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Capacity building and community engagement

Saide Gray

Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia.
CRC for Plant Based Management of Dryland Salinity, Univ of Western Australia. Email:

Capacity building, community engagement and participative practices are essential for the development of a skilled democratic citizenry. Three women’s organizations in south-eastern Australia provided organizational environments for case study and focus group research. This research analyses practices acting as barriers and enhancers to participation. The roles these organizations play in advocacy on behalf of marginalised and/or disadvantaged women, provide pathways into democratic participation in governance for the organizations and individuals.

Three key learnings: (1) The pathways, through participatory practices, relate to public policy making; innovative problem solving; social change project opportunities; plus innovative network and communication experiences. (2) Concurrently, the organizations model democratic structures and decision-making, while encouraging women to develop the skills and networks necessary for future partnership roles with the differing levels of government in Australia. (3) The barriers and enhancers of participation are presented, including a comparative analysis of the structures and roles of the three case study organizations.

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