Community engagement has the potential to transform communities. By encouraging public participation in projects that have a social impact, we can achieve fair, equitable, and long-term results. It is an essential decision-making process for any organisation, government, or individual driving community-impacting projects.
Traditional approaches to community projects led by executives are becoming less effective. The outdated top-down approach is gradually giving way to collaborative decision-making, and communities are demanding more say in the design and delivery of services that affect them. Community issues are complex, and it is critical to include all stakeholders in the problem-solving process so that decision-makers have a better understanding of their community’s needs and aspirations before deciding on a course of action.
What is Social and Community Participation Assistance?
The NDIS Core supports category includes a budget for Assistance with Social and Community Participation. This funding can be used to improve your participation in community, social, and recreational activities. The assistance category has been renamed Assistance with Social, Economic, and Community Participation and can now be used to fund economic activities (such as volunteering or work experience).
Support for community-based activities and assistance in joining social groups are examples of social, economic, and community participation. The activities may take place in a variety of settings, including the community, a centre, or a sporting venue.
What types of social community participation are there?
People with disabilities are assisted with social and community participation through NDIS service providers who are eligible to provide services under the NDIS scheme‘s ‘Social and Community Services’.
Participation in NDIS social and community activities could include active participation in art class, vacation, learning a musical instrument, or gardening.
The innovative community participation allows you to meet new people, have fun, and discover new things while getting out and about!
Individuals on the NDIS can participate in the following types of community activities:
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Innovative community participation:
A well-structured NDIS programme that encourages NDIS participants to participate in community activities.
NDIS assistance with social and community participation is provided by skilled Community Engagement Practitioners, who expand individuals’ opportunities to participate in community activities and find employment through side-by-side practice.
Community Engagement Practitioners work with NDIS participants in a capacity-building, community-based approach. They are then offered the opportunity to work with them to increase their chances of long-term success in transitioning from informal to formal employment and support.
Social and community participation:
Under the NDIS’s Core Supports category, Assistance with Social and Community Participation is included in the budget and can be used by NDIS participants.
The community participation programme encourages people to participate in community, social, and recreational activities.
Increased social and community participation through the NDIS helps with Community, Economic, and Volunteer Participation, which is now the official name of the support category.
Participation in economic, social, and community activities includes financial assistance for attending community events.
Examples of community participation include communities, centres, or sports venues that host enjoyable group activities such as gardening or art making.
Why Participate in the Community?
Participation in community activities in non-segregated spaces would assist people in learning new skills or brushing up on hobbies. It also aids in the development and enhancement of confidence. Participation in the community opens the door to self-development and contribution. Participation in a project that benefits society, for example, can provide you with a sense of pleasure and meaningfulness. See the following benefits of community involvement:
- Encourages a sense of belonging.
- Improved health and well-being.
- Set goals and work on your skills.
- It provides meaning and a sense of contribution.
- Adapt and learn new skills.
- Acceptance and acclaim.
- Expands social networks.
- Increases social support.
- Participation in community-beneficial projects.
- Possibilities for earning a living.
- Improved abilities and lives.
Reasons for Public Participation and Community Engagement
Here are six reasons why a strong community engagement strategy is critical for both decision-makers and the general public.
1. Improve your understanding of the community’s needs and goals
Community engagement is not a one-way street, and it is no longer about disseminating information and informing people about what is going on in their neighbourhood. It is a continuous conversation between decision-makers and stakeholders. Decision-makers learn what people like and dislike about their community and the initiatives that may impact it by facilitating and participating in a community-led conversation. You can create a more accurate picture of your community’s needs and aspirations, allowing you to design appealing, transformative projects. When you understand the community’s viewpoint, you can frame and communicate your initiative in a way that is effective and aligned with the public’s top priorities.
2. Multiple points of view strengthen decision-making
Input on community initiatives should come from a diverse and representative group of people in the community. When engagement projects are flooded with input from those with the loudest voice or the strongest opinion, the results benefit only one group and can be harmful to the community as a whole. Decision-makers can be swayed by the loudest voices and focus their attention in the wrong places if a diverse set of perspectives is not allowed to be heard. You should seek out marginalised or overlooked voices and provide opportunities for people of all backgrounds, motivations, and ideologies to speak up. This will provide you with a more balanced understanding of the community’s viewpoints and increase the value of the final decision.
