A partnership between Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and The Bishop’s Action Foundation enabled the development of an innovative training programme on community development which was delivered in Taranaki during 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The partnership was a response to feedback from changemakers working in the community sector and across agencies and organisations engaging with local communities that they struggled to access training in community development. There were few opportunities for such training and what training did exist tended to be built in as a component of social work programmes or require long-term study. The environment within which many community development changemakers operated meant they found it hard to find the funding or the time required to complete long-term study programmes.
Our work with AUT therefore focused on developing a programme that was accessible in terms of cost, time required and geographical location. The main objective was to enhance the capacity of practitioners to work effectively in a leadership role with a broad range of communities and community issues.
Working with Associate Professor Dr Love Chile we designed a course based around three 5-day blocks that provided a post-graduate level qualification and covered:
37 people participated in the programme over the 3-year period from 2007-2009 greatly enhancing community development capacity across our region. Participants came from a variety of organisations including district councils, district health boards, government agencies and community-based organisations.
The programme was not run after 2009, largely because with 37 participants having completed it there was less demand to continue it. However, those participants recognised that the increased community development capacity would continue to benefit the region far into the future. One participant commented:
“It was at a time when there was a growing focus on changing the way people were practicing community development and the people that were becoming leaders in community development needed training on how to change. The AUT training did this and has had a big impact now.”
The Foundation also went on to work with AUT to ensure regional delivery of the Post Graduate Certificate in Health Sciences over the next two years.