Planning, Funding, and Community Action: The Area Assistance Story

By Judy Bamforth, Barbara Gapps, Robin Gurr, Amanda Howard, Jenny Onyx and Margot Rawsthorne.

Published by Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations, a book imprint by Common Ground Publishing

Format Price
Book: Electronic $US15.00
Book: Print $US40.00

This book celebrates the enormous achievement of the Area Assistance Scheme over its 30-year history in encouraging and resourcing community and social infrastructure, networks, support systems, and innovation. In sharing the history of the AAS in Western Sydney (where it began) and on the Central Coast, this book also provides community workers, activists, students, scholars, and policy makers with ideas, processes, and lessons for working collaboratively and respectfully with local communities.

Including eye witness accounts, extensive research, analysis, and discussion, the book connects influential ideas and perspectives shaping social policy and resource allocation with practical examples of how this can and does happen using different funding models.

If you work in the community sector, are part of a local group or organisation, or are interested in learning about work with local communities, this book will provide you with valuable examples of how participatory planning can be supported. If you are a policy maker, academic, student, or politician, this book will provide a critical analysis, which links key policy ideas with the practicalities of implementation at a local level. It answers the questions, what is possible when community participation is at the centre of planning and funding decisions, and what are the processes required to encourage this kind of participation?

Book: Electronic (PDF File; 3.937MB). Book: Print (Paperback). Published by Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations, a book imprint by Common Ground Publishing.

Judy Bamforth

Community Activist, Sydney, Australia

Judi Bamforth has more than 20 years’ experience in the community sector, retiring from paid work in 2006. She has an Associate Diploma of Community Organisation Management from the University of Technology, Sydney. Judi developed Woodville Community Services Inc. from one small grant into a large community organisation that continues to provide a broad range of services across three LGAs in Western Sydney. Judi’s focus on social justice issues has been honed in her work with people experiencing economic, educational, social, and geographic disadvantage.

Barbara Gapps

Community Activist, Sydney, Australia

Barbara Gapps has more than 30 years’ experience working in the community service sector in Western Sydney. After training as an early childhood teacher, she gained a Graduate Diploma in social administration to support her voluntary work. Barbara was instrumental in initiating women’s and youth refuges, home care and a DoCS office, the Community Resource Network, and interpreters for new NESB residents. She was the first CPO for Auburn within WSAAS before working at both Liverpool Council and Fairfield Council. She was elected to Blacktown City Council from 1999 to 2007, serving as deputy mayor.

Ms Robin Gurr

Community Activist, Sydney, Australia

Robin Gurr is a qualified lawyer, mediator, community worker, and educator. She has a long history of involvement in community organisations, including as chairperson of the NSW Council for Social Services (NCOSS) and the NSW Women’s Legal Service, and as deputy director of the Australian Council for Social Services (ACOSS). She has worked for all three levels of government in Australia and for local government in the United Kingdom. She was the first CPO in Blacktown and subsequently as the regional coordinator for WSAAS with the NSW Department of Environment and Planning. In 1985/6 she did the preparatory work for the implementation of the AAS in the other regions.

Amanda Howard

Senior Lecturer, Social Work, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

Amanda Howard works as a lecturer at the University of Newcastle convening the social work program, having come from more than 20 years of community development practice after finishing her PhD on the emergence of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approaches on the Central Coast in 2010. She has experience working for State and local government in Sydney and in community development, planning, and social research on the Central Coast. Her research focuses on policy and practice in working with communities.

Jenny Onyx

Professor, University of Technology-Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Jenny Onyx (PhD) is emeritus professor of community management in the Business School at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is co-director of the Cosmopolitan Civil Societies research centre and former editor of Third Sector Review. She is particularly concerned with issues of advocacy, social capital, social impact, volunteering, and civil society, and has published widely in these fields with more than 100 refereed publications.

Margot Rawsthorne

Associate Professor, Social Work & Policy Studies, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Margot Rawsthorne’s initial qualification was in sociology at Macquarie University. Prior to the completion of a PhD at Sydney University, Margot worked for State and local governments, as well as for the non-government sector, including 15 years working in Western Sydney. She has actively participated in debates concerning government/non-government relations and funding arrangements for the past two decades.


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