ALARA Monograph No 1

Monograph No. 1 (2011)

Actioning Change and Lifelong Learning in Community Development

Judith Kearney and Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt, with The Voice of Samoan People

This paper presents the key principles and processes of transformational lifelong learning and positive change in a community development program with a Samoan community in Australia. The paper takes a qualitative approach to community development using participatory action learning and action research.

Our inquiry shows that while the Samoan community is a disadvantaged migrant group in Australia, collaborative community partnerships can help to address disadvantage in level of education and consequently in employment within the community. Participatory action learning and action research are powerful methodologies for achieving quality learning at the personal, professional, team and community levels. These methodologies are particularly relevant when working with Pacific communities as they align with practices that are culturally appropriate to these communities.

The community development program entailed a low-cost, pragmatic, supportive and self-sustaining approach to education through an enabling framework designed by the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL). Although the framework was designed mainly for communities in developing countries, it proved to be an effective system for promoting lifelong learning and positive change in a disadvantaged community in a ‘developed’ country.

The research and development discussed in this paper therefore have implications for other disadvantaged communities. In Australasia, these include refugees and Indigenous groups. However the insights gained through this study may be useful for community development in disadvantaged communities in any national context, in both ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries.

We present findings in new models that enhance understanding of the key principles and processes involved in lifelong learning and positive change through a community development program. The models clarify the utility of these principles and processes for application wherever disadvantaged communities need a low-cost, self-sustaining approach to education as an enabling vehicle to address disadvantage.

Download ALARA Monograph No. 1 - Kearney and Zuber-Skerritt, 2011 (240 KB)

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