Open Access Research article

From targets to ripples: tracing the process of developing a community capacity building appraisal tool with remote Australian indigenous communities to tackle food security

Julie Brimblecombe1*, Christel van den Boogaard1, Jan Ritchie12, Ross Bailie1, John Coveney13 and Selma Liberato1

Author Affiliations

1 Menzies School of Health Research, Royal Darwin Hospital, PO Box 41096, Darwin, Northern Territory 0811, Australia

2 University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

3 Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:914  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-914

Published: 4 September 2014

Abstract

Background

The issue of food security is complex and requires capacity for often-unrelated groups to work together. We sought to assess the relevance and meaning of a commonly used set of community capacity development constructs in the context of remote Indigenous Australia and through this propose a model to support capacity.

Methods

The assessment was conducted with four communities and took place over five steps that involved: (i) test of clarity of construct meaning; (ii) inductive derivation of community capacity constructs; (iii) application of these constructs to the capacity of community multi-sector food-interest groups; (iv) a cross-check of these constructs and their meanings to literature-derived constructs, and; (v) achieving consensus on tool constructs. Data were collected over a three-year period (2010–2012) that involved two on-site visits to one community, and two urban-based workshops. These data were augmented by food-interest group meeting minutes and reports.

Results

Eleven community capacity development constructs were included in the proposed model: community ownership, building on strengths, strong leadership and voice, making decisions together, strong partnerships, opportunities for learning and skill development, way of working, getting together the things you need, good strong communication, sharing the true story, and continuing the process and passing on to the next generation.

The constructs derived from the literature and commonly used to appraise community capacity development were well accepted and could be used to identify areas needing strengthening. The specifics of each construct however differed from those derived from the literature yet were similar across the four communities and had particular meaning for those involved. The involvement of elders and communication with the wider community seemed paramount to forming a solid foundation on which capacity could be further developed.

Conclusion

This study explored an approach for ascribing context specific meanings to a set of capacity development constructs and an effective visual appraisal tool. An approach to tackling food security in the remote Indigenous context where community capacity goals are considered in parallel with outcome goals, or at least as incremental goals along the way, may well help to lay a more solid foundation for improved service practice and program sustainability.

Keywords:
Community capacity development; Appraisal; Multi-sectoral; Indigenous health; Food security