The concepts of community and community life, have since the Dreaming, always held special significance for Aboriginal people because both provided the physical, cultural, spiritual and social environments, which supported children, young people, families and the aged.Ken Wyatt, Federal Member for Hasluck and Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care
MANY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT approaches and practices have been utilised to address issues and challenges within Aboriginal communities. There are a number of studies in this area that have explored culturally appropriate ways of dealing with these issues and challenges, as covered in preceding chapters of this book (see also Abdullah & Young 2010; Hunt & Smith 2005; Ife 2010; Sherwood 1999; Tsey, McCalman, Bainbridge & Brown 2012). Yet a vision for Aboriginal community development, including how this might be formed and achieved, is lacking in the current literature. This is interesting and yet disturbing because how can approaches be used in community development for Aboriginal people when the target (vision) is unseen or not even known? It is rather like shooting an arrow at no target.
Accordingly, this chapter explores the current literature around the topic of a vision for Aboriginal community development. Drawing on narrative interviews provided by two respected Noongar community Elders (both contributing authors to this chapter) and two case studies, we aim to draw out the complexities, diversity and challenges involved in creating a vision for Aboriginal community development. The common themes of the case studies and interviews are drawn out in the chapter in light of a grassroots vision for Aboriginal community development. Specifically, we are concerned with providing answers to the following: (1) Why is a vision needed? (2) What elements would comprise a vision for community development? (3) How would a vision impact on development and on Aboriginal people's future? (4) Who would develops the vision?
There is very little written about the characteristics, development, sustainability, value and importance of a vision for Aboriginal communities (Campbell, Pyett, McCarthy, Whiteside & Tsey 2007). Rather, the current literature explores the variation of approaches used to make changes in Aboriginal communities and this will now be presented.