3. Involvement of the community improves transparency
Community participation is an open process that holds decision-makers accountable. The community deserves transparency in decision-making as well as assurance that their input was taken into account. It also enables community members to comprehend how a different perspective or need than their own had to be met, resulting in a better understanding and acceptance of a final decision or outcome. Knowing that all ideas and contributions have been fairly addressed and incorporated can significantly improve public perception of a project you are leading. We can deepen democracy and ensure that people have a say in decisions that affect their daily lives by involving all stakeholders in public policy projects, including local governments and organisations, businesses, residents, and communities.
4. Community involvement helps your initiative run smoothly
Community involvement can assist in identifying roadblocks that would otherwise blow out the timeframes and costs of a project that you are running. You can ensure that the project runs smoothly and the budget is used effectively by conducting an ongoing scan of the community’s needs, priorities, and key stakeholders. When your strategy, resources, and budget is established, you can identify, address, and cater to complaints and protests that would otherwise stall your initiative.
5. Increase the sense of community ownership
Members of the community have in-depth knowledge of their surroundings, as well as scientific, technological, historical, and cultural insights. When all parties’ perspectives are shared and incorporated into decision-making, public decision-makers are better informed, more confident, and capable of meeting all needs. Increased community trust in organisations and governance leads to better public decisions. By establishing communicative relationships between your organisation and the community, you can improve service uptake and make people feel like they played a role in the positive outcomes.
6. Have some fun
This one is straightforward, but online community engagement and public participation can be a lot of fun. You have the opportunity to fuel big dreams, discuss community goals, and collaborate with your neighbours. Social Pinpoint can be used to create exciting online engagement for your community or to host fun activities for a younger audience.
The NDIS encourages social and community participation
There are numerous potential advantages to being actively involved in and connected to your community. Assistance with Social, Economic, and Community Participation funding is intended to help you overcome some of the barriers to fully participating in society.
Access to community, social, and recreational activities
These services assist participants in accessing and participating in community, social, and recreational activities and events. They are typically used to pay for a support worker to accompany a participant to an activity, but they can also be used to pay for transportation or other disability-related expenses. These services can assist you in participating in existing community activities and events. This could include joining a sports team, taking part in a hobby or interest event, or attending a cultural event. The goal of these supports is to allow you to participate in your local community and enjoy the same types of activities that everyone else can. These are typically mainstream events and activities that allow you to form informal relationships and networks.
What Social and Community Participation funding can be used for?
Funding for Social and Community Participation is more likely to cover the costs of getting to and participating in activities than the costs of the activities themselves.
For example, you could go to your local community centre and learn a craft-based activity like woodworking.
You may be able to use your Social and Community Participation funding to hire a support worker to do the following:
- You will be transported to and from the activity.
- Come with you
- Assist you in getting the most out of the class by providing Auslan interpreting, communication support, or assistance with activity completion.
- Help with using the restroom, eating, or other personal care needs while you’re out and about.
For both transportation and time spent accompanying you during the activity, the worker’s time can be claimed at the agreed-upon hourly rate.
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What is not included?
This is where Social and Community Participation funding can become complicated. In general, you cannot use your NDIS funding to pay for coaching, course fees, or class fees, such as a woodworking class or a TAFE course.
So, in the preceding example, you would most likely have to pay for the woodworking activity and any associated equipment yourself.
However, if the cost is reasonable and necessary for your disability and is closely related to the goals in your NDIS Plan, you may be able to use your NDIS Plan to cover some of the costs associated with participation.
Keep in mind that the NDIS does not typically cover the following:
- Ticket prices or admission fees, such as movie tickets or museum admission
- Ticket prices or entry fees for your companion or a support worker
- The cost of meals, coffee, or other food items consumed while participating in activities.
- Except for the purchase of specialised equipment related to your disability, equipment costs such as buying sporting gear.
Funding for core versus capacity building supports
The two types of community participation funding that can be included in your NDIS Plan are confusing.
Core Supports Assistance with Social, Economic, and Community Participation funding can be used to hire a support worker to assist you with social, employment, and community participation activities.
Funding is used for development and training to help you build independence and access the community under Capacity Building supports, Increased social and community participation. Establishing mentoring or peer support, training in the use of public transportation, and funds to try out new activities or tools related to the goals in your NDIS Plan are some examples.