping off the Edge research identifies areas of disadvantage in every Australian state and territory and uncovers the web of factors that must be solved for these communities, and our nation, to thrive. Dropping off the Edge 2021 measures 37 indicators across seven domains of social wellbeing, health, community safety, economic, education, environmental and intergenerational outcomes.

The impact

The Centre for Just Places is leading action and advocacy on the 2021 report findings. The Centre will also lead future iterations of this research, building in a stronger emphasis on strength-based indicators.

Since the launch of Dropping off the Edge 2021, the Centre is:

  • Drawing on the research to identify and build an understanding of the unique factors causing disadvantage in different places and communities
  • Working with community-based organisations, statutory authorities, and state and local governments to communicate the findings to a wider audience
  • Working with experts locally and internationally to connect Dropping off the Edge to other aligned research
  • Being contracted to develop tailored Dropping off the Edge reports to different organisations that speak to the overall findings and specific indicators featured in Dropping off the Edge
  • Exploring how current data from Dropping off the Edge, such as data about volunteering, can be used to understand community strengths and resilience.

For more information

Contact John Ryks at john.ryks@jss.org.au to discuss this research.

Building an evidence base of effective place-based approaches

Place-based, community-led approaches have been popular in Australia for many years but they have never been more critical as governments respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is still a lot to learn about how place-based approaches can address the social, economic and environmental challenges communities are facing across Australia, as well as the changing roles and relationships of government and community involved in this way of working.

What works for place-based approaches in Victoria? (June 2021-April 2022)

Funded by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Victorian Government

The project

The Centre is leading a consortium of research partners – including RMIT Centre for Urban Research and the Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute – to gather key lessons from place-based research and practice in Victoria and Australia.

The project’s advisory group and reviewers are experts and practitioners working on different aspects of place-based policy, practice and evaluation from the Social Solutions Research Group in the Institute for Social Science Research (University of Queensland), the Institute for Resilient Regions (University of Southern Queensland), the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (Australian National University), the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria, and Stand Up Collaboration.

The impact

The project includes a meta-synthesis of existing literature, six case studies of place-based initiatives in Victoria, and guidance materials to inform a range of stakeholders – including community leaders and organisations, service providers, governments and philanthropic funders.

For more information

Contact Susie Moloney at susie.moloney@jss.org.au and Haydie Gooder at haydie.gooder@jss.org.au to discuss this project.

Embedding lived experience to improve service design, integration and delivery

People who come into contact with the social, health and justice services have important knowledge about the system’s ability to meet their needs. Embedding the voices of lived experience in service design, integration and delivery can improve outcomes for people accessing these services.

Client voice and workforce project (2021–2023)

Funded by Department of Justice and Community Safety, Victorian Government

This project

This pilot project aims to increase the participation of community members with lived experience in shaping social, health and justice system service design, delivery and integration in their local area, and contribute to the Better Connected Care policy reform to build a service system that better meets the needs of clients.

The project will implement a systemic inquiry process to increase understanding of current system conditions that impact on lived experience participation. This will enable local leadership teams to develop shared objectives and agreement on the approach to including lived experience voice for better and more connected care across departments and agencies.

The impact

The Centre will build the capacity of service delivery agencies and staff to include the voice of lived experience in everyday practice for systemic change. We expect to work with four leadership teams – called Better Connected Care Local Site Executive Committees – over the next two years, starting in the West-Metro region on Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung country, and in the Goulburn region on Yorta Yorta, Taungurung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung country. The project will increase understanding of what is needed to centre lived experience voices in place-based collaboration as a sustainable process, and provide recommendations for policy reform.

For more information

Contact Brenda Ammann at brenda.ammann@jss.org.au to discuss this project.

Enabling place-based climate adaptation and resilience

The impacts of climate change – more frequent and intense heatwaves, bushfires and smoke, floods, storms and drought – are already affecting human health and wellbeing. While climate change affects everyone, it is people who are already marginalised and disadvantaged that are impacted first and hardest, magnifying existing injustices and potentially entrenching health inequity.

As an example, people with access to leafy green suburbs, air-conditioning and well-insulated housing have vastly different experiences of extreme heatwaves than people who don’t. Families living in poor-quality rentals on a low income are more likely to suffer from heatstroke, stress, anxiety, and disruption to sleep, leading to spikes in family violence or poor engagement with school.

The projects below aim to build resilience for people most at-risk to the impacts of extreme weather, through place-based, community-led solutions to local climate change problems.

Building climate resilience in the community sector (ongoing)

Funded by local governments. Seed funding through a Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Community Climate Change Adaptation grant.

Community service organisations work on the frontline supporting people during extreme weather events, but they – as organisations – are also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. For example, during times of heightened community need, such as heatwaves, concerns for staff health and safety, power outages and transport delays can affect an organisation’s ability to reach community members. For the most part, community service organisations are not prepared for ongoing and worsening disruptions to their services under our changing climate.

The project

To meet the need for capacity building the Centre is delivering place-based climate adaptation and resilience workshops which bring together local government and community service organisations in the areas of housing and homelessness, health, settlement, community development, education and gender justice, as well as religious leaders. To date, the workshops have been delivered on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung country in the City of Greater Dandenong, Brimbank City Council, City of Yarra and Darebin City Council.

The impact

The workshops:

  • Create a shared understanding and language around climate change (climate literacy)
  • Facilitate discussions about specific risks and vulnerabilities in a community
  • Build community resilience by encouraging ongoing collaboration across diverse local sectors to spark community-led solutions to local problems.

The project has opened channels for meaningful engagement with community members affected by extreme weather, which will help inform local government adaptation policies and programs. It has also inspired a network of neighbourhood houses to create a collaborative climate action and resilience plan.

Workshop participants receive practical resources to continue their work, including the Jesuit Social Services’ Climate and Ecological Justice Resource Pack. Participants report leaving the workshops with a deeper understanding of climate vulnerability and their responsibility to adapt.

For more information

If you are interested in learning more about the climate resilience workshops for the community sector or delivering the workshops in your local government area, contact Jack Piper at jack.piper@jss.org.au.

Mobilising climate just and resilient communities in Melbourne’s west (Sep 2021- Sep 2022)

Funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

The project

This project worked with community health and service organisations to strengthen climate resilience – focusing on services in Melbourne’s west, on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung, Boon Wurrung, and Wathaurong country.

The Centre is delivered this project in partnership with organisations supporting health and wellbeing in the local government areas of Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Melton, Wyndham and Hobson’s Bay. Partners include IPC Health, GenWest, Network West, VCOSS, Brimbank City Council, Melton City Council and Wyndham City Council, with stakeholder input from Hobsons Bay City Council and the Victorian Department of Health.

The impact

This project is a first step towards shared action to build climate resilience by supporting community health and community service organisations (and other organisations which support health and wellbeing in Melbourne’s west), to increase their understanding of:

  • Key health, service and climate change networks
  • Shared climate change risks, vulnerabilities, strengths and needs.

As result of this year-long project, the Centre developed a Collaborative Action Plan, which articulates a shared vision for climate justice in Melbourne’s west.

For more information

If your work supports health and wellbeing in the west of Melbourne (even if it doesn’t directly engage with climate change), and you want to discuss involvement with this project, contact Susie Moloney at susie.moloney@jss.org.au or Andrea Wolf at andrea.wolf@jss.org.au.

Learn more about the Collaborative Action Plan here.

Climate resilience and fuel poverty project (May 2021- April 2022)

Funded by Darebin City Council.

This project is responding to Darebin City Council’s need to better understand the inequitable impacts of extreme weather and fuel poverty (when a household can’t afford the heating and cooling services it needs) across the Darebin community, on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung country. This work builds on the trusted relationships developed with Darebin community service organisations through the Centre’s Building Climate Resilience in the Community Sector workshops in May 2021.

The project

The Centre is engaging three priority communities in Darebin – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, culturally and linguistically diverse community members, and those aged 65 years and over – to identify their needs and priorities in understanding and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Through existing services and community spaces, this project facilitates conversations with diverse community groups about their lived experience of extreme weather, such heatwaves and storms.

The impact

This project will facilitate community-led solutions which draw on Darebin’s climate risks, vulnerabilities and strengths. Darebin City Council will use the stories gathered through this work to inform areas for focus in future adaptation programs and its next Climate Emergency Strategy.

For more information

Contact Jack Piper at jack.piper@jss.org.au to discuss this project.

Co-designing a climate action and resilience framework for neighbourhood houses (Darebin neighbourhood houses network) (October 2021 – June 2022)

Funded by the Department Environment Land Water and Planning, Victorian Government.

Neighbourhood houses hold deep relationships in the communities they serve. These relationships, knowledge of community strengths and vulnerabilities, and capacity to respond to community needs, present an opportunity for neighbourhood houses to lead climate action and adaptation in their communities.

The project

The Centre is supporting a network of six neighbourhood houses to develop a climate action and resilience plan, while co-creating a framework to guide strategic action planning and advocacy for networks of neighbourhood houses across Victoria and nationally.

The impact

No similar framework currently exists for neighbourhood houses. The framework will empower networks of neighbourhood houses to identify opportunities and advocacy priorities to take climate action and build the resilience of their organisations and the wider community.

For more information

Contact Jack Piper at jack.piper@jss.org.au to discuss this project.

Understanding and planning for the health and wellbeing impacts of climate change in Greater Dandenong and the Mornington Peninsula Shire (completed in 2021)

Funded by Mornington Peninsula Shire and Greater Dandenong City Council.

Climate change has significant impacts and implications for our health and wellbeing, both in direct ways (for example, through the impact of heat), and in less direct ways (for example, through impacts on our mental health). These impacts will not be felt evenly across society and risk entrenching existing health inequities. We need to proactively plan for the disproportionate impact on already marginalised and disadvantaged people.

The project

This project – a partnership between City of Greater Dandenong, Mornington Peninsula Shire, the Australian Urban Observatory and the Centre for Just Places – brought researchers and health professionals together to begin integrating climate adaptation into public health planning in the two locations on Boon Wurrung country.

The impact

This project profiled health and climate risks for residents, identified a shared indicator framework for vulnerability to climate change impacts, mapped roles and responsibilities for planning, and developed recommendations to respond to the local risks and impacts of our changing climate on health and wellbeing.

We also worked to bring departments in council together to think about their shared role in planning for climate change’s impact on health and wellbeing, and engaged external stakeholders within community service organisations and health providers to inform the priorities and recommendations identified.

For more information

Contact Katrina Dunn at katrina.dunn@jss.org.au to discuss this project.